Each year gets more exciting in the SEO industry, and 2016 is no exception. Even though we’re just a few months into the new year, we’ve already seen things shift. In particular, SEO is no longer about keyword-packed headlines and content. The search engines are getting smarter, and they’re able to recognize quality content from inferior content. The search engines can also tell who the content is written for, so it’s important to write for your unique audience.
The new changes in SEO have marketers back on their toes. Here are seven of the biggest SEO trends of 2016 that you should be aware of.
1. Social content will carry more weight and value.
Social media is a vital part of SEO because it tells Google what types of relationships you have with your customers, how people interact with you (and you with them) and how active your brand is online. This is why social content has carried more weight over the last couple of years.
Google already has deals cooked up with Facebook and Twitter. If you search for a news item, you’ll probably see a tweet come up in the search results. Google works hard to deliver the best user experience possible, and showing real-time social content in the search results is just one more way to achieve this goal.
2. Video content will be more lucrative than written content.
Written content is the go-to standard for most marketers, especially with all the formats available. Between infographics, images, videos and other mediums, there is plenty to choose from to share information, engage readers and highlight different aspects of your business. But you will see a change as video content begins to rise in popularity and bring in increased ROI.
In fact, it’s anticipated that video will outperform written content in terms of reach, engagement and effectiveness. Video apps like Vine, Snapchat and Periscope will help this trend, as they set users’ expectations to favor more visual content. It’s expected that B2C companies will experiment with video ads first, and B2B companies will follow suit. Might as well learn from the companies with the bigger ad budgets!
3. Mobile optimization will be more meaningful than desktop optimization.
At one time (not long ago), the standard form of search was done on desktops. Today, more than half of Google’s searches are completed on mobile devices, and this number keeps on ticking. When Google announced a little over a year ago that mobile searches surpassed desktop searches, that was all that was needed to make mobile traffic most important. In fact, Google is already saying that a desktop-specific site isn’t necessary and that creating a user-friendly mobile experience is what’s ideal.
4. Digital assistants will add a new way to search for information.
Competition is everywhere we look, and modern search engines now have to contend with search queries from digital assistants, such as Siri, Cortana and Google Now.
As technology has gotten better at understanding natural language, more people are relying on voice-driven tasks, whether it’s voice text, voice instructions or voice searches. After all, it’s far easier to say, “Hey Siri, where’s the nearest post office?” when you’re hopping into your car, versus having to sit in the driveway, type in your request and wait for the search results to pull up.
As more people use digital assistants for search, it will add an extra layer of complexity. Why? Because spoken queries are different than typed queries. In time, this could mean that Google will reward pages that contain conversationalist messaging.
5. Aggregated content will give users more control.
It’s predicted that news articles that aren’t automatically sourced will diminish, and evergreen, tutorial content will become more important for search visibility. We already see this trend unfolding on sites like Twitter. Twitter has a fairly new feature called Moments that aggregates posts, images and videos from large events and unfolding news stories into one channel for people to see. With this approach, users become content creators and can see events unfolding as they happen.
6. Deep links to apps will grow more important.
Google has been indexing apps for a long time to better serve the needs of mobile users. Google is anticipating that mobile apps will overtake traditional websites in the future. Not only will they be more popular among users but also more functional because of their streamlined capabilities and offline functionalities.
Starting this year, pay attention to “deep links” to apps, meaning that links will point toward a specific page or section of an app. App optimization will grow more important, and deep links will carry more meaning. What does this mean for you? If you haven’t developed an app for your business, now is the time to do so.
7. Local search will get more local.
Wearable devices are becoming more mainstream, and this will have a major impact on SEO. At one time, businesses didn’t have their locations tied into their keywords, and then local SEO became a thing. Now, more businesses will be identified by their precise location rather than a general city or state. That coffee shop you like on the corner of 1st and 3rd Streets? Local search will point users to these exact corners rather than the city itself.
It’s always hard to know whether a trend is here to make an impact or just brush through. Only time will tell. What we do know is that the above trends aren’t just predictions; they’re happening as we speak. We already see deals being made, content changing and digital assistants adding a new layer to the SEO game. Sometimes, SEO trends work counterintuitively; one minute they’re moving fast and the next they’re slowing down. All we can say is: buckle up for a great ride!