It must be January, for I find myself once more in the realms of writing prediction posts for the upcoming year. And I’m not alone – every day so far of 2016, my Twitter feed has been filled with links to many articles written by my peers prophesying what the next 12 months will bring in all manner of tech and entrepreneurial innovation – 2016 eCommerce trends, 2016 Digital Trends, and of course plenty of SEO predictions for 2016
And so, I feel I’m pretty well versed on what some of the most well-respected industry experts are predicting to take place in the world of SEO this year. Some I agree with, others I’m a little more sceptical about, and still more I wouldn’t possibly like to guess at.
And so, I’m putting this blog post together with some real forethought. I don’t want to make wild SEO predictions about what may or may not prove to be true. Indeed, I don’t even want to sensationalise this post (as some bloggers, naming no names, I feel are compelled to do) by making outlandish and deliberately provocative statements about how 2016 SEO is going to be all about Asking Jeeves or some such ridiculous thing that will be of no help to anyone.
Rather, I want to take up your reading time by giving you some decidedly measured ‘predictions’. That is to say that I’m going to take things seriously, look at what has been trending in 2015 and will continue to build pace in 2016, as this is the information that I, as a marketer, would want to have myself (as opposed to silly guesses that are nothing more than conjecture). Therefore, what follows are not really predictions as such – more categorical analyses of the SEO trends that we will all need to continue to pay due attention to in increasing amounts over the upcoming year.
5 realistic SEO Predictions for 2016
1. Mobile Search Will Continue Its Increase
Do you remember ‘Mobilegeddon’? That’s right, it was back in April last year when Google rolled out its mobile friendly algorithm change, which meant that mobile-friendliness officially became a ranking factor for all websites.
(Image source: SmartInsights.com)
Surely one of the most popular SEO predictions for 2016, as I see it as being pretty obvious that growth of mobile search traffic will continue to accelerate further throughout the year. This means that webmasters need to ensure, first and foremost, that their websites are optimised for the mobile screen, which means responsive design at the very least. Mobile search has now officially surpassed desktop search, which means that ensuring that your website is viewable on mobile is more than a matter of SEO. Your users are accessing your website on their mobiles – it’s the least you can do to make such an experience an enjoyable one.
Use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test page to see if your website is up to scratch.
2. the penguin update will become REAL-TIME
This has been mooted around for a while now and I see no reason to believe that Penguin will not become a real-time updating algorithm in 2016.
Penguin has redefined search from its launch in April 2012 and has changed the SEO world as we know it. It has such an impact on launch, panicked software companies re-branded to remove ‘SEO’ from their brand names and SEO’s everywhere started to declare the death of the industry (again).
Perhaps the above actions were extreme, as SEO is still very much alive and kicking but it goes to show the impact Penguin had on the SEO community.
For those who don’t know, Penguin reshaped search by putting an end to spammy link building techniques and penalised sites which violate Googles quality guidelines. This lead to more of a focus on earning links through quality content and digital PR becoming key to the SEO process.
Bearing in mind the importance of the algorithum to Google’s core, there is no reason why Penguin will not start to run in real-time in 2016.
3. The Continued Rise Of Voice Search
Almost in combination of the continued rise in mobile search is that of the continued increase of voice search.
As you will be aware, voice search is now available on Apple Siri, Google Now and Windows Cortana phones. And, when you think about it, this is delivering a subtle yet significant difference in the way that search engines perform – and the difference lies in the manner in which we enter the search query.
When we’re on Google, we type in something like “KFC”, and trust that the local SEO algorithms will bring up a map in the SERP telling us that there’s one hopefully not too far away.
But, when we use voice search, we literally ask the search engine a question – “Where’s the nearest KFC?”
What this means is that there is an increase in question keywords – i.e. “who”, “what”, “when”, “where”, “why” and “how” – that are being used to find your content. Indeed Search Engine Watch conducted a study which found that these words grew in use by a whopping 61% year-over-year, with the biggest increase being “Who” phrases (134%) and “How” phrases (81%).
(Image Source: Search Engine Watch)
So, what does this mean that marketers will have to do? Well, it just so happens that the answer to this flows nicely into my fourth prediction for 2016….
4. Local SEO Will Continue To Increase In Importance
Of course, local SEO has always been important, but with the continued trends in the rise of both mobile and specifically voice search, 2016 will be the most critical year yet for marketers to get to grips with their local SEO efforts.
There is far more to local SEO than a Google Places listing and local citations will become more influential in rankings.
What this means for marketers is that we’re all going to have to make better use of smart keywords, and personally ensure that our local directory information is always current and up-to-date.
5. Apps Will Increasingly Turn Up In SERPs
If your business has its own app, then this too needs to be search friendly. Google now indexes app content and uses app data to improve its search. This means that apps are becoming more integrated within Google search results, and, if you play your SEO cards right, you will be able to make your app appear in search results.
Indeed, since Google’s introduction of app streaming – which helps brands to drive app installs by allowing users to try an app for 60 seconds before deciding whether or not to download – the “web of apps” phenomenon may be upon us all yet.
So there we go – all in all I think it’s safe to say my SEO predictions for 2016 implied another “year of the mobile”. I know, I thought 2015 was the year of the mobile – but it seems that 2016 will be, too (only more so).
Let me know in the comments if you think I can get a 100% success rate when I review this in 2017 and do let me know your personal SEO predictions for 2016.