The rapid evolution of the SEO landscape requires digital marketers and web designers to continually monitor industry trends and changes.
As we pass the midpoint of 2016, key SEO trends reflect an increased focus on improving user engagement, user experience, and interactive content. Additionally, the role of social content will continue to expand and SEO strategies will need to mirror the buyer's journey.
Below is a look at the top 7 mid-year SEO trends of 2016 and how they impact content, design and overall execution of SEO services.
Optimizing Website User Experience (UX)
With Google’s increased focus on user experience, SEO professionals can no longer ignore key UX factors that will influence their web rankings. Below are a few key UX factors that must be addressed in order to improve UX:
- Optimization of Load Speed
- Improved Website Navigation
- Use of Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) Tools
By focusing on these variables, webmasters will satisfy user needs for speed, convenience, and performance. This improved user experience will contribute to a website’s ability to rank well for a sustained period of time.
Digital Assistant Voice Search SEO
As users employ digital assistants (such as Siri, Google Now, and Cortana) with growing frequency, voice search will begin to exert its impact on search engines. This trend stems from the differences that exist between typewritten searches and spoken inquiries using a digital assistant.
The result of this trend is improved search visibility for pages that contain conversational and colloquial content. Webmasters can respond to this trend by ensuring that pages include phrases that are used in typewritten searches and conversational search phrases.
Engagement from Integrated Marketing Campaigns
As the second half of 2016 unfolds, webmasters will devote a greater focus on engagement to enhance rankings. Examples of strategies to facilitate user engagement include the following:
- Email marketing campaigns
- Social media marketing activities
- Paid advertisements
Companies must be careful not to depend upon a single strategy to drive traffic to their sites. They will need to diversify their engagement strategies in order to stimulate their rankings, and not make excuses for poor SEO performance related to one-off strategies.
Aggregated Content Will Overtake Coverage of News and Events
This SEO trend reflects the impact of users posting videos and images with growing frequency. Platforms, such as Twitter, are exploring the creation of a channel for users to view these videos and images as they are posted. Below is a step by step synopsis of how this trend is manifested:
- Internet users will increasingly serve as content creators by posting their videos and images.
- Other users will be able to watch these events unfold by viewing this content.
- News stories can then be compiled by aggregating this information.
As a result of this trend, the importance of evergreen content will increase. Webmasters may respond to this trend by considering the need for a longer shelf life as they create content.
More Rapid Indexing of Social Content
As 2016 continues to unfold, social media content and social posts will emerge in the SERPS with increasing frequency. As a result of deals between Google and social media sites (Facebook and Twitter), mobile search results will begin to display tweets and Facebook content. As the value of social posts begins to approximate that of independent web pages, companies will start to devote resources to getting their tweets indexed and their Facebook content updated.
As 2016 comes to a close, these indexing trends will continue to grow, and the distinction between web content and social media content will become much less clear. Companies will need to ensure that their social media content is ready for indexing.
Using Interactive Content to Bolster User Engagement and Time on Site
Interactive content is an effective SEO tool because it offers a personalized experience for users. Additionally, when content is interactive, it becomes more meaningful and memorable to users. Below are some examples of interactive content used on websites:
- Healthy body weight calculators
- Blog comments
- Templated online quizzes
- Interactive, three-dimensional books
- Two-way webinars
- Customer reviews
- Online games
In addition to making information more meaningful, interactive content engages users and bolsters the amount of time that they spend on the site. The result is an increase in conversions and effective SEO.
Mirroring the Buyer Journey
Forward-thinking inbound marketing strategies should reflect the evolving needs and challenges of consumers. Most important, they should consider the steps involved in the searcher’s point in the buyer journey, from his or her initial search to making a purchasing decision. As they update website content, webmasters should ask themselves the following questions:
- How much time does the average searcher spend on each page?
- Does the content on this page fill the gaps in the searcher’s knowledge?
- What is the total amount of time spent on the site?
- Does the searcher/prospect turn into a buying customer?
Notably, Google and other search engines will increasingly consider user outcomes, such as specific page views and the time that it takes a user to complete a purchase or fulfill a task. It is, therefore, imperative that webmasters mirror the stage of the buyer journey in their efforts to enhance website content.
As the year comes to a close, SEO trends will continue to shape marketing strategies for 2017 and beyond. In order to maintain a competitive edge in the SEO arena, webmasters must focus on improving engagement and the user experience. They should ensure that social media content is ready for indexing and may wish to increase the interactive content on their sites.
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