What do search marketers need in order to stay focused and ahead of the online marketing arena in 2016? Below are 5 key trends that every marketer needs to watch closely.
Search-engine trends are constantly evolving and 2016 will certainly see innovative new developments. 2015 already saw tremendous changes in the search and content marketing world and the stage has been set for a brand new era of search engine trends.
Producing content has seen a shift from its traditional ways and instead, a new trend is being developed towards using search and social data to guide content creation. Speculated to be a major development process in increasing engagements for business brands, this trend will certainly help attract the perfect target audience.
While we all know how important a role content plays in online marketing to drive customers, the more technical aspect of search optimization must not be underestimated. The evolvement of the online industry has vastly affected the mindset of how and where brands need to focus their efforts in order to develop quality content that will shine in the spotlight.
So, the basics aside, below is a look at the top five SEO trends that businesses have to play close attention in the New Year, 2016.
Optimization of Mobile Apps
2015 was a revolutionary year that saw a massive increase in mobile apps and we all saw how effectively mobile searches overtook desktop searches. In 2016, it is expected that mobile apps are more than likely to become an even more significant factor for search and brand exposure and mobile apps will become absolutely vital for an effective mobile user experience.
If doubtful about the value and importance of mobile apps, this statistic will certainly put your doubts to rest: 52% of all time spent in the digital media is consumed by mobile apps and 42% of all mobile sales generated by the top 500 merchants were brought about through mobile apps. As a brand, if you want to keep your customers engaged, mobile apps need to be optimized. This of course, relies largely on designing the perfect mobile app that reflects on the organization and the message your brand is endorsing.
You also need to remember that when searching for mobile apps on the app store, users are initially only going to see icons that relate very few information. This makes it extremely important that icon images are visually appealing so people are encouraged to click and find out more. Also, customer feedback is very critical; keep a close eye on reviews and ratings and if users begin to complain about any errors or other usage issues, then set about to correct the problem straight away and make sure that other customers are aware that the problem has been addressed to.
Structured Data will become more important
Google announced the usage of the new machine-learning system called RankBrain in 2105. This groundbreaking A.I technology was designed to better comprehend the intent of searches and Google says that this system has been significantly helpful when search engines face a question it has not encountered before. This ranking factor has become increasingly prominent as Google claims that it is the third most important ranking system in Google’s algorithm.
The developments in this technology show that A.I can become a very important feature in 2016. While Google and other search engines introduce new concepts and incorporate machine learning in their algorithms, they can also develop an intellectual algorithm technique that can learn what users are searching for, thereby maximizing user experience by showing up the best websites.
As far as the technical aspect is concerned, brands have to focus on structured data to anticipate this development. Structured data markup, like the one found on schema.org, helps websites communicate with search engines by accurately describing what is on the page as opposed to leaving it up to the spiders to interpret. This paves way for search engines to display the site more precisely.
Previously, inaccurate or missing structured data markup would generally pass by unobserved or with hardly any impact on brand performance. As search engines became more intelligent, it also become more dependant on this extra data and failing to do so correctly would adversely affect the success of your website.
When using the schema.org markup, you should also use Google Webmaster Tools to ensure that the markup has been used properly. The Structured Data Testing Tool will prove to be easier for business brands to make sure that they have included everything perfectly. Brands must also be certain that their markup has been used consistently throughout the website, predominantly for rich content on the site, such as videos. This will make sure that rich snippets appear where possible, like in video search results. The importance of this is that it can increase the click-through rate for your website by making it look more engaging on the search engine results pages.
Website Layout will be more significant
Engagement is bound to take the center stage in 2016. Brands have always had to focus heavily on the extremely competitive content field to increase engagements and keep visitors to the website interested, and coming back for more. This is why website features such as the layout will be a very important aspect of rising above today’s content battlefield. When users have trouble in finding the information they are seeking on a website, they would click back to the search engine and an estimated 50% of potential sales are lost as a result of this.
This is precisely why you need to make sure that your website is optimized for visitors and one of the decisive factors for conversions is that your website is easy to navigate. Carefully examine your website data and keep close tabs on how visitors are reacting- are there any pages that are not being visited? Are there many people who click on many pages in quick succession and then click off the website? Attending to these questions would lead to the conclusion that people were looking for something in particular but that they couldn’t find it. So, in order to counter this impact, make sure that your website is properly organized. Your website must have subcategories and easy navigational features. Drop-down menus are extremely helpful as well and also consider adding an internal search bar. This is especially important for e-commerce websites so users can find what they are looking for must faster.
These factors aside, it’s also important to remember that the website layout and optimization also applies to mobile. To achieve this effectively for smart devices, it’s important to understand what your customers do on your website. For instance, providing the contact information and click-to-call buttons up front can be very helpful. At the same time, look at your mobile data to have a more thorough understanding on what customers are doing on your website so you can ensure that your mobile pages offer the perfect on-the-go user experience.
Links will still hold the limelight
The first Penguin Update of more than one year is expected to hit the online arena within a few weeks and this update has assured that it will clean up the link struggles that have been affecting websites ever since the launch of the last Penguin release in 2014. This eagerly awaited update has kept many people excited about how it will impact link building.
Business brands have to take full advantage of this update and not get caught back with penalties that could get your New Year’s marketing resolutions on a bad footing. This means that you have to take a very watchful look at the current profile link and look for variances in the number of backlinks for your web pages.
Brands must also focus heavily on earning backlinks that will impact your web page positively. Links from trustworthy websites can definitely impact a backlink profile, and these are the ones you should be targeting.
All good websites know that linking to other sites is as good as a vote of confidence. It must be noted that these sites will only link to pages that match the quality and value of their pages, so it’s important to build a quality backlink profile. For this, you need to focus on the following:
Offering unique and high-value content
Promoting content through social media platforms for more exposure
Designing an effective, easy-to-navigate website
Guest posts on reputed, quality web pages
On the other hand, brands must also review their backlink profile in order to identify any problematic links, if any. If you happen to notice any spam sites linking to your website, immediately reject them through Google. You really don’t want to run the risk of having these in your backlink profile with the new update just around the corner.
Search will be based heavily on overall content and online presence
It is expected that 2016 will be an era of maturation in online marketing and it is likely that success will have less to do with website ranking and will depend a lot on the overall online presence of the brand. Due to this reason, your website should have an imposing online presence and it should be well integrated with social media platforms.
Facebook, in particular, has been developing better search experiences for users and it is expected that this might become more sophisticated this year. What this means is that brands must now be geared up to optimize their online presence on social media, and this trend will be especially significant with the growing use of mobile apps such as the Facebook and YouTube app. People browse more often through their mobile devices so you need to make sure that the content posted on social media sites are ready for these searches.
This optimization process needs to be carefully studied as it requires close attention to both, the social media profiles as well as the posts. Brands and companies must ensure that they describe themselves as perfectly as possible in the About Us description sections, complete with data-backed keywords. The posts should be unique, engaging and interactive while the images must be high-quality ones. You can also use the Open Graph Protocol to take full advantage of your control over how your content appears when it eventually gets posted online. Your content should be mobile-friendly and it’s also advisable to link your posts across various platforms and include links to your website and blog.
In a nutshell, website development and social media marketing needs to stop being treated as two different things; rather treat both as two parts of the brand’s overall online presence and you can reap the best out of your online campaign.
We all know how rapidly the online marketing industry continues to grow and improve and it’s natural for marketers to sometimes feel the pressure getting to them as they struggle to stay ahead in the latest developments and ensure that their online campaigns are successful. But through these struggles, we are sure that we will see how much more the internet still can offer in terms of marketing.
While 2015 was indeed an exciting year for marketers, this year has some wonderful new trends in store as well. We look forward to seeing and experiencing the developments that are set to take the online world by storm in 2016.