SEO Changes to Watch and Plan for in 2016

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By | Jan 8, 2016

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2015 went down as the year when Google introduced the "mobile-friendly websites" concept. 

2015 SEO Recap: 2 Main Changes that Impact Your SEO, Content Strategy and Web Design Efforts

Early 2015, Google introduced a new algorithm that brought about several key changes including a call for websites to enhance their mobile friendliness (Responsive Web Design or RWD for short) to accommodate the rapidly growing mobile user segment. Later in October, Google released yet another algorithm that’s based on artificial intelligence. In this latest release, Google showed its determination to improve search results for its users (displaying information based on perceived user intent).

2016 SEO Overview

So, what do these changes by Google mean for your business come 2016? Well, it’s time to get a better understanding of your audience thus offering only what matters most to them. Besides, it’s also critical that you become more available to your audience when it matters the most. You should also focus on delivering content that’s more contextual and useful; consider getting an app and a mobile-responsive site — mobile is the way to go. With all eyes now set to see what 2016 unveils, here are our seven key trends we expect to take center stage this year.

1) Mobile optimization will finally overtake desktop optimization in terms of importance

In early 2015, mobile searches surpassed desktop for the very first time. Announcing these findings, Google acknowledged that mobile and desktop traffic had finally tied, with this trend expected to continue into 2016. It's predicted that desktop usage will continue coming down which, therefore, means mobile traffic will become more important in the next few years. And now with Google’s latest change to a local three-pack and claims that desktop-specific sites are no longer needed, it’s clear that Google intends to create better mobile experiences on all types of consumer devices.

2) Video content will offer more ROI than written content for B2C industries and brands

Written content is still considered to be the standard type of content for many businesses today. This is despite calls for incorporation of other formats of content that’s regarded to be a good idea for SEO and consumer satisfaction. A vast majority of brands and businesses sparingly use other formats of content such as videos, infographics, and images. As such, they only use them as peripheral additions to their written content. In this year, though, that trend is set to change as several new technologies will be introduced while video will outdo written content in various aspects such as effectiveness, reach, engagement and overall ROI. Video apps such as Periscope, Vine, and Snapchat are some of the tools that have enhanced the exposure and expectations of users towards more visual content. And now with Google’s supposed introduction of video ads, a lot more is expected as far as video content usage is concerned. As such, B2C brands that do not adopt this video content strategy might lose big to competition. Of course, B2B brands will be warming up to follow suit although their intake of video content might not be as urgent.

3) Aggregated content will lower reliance on news and event coverage

Twitter has for some time now been experimenting with a new innovative feature known as Moments. Through this feature, users can access aggregated videos, posts, and images of unfolding news stories and live events from a single channel. Simply put, users will now be able to compile whatever content they have for others to see firsthand as it unfolds. While this is a new feature on Twitter, the concept is not completely new as advanced algorithms are already doing the same, albeit involving a compilation of news stories from various sources that already have related pre-existing information. As a result, 2016 seems to become a year when content marketing will become open for everyone. This means that tutorial and opinion-editorial content will become more important for search visibility.

4) Digital assistants will have more influence on search queries

With digital assistants sending more and more queries to modern search engines, the common searches continue to grow more complex (think of Siri, Google Now and Cortana). Long-tail keyword queries especially those that mimic spoken dialogue are expected to replace the existing typed queries. As a result, sites that contain colloquial, conversation content might benefit more from these changes.

5) Google (and other SERPs) will give more recognition to social content

Google has already began indexing Facebook and Twitter content which means you’re likely to bump on a tweet or a Facebook post in your mobile search result. This shows that social content is increasingly gaining recognition and could soon be regarded just as important as any other content such as those from independent web pages.

6) Deep links in apps will become more significant

For quite a while now, Google has been indexing apps. This is part of their long-term plan as they consider apps to occupy the position of traditional websites as the future most popular and functional platforms. In 2016, deep links to apps (links that direct users to a particular section of an app or page) will become more important, just like their counterparts on the web. For this reason, having an app for your business (or simply listing your business on several apps) may mean a boost in your SEO.

7) Local searches are set to become even more specific

Looking at some of the developments that occurred in 2015 such as the introduction of wearable devices (such as Apple Watch) and a more sophisticated local indexing by Google, it’s certain that local searches are set to get even more local (specific). This means that business rankings could soon rely on more specific identifications such as neighborhoods or street corners.

2016 Search Engine Optimization Conclusion

With the landscape of SEO changing daily and the 7 trends listed above thought to cause the biggest impact, it's time to look at your current SEO strategy and make changes accordingly.  Google, like Facebook, have changed the results to skew towards the "pay to play" game for businesses and are furthering their algorithms to incorporate "user intent" vs. who has the most backlinks for any given keyword.  A change in your SEO strategy to incorporate relevant content on a regular basis will be key toward your ranking success; among other factors (the 7 identified above).

Nonetheless, 2016 promises to be an exciting year for search marketers and thus worth looking forward to. If you need help or want to look into Search Engine Optimization and Search Engine Marketing as a service for you or your company please contact us at 402.620.2633 or at today!

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