The future of SEO continues to be very relevant to any organization who wishes to be found in Search by their target audience. In 2016 these trends will be important to maintain and grow your organic search engine positioning.
Attention Grabbing Features Compete with your Organic Listings. Click-through rate (CTR) will continue to be correlated with search return positions. However, there are new attention grabbing opportunities to be found at the top of search engine return pages (SERPs). This includes Paid Ads, Carousel results, Knowledge Graphs and Rich Snippets ... and the way searchers interact with a SERP, given theses opportunities, varies from query to query.
: Review your SEO strategy and add attention grabbing opportunities on key SERPs.
Rich Answers are on the Rise.
I'm sure you have noticed 'rich answers' appearing at the top of your search returns, particularly around topics that are public domain data (like Prime Ministers of Canada or Song Lyrics). If your SEO strategy was built on public domain data, it's now time to update it. Google has focused their returns on Rich Answers product and is now returning 35% of all answers to these types of queries on SERPs (a 38% increase in the last 6 months).
If you have high-quality, proprietary content that can help Google answer searcher's common questions, then Rich Answers is an opportunity for you.
Page Speed is Very Important.
Page speed is considered a ranking factor. If all other things are equal, page speed will outrank a competing site. For example, Google has allocated a specific time for crawling your site and Google's bot will only stay on your website for that specific period of time. But more important is your visitors perception. Research indicates that 40% of visitors will abandon a site if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load and 50% of visitors expect a site to load in 2 seconds. Also, one second in loading speed is shown to decrease conversions by 7%. (ex: Form completions, eCommerce, etc.)
Less pages may get indexed by Google if your pages are slow to load. Test your pages for loading speed and adjust slow loading pages. Google Search Console is a good place to start to check page load times.
"Dark Traffic" Affects Organic Reporting.
According to Define Media Group, (November 2015) when Google Analytics is unable to identify where your site visits are coming from, the visits are now recorded as direct traffic. These "less precise" reports do not allow you to fully understand how organic, social and mobile traffic is growing and reported in relation to your marketing efforts. Is this happening in your reporting environment?
Begin reporting on Dark Traffic as part of your marketing measurements. Create a direct traffic report in Google Analytics and filter out the traffic to pages that are naturally visited "directly", such as your homepage, front pages and important content sections.. Also, if you identify this as an issue and have the budget consider other tools to assist with your marketing reporting/analysis.
Keywords have become Thematic.
Google's Hummingbird update shifts the keyword research focus from researching separate keywords to researching keyword groups. Now that Google is able to recognize the meaning behind a search query, it gives a common answer to a number of "different-in-keywords" and "same-in-meaning" queries. This means your pages can be relevant not only to the core term, but for a whole group of its synonyms and related terms.
Consider a shift in focus to groups of related terms instead of individual keywords.
User Behaviour may soon be a Ranking Factor.
Search engines deny this exists but many experiments prove the opposite.
It's important to a) revise your page titles and descriptions for accuracy b) examine the way users engage with your content (do they go back and select another page? do they stay on your page, proceed to other pages, or bounce in a second or two?) c) review the social signals/metrics as experiments show that pages with a lot of activity and fewer links outperform those with more links and fewer shares.
To maintain your digital dollar investment and stay on top of search trends and ranking, include these new SEO activities as part of your digital marketing strategy in 2016.
is a digital analyst with amazing research skills. Through Concentric, he helps businesses develop, measure and optimize their digital advertising as well as their marketing initiatives.