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Good SEO in 2016: Tracking the Future Trends

It was meant to be an eventful and uncertain year for SEO in 2015, and the predictions made at the start of the year have by and large been proven true. The uncertainty came from every corner, from the growing reach of mobile platforms to changes being ushered in by Google in its search algorithm.

It is important to note that while making predictions about future SEO trends is far from an exact science, it is also not a navel gazing exercise. The changes in SEO landscape are mostly reactionary. In other words, if we want to understand and predict the trends that will dominate in 2016, it would be well worth the effort to have a good grasp of SEO developments that are dominating the current year.

Making sense of the SEO trends in 2015

While the proliferation of the mobile platform is hardly news, it was not until 2014 that marketers and developers started paying attention to optimizing their content for these platforms. However, it is only in 2015 that we saw a lot of developers make substantial efforts to monetize traffic from mobile traffic. The push came from Google that prioritized sites that are optimized for mobile platforms. The online experience, content consumption, and user interface architecture is substantially different on mobile platforms. 2015 will be known as the year of the tipping point, when SEO experts finally started paying equal, or perhaps even more, attention to mobile platforms.

Yet another incremental change that become all pervasive and mainstream is local search. Google had long indicated, through changes made in its search algorithm, that it will continue to improve local results, and the trend saw further culmination with its Pigeon update. Combined with the fact that people are increasingly using their mobile platforms to search local, the trend is not only here to stay but set to become bigger. Big marketers have also discovered that local searches are inherently easier to monetize, which has led to sustained localized marketing campaigns.

Personalized search can also be understood as the evolutionary next step of local searches. Google has continued to fine tune its strategies and techniques to get more accurate results to users than ever before. Websites that have followed this development and employed tracking features, and made use of Google’s effort, have profited in a big way.

Finally, the question of content has always been one of the biggest talking points in SEO circles. 2015 has been no exception, with content still reigning supreme. The dominance of social media has only brought into sharp focus for the need of engaging, useful, and targeted content as far as marketers are concerned. Both search engines and users have become wise about spun content as they increasingly take their cue from authoritative sources – whether it is leading bloggers or accredited media sites.

Predicting the future: SEO trends for 2016

1. Freelancers would need to adapt and upskill: White hat content would continue to take centre stage, where this content comes from is set to drastically change in 2016. The writing programs are increasingly becoming sophisticated to generate simple written content on a range of topics. In light of this fact, a lot of freelancers would need to add further value in their product to stay relevant. An authoritative voice, as well as nuanced and opinionated pieces etc would be required of them to stay relevant.

2. Multimedia content would dominate: Two independent forces, namely increasing wireless internet speed and mobile platforms, working together would ensure that 2016 is the year when multimedia content becomes the dominant format. Mobile platforms are inherently more suited to watching videos or listening to podcasts and music. With wireless internet speeds becoming faster and cheaper, users are going to prefer such multimedia formats over plain text.

3. Deep expertise will be rewarded: Typically, users who want a quick answer to a question would click on the top results that came up in their searches. However, Google now provides direct answers culled from sites that are deemed authoritative right on its search results page. This has led to a sharp drop in traffic to websites that hitherto provided short, direct and simple answers to questions. Instead, websites that provide authoritative, deep, and nuanced answers are not only rewarded but also linked as source by Google, further enhancing their credibility.

4. Wearable technology would start making an impact: Various surveys and research have concluded that wearable gadgets would see an adoption rate as high as 30 percent by next year. This would have implications for marketers as these devices are mostly geared towards users’ everyday habits. Is there a scope for targeted advertisement in this immensely personal space? 2016 should provide us with a definitive answer.

5. Voice searches would change the landscape: Various experts have commented on the drastic syntactical differences of voice searches where users are more likely to use terms such as ‘what’, ‘who’, ‘why’ etc. Voice searches, because of their conversational nature, are not only driving traffic volumes on mobile platforms but also leading the march towards personalized and local results. Expect this trend to get further entrenched in 2016, resulting in a rejig of marketing strategies.

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