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Two predictions that will drive SEO in 2016

SEO is a continuously changing and evolving field. This is because there are many factors that contribute to the efficacy of any one strategy: the target market demography and preferences, search engine algorithm changes, the product or service being offered, among others. Most of these variables are constantly changing, which means that techniques from yesteryear may not see as much success today.

Apart from the explosion of mobile search and mobile internet access, the following are two more predictions that will take over in 2016.

  1. Voice search will become prevalent

It started with Apple’s introduction of Siri into the market. Today, we have Cortana and Google Now, all of which have made voice searches a real possibility. How does this affect you? For starters, there will be significant changes in the way queries are structured and crafted, given that a person needn’t type out what they are looking for.

Text-based search is rather simplistic given the hassle of typing especially on mobile, but not so with voice searches.

People will be more likely to structure their queries as complete questions, rather than keyword-based phrases.  For instance, rather than search for “Dentist Chesterfield MO” for text, voice searches would go something like “Where is the nearest dentist in Chesterfield?” Even without the location, Google will simply locate the user and suggest the dentists closest to him/her based on his/her current location.

Significance: use of question pronouns is a big part of voice search – how, who, what, where, why etc. Search marketers will need to device strategies to address this change in search methodology.

  1. Structured data and direct answers

Google Instant attempts to show users direct answers to their queries in a box at the top of search results where possible. While originally intended for desktop-originated searches, this feature has grown to include mobile devices as well. This was initially a down point for many SEOs since customers would have no need to visit a site if all the answers are provided right there on the Google SERP.

However, the good news is that only 25% of queries can be answered that directly. The rest of the time, users still need to visit a site in order to get full information to state their need. To respond to this shift however, it will be doubly important for sites to provide structured data for as much of their content as possible. This is a useful method to tag data within web pages to make it easier for search engines to understand it.