SEO Trends in 2016

UPDATE: Check out our 2019 predictions!

We’ve taken a look at Google’s changes and made our “Top Ten Search Predictions for 2016” to help prepare your organization for search success in 2016.

The Rise of Personalization

Personalization – the act of showing different searchers different results based on who they are, who they know, and what their preferences and search history are – will continue to define search behavior and results, so it’s important to make sure your site and brand are ready to perform well in the world of personalized search.

The Importance of Mobile Usability

At the beginning of 2015, mobile searches officially surpassed desktop searches. In April 2015, Google released a large mobile algorithm update in which your site is either deemed mobile-friendly or it’s not, and if it’s not, you’re probably not going to be showing up in mobile SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages), which are now different than desktop results. This, along with Google’s App Indexing, will define mobile search for 2016.

Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)

Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) is the process of improving upon desired actions, such as clicks, open rates, downloads, or purchases. As Google continues to place emphasis on user experience and include engagement metrics in its ranking algorithm, CRO and related activities (like A/B testing) must be focused on in 2016.

Local Search to Dominate Search Behavior and Drive Revenue

In 2015, 50% of searchers who conducted a local search on mobile visited a store within that same day, nearly 90% of mobile users are searching for local information, and 88% of users trust an online review just as much as personal recommendations. Therefore, making sure your brand/website is optimized for local search in 2016 will help lead to more engagement, more visits, and more ROI.

Increasing Presence of Rich Answers in the SERPs

Google’s ability to deliver “rich answers” (i.e. featured snippets, answer cards, charts, tables, sliders, maps, forms, reviews) for queries is increasing (up 9% from 2014), and will only continue with the introduction of the new RankBrain algorithm. Thus, it will be imperative in 2016 to optimize your site with elements like structured data that help contribute to these “rich answers.”

Blogging + Content Strategy

Since the Panda update in 2012, Google’s #1 priority has been to deliver relevant, high-quality search results and content to searchers. That is now truer than ever and we predict that interactive and engaging website, blog and social content will continue to be king in 2016. This should be powered by a content strategy that identifies user/buyer personas, a consumer journey, and channel intersection points.

More Content Factors: Semantic Keywords (“Proof” Terms), Word Count, Flesch Readability

A large part of creating successful content in 2016 will be to focus on semantic search, word count, and a factor called the Flesch Readability score, used in determining ranking and measures ease of reading and reading level of pieces of text. Preparing for semantic search means optimizing your site and its content for topics and phrases that relate to your main product/service. Word count will also continue to be an important ranking factor; the average top 10 positions in Google typically have anywhere between 1,000 – 1,500 words per page, with an average of 1,285.

Micro-moments to Define Search Behavior and User Intent/Needs

“Micro-moments” are when people turn to a device to perform an in-the-moment search to learn something, do something, discover something, watch something, or buy something. As the frequency of these micro-moments increases and people are conducting searches as they move through their daily lives, it’s important to ensure your brand is present for each stage of the consumer journey.

Voice Search on the Rise

Today, at least 41% of adults and 55% of teens use voice search and we only expect this growth to continue. Optimizing with long-tailed key phrases and focusing on whole sentences and phrases, not just singular keywords, will help cater to the Natural Language Processing that fuels voice queries. Tagging and semantic search will also be important, as this helps draw relationships that anticipate searchers’ intents and needs.

Social Signals & Referring Domains to Continue Importance

Off-site ranking factors like social signals and backlinks (increased by creating “shareable” content) will continue their importance in 2016. Social content will also now be more readily indexed in 2016, meaning that more social posts and profiles will be showing up as search results to certain queries. Therefore, being present on social will be important for both sending social signals and taking up additional real estate in the SERPs.

Are you set up for search success in 2016?
Let MBB+ help you find out.

All of this only increases the need for quality content and optimizing for quality user experience across devices and channels. If you’d like to discuss how these changes could impact your organization’s websites’ and blogs’ search results, contact us.

Download PDF

Subscribe to our newsletter

Get our insights and perspectives delivered to your inbox.