Top 5 SEO predictions for 2016

The world of SEO moves pretty fast. To quote Ferris Bueller, if you don’t stop and look around once and a while, you could suffer some pretty serious ranking penalties. Perhaps I’m paraphrasing, but those who follow SEO will know that many of the best practices they might’ve recommended only a few years ago would never pass muster today.

The world of SEO moves pretty fast. To quote Ferris Bueller, if you don’t stop and look around once and a while, you could suffer some pretty serious ranking penalties.

Perhaps I’m paraphrasing, but those who follow SEO will know that many of the best practices they might’ve recommended only a few years ago would never pass muster today. 2015 was another exceptional year full of exciting developments for search marketing. Yet again it was declared the ‘Year of Mobile’, something we’ve heard since about 2012 by my count, but at least we had the much talked about ‘Mobilegeddon’ update to go along with it this time. Along with E-Commerce updates and mysterious Panda tweaks we also saw the introduction of Rankbrain, Google’s machine learning technology adding a level of Artificial Intelligence to contend with when it came to indexing and ranking processes.

After such a busy year, the business of SEO certainly shows no signs of slowing down, but what can we expect from 2016? Here are some of our leading predictions for the coming months.

1. Year of Mobile Redux

If it seems like every year in SEO is the ‘Year of Mobile’, it’s for good reason. Phones, tablets and other mobile devices have come to dominate our daily lives and have overtaken the desktop as the most popular way to get online.

With that in mind, it’s now more important than ever that our websites are perfectly optimised to stay ahead of the game. Being ‘mobile-friendly’ will be at the forefront of many a mind this year as the importance of this ranking factor comes into play.

2. Siri Gets Serious

Voice search comes in hot on the heels of mobile search, because the two go hand in hand. Get your long-tail keywords at the ready as 2016 could be the year we see an increase in users simply directing their search queries to Siri, Google Now or Cortana to find what they’re looking for.

This change will mean a rethink in the way we see structured data and ‘rich snippets’ as search engines attempt to answer queries directly by understanding the content they retrieve. The result of this could mean Google using your information without referring visitors to your site, but it’s a sacrifice that may have to be made if the other option is being left out entirely.

3. Local Search for Local People

In an increasingly global world, local SEO could be about to play an increasingly important role. Local results can offer refuge for brands and businesses in a sea of other results when it comes to attracting an audience. It also has clear ties to mobile search. Get ready for this one with the targeting of local keywords and by keeping your Google Maps info up to date.

4. Integration Across Digital Marketing

SEO can no longer be seen as a stand alone service. Although its importance cannot be underplayed, it is likely that this year will see SEO campaigns incorporating social and other digital media elements to help build organic links. This factor has come about because of the way in which SEO can often be aligned with content marketing from the way in which Google puts so much emphasis on high quality content.

5. Year of the App

When it comes to mobile, apps are beginning to take an increasingly prominent place in search results. The line has begun to blur between web and app with Google’s introduction of app streaming helping brands to drive app installs by allowing users to try their apps for 60 seconds before deciding whether or not to download. It is hoped that the ability for brands to replicate the functionality of their mobile apps directly in search results will decrease the likelihood that an app will go unused after install while delivering the kind of quality user experience that the full app delivers. Only time will tell.

by Euan Leopold