With 2016 coming to an end, it is time to look at the most important and influential trends that took place in Search Engine Optimization (SEO). I like to take the time to do this because it is fun to see if any of my predictions from 2015 were right. It also gives people a chance catch up on the SEO trends that took place in 2016, in case they were not paying attention to them. Looking back at 2016 also work to give me a platform to make predictions about what 2017 has in store for SEOs.
The SEO industry is constantly changing which means that we always have something to talk about. There was plenty of things to talk about no matter what role you have in the SEO industry. Here is a recap of the biggest trends that dominated the industry in 2016.
1. Real-Time Google Updates
It is no surprise that Google has managed to keep the trend of using major branches of its algorithm by introducing Penguin 4.0. This involved the migration of the new Penguin algorithm to the primary search ranking algorithm that Google has been using. Penguin 4.0 made it possible for real-time updates. Meaning, that if you are caught using questionable link tactics, then you will be penalized quicker than ever before. However, you will also be able to repair your reputation faster.
2. Unexplained Ranking Shakeups
Many strange unexplainable Google updates disturbed the organic search rankings. For instance, there was a significant update on May 10 that worked to increase ranking volatility for an entire week. Then on September 1st, an unconfirmed update is known as Possum was released. Possum seemed to focus mainly on local rankings, and SEO experts are still not sure what the purpose of this update was.
3. Accelerated Mobile Pages
Accelerated Mobile Pages also known as AMPs were introduced by Google right at the end of 2015. These were designed to help make the web easier to navigate while making it easier for mobile users to be read these pages. Since AMPs were released, they have undergone more development, which has caused them to become increasingly popular this year. Google allows you to be able to use their protocols so you can make any content on your site into an AMP. This means that your pages will be able to load quicker when they are accessed by a mobile device. AMPs can place you higher in search results, and a small lightning bolt symbol will appear next to any of your content that has been turned into AMPs. This is an excellent way to create organic search visibility.
4. Keyword Dissection
Keyword research and planning is the most important part in SEOs and has been around since the beginning. However, it has been through many transformations over the years, and 2016 was no exception. While keyword research is still important, keyword-based optimization has seen some decline. The changes that keyword targeting and research saw this year were due to many different factors. Since Long-form content has been on the rise, many brands have started to downplay keyword targeting. Instead, brands are working to publish more engaging and shareable material. Competition for root keywords has forced people to start to use more long-tail keyword phrases.
5. Featured Snippets
Over the last year, featured snippets have grown in popularity. These have been seen in display frequency in response to search queries and also help search optimizers feed more information into Google. Using micro-formatting throughout your site allows Google to be able to quickly read your website before making it into a rich snippet in SERPs.
6. Video Content
Over the last year, video content has been able to take a huge leap forward. This is mainly thanks to brands, such as Facebook. They have added more video functionality and are rewarding their users and brands that choose to use these new functions. Facebook does this by giving those users higher visibility rankings. Video content has seen a significant demand, which means that it has seen more links, shares, and interaction than other years. Besides that, there have been no other changes to the way search engines index and provide videos.
7. Short-Section, Long-Form Content
Long-form content is still one of the most popular and effective forms of content marketing. But, there is a particular type of long-form content that has become a popular choice. Writing content that has over a thousand words and is broken up into smaller sections have become a popular choice for many reasons. Long-form content is an easy way to set yourself apart from your competition, while also providing more value to your readers. The key to using long-form content is to break it up into small sections. Doing this makes the content easier to read on every mobile device.
Did you see any of these trends in your rankings? How many of them had an impact on your overall strategy? Hopefully, this review of trends has given you some ideas that you can use in your SEO plans for next year.