Search engine optimization (or SEO) will always be in a state of "permaflux." Tips that would have been used even five years ago would be search engine suicide if used today.
So what can we expect for 2016? Below are some of the leading predictions on what to expect over the next year. Take cover--because winter is coming!
1. Mobile will dominate
In 2015 we reached a major milestone: the number of mobile-only internet users surpassed the number of desktop-only users, with at least 54% of their digital media time interacting with mobile apps. That means your customers are literally living, working and exploring on their smartphones. This is also why it is ABSOLUTELY necessary to optimize your websites, landing pages and other digital platforms for smaller screens. (Don't make me cite Google's Mobilegeddon update again!)
If you're unsure if your webpages are optimized, use Google's Mobile Friendly Test to analyze each page.
2. Video content will overtake written content
A valuable digital marketing consultant will tell you to consider ALL forms of content packaging and mediums to create a holistic strategy; however, written content was still the underlying "standard." However, it's predicted that in 2016, video will overtake written content in terms of engagement, reach, effectiveness and overall ROI. Vine, Periscope and Snapchat have been partially responsible for this shift, but this is a trend that is years-long in the making. For B2C brands, this is imperative in 2016. For those that operate in the B2B space, the same trend will follow suit, but you likely have a few more years to prepare--but don't wait long!
3. Digital assistants or voice search will change the way we think about search queries
Think of Siri, Cortana or Google Now. Spoken or voice search tend to be very different from traditional or typed search queries. These will usher in a whole new era of long-tail keywords. This trend will likely reward those websites that contain conversational tones and colloquial dialogue.
This change has also brought about the importance of structured data or 'rich snippets'--which help search engines directly answer questions by understanding the content they retrieve. I understand that you might not like the idea of Google pulling your content without referring visitors, but its better than being left our entirely!
4. Aggregated content will diminish the power of news content
I'm sure you've seen the commercials for Twitter's new "Moments" feature which aggregates content, video and images from lives events onto a single channel for people to view. As a result, this change will narrow the field of content marketing for everyone. If you aren't a source that is automatically picked, you should focus on evergreen, opinion-editorial and tutorial content to gain search visibility.
5. Local search gets even more local
Local search has always been an important factor to consider, but with mobile and voice search rising--this is primed to explode in 2016! The onset of wearable devices and Google's recent Pigeon update has increased sophistication of local indexes.
Go even further than state or city--instead ranking could soon be generated based on your street corner or neighborhood.
6. Social content will be more readily indexed
Google already has deals in place with Facebook and Twitter--and you've likely already seen a tweet or two appear in your mobile search results. In the future, I imagine additional platforms will jump on board and become more heavily indexed in the vaults available to search engines.
Additionally, social posts will carry a value, similar to any independent web page. In 2016, we'll begin to see an even greater blurring of "web" and "social" as it relates to SEO.
Of course, there are also some things that will likely never change--the basics of SEO. To help you get started with a solid SEO strategy in 2016, LeapFrogger created a comprehensive SEO checklist. (also posted below)
2016 may see these trends radically change the SEO landscape, or only hint at their introduction. Either way, it'll be an interesting year for search marketers, and I for one, am looking forward to it! Any trends that I might have missed that are currently on your radar?
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