SEO Top Trends - Forecasting for 2016

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SEO Top Trends - Forecasting for 2016

Harry Bartlett

Tis the time of the year to think about what's to come in 2016, what new things should we be on the lookout for, what will the new trends be. Here I want to develop an all encompassing list of trends to look for in the coming year. Compiled are all of the top trends that have been forecasted from influencers across the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) industry.

Forbes Top SEO Trends

1. Video to overtake written content in ROI for B2C

New technology developments and improvements on current technology will help video to outgrow written content in reach, engagement, effectiveness, and ROI. Apps like Vine, Periscope, and Snapchat are first hand examples of this trend. With Snapchat major brands are involved in their discover section.

In the cluttered marketing world attention spans are ever decreasing. In order to tailor content to today's user visual representations of content are more efficient. Images are useful but video allows to tell a bigger story

2. Mobile Optimization Overtakes Desktop

This year mobile searches surpassed desktop for the first time proving that mobile searching is here to stay. Google also announced with the Mobilegeddon update that mobile and desktop traffic are seen as relatively the same. With so many people now having easy access to the internet at all times on smartphones, along with the short attention spans, searching on the go is and will be the norm.

3. Digital Assistants Change the Way We Think About Search Queries

Siri, Cortana, and Google Now for example will be a driving force in more search queries being conversational. Search queries coming from them will be a new type of long tail keyword and mimic spoken language more than online search queries. Developing content to focus on the Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How questions in your industry will help in rankings.

4. Aggregate Content to Diminish Power of News and Event Coverage

Platforms like Twitter are experimenting with combining posts, images, and videos from live events into one location for people to view. In a way the users would now be the content creators. This would result in news and event coverage that isn't automatically sourced to be diminished as there will already be one area to view everything you need to know.

5. Deep Links in Apps Increase in Importance

Links that point to a specific section or page of an app might start to carry more meaning similar to deep links on a website.

6. Local Search Gets More Local

With increases in wearable technology Google’s indexing looks to become more sophisticated. Instead of businesses being identified based off of city or state, rankings could soon generate based on street corner or neighborhood. SEO Trends to Be Ready For

7. Ranking #1 has More than Organic SEO Competition

Search Engine Results Page (SERP) elements - paid ads, local packs, carousel results, and more take clicks away from the top ranking websites.

You could, for example, have less opportunities to have users click on your listing if there are paid ads or local packs on SERP’s you're looking to rank on. On the other hand that could also allow for more opportunities to rank for multiple elements, organic-paid-local, where you might not be able to rank for one but you can rank for another.

8. Rich Answers Increasing

Having high quality, unique and direct content that answers a commonly searched question on Google might allow you to have a rich answer listing. Click Through Rate for rich answers are nearly X2 better than rankings #1. With that being said, it's not easy to rank for a rich answer. Below, the box under the first ad is an example of a rich answer listing.

What is Inbound Marketing? Google Search

Steps to attempt to rank for a rich answer include: 

  1. Identify commonly searched questions (long-tail keyword) in your niche.
  2. Create content that directly answers the question, containing the question and answer in the content. 
  3. Review the content to make sure it is helpful and provides additional information on the topic.
  4. Finally, make the content easily accessible - available to Google Bots for indexing, share links on your social accounts, submit it via Google Search Console, etc.

Business 2 Community 2016 SEO Trends

9. Page Tagging for Mobile

Increase in mobile searches will lead to increases in heading tags used in greater rates. 2016 SEO Predictions

10. Spend for Mobile is Now

With mobile searching recently overtaking desktop searches, spend on paid clicks and organic traffic is set to have a majority come from mobile as opposed to desktop.

What can you do? First would be to optimizing your website for mobile in making it responsive. From there you can run paid ads with Google that focus only on mobile calls. Finally, claim your business on all possible avenues from Google+ to Google Maps. 50% of customers visit a store after searching for it on a smartphone and 72% of consumers who search for local info on a smartphone visit a store within 5 miles.

11. Local and Long Tail Keyword Voice Search

Using the digital assistants as mentioned above tend to lead to local search queries and ones containing more long tail keywords. Local tends to relate to when people ask “where” to any of the digital assistants. Think about when you have asked Siri “Where is the nearest gas station?” It pulled addresses of local gas stations and by using maps figured out which one is closest to you. The same can ring true for almost any business when someone asks “where”.

Long Tail keywords come into play because voice searches on average contain more words than text searches.

Econsultancy SEO Experts Predication

12. Real time Penguin Update

It is slated currently for rollout early in 2016. The hype around this update is that Google will now recognize a link that has been removed or disavowed in real time. This will allow for sites that have been penalized to have that penalty removed quickly instead of having a need to wait until a new update.

Sites that were penalized by penguin are due to poor, deceptive, or unnatural linking.

13. Web and App Blurred Lines

Google’s App Streaming adds a blurred line into the separation of web pages and apps. When searching it allows for preview or use of an app, that hasn’t been downloaded, from the web. For gaming apps you will be able to preview the app for 60 seconds before deciding to download it. For promoting other mobile apps Google also is testing Interactive Interstitials, which allows for marketers to showcase the experience and interactivity that their mobile app has to offer without needing to download it.

Momentology Expert SEO Trends

14. Search Volume and Apps

Increasing numbers of mobile searching, mobile app streaming options, and the easily accessible app store on mobile phones leads to stealing search engine traffic towards mobile apps. Why go online to search for news when you can download the New York Times app, why search for local restaurants when you can download Open Table, and the list goes on. With mobile usage on the rise there is the possibility that people will want information faster and pull away from searching to downloading apps.

15. User Experience Takes Lead

As Google adjusts their algorithm constantly the trend results in giving the user the best experience possible. Many aspects that we see play a role in SEO end up relating to user experience: CTR, pages per session, time on website, conversion rate all are indicators of good user experience as well as typical things we seek as SEOs.

RankBrain, which has been said to be the 3rd most important factor in ranking, could start to take over ranking factors. It was built as Artificial Intelligence (AI) thus as time goes on it will continue to learn and adjust the factors that it seems point to the best user experience. Google wrote 10 things they believe in and look to focus their company towards and #1 is “focus on the user and all else will follow” ( 

16. Ever Changing SERP

This past year Google switched from a 7 Map Pack to 3 and is showing up for more results than just local specific search queries. As well, 3 ads instead of 2 are now running on mobile search results. What do these mean? It means there are fewer local listings that you can try to rank for as well as making ranking #1 organically less important. Ranking #1 will still be important but with added features and decreased space on SERPs pushes the organic top 10 results further down the page which may lead to fewer clicks.

Search engine ranking through google

Why is this a forecast as these things have already happened? It is a forecasted trend because Google has continuously tested and tried new things. Expect something new, mobile app results from Google App Stream or something we don’t know about yet, or just expect something to change.

17. SSEO: Social Search Engine Marketing

With search engines ranking social media posts and including them in SERPs, SSEO will start to play a part in overall SEO. No longer will creating the perfect 140 character post be all that matters - start thinking about how that post expresses the topic because it may have a chance of showing up on a SERP.

18. Reliance on Structured Data

Many sites have already adopted this but for those that have no markup they will lose a competitive advantage. Using the right markup can lead to search engines gaining more precise info on goods and services, bring ratings and reviews to stand out, draw attention to events, and display contact information.

There you have it, all of the top trends that have been forecasted by SEO experts. Just as 2015 was a huge year for change in SEO so will 2016. If there are any trends that you feel will be vital to 2016 and should be included in this report then please comment or reach out and I will be more than happy to update this list.

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About the author

Harry started BI in 1998 and focuses on integrating best practices in branding, user experience design, Internet marketing, and technology to increase the value of an online presence.
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