2015 brought SEO countless new introductions like our new friend RankBrain and the further refinement of Facebook search. Here we will cover where search engine optimization is likely to go, and what you can do about it.
Online click path and site structure increased importance
When you land on a website and don’t know what to click or have trouble navigating a site, your reaction is most likely just to click back or close that tab. The likelihood of visitors simply leaving a page because they can’t find something has been steadily increasing over the last 5 years. Right now, it is estimated that 50% of all online sales are missed due to customers not finding what they were looking for.
This is multiplied by the fact that Google is heavily recording the way people interact with your page, and closing your page quickly after arriving on it is a large factor with heavy ranking significance.
This isn’t the only metric involved on your site’s click path and structure, though. Overall visitor engagement with your website is also measured by Google and assigns your site a placement in search results.
To optimize every visitor’s experience on your website you need to look at its organization. Subcategories and drop-downs are excellent additions, but become overwhelming for visitors if there are more than 20 drop-down items. If your site has a wealth of data stored in it, adding a search bar is a necessity.
And don’t ignore those on a phone, having a click-to-call and a fully responsive site is the only option in 2016.
Higher significance of digital footprint rather than traditional web ranking factors
This trend began only a few years ago. Traditional search engine optimization ideas like “page rank” and other ways of calculating the value of a page with a set formula are becoming less impactful. Although they are still the basis of everything SEO’s operate off of, the need for a more overarching integration with the internet in general has become apparent.
An example of this, is the laser focus many SEO’s put on only “Google search”. Facebook search has become a strong competitor and is rapidly becoming more refined, thus, becoming fully optimized on Facebook is something no one can ignore any longer.
An important way to adapt to this trend is to change the way you think. Silo’s that hold ideas separate like “website maintenance/development” and “social media” should be just as important from an SEO perspective, as they both boost the digital footprint of a brand.
New emphasis on structured data due to machine learning
As of last year, we had the opportunity to learn about and research the way RankBrain works.
This machine leaning system that Google implemented into its ranking process is the third most important ranking signal that Google uses, so it has changed quite a bit during its lifetime.
The biggest result, in terms of search engine optimization, is that we can manually send signals to RankBrain through structured data markup tools like schema.org. Doing this makes sure that web crawlers know exactly what is on a site instead of leaving it to them to interpret it.
As web crawlers have become more refined, structured data markups have similarly become more important. Now, missing or inaccurate data could be fatal to a website’s interpretation through a web crawler.
The best way to deal with this is to simply make sure your website has been correctly marked up using a structured data testing tool.
An added bonus of doing this is that you could potentially capture a “rich snippet” that Google indexes to directly answer a query in search results, especially if you use structured data to markup videos and bulleted lists.