2015 has been a tremendous year for the SEO industry. Lots of changes shaped and affected searches; we saw major updates like the Mobilegeddon Update, which eradicated websites which weren’t mobile friendly from the search results. The New Local 3-Pack Update gave a sizable overhaul to local rankings. A new quality algorithm for content also majorly affected search results.
Also, digital assistant technologies (like Siri, Cortana, Google Now) and new mobile devices achieved a whole new level to shape the future of user-oriented search behaviour.
2016 is fast approaching and all the eyes are on the expected trends and updates that Google has in its store for us.
Below I have compiled a list of the top trends that are set to rule the SEO industry for 2016:
Video Content is going to win over written content
As they say, a picture says a thousand words. So you can understand how many words can a video say. Keeping the cliche aside, it definitely says much more than a static picture.
Most brands however, still consider written content as “baseline” and “standard” form with other elements like infographics, images, videos serving as secondary or subsidiary additions.
By 2016, with handful of new and advanced technologies, video content will most certainly outrun the traditional written content in terms of emotional connection, reach, engagement with the years. Also, increased number of video apps like Snapchat, Periscope, Vine etc are also contributing towards increased orientation towards visual content. Google has also started experimenting with video ads for search results. I suppose with the coming time, B2B brands which do not have regular video feeds would be swept from the search results.
Higher Google Rankings will no longer mean organic clicks
Gone are those days when #1 Google ranking would get you the most organic clicks. Google SERPs have evolved over the past years and so has the user’s way of scanning the page before clicking. A latest study by Mediative also reflected the same.
While the click-through-rate is still influenced by the organic ranking of a website, but a lot of other important factors can affect your organic clicks in 2016. Paid ads, local carousel results, local 3-pack result, knowledge graphs, rich snippets and all such attention grabbing SERP elements are likely to steal away the organic clicks #1 Google ranking website.
Mobile optimization more important than desktop optimization
Desktop searches had been the most “standardized” form of search until the smartphone users grew in number. This year, it was confirmed that Mobile searches surpassed desktop searches. Also, after the Mobilegeddon update, Google reported mobile traffic and desktop traffic to be almost equal. Keeping this trend in mind, I think mobile optimization for websites will become more important than desktop optimization the coming year. Also I hope 5 years down the line, this shift will continue, vanishing desktop searches.
Voice search and smart assistants (Siri, Cortana) will make search results even better
Users are increasingly depending on search tools (aka digital assistive technologies) like Siri, Cortana, Google Now to cut-the-chase and get the information quickly.
Search Engines have reported more voice search queries. This has added an additional layer of search complexity. Spoken queries are very different from the the typical keyword driven queries (typed). This will lead to an emergence of a totally different genre of long-tail queries – which would include spoken dialogue. The trend will boost up the pages with conversational content in the SERPs.
Social content will become important for rankings
Google will be joining hands with twitter and facebook soon – this means whenever you search for any news item, you would probably see some tweets regarding it in your mobile search results. I think by the coming year, more platforms will wind up getting indexed by Google. Individual social posts will be equally important as any independant web pages.
Google Local Search will expand
Google has been working on improving local search for a long time now. Though I expected Local search to get even more local last year, but I strongly feel that this trend is primed to amplify in 2016. More specific and precise type of local searches would generate owing to the outset of wearable devices (like the Apple Watch) and Google’s increased sophistication of local indexes. Along with rankings on the basis of city and state, street corners or neighbourhood’s results would also be generated.
Interactive content (infographics, contests) will be on the rise
Content has been the king and “interactive content” has been the “hand of the king” for a few years. I think Interactive content would eventually steal the crown and become the new king by 2016. Infographics, undoubtedly has been a huge selling point up till now, but I guess by the coming year more advanced interactive content like online quizzes, contests, surveys would gain even more user engagement and interaction with a brand.
Rich answers would become more important (SERPs would be more interactive).
Rich answers are basically direct answers that are displayed on the top of SERPs. A study by Stone Temple Consulting revealed that there has been a growth of 38% in rich answers over the past 6 months.
The above image show the result (rich answer) for “how to make chocolate pudding without cornstarch”.
Google mostly builds rich answers based on public data or data licensed to Google. So if your SEO strategy depends on non-proprietary content or public domain data, then my friend, you are in for some trouble! But if you have high quality, unique non proprietary content (that can help Google get its answers for searcher’s query), then this might turn out as a big opportunity for you.
Brace yourselves – Google Penguin is coming!
Early 2016 will most certainly see the roll-out of Google Penguin Update. Though this update was originally lined up for late 2015, Google announced that it would delay it till early 2016.
The algorithm first introduced in 2012, received some criticism due to the increased time gaps between the updates. Due to this, the sites that were penalized and had subsequently rectified their acts had to wait that long to expect any recovery.
But this misery is soon to end in 2016 – as Google Penguin is expected to have a transition into “real-time”.
App Store Optimization will become more significant
Increased number of mobile phone users have led to a greater number of companies making app. 52% of a user’s time (online) is spent on mobile apps. Thus, app store optimization is definitely going to be the new trending thing the coming year. More businesses are likely to go in for app A/B testing for their apps. Also, in order to enhance the visibility and relevance of any app page,deep linking is going to assume even more importance.
No matter, how many updates we get in 2016, one thing is sure that Google SERPs and user experience will improve with every update, algorithm or infrastructure.
These were my predictions of SEO trends in 2016? What do you think would be the major breakthrough in the SEO in the coming new year? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
We wish you a very Happy New Year!