The Future Of Search
2016 was quite the roller-coaster in the world of search. Some things, like the Penguin 4.0 update that devalues “bad” links and others, such as the inclusion of more and more machine learning technology within the search algorithms were expected. Some shake-ups, like the “Possum” update in the fall of 2016 that significantly affected organic search results, took the search community by surprise. Each change gave us clues to what this next year would bring for search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM). Without further ado, these are the top things to look for in the next twelve months.
The Death of Desktop Only Websites
Mobile-friendly sites are no longer even remotely considered an extravagant investment- if your website isn’t responsive, you may as well not have a presence online. Google and the other search engines have made it abundantly clear that mobile is the way to go. In fact, with Google’s Mobile First Index announcement last November, the leaders in search are rewriting the way to look at website development, giving more and more preference to mobile responsive sites. Why? As the announcement states from the very get go, “Today, most people are searching on Google using a mobile device.” If your website is desktop only, you are being left behind.
2016 was the year that all the major players online focused on SPEED- and the quickest pages to load are the stripped down, simple AMP pages and Instant Articles, created by the likes of Google and social media giant Facebook. We expect that we’ll continue to see website and page load speed in general being one of the most important search ranking factors across search platforms. Want to win at search? You have to win the page-loading race.
Welcome Your Robot Overlords
One of the more interesting developments in the future of search is incorporating artificial intelligence systems within the main algorithms. RankBrain, Google’s machine learning tool, helps the search engine better understand the intent in the search user’s queries as well as helps the search engine comprehend content on the web. This means that more complex keywords and superb original long form web copy will dominate. Voice search, in the same vein and using similar technology, will drive the charge away from backlinks and other short cuts in the search world. Machine learning will clearly be the future of search- anyone playing by yesterday’s SEO and SEM rules will soon be left behind.
Invest in Moving Pictures
Online video marketing has made a huge comeback- not only is it popular, but it’s utilization in the right hands is proving to be incredibly lucrative. Video has been a tried and true technique of getting attention online for some time, and ensuring that the videos are posted properly and with the right SEO has always been important, but this past year we saw live video making waves in a big way. Expect to see this tool used by big business and the local little shops alike- there are no limits.
Social Media Can Make Or Break Your Branding
Crafting a spectacular social presence is important for every business. Social Media Marketing is hot and we’ve predicted that it will only become more important in 2017. What’s it got to do with search? For a while now, the search engines have denied using social as a metric (although it was clear social continuously gained in importance). Just this passed October, though, it was reported that Google took out a patent to use many different aspects of social signals in order to use social to hone their search efforts. Social signals are set to play a much more important roll in search marketing and online visibility this coming year.
Let’s be straight, here- even with the booming power and potential of the artificial intelligence tools being used in modern search, even we aren’t able to truly predict the future. However, our in house experts spend their time and talents keeping our company on the cutting edge of the world of search. It’s time to make sure your digital marketing plan is structured to take advantage of the new tools available to you, and steer clear of short cuts that will cost you ranking in the long run. Search marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. Make sure you are setting a foundation to win in the long run.