Google is continually making adjustments to its algorithms. This means providing better and better results to users while changing what digital marketers need to be considering when creating and carrying out their SEO strategies.
Google officially announced the rollout of RankBrain, a new component of its overall search engine algorithm, in late October. RankBrain uses artificial intelligence to bridge gaps between what people search for and what they’re actually looking for. This allows Google to bring them exactly what they need even if it hasn’t processed their specific query before. This algorithm 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 viewers at the forefront of everything we do. For inbound marketers, this should come as a relief because 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 rakes in 2016. Search Engine Results Pages, or 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 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 and 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 this same data, it will be much harder to stay visible in result pages. The good news is 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 just important for user experience and visitor conversions, it is a big factor in ranking. Sites that load faster will outrank an equal competitor outright. Even further, Google only allots a certain amount of time for crawling each site. This means slow-loading pages will cause fewer of your pages to 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. by considering 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 is able to recognize the meaning of search queries so it can pull up answers that 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