What’s to Come For SEO in 2016

The calendar year is winding down, which means that not only will we be bombarded with holiday advertisements, but the blogosphere will be littered with articles recapping the year and predicting what’s to come in the world of SEO. Though we’re unfortunately short one crystal ball, there have been countless indications of the direction in which the industry is heading, and how to better prepare your business for 2016. From Mobilegeddon to the Phantom update, the digital marketing landscape has definitely seen some changes, but if anything, these changes have given some foresight to what 2016 holds.

SEMANTIC SEARCH CONTINUES TO IMPROVE

Searchers are consistently searching for more complex information, and Google is paying attention. With algorithm adjustments and improvements in Google’s AI, queries like “Who was the US President when the Angels won the World Series” can now be answered accurately.

What does this mean for digital marketers? That quality, relevant content will have a larger impact on your rankings in 2016 than ever before. As Google gets increasingly skilled at parsing user intent, your content better supply the answer – along with additional value to the user – if you hope to keep your rankings high.

LOCAL GETS MORE SPECIFIC

Local search has played a huge role in shaping SEO in 2015, and we expect it will continue into the coming year. With that said, local searches will likely continue to increase in specificity. Instead of searching by country, region, state, or even city, consumers want access to services, restaurants, and retailers in specific neighborhoods – or even specific streets. Plus, with the local snack pack shrinking from seven local results to three, the competition is only mounting.

NAP consistency and evermore location-specific content will be increasingly important in 2016 due to Smartphones and the ever-expanding use of mobile search. So, for those who have ignored localized optimization thus far, you’re going to want to step your game up – and fast.

SOCIAL AND APP CONTENT INDEXING

In 2015, we saw tweets enter Google’s mobile index, and in 2016, we can expect to see more social and app content making its way onto the SERPs. As the nature of the Internet continues to evolve, the line between applications and traditional websites blurs more every day.

Social and application optimization, including deep linking within applications, will increase in importance as mobile continues to conquer the digital marketing landscape as more and more users turn to apps to conduct their primary searches.

Google has also just started testing a content “streaming” process for nine select Android apps. What does this mean? Well, it means that Google is starting to index app-only content that doesn’t exist on an actual website or webpage. Users will now be able to access app content and fully run the app without having to download the app itself. We will undoubtedly see new optimization tactics appear if Google choose to permanently adopt this new “Web of Apps.”

VIDEOS AND INTERACTIVE CONTENT TAKES OVER

Reaching your audience amid the sea of content has been proving difficult, especially when more and more companies are beginning to understand the need for a complex and comprehensive content marketing strategy. Which, if you’re doing it right, should go hand-in-hand with your SEO. With that said, posting simple blogs and articles simply won’t cut it in 2016 (not that it’s been extremely successful in 2015).

Consumers are hungry for content that they can truly engage with, from infographics, to polls, to quizzes, and with mobile use surging, 2016 will be the year for digital marketers to cash in on these interactions.

REAL-TIME PANDA UPDATES

This is a big one. Real-time Panda algorithm updates will change the game for those who have previously felt the long and agonizing wrath of a penalty. Improvements in content quality, uniqueness, freshness, etc., will now result in (much) faster rankings boosts. We see the update rolling out slowly, but in the coming year we expect it will be in full swing.

This also means that those sites that are using shady tactics to try to gain ground on the SERPs will find very quickly that their efforts are all for naught – which is exactly how it should be.

2016: THE YEAR OF CONTEXT

SEOs cannot ignore the overwhelming tidal wave that is contextual data and the opportunities it provides. As consumers expect personally tailored experiences and instant gratification, digital marketers who think ahead and provide solutions to needs that consumers have not yet thought of will win, and win big.

Using information including the time of day, local weather, current location, direction of travel (to or from work, perhaps), and other contextual information allows digital marketers to help bolster their online presence and offer content and solutions the instant the consumer needs them. By changing the way we think, about our consumers and their wants/needs in 2016, we can not only make their lives easier, but also gain valuable customers along the way.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Much like the advent of every New Year, 2016 presents new challenges and opportunities in the digital marketing space, and by analyzing the past, we can get a pretty solid idea of the future. Keeping each of these potentialities in mind, let’s make 2016 a prosperous year.