SEO is changing every year and Google is trying to make it hard for black hat SEOs who want to rank by following unethical ways, like, stuffing keywords, buying links and social shares to increase their rankings. Google is becoming smarter and changing its ranking factors. So if you are the one who is still practising black hat methods, then it’s the right time to avoid it entirely. Here are some of the most powerful and prominent factors that will show you the future of SEO.
User intent & User experience
User intent is going to play a major role in the future.
Google wants to provide the best quality information for their visitors and wants to provide the best websites which satisfy the user intent.
Even though a majority of factors like backlinks and social shares affect ranking, the key to rank well on a page, in the long run, is by satisfying the user intent.
Semantic search was introduced in Google in the year 2013 and it helped Google to understand the search intent of the user.
Now, Google has introduced artificial intelligence that can provide better search results for complex search queries and provides relevant and accurate results for the queries.
So user intent is going to play a vital role in SEO in the future and to support this, they patented a new algorithm that can recognize facial expressions of the user by using biometric indicators with the help of front camera of the mobile along with other sensors to understand what kind of emotion the post is triggering.
If your site user experience is poor then you will get penalized soon.
Intrusive Interstitials on mobiles get penalized
Yes, this is true. People who use popup ads/ intrusive interstitials will get penalized from Google from January 2017.
So websites which use popup ads which block the screen will get penalized.
The future of SEO – User Experience?
Do you know that Google patented an algorithm that can understand the facial expressions of the user?
Yes, you heard that right! Google is going to track user expressions using biometric parameters to find out user satisfaction.
With the help of the front camera and the sensors on the mobile they were able to detect
Heartbeat and Heart rate
Eye twitching and blinking
Facial flushing and expansion of pupils
Blinking and Twitching
For example, frowning shows dissatisfaction whereas a smile shows happiness or satisfaction.
With this technology, Google would be able to track how satisfied or unsatisfied a user when they landed on your page so that they can track those results and rank accordingly (Increasing or decreasing search results).
Google revealed Rankbrain in 2015 which is a self-learning machine (AI) that can help search engines to interpret search queries and deliver relevant results.
This machine learns by itself and tries to understand complex queries to show relevant results.
This was confirmed by Google in 2015 and it’s the part of their search algorithm, Hummingbird.
Google officially declared that RankBrain is the third most important factor and the first and second ranking factors are not revealed.
The first and second ranking factors are obviously content and links.
Also, Rankbrain does not rely on other ranking factors like speed or backlinks.
Its job is to separate the queries and show relevant results for complex search queries to the visitor.
But they called it the third most important ranking factor which means that Rankbrain will collect the data when a visitor stays on the site and engaging with the page or get bounced back immediately which shows either poor user experience or low-quality article but was ranking on the top because of links.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced that more than 20% of mobile queries are voice searches and the conversational searches are also providing accurate results.
The increase in mobile search and conversational search shows that voice search plays a significant role in SEO.
This also makes the users very easy to browse the internet while driving a car or in traffic and its growing exponentially.
The recent case study from marketing land shows that Teens and adults are using voice search when they are multi-tasking.
Also when voice search increase, the chances are high that people search for long tail keywords.
For example, if a teenager wants to buy sneakers he would do a voice search closely related to their needs.
Best sneakers for jogging or Best sneakers for high arches.
So focus on long tail keywords and do proper keyword research before choosing a keyword.
Podcasts and videos are powerful than text
One of the easiest ways to get better rankings on organic traffic is by adding a video along with a podcast on your site.
You may have a question about why you should add both videos and podcasts?
Edison research recently conducted a survey and the results are amazing.
People who are listening to podcasts are increasing every year, especially from America.
The percentage of US citizens aged 12 + who have listened to a podcast in the last month has increased by 21% from 17%.
This is an estimated 57 million Americans which are huge as compared to any other market.
Not only this but you can publish your podcast in I tunes and play store so that you can create a new audience.
Globally, consumer internet video traffic will be 80 percent of all consumer Internet traffic in 2019, up from 64 percent in 2014
According to Cisco, estimate videos grow to 80% of the traffic by 2019.
A page with videos on your website hints Google and other search engines to give a positive signal that your page contains rich media.
With the help of videos, you can increase CTR and your rankings on SERPs because, Google algorithm favors articles which have videos on their pages.
Not only that, you are giving two different options for your visitors and this provides better user experience for the visitor which is the most important factor in terms of Google.
You will see increased number of returning visitors and reduced bounce rates.
All you need to do is to tell a story in the video or podcast that connects to your audience.
This is another major concern for Google as they considered social shares as one of the ranking factors and then people started to take advantage of this.
People started to buy social shares where they were shared on social networking sites but the engagement rate is very low.
So if your social shares are more but the engagement is less then, you are not likely to rank high.
A Recent study about it from moz shows a clear indication that social engagement is very important.
Google wants to provide the best possible search results for its users.
If you are someone who writes short length articles then you should focus on Pinterest, StumbleUpon, Facebook and other social networking sites to get traffic because, you are nowhere on the top 50 if your content is less than 1000 words.
Long content creates a wow factor which helps your readers to share your articles instantly.
This will help you to increase social shares on multiple social networking sites which help you to increase your post engagement so that you can rank better on search engines.
Backlinks are very helpful to boost your rankings, but with the help of Rankbrain, it is going to change in the future.
Google has figured out that no matter what they do there are still some ways that webmasters can manipulate Google by buying backlinks to their site or buy guest posting opportunities so that they can rank better in search engines.
This was back in 2014 where they were trying to understand more about conversational search.
According to Matt cutts, “Backlinks help to understand the reputation of that site”.
Also, he mentioned that links from influenced people will help you to build the reputation to your site.
So how do they calculate who are the experts in the industry?
We assume that Google calculates this based on 3 important factors
- Traffic of the site.
- Backlinks to that site from different experts.
- How long have they been in this industry.
Even though no one knows how they would calculate exactly, these three could be the important factors to understand about the author profile.
So getting links from influencer’s in the industry will help you to stay ahead in the organic rankings.
Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)
Google has officially declared that AMP is not a mobile ranking factor as of now but this is going to be a factor in the future.
Accelerated mobile pages’ project helps the visitors to load the website instantly.
Thanks to the new technology and WordPress plugins, you do not need to add any code or hire someone to change your website to AMP friendly site.
This will also help you to increase your traffic from mobile search because sites with AMP pages will be displayed above the fold in the mobile search and because Google has increased ads on mobile devices, AMP sites will have an added advantage.
A recent case study shows that Washington post was able to increase their returning users from mobile search by 23%. You can find the detailed case study from here.
Google chrome which is a part of Google will display a security warning sign to HTTP sites beginning in 2017.
According to the Google blog, in 2015, hacked sites were increased by 180% from 2014.
Also, the recent case studies by majority of the high authority sites show that HTTPS sites are ranking better than HTTP sites and Google webmasters official blog confirmed this in 2014 that HTTPS is one of the ranking factors.
The intent is to provide safe search for the users and because the amount of hacked sites is increasing every year, Google wants the visitors to be safe while browsing the internet.
Mobile Friendly Sites
More than 50% of the traffic comes from mobile devices alone.
If your site is not AMP ready, then you must check whether your site is mobile friendly or not.
Majority of the users do not know about AMP and they do not care about it even if it takes less time to load.
The recent survey conducted by Glenn proves this.
If your site is not mobile-friendly, then it’s the time to change your theme or hire a coder to fix all these issues.
Mobile friendly websites have high value now because Google is working on separate mobile search index.
If your website is not mobile friendly, then you are likely to lose your rankings on mobile.
Structured data helps search engines to be able to understand about a website content and displays snippets in SERPs.
John Mueller explained in Google webmaster office hangout at 21:40. that Google might use structured markup as a ranking factor in the future.
Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat will Rock
If your demographics are teens then you should start spending some time on Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter.
Even though there are some other social networking sites, more than 60% teens are spending a lot of time on these sites.
So find out who your demographics are and start investing some time on these social networking sites.
One of the easiest ways in the early days of SEO is to use keyword rich anchor text so that the website can rank for that keyword. This was widely used by black hat SEOs so that they can rank for the relevant keyword.
But Google found a solution to this problem which is called co-occurrence.
Let us assume that your site was linked by another blogger.
The old way
“Here is a great way to increase your site speed”
So in the old days if you want to rank for the keyword which is related to “increase your site speed” people linked to keywords so that they can rank high in search engines.
The new way
“Here is a great way to increase site speed in WordPress by aimforbig”
The above example shows that I was referred from another site to my brand.
Because the brand name is mentioned and the keywords which are close to the brand anchor text creates a relationship with similar words on that page, this looks natural and Google gives more value to these links when pointed out by several other sites using this method.
This kind of links looks natural in the eyes of Google now because if the content on the page does not match the content that was linked to then those links will not be helpful to your site.
So stop using keyword anchor text to avoid future penalties.
Co-citation is a form of ink building without links.
Suppose that 4 random websites linked to 4 sites.
Let’s say A, B, C, D linked to 1, 2, 3, 4 but 1, 2, 3, 4 were not linking to each other.
Even though they are not linking each other they will create a relation between each other because of the sites that linked back to these sites.
This will create a co-citation and helps the sites 1, 2, 3, 4.
On page time
On page time is another important metric that you should focus on.
With the help of Rankbrain, Google can now understand how the visitors are responding to the site.
There was no mentioning about how Rankbrain ranks the pages, but a majority of SEO experts believe that it will rank sites based on the ‘on page time” and other factors like ‘pogo sticking’.
Are they bounce back immediately after landing, which is also called as pogo sticking and how much time users are spending on their site for the organic search query.
From the visitor’s actions, it will then decide which page is fulfilling the needs of the visitor so that it can show that page to the relevant searches.
So you should check your articles to make sure they are updated every month and update new information on that topic whenever needed.
Google is working on the mobile only version of the search index so that they can have different searches for mobiles as well as desktops.
This also suggests that they are giving more preference to mobile searches and you should focus on user experience and speed for mobile searches.
Synonyms play a vital role in semantic search and using more synonyms would lead to better rankings.
Because people use different kinds of queries, which implies the same meaning synonyms will help you to rank for different queries.
This will also help you to avoid stuffing the same keywords repeatedly, because, for better ranking, synonyms will help you to write naturally with consistent quality without stuffing a single word keyword.
They also support “co-occurrence”.
Problem Solving Content
Google wants the webmasters to write content that should solve the problem of their audience.
Instead of optimizing your site for one keyword and revolving around the same keyword, choose the problem and solve it.
Google is not just a search engine now; it’s being used for people to find answers and to research more about a topic.
Instead of choosing a single topic, choose what you can address more about it.
Stop writing for keywords. Write articles that can solve a person’s problems completely.
Find the core problem and provide a solution for the people.
The future of search engine optimization is though unpredictable, following the right techniques can help you to rank high on SERPs.