In an ever-changing digital marketing environment, keeping up with SEO trends can be daunting. From algorithm updates like RankBrain to Google’s Mobilegeddon, 2015 brought big, rapid-fire changes for SEO. As we embark on a new year, it’s a safe prediction that SEO marketers can expect more changes ahead. The key to keeping up with the competition will be anticipating what’s to come.
Wondering what to look out for in the new year? We’ve got you covered. Here’s our list of 5 key trends you should prepare for in 2016.
When Apple integrated Siri into the iPhone back in 2011, it marked the turning point for search. Search is more conversational than ever with the use of virtual assistants like Siri, Google Now and Cortana and it is beginning to shape the search landscape. According to a study by Northstar Research, 42 percent of adults and 55 percent of teenagers used Siri, Google Now or Cortana voice search at least once per day. As these user behaviors shift, marketers need to change the way they think about search queries and modernize their SEO strategy. Voice queries are often very different than typed searches so it’s important to optimize for long-tail keywords and focus on full sentences and phrases.
User-based metrics like engagement and traffic visits strongly correlate with higher rankings on SERPs and with updates like Panda and Penguin it is clear that enhancing user experience (UX) is a key factor for SEO. Google wants to provide the most relevant experience to web visitors, but generating traffic to your site is only one piece to the puzzle. When it comes to conversions, it’s what the users do while on your site that’s most important. How much time are users spending on your site? Is your site easy to navigate? Are you engaging with your visitors? These are essential questions to ask when trying to enhance your site UX. To tackle these challenges, marketers will need to clearly understand their customer’s needs and wants and provide them with original, useful content that will address those wants and needs.
Consumer viewing habits have changed tremendously over the years. It’s become more difficult to stay competitive and grab the attention of potential customers. This is why video usage is anticipated to grow in 2016. Video gives marketers the opportunity to increase awareness and engagement in a short amount of time. And with the development of apps like Vine, Periscope, Meerkat and Snapchat, the ability to create videos has never been easier. Users can upload their Periscope videos and Meerkat clips to YouTube (the second largest search engine after Google) to create quality content online, but we have yet to see these developments for Snapchat. Google has also begun to feature Vine videos and Pinterest Pins within search engine results. To stay on the forefront of consumers’ daily life, companies will need to incorporate video into their 2016 marketing strategy.
The announcement of Mobilegeddon in early 2015 coupled with mobile searches surpassing desktop for the first time has left brands scurrying to make their sites mobile-friendly, a trend that will continue in 2016. Today, there are more mobile-only internet users in the US than desktop PC users and 90% of mobile users are using their device to do research before making a purchase. To keep up with this rapid rise in mobile usage, Google and other search engines are shifting focus to make it easier to find relevant, responsive websites.
Many companies are seeing continued growth in mobile traffic and the need for an effective strategy is more important than ever. To stay competitive, marketers will need to keep a mobile-centric mindset when developing an SEO strategy for the year ahead.
Social Content Rankings
As Google begins to crawl through social pages and index tweets and posts, social media content is increasingly important for search engine results. The quality and quantity of social signals such as social shares/retweets, likes and comments, are influential to search ranking factors and help drive inbound traffic to your site. Social reviews can also increase your content exposure allowing your site to receive higher ranking from Google. Similar to their website, marketers will need a social SEO strategy in place to provide valuable content on social channels to increase visibility.
Lessons from Auld Lang Syne
The times gone by in 2015 were quite active for SEO and we’re confident that 2016 will continue to keep marketers on their toes. From mobile optimization and user experience to digital search assistants like Siri, the year ahead is shaping up to be significant for SEO and having an effective SEO and UX strategy will be imperative for success.