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Get Ahead of the SEO Game in 2016

Google is continually making adjustments to its algorithms. This means two things: providing better and better results to users and changing what digital marketers need to consider in their SEO strategies.

Google officially announced the rollout of RankBrain in late October. It’s a new component of its overall search engine algorithm which uses artificial intelligence todesktop_illustration.jpg bridge gaps between what people search for and what they’re actually looking for. This  algorithm allows Google to bring users exactly what they need even if it hasn’t processed their specific query before. Rankbrain does not replace their overall search algorithm, but it does handle a large portion of queries. 

What does this mean for SEO strategies? It reinforces the importance of providing the highest quality content and providing the most value possible to visitors.  For inbound marketers, this should come as a relief. These values are built into every aspect of our business!

Google is also integrating and expanding several other features which will affect how we think about SEO in the new year, so we have compiled some highlights below:

Higher Ranking Will Not Always Mean More Organic Clicks

There will be a lot more factors influencing your organic click rates in 2016. Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) will include more paid ads, local packs, carousel results, knowledge graphs, and rich snippets.

To see how these adjustments will affect the way your links appear in SERPS, it will help to research search result pages for the keywords you are using. This way you will be able to understand which of these elements may be drawing potential viewers away from your site.  It will also help to see if you can make your way into any of these elements to boost your clicks.

Google Includes Rich Answers in More Result Pages Than Ever Before

Google currently returns rich answers to 35% of queries. That number is expected to increase in the next year. These answers are typically based on public data, so if your strategy uses a lot of overlapping data, it will be much harder to stay visible in result pages. Thankfully, Google uses external data and links to the source for these. So finding a way to make it into their rich answers will mean even more clicks than achieving a #1 ranking.

Page Speed is an Important Ranking Factor

Page speed is becoming more and more important to SEO. Your page’s load time isn’t only important for UX and conversions, it is a big factor in ranking. Faster sites will outrank an equal competitor outright. Even further, Google only allots a certain amount of time for crawling each site. If your site has slow-loading pages, fewer of them will be indexed.

Prepare for User Behavior to Impact Ranking

Right now, Google says that user behavior doesn’t affect rankings, but it is likely to be an important factor in the future. It makes sense to prepare your SEO strategy today. Consider factors like click-through rates, engagement, which pages viewers typically end up on, shares, loyalty, and User Intent. Luckily for inbound marketers, these factors are already on the brain.

Keywords Are Still The Basis of SEO

With RankBrain, Google can recognize the meaning of search queries so it can pull up answers to queries that may be different in wording but the same in meaning. This means keywords are just as important as ever, but SEO strategies should be shifting in focus from separate keywords to groups of related terms and synonyms

Learn More About SEO by Downloading Our Free Ebook!

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