Tag: seo

If you don’t keep up with the latest SEO trends, you run the risk of the grass growing beneath your feet.

Penalties aside, there are new developments in SEO all the time and understanding what’s around the corner allows us to prepare, our own and our client sites, for the best.

As an SEO consultant in London, I’m positioned geographically close to a dynamic hub for SEO. However, as you’ll agree the more points of view you hear, the more information you have to formlulate your own view. So, I asked 11 different SEO professionals what they thought may occur in the next 12 months or so in the area of search and this is what they came back with:

Q. What do you think will be the most surprising SEO changes of the next 12 months?

A. ledux

What surprises can SEO bring us this year?

1. It might come from the battle between YouTube and Facebook. As Facebook continues to grow its video platfrom, Google will probably start thinking of some plans to fight it. This might lead to changes in YouTube rankings or videos being more often showed in Google search results. So, that’s something to look out for.

2. Last year Mozilla dropped Google as it’s primarry search engine for US users. Windows recently launched its new browser, which for once is actually quite good, which could mean it might attract more users and even more Bing searches. All these things can add up in making Google less popular and that could mean that our SEO efforts might need to be focused towards two search engines Google and Bing.

A. priyaflorence (Blogging since 2003 for myself and my clients)

I think artificial intelligence (AI) will play a bigger role in Google’s algorithm as the year goes on. Google RankBrain Algorithm, a machine-learning technology that is part of it’s Hummingbird update, will play a bigger role in helping Google sort it’s search results. RankBrain can “see patterns between seemingly unconnected complex searches to understand how they’re actually similar to each other.” Right now, Google says that RankBrain has become the third-most important factor for ranking Web pages. For most consummate SEO professionals, this should not come as a surprise. Rather it will be an indication of where search is moving in the future.

A. irynya25

I guess there is no many cardinal changes we should expect in 2016. But here are some considerations on SEO 2016:

1. Mobile SEO will become more important than desktop SEO.

2. The last time Google put much attention to user experience. I think speed will be one of the most demanding factors affecting your site rankings.

3. It is expected to be a shift to content marketing. Content quality will be paramount in this year.

4. Long-tail keywords will play an important role in the marketing strategy. The last year started with Google Hummingbird and continued with Google RankBrain that helps to sort out the search results.

5. Twitter will right the ship and increase its growth. There are some features that make much greater creative and content potential.

A. Ryan_Michael_McDonald (Digital Marketing Director at Iterate Marketing)

I’m not one for predicting algorithm changes, but the trends I’m foreseeing in 2016 that would’ve sounded crazy in early 2015 are:

  • Long tail is back, and weirder than ever. Voice search is changing search queries. We’re starting to see it in AdWords and Organic queries. Siri, Cortana, Google Now are seeing queries changing to longer, more specific, occasionally conversational queries. Yesterday I saw a query that said, “Okay Google, tell me…” It’s like AskJeeves all over again.
  • The industry is shifting towards Content Marketing. We’ll see SEO and Content Marketing combined in service packaging, and even SEO as a line-item in Content Marketing services. Content is driven by brand, and while it’s optimized for Google, it’s no longer built for it. The days of editorial calendars based purely off of keyword demand are over.
  • The “Knowledge Graph” continues to expand. Structured markup should be applied everywhere possible, especially for local and Ecommerce websites. If you’re no one to Google, you’re no one at all.

A. Lukasz Zelezny (Head of Organic Acquisition)

As most SEO experts and enthusiasts will tell you, every year brings plenty of new elements and changes to the SEO game. Whether I’m dealing with internet marketing, link building, content creation or something completely independent of SEO, the subtle yet constant changes being felt across the web have an effect on it.

With regard to social media, I’m expecting to see a complete reversal in how search engines value and classify social media signals. Up until now, social signals have at best had an indirect effect on SEO. Google and others have already begun to rank hashtags and trending topics from Twitter in SERPs, so I fully expect to see a world where comments, likes, followers and shares begin impacting rankings in a palpable way.

Guest blogging in recent years saw a bit of a downturn, but I’m fully expecting the practice to pick up once again in the coming year. As link building strategies become more sophisticated – in conjunction with an increase in how Google and others view link associations between multiple websites – there is going to be increased demand for this. Despite the initial hype and fear in regards to potentially negative link associations via guest blogging, there seems to be a general consensus that SEO efforts of the vast majority of blogs and websites are not being harmed through such practices.

Additionally, I expect that mobile responsive design will continue to become more necessary in order to perform well in search. While it may not happen within the next 12 months, the sheer amount of competition in search will likely soon lead to non-mobile optimised sites not being ranked at all in search, instead of just being lowly-ranked in most SERPs.

A. jonnyp (About the SEO technical part..)

Contents with videos have been the talking point of 2015 and 2016 is surely going to be the year of videos. Once again, keeping true to Google’s systematic abhorrence for over-optimization, one can’t really go on to add relevant videos arbitrarily in a single post. A single powerful video for each post will do. With multiple videos in a single content you not only have loading time issues to contend with, but Google’s ire as well. There are several on-page professionals who have asked me why videos are surfacing at the forefront of SEO, when we can’t even back them up with keyword optimized alt tags (something that can be done with images). The simple answer to that question would be that– readers are more likely to spend more time on your content if it has an embedded video in it. And, Google gives a lot of importance to a website if users spend more time in it on an average. So, if you had been too busy fixing alt-tags and meta-descriptions all this time then it is time to shift your focus on this lesser explored (but effective) on-page SEO tactic. Who knows whether Google is even planning to roll out an update regarding videos or not? I strongly believe that there is a possibility.

I don’t know whether Google will work on this or not but they should start regulating websites that don’t have a comment section. It kind of dents the entire idea of “digital democracy” whereby we aren’t allowed to put our opinions forward through comments. After all keeping valuable comments in moderation and publishing them with keywords afterwards facilitates SEO as well. There is just another avenue opening up for SEO professionals!

A. Doyan Wilfred (Founder howtogetmoresalesonline.com)

The evolution of the RankBrain algorithm and its effects on website rankings will be interesting to watch. More importantly, it will be interesting to watch rankbrain interacts with influencer marketing and local search.

You know that its now difficult, if not impossible, to rank for highly competitive keywords even when you are using the tried and true tactics like backlink building, skyscraper technique, guest posting, infographic, et al.

Which is why more and more people are resorting to influencer marketing to get their content noticed and shared. Als, you need a solid social media marketing plan.

Overall, I am looking forward to more personalized search results.

A. Ashley Faulkes (Online Marketer)

SEO in the past has always been thought of as a simple result list. And predominantly on desktop search. But as we all know, search engines have been changing as more and more people are using their mobile devices to search (and perhaps their smartwatches in the near future).

However, Search is starting to get even more complex, and has been drastically changing over the last few years. Such things as semantic search have changed the way we view keywords and content, but that is also just the tip of the iceberg!

In 2016, I believe Search will quickly evolve. This will start to surprise people as the search results change from how they used to be. Not only are results more complex and hard to predict/manipulate, but they also contain a wide variety of different information types. For example, Google is adding more and more answer boxes, information from knowledge graph and now, with the hard connection to Twitter, perhaps even more tweets.

Search is becoming a complex beast that will soon be hard to recognise.

A. Casey Markee (President, Media Wyse)

Google makes Structured Data a Ranking Factor: At the recent State of Search Conference, Gary Illyes stated that Structured Data will be big in 2016. He also went on to say that Rich Snippets, Knowledge Panels and Featured Snippets would be a focus point in the new year.

Google will be publishing Guidelines on how to get Featured Snippets, making its embrace that much more important. This could be Google’s way of saying that although we are not using structured data for ranking now…we MAY in the future. Better get on board!

What type of structured data should you focus on? Google seems to love JSON-LD and I predict that will have a huge emergence as the defacto standard in 2016. I recommend you focus on its implementation specifically with your clients over traditional microformats.

A. sumant (Director of Digital Marketing)

The trends have been pretty consistent over the past I would say 4 years. Content marketing is defintely the way to go, but I think the relevancy to searches is going to play a crucial role. For example, if people happen to be searching at a given time (month) about ways to eat healthier, and you have written a piece about incorporating organic vegetables that has been featured on a high authority site- This is good. Meaning that the bio link will go back to your main site, but the original search will let Google’s algorithm that your content is trending, and thus your business site wil feel the effects. I believe that in 2016 the user search is going to determine the popularity of your site.

A. seowaterman (SEO Rock Star)

I feel the most surprising SEO change that will occur in 2016 is that the Google desktop algorithm (and web crawler) and mobile algorithm (and crawler) will become one algorithm. The outcome of this merger will be that mobile-friendliness will become a ranking factor for desktop organic searches. This is likely since Google undoubtedly wants to run one singular search algorithm that can handle results regardless of device. As the future of handheld and wearable devices continue to evolve, Google will not want to create specific algorithms and crawlers for the various devices to come. This will also force web designers and developers to consider mobile first since the mobile-friendliness of a website would then negatively effect the larger visibility of the website within the organic search space.

I recently read a piece on Search Engine Journal titled – ‘Content Marketing isn’t a Good Marketing Strategy After All’.

To summarise, Stoney G de Geyter makes the argument that content marketing as a route to long term success is a fallacy. The article is based around the old Chinese proverb, ‘Give a man a fish and he’ll have food for one day, teach a man to fish and he’ll have food forever’.

Margaret Thatcher and communityCommunity and Online Content

Stoney essentially pushes the idea that we as marketers or brands need to create communities, not content, as a community is far more likely to create a return visitor to your site – in turn it leads to continuous success, and through conversation allows you to develop relationships and build engaged brand evangelists.

It’s a wonderfully aspirational piece of content and one that in an ideal world is to be aspired to. Sadly, we don’t live in an ideal world. I’m not going to go as far as former British PM Margaret Thatcher and declare community non-existent, but I would suggest it’s a lot of effort and often nigh impossible to create.

On-Page SEO Factors

Last week Matt Cutts answered a question on how Google ranks a webpage with no links to it. On the surface, Matt cited a number of on-page factors as the ranking factor – nothing extraordinary really. However, under the skin there’s a far more interesting context – backlinks rank and rankings bring traffic. Matt of course would never say this outright, but it does go a long way to quelling the link deniers who have come to the fore of SEO very notably of late.

However, the two articles led me to think, which is king – content or links? We’re constantly told that content is king, that content ranks and that great content will give our site exposure.

The Reality of Link Building

However, we all know if I have five pieces of content of identical quality and decide to link to four with different levels of quality and one with no links at all, the one with no links will most likely rank below the other four all other factors being equal. In fact, even if the non-linked piece is even better quality than the other four, it still will probably be the piece that is the dud in the SERPs. That’s the harsh reality.

So, in this case is the quality content the king of link building? No, the links are the king. Of course, the reign of the king is going to be dependent on the quality of the links.

However, the question to be asked here is, ‘if a tree falls in a forest and there’s no one to hear it does it make a sound’, or let’s make an apt though slightly dramatic – ‘Nobody can hear you scream in space’.

Social Media

Of course, you could make the social media argument. Hypothetically, we could build a following of people, use social media to leverage the content we create and then hope those people link to the content from our promoted social media efforts. How practical is that in a boring industry? Particularly in a world where the most popular social media sites don’t officially have any say in search engine rankings?

Guest Posting

However, in a world where most people don’t intend on taking this route and are far more inclined to take the link building option – it’s going to be incredibly hard to compete. Even in light of Matt Cutts guest posting warnings, there’s plenty of other ways to build links Google most likely won’t detect for a long, long time, if ever. I’m not saying these are ideal or right, the point I make is that as long as Google relies on links, they can be manipulated.

In addition, Cutt’s declaration on guest posting looks like in reality it’s only going to impact on low quality sites there for link schemes alone. If it were otherwise the case, Moz.com and all the other industry blogs wouldn’t continue to allow do follow guest posts.

Linking Issues

And after all, a lot of links are paid for in a roundabout way – any SEO who has ever built a link for a client is seeing that client take part in a paid link. There’s money changing hands at some stage, so the link should contravene Google’s quality guidelines.

Google does of course wish to prevent such factors being the ones that determine rank, however until it finds another way of ranking, it looks likely search is going to be determined largely by off-site linking factors. Matt Cutts rigmarole about on-site ranking factors and on-site quality still alludes to this fact.

The Future of No Links

Needless to say Google is trying to change this. We’ve seen Yandex remove links as a ranking factor in local SEO around Moscow and Google has also mentioned how its trialled results without links (they’re a lot less accurate supposedly).

There’s also been discussion around a patent for brand mentions and citations as ranking factors in search. However, as you’ll see this is also fraught with difficulties owing to semantics and other factors.

The Fish Analogy

Going back to de Geyter and the fish analogy, the underlying problem is that in a lot of cases there’s nobody even giving the man the fish.In fact, the only way the man fish initially is either with a stick of dynamite, or else he starves.

Being Irish and part of a nation that tends to have three states of law, I can reconcile to a degree with the current SEO landscape. Rather than a something being legal, or something being illegal, as is the case in most countries in the Western world. In Ireland, we also have a state where something is possibly mildly illegal, but ignored for reasons dependant on the mood of the police officer (once heralded MyBlogGuest = Link scheme), your state of mind (intoxicated or otherwise) or who you are (Google owns a number of companies that have supposedly gotten away with dubious SEO practices).

In conclusion, I’m not advocating anything grey or black. However, in a world where the lines between white and black are being eradicated and a grey area is ever more evident, it would be nice for Matt Cutts and Google to offer more clarity, more openness and for the very evident hypocrisy to end.

What’s your opinion on link building and the future of SEO – why not let us know below or contact us.

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