Make your content readily available for relevant mobile searches.
Ensure your website and App content in iOS is accessible in both “on-device Index” and “Server-side index. This allows both spotlight Search and Safari Search to surface your app content. It will also enable Siri to surface your content where relevant. The same principle works for other search assistants.
With RankBrain Google will be able to identify and rank such content types more and with better accuracy. So don’t be shy about phrasing things the way that people tend to in real life as people tend to search this way more and more.
Also be wary of unnatural link building practices. If your site was ever penalised by Penguin, ensure you continuously clean up the unnatural and harmful back-links to your site and maintain an updated list of disavowed links.
Ensure your physical location details are up to date on Google My Business listings. Attracting high ratings and reviews from users, in almost all cases, improves your local search rankings for relevant non-brand queries.
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Mobile traffic has already taken over Desktop traffic levels for most sites and the next evolution in mobile search will be an increase in voice search usage. This will be mainly facilitated by personal assistants such as Siri, Facebook M, Cortana and the like.
In the US, more than half of teenagers use voice search more than once a day and this trend continues to gather momentum as personal assistants evolve in capability and their device integration improves.
Further to this, Google can now index iOS app content in addition to Android apps which means the user can be directly taken to the most relevant content within a ranked app from search results.
App content optimisation will therefore become an important consideration for all marketing teams wanting to deliver a more optimal user experience in 2016 and beyond. In other words, there needs to be a mobile app SEO strategy in place.
In 2016, local search results will become more accurate from a geographic point of view due to the sophistication of the algorithm and its ability to understand what users want from certain queries.
With the exponentially increasing trend in the number of “Near Me” searches and availability of wearable devices on which these searches happen, we see local search becoming an integral part of the overall search strategy for businesses with physical locations.
The long wait periods between Penguin updates has always been a pain point for SEO experts and many see this trend as the most important of 2016. Google has already indicated that it is aiming to move Penguin updates to run in real time which means as soon as a link is removed or disavowed, it will be processed by the Penguin algorithm and therefore results can be seen much faster.
Google incorporated a major overhaul in its search algorithm in 2013 by announcing Hummingbird. In 2015 we saw Google introduce RankBrain to work in conjunction with Hummingbird to harness the power of machine-learning artificial intelligence.
While it may sound a little like science fiction, Machine Learning is not new to the search engine giant. We SEOs discovered how Google uses it when Panda rolled out in 2011. Panda, in fact, is a machine-learning-based algorithm able to learn through iterations what a “quality website” is — or isn’t. In order to train itself, it needs a dataset and yes/no factors. The result is an algorithm that is eventually able to achieve its objective. Iterations, then, are meant to provide the machine with a constant learning process, in order to refine and optimise the algorithm.
We see RankBrain impacting a higher percentage of search queries in 2016 leading to better search results, especially where complicated topics are involved. It works best when people make ambiguous searches or use colloquial terms which were not previously understood. Google has gone as far as saying RankBrain is now the third most important “Signa” in its search algorithm.