I recently gave my recap of 2015’s biggest SEO developments. Well all of that is now in the history books and it’s time to look ahead to what’s in store for 2016.
While the predictions in this post are all just one person’s opinion, they are educated opinions based on working with and studying SEO/SEM day in and day out as my full time profession. In this post I’ll also back up my predictions with evidence and examples that led me to coming to these conclusions.
Of course, time will tell whether or not any of what I say ends up being accurate, but based on industry trends this is what I believe we can expect to see in 2015.
Google Stops Indexing Non-Mobile Sites In Mobile Search Results
Google has been putting greater emphasis on mobile-friendly sites in 2014, and I believe 2015 will be the year that Google finally stops indexing non-mobile sites in mobile search results altogether.
In mobile search, Google is already highlighting which sites are mobile friendly, which is based on a set of criteria that has been clearly laid out for everyone to see. The search giant has also hinted at the fact that it may use that criteria that has a ranking signal in the future.
In 2015 I predict that Google’s mobile-friendly criteria will in fact become a ranking signal, which means non-mobile-friendly sites will be buried in mobile search, if not entirely de-indexed.
Penguin Becomes More Unforgiving
Penguin made quite a number of headlines during Q4 2014, and I predict that Google’s algorithm will cause even more of a disruption in the SERPs in 2015.
Why? Because we know now that updates to the Penguin algorithm will be ongoing. Penguin updates used to be sporadic at best, but now they’ll be happening all the time.
I predict this will cause a lot of volatility in the SERPs going forward — meaning that if you happen to acquire a few bad inbound links Google will pick up on it quickly and adjust your rankings accordingly.
In 2015 I think it would be wise to monitor your inbound link profile very closely. Be on the lookout for bad links pointing to your site and clean them up as soon as they are spotted.
Click-Through Rate Becomes A Top Ranking Signal
It’s already known that CTR is among Google’s 200+ ranking factors, meaning that if your site gets clicked on more often in the search results it may get a rankings boost. So that’s nothing new, but what I’m predicting is that it will be weighted more heavily.
As Google strives to deliver the best search results based on user intent, I believe that how often a page gets clicked on, and how long the user stays on that page before returning to the search results, is going to be looked at more closely.
I also read a tremendous case study recently which demonstrates how Google is already adjusting ranking positions based on CTR. With that being the case, I believe optimizing for CTR should be a top concern for SEOs in 2016. You can read here my guide to optimize your pages.
If you’re thinking “won’t the top 1 or 2 pages naturally get clicked on more than pages in positions 3 or 4?” — no, not always. If you rank in the 5th position for a keyword you can make your page more appealing than the page in the 1st position by using tactics like Schema, for example, and thus get more clicks.
Google Gets Better At Determining The Quality Of On-Page Content
This last prediction is more wishful thinking than something I can back up with evidence or case studies, but one thing is for sure, something has to change! Google has to rely less on valuing backlinks when assessing the quality of a page and put more emphasis on valuing the actual on-page content.
Panda has made things slightly better, but Google’s algorithms are still noticeably flawed when it comes to searching for information-based articles.
Sometimes I have to dig through several pages before I find a page that satisfies my query, because the front page is full of articles that have the most links pointing to them which are not necessarily the articles with the best content.
This is not a concern that is shared by me alone, I have been venting my frustration to friends in the SEO industry and they all agree for the most part. Pages littered with ads above the fold with content that’s broken up into slides needs to be devalued in 2015.
Well there you have it, my predictions for 2016. What are yours? Do you agree or disagree with anything I have predicted? Have some of your own to share? I’d love to know, so please leave a comment!