The top 7 SEO trends you MUST get ready for
Lots of changes have affected search in 2015 and now, as 2016 is fast approaching, all eyes are on the newly emerging trends and the updates that Google has in stock for us.
“Evolve or decay” — that’s what many call the future of SEO. And if you find it hard to keep track of all the changes you must adjust to and evolve with… No worries! Just back from the two largest and most trusted SEO conferences in the USA — SMX East and Pubcon — we’ve carefully documented all the most important takeaways!
1. Higher Google ranks no longer mean more organic clicks
Are you still assuming the #1 Google ranking guarantees you the most organic clicks?
Well, here comes the bad news… While the click-through rate (the percentage of searchers that click on a site’s listing when they see it in search results) is surely still correlated with positions, lots of other factors can influence your organic clicks in Google of 2016.
Paid ads, local packs, carousel results, knowledge graphs and rich snippets — all these attention-grabbing SERP elements can drain away the clicks from your #1 ranking website.
The latest study by Mediative (that was tracking searchers’ eye movement and eventual clicks across different SERPs) showed that the way searchers interact with the SERP varies a great deal from query to query.
3. Page speed is utterly important — optimize it today, don’t put it off till tomorrow
First things first: page speed is a ranking factor. All other things being equal, the site that loads quicker will outrank a competing site, hands down.
Second, slow-loading pages waste your site’s crawl budget (yeah, Google has allocated a specific time for crawling your website, and Google”s bot won’t stay on your website longer than that specific period). For a bigger website this means that the slower your pages load, the fewer of them get indexed by Google.
5. Keywords are neither dead nor dying — they are still the basis of your SEO campaign
Keywords and keyword targeting are the most basic and longest-running concepts in SEO. And if you’re in search for quite some time, you may remember the days when SEO meant just having the right words in your meta keywords tag.
Sure, these times have passed and will never come back: search engines now use much more complicated algorithms to determine webpages’ quality and relevancy. But does this mean keywords are dead? Experts agree — keywords and keyword research should still be the basis of your SEO and content marketing campaigns. However, Google’s Hummingbird update shifts our focus from researching separate keywords to researching groups of related terms and synonyms.
7. Even if user behavior isn’t a ranking factor yet, it will surely be one soon
Whether or not user behavior factors affect rankings is a controversial topic: Google denies it, while many experiments prove the opposite.
Anyhow, even if user signals are not influencing your rankings right now, common sense and logic say they are the ranking factors of tomorrow, so it may be wise to get ready today.
Rand Fishkin presented his 2-algorithm concept of SEO, suggesting search marketers to combine classic Google-oriented and the new searcher-oriented SEO.
2. Rich answers are on the increase — that’s both a threat and an opportunity
Another huge tendency in search is the increase of Google’s rich answers. According to a study by Stone Temple Consulting, Google returns rich answers to 35% of search queries these days. This is a 38% increase over the past 6 months, and we are clearly in for some further growth.
Quite often, rich answers are built based on public data (like “President of the USA”) or the data licensed to Google (like song lyrics). So, if your SEO strategy was built on public domain data… you better change direction right now, because getting search traffic from Google will only be getting harder for you.
4. Tracking your organic traffic with Google Analytics gets even more difficult
If you’re staring in despair at your Google Analytics traffic report, unable to figure out where all this direct traffic is coming from… Your problem is “Dark traffic”.
According to Marshall Simmonds, when Google Analytics is unable to identify where your site’s visits are coming from, the visits are recorded as direct traffic. And as in the modern Web these un-identifiable visits keep growing in numbers, your Google Analytics reports get less precise: they report a direct traffic growth – while in reality you’re growing your organic, social and mobile traffic.
This makes tracking your marketing activities even more complicated.
6. Link penalties are no joke, but all penalties are removable
Link penalties turned into a real SEO nightmare over the past few years. But as time goes by and the industry gets enough experience in link cleanup, all SEO experts agree — getting a link penalty removed is 1) hard, but 2) absolutely possible.
This means that, first and foremost, you need to protect your site from getting penalized. The only way to do that is by regular link audits and cleanups.
Google’s Engagement Ads are an exciting and flexible format. The company claims that users are over 10 times more likely to engage with these ads than to click on a standard display unit. It’s a great strategic option for most advertisers. Be aware, however, that some businesses might find it hard to gauge how much value they get for each engagement and that getting the most from Engagement Ads may require some access to design resources. Those drawbacks aside, I’d recommend experimenting with the format to see what it can do for you.