There were several articles that predicted the death of SEO in 2015. However, SEO did not die, it simply evolved. 2015 proved to be an eventful year, bringing forth a multitude of changes for search engine optimization strategies. The changes and updates to Google’s algorithms made SEO strategists take a step back and reconsider the methods they had previously used. In 2016, things will continue to change, so certain strategies need to be forgotten.
The Google updates were designed to weed out fraudulent sites and help to ensure better search results for users. Google updated Panda and Penguin and introduced Hummingbird as part of their campaign for more relevant searches.
Panda and Penguin updates both offered a more effective way to eliminate sites with poor quality links or poor quality content. Short or low-quality posts would no longer be worth the effort, even in the short term where rankings were concerned. These updates helped make black hat SEO tactics a thing of the past.
Hummingbird focused on removing irrelevant phrases from sites trying to increase rankings with content not relevant to their site. Sites that bloated content with keywords and keyword phrases were the most affected by this update; otherwise, relevant sites with good SEO tactics in place were unaffected.
Google plans on continuing the updates throughout 2016, and marketers that are using “tricks” or “shortcuts” that are considered to be “black hat” SEO tactics need to be aware they are being phased out.
Expect big penalties for websites using the “black hat”, or even “gray hat” strategies as part of the phasing out period. With the hefty penalties, you will notice some of the larger competitors, or “top dogs” of specific brands, niches, or industries just simply disappear from the top search results. Many of them already have disappeared. This opens up a door of opportunity for the underdogs in the industries, niches, and brands to step out and get noticed using the “white hat” SEO strategies that Google demands.
So, what trends are predicted to die in 2016, or have already died in 2015?
Poor Quality Content
Content has always been a huge part of any SEO campaign. In the past, content that was rich with keywords and keyword phrases was the main focus of any site. The site owners flooded their pages with keyword-stuffed content to increase their rankings within the search engines. Today, this method of SEO is a waste of time, and can actually hurt the rankings instead of helping them.
Content is still a major part of any SEO campaign, but today it is the quality that matters, not the quantity.
Producing quality content that keeps your targeted audience informed and engaged is a priority, more so than creating keyword-rich content with little relevance to your niche. Quality content that is shared through social media networks helps to create a strong relevance to a site through Google. The main goal of placing content on your website is to bring in organic traffic while building a brand and establishing yourself as an authority in your field.
Quality content should answer a question, give instruction or offer relevant information that your users want or need!
Poor quality content that is stuffed with keywords is now a thing of the past. Website owners can expect to start paying higher rates for their content, but at least they are able to lower the amount that is needed. When, where, and how content is used has changed dramatically over the last several years, with the most changes occurring in 2013 and 2014. In 2015, most of the changes were already in place, but Google spent a lot of time tweaking the changes. 2016 will be a new year for more changes, but you can expect them to be along the same lines….quality, quality, quality!
Content creation to capture extremely short attention spans and prove relevant to viewers is extremely important to a website's overall value.
The days of creating a website only for desktop use are over. Today, web designers need to implement the site to function on a variety of platforms.
Mobile websites are growing in popularity, especially since over 91% of all Americans own a cell phone, and more than 63% use their phones to connect to the Internet.
In the past several years, there have been major changes to how web designers create a site to function. The ability to not only search a site on mobile devices but to actually be able to utilize it is extremely important. The need for mobile websites is predicted to increase throughout 2016, so a simple desktop-based design is no longer effective.
Businesses, large and small continue to neglect the need for mobile design. As more and more people begin to turn to their cell phones and other mobile devices to search and use the Internet, the businesses that have not spent the time creating a functioning mobile website will begin to be phased out.
- Amazon, Facebook, and Wikipedia see about 20% of mobile traffic
- Pinterest receives about 75% of mobile traffic
- 77% of all mobile searches are generated from home or work
SEO specialists need to consider this quickly-changing platform in order to compete today and especially in the future.
Poor Quality Link Building
Many experts said that link building died with the Panda, Penguin, and Hummingbird updates. The truth is, there is still value to link building, but only if they are quality links. In the past, a large number of links pointing to a webpage made it more valuable in search engine results. Today, the quantity of links is no longer beneficial to a website, but there is a benefit to having quality links directly back to the page.
- External link building that focuses on the efforts of encouraging human interaction is still considered extremely effective.
- Links must be relevant to the site’s niche in order to be viewed as valuable through the search engines.
- If possible, build links with top authority sites in your niche for the most effective results.
- When creating anchor texts, use a variety instead of just a few.
Creating backlinks for the sake of having backlinks has never been considered a good SEO tactic, but today, more so than in the past, the tactic can damage your reputation in the search engines and cause you to lose ranking status.
Google penalizes websites that use automated linking programs, even if the links are considered relevant.
Social media links are considered to have the most impact on a website, and that is predicted to only increase throughout the year. Since Google is only able to crawl social media network profiles that are open to the public, it is a good practice to create a community within the networks for your fans, leads, and clients.
2015 seen many changes where SEO was concerned, and 2016 is predicted to see just as many, if not more. In order to keep up with the constant change of SEO strategies, marketers need to focus on their targeted audience.
Facebook was once the social marketing powerhouse for younger audiences, but today that is slowly changing. Younger social network users have begun to fade away from Facebook, and are now flocking to other sites, such as Instagram.
Pinterest, Twitter, Google +, and LinkedIn all offer value to an SEO campaign, but it depends highly on what demographic you are targeting as to which site is more effective. Staying on top of the SEO trends is crucial to creating a successful business; many businesses are hiring marketing experts to guide them in the right direction through all of this change. Don’t be intimidated by all the changes, embrace them instead. If you can’t handle it all on your own, there is no shame in getting the help you need, it could actually help save you thousands in marketing efforts in the long run.
The changes are not abrupt or sudden; they have been leaning towards this direction for some time. In the past few years, all of Google’s updates have been focused on phasing out fraudulent sites, eliminating back hat SEO practices, and creating a more relevant search result. It is a safe bet to expect the changes to continue to grow towards organic SEO practices. So, stick towards quality, stay focused on what your users want, and continue to deliver relevant and informative content that answers their questions and fills their needs!