3 SEO Trends Set to Take the Internet by Storm in 2016
Search engines are among the most dynamic and ever-changing technologies in the world today. Google itself releases over 500 updates a year. As such, SEO professionals must always stay on top of every update and work around the clock to get awesome ranks for their clients. Even a second of slacking to adapt to a new update could have disastrous results. It is important that you keep tabs on all the emerging trends which will shape the future of SEO, and formulate a comprehensive strategy to deal with them.
Dark Traffic Theory
Social Networks and Messaging applications are among the largest traffic sources for websites. That said it is fairly difficult to track and organize traffic from these sources, as it has not yet been possible for Google Analytics to determine or track such traffic. If a visitor’s exact source cannot be determined, Google Analytics just records it as a direct visit, implying that the user got to the page by typing the entire URL into his address bar. While highly implausible, this is the only method in place today, and these visits are clubbed together into a group called “dark traffic”. It is untraceable, unusable for SEO strategies and accounts for a fairly large portion of the site’s overall traffic.
Dark traffic has detrimental effects on your strategy because you won’t be able to figure out which of your new strategies are attracting more visitors, and which aren’t working at all, despite having worked hard to get traffic from mobile and organic sources, and from social media campaigns. As mentioned earlier, there are no concrete methods to deal with this, other than possibly generating the direct traffic report for your site through Google Analytics. From this, you can filter out the pages which can actually attract direct traffic, like the homepage or pages with shorter URLs. This is a presumptive and non-conclusive method, but it is a start. You may be able to combine it with more detailed findings from campaigns to understand how your strategies are working out.
The Rich Answer Concept
There are some answers posted right at the top of a SERP in response to a particular search query. These answers are called “rich” answers. They haven’t been around for too long but are gaining mass over the last few months. There was a 38-40% increase in rich answers for queries in just the first six months in 2015. For sites which don’t offer particularly unique or exclusive content, like time zones, weather, currency, stock updates and so on, rich answers are a tremendous SEO boost. It also allows you to promote your high-quality content and serve answers to frequently asked Google questions.
Only about 25% of the rich answers generated by Google come from Google Knowledge graph; the rest is entirely from external sources. To optimize your strategy to include rich answers, research the most common questions in your niche which are asked on Google. Next, you must write content which addresses the issues, and ensure it is direct, high-quality, and has all relevant details. Also, it is important that you understand how much of your answer you should include in the rich answer format, because if the entirety of the content is covered on the SERP, the visitor won’t go to your site, meaning it will not serve your purpose.
Google has chosen to remain silent on exact ranking factors, and whether or not user behavior is considered for the same. However, everyone knows Google is essentially user-centric, and studies have revealed that it is highly likely that user behavior plays a hand in ranking. As such, it is important that your SEO strategy for 2016 and for many years to come combines the traditional SEO techniques with more user-oriented ideas. You can try your hand at this yourself, or opt for SEO training from professionals. These two concepts working in tandem comprise what is being called the Double-Algorithm theory, and has four pillars for quantifying and handling user search behavior, like
- Engagement: Users staying on your pages for a longer time indicate that the content is high-quality and relevant.
- The Click-Through Rate: A high CTR is an indication of the fact that the result on the SERP for your page was interesting enough for the user to follow it to the landing page.
- Social Signals: Web pages which are shared more often on social media usually rank higher than their counterparts which aren’t shared as much, even if they have more back-links and better content in some cases.
- Quality, Well-Rounded Content: Google’s new machine-learning algorithms can determine the quality of content as well as whether it has enough relevant information to satisfy a particular query.
While a lot of the trends being discussed online make sense, some are just false claims being floated around by so-called experts. As an SEO professional or a site owner, it is your responsibility to figure out which trends seem to be the most plausible and trustworthy, and then formulate a strategy around them.