How to Build Your SEO Planning for 2016

Across all digital marketing channels, SEO is always on the forefront of all our minds. This is because traditional push marketing is actually being replaced by one of the most cost-effective inbound marketing strategies like search genie optimization.

According to a report from statista, Google has a web search market share of 96.47 percent in India. According to other reports, more than 70 percent of the links Google search users click are only from organic listing or search engine optimisation.

Cost per lead coming from inbound channels like search engine optimisation are 61% less than outbound channels like cold calling. Lots of significant changes in Google search happened in 2015 and now, as 2016 is around the corner, all eyes are on the newly emerging search and visitor behavior trends and the algorithm updates that Google has in stock for us.

Let’s figure out what’s going to happen next year in terms of SEO? What parts deserve extra attention in the coming year and how you should adjust your SEO strategy in 2016?

1. Social Media will play an even more important role: Today customers are using multiple source of information before making a purchase decision. Customers are smart enough to use local listing and reviews, blogs and many other review sites. They interact and share content published on social media sites about a brand.

For the time being, the role is counting social media as a ranking signal and it’s not directly influencing the ranking of your website. However, considering the recent change by Google of integrating recent tweets in search results is a clear signal of a significant role of social media in the search ranking in next year.

2. User Behavior will affect website ranking: User behavior is indeed a strong organic ranking signal in Google. Simply put – Understanding your visitors and their search and browsing behavior are going to be one of the most important factors in the ranking of a website.

Answering these common questions can significantly improve the user experience of your website and subsequently organic ranking:

  • Are you optimizing your content for user search intent and “Google direct answer”?
  • Are you providing fresh and sharable content to your target audience frequently?
  • Are you offering frictionless content accessibility on multiple devices?
  • Are you interlinking related content to give detailed information about any topic?

3. Mobile Keeps Growing: 2015 was a big year with the 394 percent increase in smartphone usage, and more than 75% of all Internet users use a desktop with a mobile device.

Google already rolled out “Mobilegeddon” update to phase out websites that are not optimised for better user experience on mobile. Optimizing your website or mobile app for organic visibility can significantly increase the traffic of people with high conversion intent.

In most industries, mobile traffic is currently surpassing desktop traffic with large differences. People are frequently searching information “on-the-go” and Google is aligned to give better search experience to people searching for information on mobile devices.

4. Google Directly Answers: Understand the difference between “keyword” and “search intent” of a user – You no longer need to optimize for exact keyword to offer a relevant search result :)

Google has started giving direct answers to searchers in search result rather than routing them to some other websites. Based on some previous data and analysis, Google direct answers can highly increase the click-through-rate of website instantly. Google Knowledge Graph and Window’s “Cortana” are all set to cover broader range of search queries (not keyword) in 2016, which is both an opportunity and a threat.

Apart from regular content strategy, it’s important to incentivize Google direct answers before your competitor start doing that. Creating 4-5 highly targeted content for most prominent search query that Google can use in the direct answers would be your best bet.

5 – Local SEO will evolve further: More focus on local SEO has been an integral part of the several algorithm changes Google rolled out in 2015. Better integration and optimization of Google plus and Google my business with your website is actually improving the local search visibility of your physical business.

Local search results are radically impacting click-through-rate and conversion rate of a business because of so much informative data that is not easy to ignore for a potential customer. If your business is such that your potential customer base is geographic in nature or if you are in B2C business, local SEO is going to play an important role in your overall digital marketing strategy in 2016.

Few ways to optimize your business for local SEO in 2016:

1- Make use of ‘Google My Business’ – Getting listed and optimization of “Google My Business” is the lowest hanging fruit for your overall local SEO strategy, list your business and verify your local physical store from Google.

  • Update your dashboard with complete details
  • Explore full potential of Google Plus endorsement tool
  • Integrate and pull out meaningful decisions from Google Analytics Insights
  • Creation and utilization of AdWords Express campaigns

2- Encourage customers to share local reviews: Encourage people, previous customers to share positive reviews about your product/services on Google My Business page. Getting positive reviews from other trusted review sites can also help you increase the local listing and ranking in search.

3- Focus on NAP Listing – Local citation has been playing an important role in the ranking of a website since lately, this is likely to evolve even more in 2016 and can help increase the local listing.
The most prominent thought leaders agree that complete citations account plays up to 25 percent increase in site searchability of a website. Make sure your business is listed with NAP details (Name, Address, Phone No) on top citation networks, and if there is an option to add a link to website also, just don’t miss that.

#SmartTip – Try to show/add your city and state at following places (Title Tag, H1 Heading, Content, alt text, images, URL, local business listing)

6 – Change in External Link Structure: From the last couple of years, the values of external links were going down. However, high-quality backlinks are still one of the most trusted ranking signals for a brand. 2016 will bring some add on value to external link structure that will be slightly more focused toward “brand mentions” and linking to internal pages of an android app.

7 – Page speed takes more precedence: So “Page Load Time” of your website is a ranking factor now. Sites that load faster can outrank the one with high page load time. Did you know that Google has allocated a specific period of time to crawl your website, clearly Google bots can’t wait to let your page load in browser and then crawl. High load time is a waste of your websites crawl budget.

  • 40% of your visitors will abandon a site if loading takes longer than 3 seconds.
  • Half of your visitors expect a site to load in 2 seconds or less.
  • 1 second in loading time decreases conversion by 7%.

One thing is certain, however; SEO in 2016 will not be the same as SEO in 2015. Technologies, systems, and trends change too rapidly to support any one set of goals or practices for long.

This article is part of the #2016defynd series where we have experts from the industry talk about what digital marketers need to do to keep up with Digital Marketing in 2016.

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