1. Rich Answers
Google continues to grow its dominance as the go to provider for information about everything in our lives and Page one will soon be populated with even more Rich Answers in the SERP’s (search engine results page). Google now returns Rich Answers to 35% of queries; this is a 38% rise in just 6 months.
The challenge is to provide unique content for common search queries where most content is based on public or licensed data. If you provide great quality, unique and relevant data for common search questions then this is an opportunity and can provide a massive traffic boost. Create your own content spun from public domain sources.
New sites can really benefit from this tactic as URL history is not a big factor.
- Conduct 'Long Tail Keyword Research' that applies to your site purpose and content.
- Create unique content to specifically answer the most common questions and structure your content for search. (including Voice Search)
2. Load Speed
Many trend predictions are up for debate in 2016 but load speed is not one of them - it is a ranking factor. So not only will you likely lose hard won traffic because of user behavior (If a page takes longer than 3 seconds to load, approximately 40% of the traffic will exit) but Google will take note of such user behavior and site ranking will be impacted.
3. Analytics Tracking Meets Dark Traffic
This impacts SEO
only because the ability to accurately track visits and campaign effectiveness is so important. Many visitors arrive on sites having searched and clicked on images. This traffic is recorded but is categorized with other Dark Traffic such as; Application Link Traffic i.e. Facebook and other social media sites, and/or traffic from secure to non-secure sites. One solution will be to create custom reports that filter out specific direct traffic sources.
4. Keyword Research
Key Word Research remains important but the pending Hummingbird update is predicted to shine a spotlight on Keyword Groupings, Synonyms and Phrase Themes. Content quality and purpose becomes hugely important when trying to create text around; search term variances, long tail terms including geo references and now Voice Search (Siri, Google etc.) The impact of Voice Search will depend on applied consideration of how Key Word phrases are most often spoken aloud. [Who delivers taco’s at 4am?]
5. Site Design Meets User Behavior as a Ranking Factor
Google has a greater ability than ever to determine if visitors to your site are getting what they came for. Click through rates, time on site, and engagement – are all analyzed to rank user behavior and your site quality. The CTA bone is connected to the Social Media bone and so on. Ensure that your site content is worth sharing and can be easily shared.
6. Mobile Focus More Important Than Desktop
This goes beyond design and navigation to Voice Search functionality. Use Key Word phrases that are likely to be spoken out loud vs. typed, e.g. “show me downtown dry cleaners.” 2015 saw a focus on Mobile Design
and Navigation but new Voice Search technologies have already taken favour with younger demographics. This search format will become increasingly mainstream as such tools improve.
7. Social Media Content Gains Mass
This is reflected in SERP’s for many major brands with their Social Media pages climbing Page One results. Search engines are paying attention to Social Media links and increasingly weighting authority based on a better understanding of what topics sites should rank for. This also ties into user engagement factors and highlights the importance of providing practical, useful content worth sharing.
8. Local SEO
This is more of a continuing trend than a new trend. Include plenty of local Key Word’s and personalize your content around your local audience. Talk about topical events in a neighborhood, link to other local relevant associations, resources or businesses (or their blogs, events pages, social media pages).
9. B2C Video Content to Outrank Written Content
Google is expected to experiment with video ads in SERP’s very soon. The trend is not expected to impact B2B for a few more years though it’s better to be ahead of the curve with the speed that the B2B space adapts. Consumers are now expecting to find rich video content when conducting research to make purchases. Brands without such content available are perceived as being ‘behind’.
10. SERPS Will Continue to Evolve
Snack Packs will be more important than ever. Page one SERP’s will include; knowledge graphs, rich snippets (aka garnish for search engines) and as noted above, video ads. Competition for Page One will become far more intense which means it will be a great time to work in Digital Marketing
11. Hummingbird Update to be Real-Time
This bonus item is not so much a trend, but worth noting. This is important for many reasons though for most in the SEO community the reason relates to how Google has dealt with penalties in the past. Previously when this algorithm slapped targeted black hat link tactics, time between updates was long and sites had to wait to see if they met the suspected criteria to be re-listed. Now corrections will be recorded in real time.
If you would like more information on our top 10 SEO trends in 2016 from our author, please email Daniel Whalen at: firstname.lastname@example.org.