:: By Marcus Howling, IllMarketing Solutions ::
At the end of every year it is best to reflect on all of the Google updates. After all, it is not possible to make a bold prediction without knowing the history.
The first confirmed 2015 update happened in April with "Mobilegedden." Shortly after in May, Google confirmed "Phantom 2," the algorithm change affecting how sites are ranked for quality. Then in July, Panda 4.2 made sense because Google was trying to refresh the data and serve better results.
If the company has been keeping up to date since Hummingbird, there is no reason it would not be prepared for this new wave of artificial search. RankBrain is the newest part of Google's overall Hummingbird algorithm. It is a computer program that uses artificial intelligence to learn how humans search. Giving Google search a human and more natural feel. Instead of search presenting random results, Rank Brain will serve results that answer questions. This could eventually affect the impact link building has on a website.
SEO Predictions 2016: Responsive Sites Outperformed
For the first time mobile searchers surpassed desktop searchers in 2015. Most brands' solution to the mobile update is a responsive site. This quick fix is the easiest and fastest solution, but it is not the most rewarding. In most of these scenarios, these companies are still optimizing for desktop users and rendering a version to cater to the Mobilegedden update.
SEO Predictions 2016: Mobile Apps Taking Over
Want to dominate the mobile market? Take it a step further. Sites that use responsive will rank lower than companies who serve up a mobile site with separate HTML5 and CSS. Website owners who create a separate site for their mobile search platform will rule in 2016.
Think about it, Web platforms are evolving. It started with desktop, to mobile and now wearables. So it is only natural that the death of traditional Web is coming. Instead of spending the $10,000 budget on a new site, spend revenue elsewhere. It is not worth it. Create a mobile website and build an App. In 2016 there will be a rise of Apps indexed on mobile search. However, If the budget is smaller, stick with responsive websites but make sure to optimize for mobile, not desktop users.
SEO Predictions 2016: Social Media Aggregated Content
Though the trend will not stay for long, 2016 will become the year when social content starts to flood Google's search results. Twitter and other platforms are experimenting with aggregated content. It has already been said that Google is planning on serving up news, video and images from these platforms, so do not be surprised when more tweets and posts are indexed. They started with Facebook and Twitter but they will be looking to close deals with other social companies sooner than later. Also expect social to blend more together with search in the coming year, which creates a more even playing field for content driven marketing strategies.
SEO Predictions 2016: Video Content For The Win
This could be the year that video content becomes the tool that gives a business the upper hand over the competition. Currently, written content is viewed as the norm when talking about content marketing. Spending the past three years preaching the importance of self-hosted video content and seeing it come to fruition is rewarding. So continue self-hosting videos and avoid embedding from Vimeo and YouTube. Use those third-party sites to promote, not publish content.
Technology is advancing and video content has already been helping businesses reach more users, engage them with meaningful interaction, and increase their return on investment better than written content. Let's face it, the average Americans are reading less, and watching more. Yes, YouTube videos often rank higher than most other content, in part, because it is an entity of Google, but that does not negate the fact that optimized videos on site beef up overall engagement and authority. Bold prediction: self-hosted videos with transcripts will win in 2016.
Winning The SEO Battle In 2016
Trying to outperform the competition and create separation? Think smaller! Ads, content, meta and images should be created to look good on mobile platforms. Get ahead of the curve by improving mobile CSS and HTML5. If the budget is there, create a mobile app with the user in mind. Use self-hosted optimized videos and post to social media accounts. Employing a video marketing plan utilizing optimized videos will help improve leads and increase ROI. Remember, times are changing and devices are becoming smaller. With virtual assistants like Siri and Google's RankBrain, the future of search is more seamlessly coinciding with our daily lives. Provide content that solves problems and answers industry questions to generate leads and improve revenue in 2016.
Marcus Howling, The SEO Doctor, formerly of Web Talent Marketing, is owner of llMarketing Solutions, a full-service digital marketing solutions company. Marcus excels at on-page optimization, natural link building, keyword research, and analysis.