Future Proof Your SEO and Be Ready to Thrive In 2016

"One of the key misunderstandings is the power search engines have to drive traffic." - Rand Fishkin

The end of 2015 is fast approaching and in its trail, the year will leave behind plenty of significant changes with implications for search marketing.

From changing how content quality is assessed, penalizing websites that are not optimized for mobile, to minimizing the number of entries on the search pages, Google’s SEO requirements have changed sizably and will continue to do so going into 2016 and beyond.

But, Google’s unpredictability and the ever-changing user behavior should not be a cause of concern; it is possible for search marketers to prepare for the upcoming changes and to thrive in 2016.

Here’s what you need to get in order:

It’s the age of the long-tail keyword

It no longer makes sense to optimize for general, broad-based topics, thanks to the growing prominence of the Knowledge Graph.

Through the Knowledge Graph, users are able to view basic, summarized information on a wide number of topics and queries. This means fewer users will go through the trouble of searching any further because the Knowledge Graph already provides them with the basic information they are looking for.

It is now imperative to focus your optimization efforts on long-tail keywords. Consumers are increasingly using longer queries to find specific, as opposed to general information.

Optimize your content with long-tail keywords to increase the visibility and relevance of your content.

Optimize for mobile, now

vineIf you have been procrastinating about optimizing your website for mobile devices, it is time to take action because mobile search will dominate, going into 2016 and beyond.

Not too long ago, Google confirmed that users are conducting more mobile searches than desktop searches.

The importance of mobile for search was further emphasized by Google’s wide-scale Mobilegeddon update designed to change how sites are ranked based on their mobile friendliness. Search marketers can expect more of such mobile updates in the future.

Mobile optimization of all your properties entails both the design as well as the SEO element, which takes into consideration the types of queries mobile users use to find information.

Heading into 2016, think mobile first for your video content, website, online store, online payment systems, and email too. Optimize, not just for smartphones but for tablets as well.

Intensify your video content strategy

Like mobile, video is no longer the future; it is the present. Studies show that online video penetration is almost universal, meaning that most internet users in the world are watching videos when they are online.

The amount of time people spend watching video is set to increase by 22.3% in 2016. The popularity of video is compounded by the wide scale smartphone and tablet ownership.

Google is already taking notice of the massive importance of video as is evidenced by its acquisition of YouTube. The search giant is also onboarding the lesser-known Adwords video ads to leverage the wide popularity of video among online users who are more likely to watch a video ad than read content on a text-based landing page.

These days, YouTube videos are a common feature on search engine pages. Embedding videos into your website is an excellent search optimization strategy to improve rankings and traffic.

A YouTube channel is absolutely compulsory for any marketer who is serious about remaining relevant in the game.

Build content for spoken language queries

As more and more consumers turn to mobile for search, they are also searching differently. Going into 2016, a good percentage of mobile search queries will be done through digital assistants such as Apple Siri, Google Now or Windows Cortana.

How do you prepare for the age of digital assistants?

First things first—integrate your mobile content with a solid, research-based SEO strategy that utilizes long-tail keywords and incorporates colloquial language used by mobile device owners especially for local searches.

Second, accompany your company’s description with rich-text information such as directions, reviews and contact information if you are targeting local customers for your products or services.

Lastly, you want to optimize your app content with the relevant keywords in line with users’ possible spoken search queries. Google is now indexing app content and this has implications for your mobile search rankings.

Optimize your social content for visibility

photo-1421757295538-9c80958e75b0Love it or hate it, social media is here to stay. Google is already working with Facebook and Twitter and will soon incorporate other social media networks to match search queries to social media content.

Heading into 2016, make plans to shake up your social strategy. Going forward, you need to have a rigorous content program for your social marketing efforts. This will ensure that the content you are sharing is highly targeted to your social audience and is optimized for search.

App your search marketing efforts

Few marketers see the importance of building their own app or getting themselves listed on relevant apps yet.

However, Google is not relenting on its continued quest to index apps; those apps that have deep links to websites, video or other types of content have a higher chance of ranking better.

SEO in the new year

2016 will be all about aligning your SEO efforts with the swiftly changing online user behavior. Google is already leading the way, to set precedent for the future of search, marketing and advertising. By getting your mobile, video, social and search strategies in alignment with consumers’ needs and with Google, you should be ready to face 2016.

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