3 Organic Search Predictions for 2016
It is always fun at the beginning of the New Year to pull out the crystal ball and make bold pronouncements about what the New Year will bring. I confess my ball is not crystal but, instead, is one of those plastic eight balls that always says “future is cloudy,” or some other meaningless sentiment. This still does not keep me from looking ahead and postulating as to what the future may bring. Here are my three rock-solid predictions:
Prediction 1 – Google Will Make Hundreds of Changes to Its Algorithm
It is easy to predict that Google will make hundreds of changes to its algorithm during the span of the year, because the search engine regularly claims to make hundreds of changes each year. So why highlight the obvious? The point is that it is pointless to try and chase every tweak and change made by Google. Once upon a time, algorithm chasing was a very much practiced art among SEOs. Most wise practitioners no longer chase changes, endlessly looking for ways to defeat the mighty algorithm. Unfortunately, many of us work with clients who still believe that there is a value to aggressive algo-chasing. As a result, it is one of my missions to dispel this thinking and replace it with a more balanced approach.
Prediction 2 – Google Will Announce Some Big Change
This is another can’t-miss prediction that I am sure will come true. Each year, amid the hundreds of minor changes, Google announces some big change or other that is predicted to have a serious impact on search rankings and their resulting traffic. The real question is whether the next much-ballyhooed change will be another fizzle, like Mobilegeddon or something else. Giving preference to mobile-friendly sites was supposed to be the proverbial Armageddon of search, but it was a bit of a fizzle. The reason it fizzled was that the well-optimized sites – those at the top of the rankings – were already tooled up for the change, and their results did not suffer much at all. An answer appears to be emerging for how to avoid being caught up in responding to the announced and the inevitable unannounced major change like the Phantom Update. The ability to float unscathed above the turbulence of all this change is possible and does not require prescience or magic.
Organic search had been my business since the mid-’90s, so I have seen hundreds of changes. Over time, I have built a response that seems to be working. It is very much similar to the old joke about the two men worrying about running from a hungry bear. One man notes that all he has to do is run faster than his partner. Well, this is my philosophy to succeeding at search. Instead of watching too closely the moves that the search engines make, consider even more critically the moves that your competitors, customers and consumers, in general, are making. Then craft your strategies to beat the competition and meet consumer expectations. Try to stay just a bit ahead of the pack. Then, the bear will get your competitors and not you.
Prediction 3 – Search Will Remain Hard Work
This is another no-brainer, a guaranteed slam-dunk prediction. Search is hard work, and because success is tied to staying ahead of the competition, you must be constantly scanning the marketplace and looking out for what you can do to keep your site ahead of the others. Staying ahead of the competition requires a maniacal attention to the details of site performance and optimization. Today, the optimization must extend well beyond keyword selection and basic on-page optimization into conversion optimization. We can no longer depend for growth on increasing Internet adoption rates to enlarge the potential pool of searchers. Similarly, just look around, and you will see that mobile growth is still there, but for how much longer? For search success, we must look to working not just harder but more efficiently. For example, pages that draw traffic that does not convert must be viewed as sources of lost opportunity to be recaptured.
When all is said and done, there is no beating a sound strategy and flawless tactical execution of the many little things that are recognized contributors to success in organic search and, by extension, to online marketing, in general. Then there will be no need to even look at predictions.
The purpose of this blog is to provide insights and tips for how to use search profitably. It will cut through the volumes of information that threaten to overwhelm the busy marketer and will focus on what is truly important for making search work.