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2016: emerging trends on search; what are you predicting?

     
2:34 am on Dec 12, 2015 (gmt 0)

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This last year many of us participated in some great thoughts and discussion around trends that we were predicting around search [webmasterworld.com...]

Here's some of my thoughts for the coming year :

- major technology device disrupters not in sight to establish themselves.
- Google continues to build it's own enhanced content layers into it's search results forcing out SERP listings. Pay or be gone
- Penguin and Panda still unforgiving and a suggestion/sign that Google has established whitelists for a limited range of branded players, no matter what you do in key monetized verticals
- mobile continuing to grow on search
- brief and visual is better as millennials drive shorter, faster more convenient, communication and information
- links will count even less than before ( and be harder to get )
- brands / now they are going to feel an increasing squeeze on their organic listings

What trends can you see on the horizon, what is it telling you, and how will you and your competitors embrace the new landscape thru 2016.... / thoughts ?
3:54 pm on Dec 12, 2015 (gmt 0)

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One trend you didn't mention is Google's theft of other people's content to display on its own search results pages. Here is an article describing a recent example of Google stealing song lyrics from another site: [seroundtable.com ]

Here is a quote from the article:
Yvo Schaap said on his blog that "Not only do these lyrics have random characters and weird sentences mixed into them, these weird errors reveal that Google (badly) scraped the lyrics from Metrolyrics (owned by CBS), only to strip the source, not show any source credits, but even attributed them to their own Google Play product as a promotion."
6:32 pm on Dec 12, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I think most changes will be evolutionary, not revolutionary.

I also think that, over time (but probably not in 2016), we'll see a more pronounced forking of desktop/laptop and mobile results. "Desktop-friendly" will be just as important as "mobile-friendly" if you want to reach the desktop/laptop audience, and both "desktop-friendly" and "mobile-friendly" will be define--at least to some degree--by content, not just by how a page looks or how quickly it loads on a given class of device.
4:14 pm on Dec 13, 2015 (gmt 0)

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User Experience is going to become a greater focus of how sites are created, optimized, updated and fixed.
12:43 am on Dec 14, 2015 (gmt 0)

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User Experience is going to become a greater focus of how sites are created, optimized, updated and fixed.

@martinibuster - Do you have some thoughts on how Google will interpret the "optimized" part.

I may be late to the party, but I've noticed recently in mobile/Safari the option in the URL bar to select and display specific text on a mobile web page. I haven't got to the bottom of how the coding is recognised, but maybe it's these types of updates you are referring to, or something else ?
2:48 am on Dec 14, 2015 (gmt 0)

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A good example is how the site is created in the first place. Traditionally SEOs begin with a list of keywords. The user experience way begins with the user and asks, what are people trying to accomplish? What are their aspirations? Then you build and optimize the site around that, not around the keywords, and most certainly not around synonyms.

I'm not saying to forget keywords but if you are worrying about keywords in your domain, that kind of thing, you're optimizing for an algo that existed ten years ago, not today.

Now I'm going to get a little more specific. There's a Google algo patent about CTR and re-ranking sites based on the CTR. [google.com] This isn't a ranking factor thing, it's something that happens after the ranking part of the algorithm, thus it's not a ranking factor since the ranking part already happened by the time this CTR part happens. The point of the matter is that in that kind of algorithm, your keywords will not help you. The only thing that will float you is user experience.
9:10 am on Dec 14, 2015 (gmt 0)

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One more to kick things along - I thinks it's important and from recollection Robert_Charlton mentioned it recently in terms of a major mobile ranking update that will be coming:

- mobile search optimization will overtake desktop optimization as traffic continues to strengthen on mobile
2:10 pm on Dec 14, 2015 (gmt 0)

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- mobile search optimization will overtake desktop optimization as traffic continues to strengthen on mobile


People are spending less time on the mobile Internet and more time on their mobile apps. Desktop/laptop Internet browsing is declining and the difference is not being made up by mobile Internet traffic. It's a net decline in web browsing.

What's happening on the mobile phone is that 85% of mobile use is on apps. Over two hours per day is spent on apps by the average user. Millenials spend over three hours per day on apps.

Now that you have a little more information, do the math and tell me what you think the mobile Internet trend for 2016 is.
3:25 pm on Dec 14, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I too believe the mobile and apps have become a key component for almost every business that can use it. A new, cheaper way of developing apps is needed for the smaller to medium-sized business

There's a multi-tier Internet that has developed, and it will only continue developing: Major business with their apps will capture more traffic away from traditional search. It's why Google is doing everything it can with app indexing. People have been using apps without looking on a search engine for some time, and especially when, for example, it's amazon.

Yes, focus on the user first, deliver great content with ease, whether that be via an app or desktop.

Local has yet to mature effectively, so there's still a great deal more to do on that front. It's still too fragmented, imho.

Click fraud will continue to be a problem in PPC, and may continue to worsen, imho.

Google AdSense publishers will have to up their game in the mobile environment.

Machine learning will continue to impact serps, along with further personalisation, especially on mobile.

Google, especially, will continue to find ways to lock users into its ecosystem to help defend its advertising revenues.

The EU will continue to investigate Google's practices, although, it could take years, and the complainants will continue to lose business unless they develop their own solutions.

Bing will continue to make small inroads as users realise there is an alternative to Google.

Microsoft still needs to learn that users are mobile and that a desktop user doesn't want/require the same UI. Desktop will continue to become the smaller player in a market dominated by mobile.

Yahoo will be bought out by a non-search business wanting the get a slice of the ad revenue and the good deals it's got locked in. Possible buyers include, Facebook, Verizon, or even Amazon or Apple. Yes, Apple!

Twitter will continue to fight its corner, but, eventually, investors will become even more impatient and will want returns coming faster. By feeding Google it's going to grow its audience, and by running ads/promoted tweets to non-logged in users, it's going to grow its ad revenue. It could be bought by Google, or Facebook. A smart move would be to be bought by Microsoft, or Apple.
3:39 pm on Dec 14, 2015 (gmt 0)

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It's a net decline in web browsing.


Absolutely correct, it has been going this way for quite some time. Peer over almost anyone's shoulder, look and see what they're doing, mostly unnecessary social "garbage". Too many people with, seemingly, an extraordinary amount of spare time spent gossiping about nothing.
3:47 pm on Dec 14, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Machine learning will continue to impact serps, along with further personalisation, especially on mobile.

Dunno about the "especially about mobile" part, but one would expect personalization to become more sophisticated in the years ahead. E.g., not just "This user likes Amazon and nytimes dot com," but also things like "This user likes long-form intellectual content" or "This user prefers bite-size tabloid snacks."

What's happening on the mobile phone is that 85% of mobile use is on apps. Over two hours per day is spent on apps by the average user. Millenials spend over three hours per day on apps.

Sure, but what are those apps, for the most part? Facebook, Whatsapp? Twitter? Are the people who walk their dogs or push strollers around my neighborhood while thumbing their smartphones deducting that walkaround time from their home or office desktop/laptop use? Or (as seems more likely, from the numbers I've seen) is such usage incremental usage, with a heavy social component at that?
4:10 pm on Dec 14, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Facebook, Whatsapp? Twitter?


Ok, my companys' experiences:

1. Facebook - pointless
2. Whatsapp - an indispensable tool for us, a real business game changer
3. Twitter - loads of followers however no one doing anything as yet and, at the moment, I do not really see much use for it ... in my businesses.
10:16 pm on Dec 14, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Does anyone have any stats that indicate the number of apps / mobile sites out there versus the rest?

My sense is that business adoption of mobile for marketing purposes, is slower. It's just that those that have changed to it are more visible and successful.

I predict less Mom and Pops/ small business being able to compete with reduced screen sizes in the SERPs. They must look for alternatives.
1:19 am on Dec 15, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I predict less Mom and Pops/ small business being able to compete with reduced screen sizes in the SERPs.


When thinking about Google's next move it's important to filter your ideas though the lens of the user experience. You'll always be ten steps ahead.

Google would not compromise the user experience in order to adhere to a strict rule of mobile-friendly results for mobile search. The whole point of mobile friendly results is to create a better user experience. But not at the expense of showing users crap sites instead of sites that satisfy their queries. It's not just my opinion. This is what was announced by Google: [googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com]

While the mobile-friendly change is important, we still use a variety of signals to rank search results. The intent of the search query is still a very strong signal -- so even if a page with high quality content is not mobile-friendly, it could still rank high if it has great content for the query.


I'll say this again: If you want to understand Google trends for 2016, filter your ideas through the lens of the user experience. You'll figure it out and be ahead of Google's algorithm and everyone else every time. That is the major trend for 2016. When you remove the lens then the motives, the algorithms and the SERPs look fuzzy and blurry. Put them back on and it all makes sense again.

I'm not a fanboy and I'm not getting kumbaya about Google. I've simply read enough patents and research papers that I get it now. This is how the search algorithms work. This is what's going on in the minds of the search engineers at Google. User experience is the major trend for 2016.
1:39 am on Dec 15, 2015 (gmt 0)

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My sense is that business adoption of mobile for marketing purposes, is slower. It's just that those that have changed to it are more visible and successful......

From what I see in couple of niches I run ecom sites is almost half SMBs converted their sites to Mobile/RWD slyle site at this point. The problems start when these newly redesigned sites are not fully tested for variety for multiple Screen Res's, not testing major Browser platforms, Jumping on HTTPS bandwagon(thus duplicate content all over).

One example is an EMD, domain name is 2 words, online since 1996, for the #1 keyword phrase for the niche. If You visit the site in Samsung Galaxy Tab via default Tab browser, the only thing that is displayed is LARGE Image.

Try "/v/vspfiles/mobiletemplate/mobiledefault.htm" exact search on GOOG, try vising root of the domains listed. 302's all over. Volusion, One of the major ECOM platforms in .NET. Shame.

Better for me. Good riddance.

As far as predictions: Next Year sometime September/October there will be another Quality update, same as last and this Year and several years(with tears) prior to that starting with Florida(and no, Not the presidential kind in US).
2:50 am on Dec 15, 2015 (gmt 0)

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My predictions for 2016?

A new open source, crowed sourced, not for profit, decentralized search engine will be born to take care of that ongoing Google free-hand cen$orship problem.
4:09 am on Dec 15, 2015 (gmt 0)

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My prediction for 2016 is that more small businesses will abandon Google in its entirety, much like what Google has done to small businesses. Big brand dominated serps, zombie adwords draining traffic and other forums of perceived manipulation will become more widespread causing the already eroded trust small businesses have in Google to decline even further. Free Google traffic will become a bonus while time and marketing budgets will continue to flow to other properties that offer a stable roi and expectations that are met.
9:57 pm on Dec 15, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Another prediction: The division between social and the "internet" will merge as Google's deals with Twitter and Facebook expand to take in other social platforms that index their content. Having a good social strategy involving quality posts will carry more weight in search results. .
4:52 pm on Dec 16, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Sourcing traffic that converts continues its evolution away from live-or-die-SEO and towards "anywhere and everywhere so long as the cost of reaching the target is < the profit from the conversion action".

Old ways of driving traffic will regain a degree of acceptance. Want to swap links? Okay, let me ask: Are our sites relevant to one another? Can we swap in a way - say an original content exchange - that benefits users to both sites (instead of simple link directories)? Call it "content placement for the masses". Maybe the link directory - integrated into relevant content sites as resource - regains ground IF it's curated carefully to actually fit as a resource . . and not just a list of affiliate links.

IBM's Watson flashes a tyrannosaurus tooth. The knowledge graph meets the brainiac computer.

Oh, and solution to spam emails finally emerges.

(Sorry. I just wanted to get a laugh.)
6:48 pm on Dec 16, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Maybe the link directory - integrated into relevant content sites as resource - regains ground IF it's curated carefully


I was thinking yesterday that we could use a well curated GrayWeb Directory of expert sites.
8:17 pm on Dec 16, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Google will double the number of its adword click bots this year.
8:29 pm on Dec 16, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Google will double the number of its adword click bots this year.

I thought they just doubled the click bots in the last month, or so it would appear from my stats. Adwords campaigns are now OFF and will remain that way. Someone else will have to go broke telling me whether or not this prediction comes true.
10:48 pm on Dec 16, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I was thinking yesterday that we could use a well curated GrayWeb Directory of expert sites.

Trouble is, most people aren't searching for sites, they're searching for answers or information.
11:13 pm on Dec 16, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Google continues to build it's own enhanced content layers into it's search results forcing out SERP listings. Pay or be gone- Ive said about this for some time, this is the start of it.

Google will start to lose traction as users move away and look for another search engine like Bing....
12:00 am on Dec 17, 2015 (gmt 0)

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As G gains a larger stranglehold on the "web" for advertising, those left out will create an alternative ... some one will. Even in these days of "big box" there remain local and mom and pops which can do well on a local/regional level. Meanwhile, Bing seems to be more accommodating at the moment.
1:13 am on Dec 17, 2015 (gmt 0)

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As G gains a larger stranglehold on the "web" for advertising,


I'm going to play the devil's advocate here ... insofar as Europe is concerned I feel that G, especially so in my widget sector is concerned, it's seriously struggling and no one is prepared to tell them why!

Insofar as other regions, outside of the USA, I am getting similar feedbacks, Google simply does not resonate nor, simply understand, their markets and costs.

Realistically Google has a total disconnect between realworld manufacturers v box droppers, Google is so introspective it's quite amazing.

That's a focussed financial college education for you, no realworld experience:-)
1:30 am on Dec 17, 2015 (gmt 0)

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they're searching for answers or information.


That's true. I couldn't agree more.
5:42 am on Dec 17, 2015 (gmt 0)

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My Predictions...

1.) The average searcher will continue, mostly unaware that google search is entirely corrupt. They will buy stuff, but not from you.

2.) Webmasters, publishers, business & content owners will use Bing because they're mad at google.

3.) Content will be stolen & the stolen content will be promoted & monetized by google over the legitimate sources. Google will get paid for that. People will cry. No one will listen.

4.) People will wonder why Google is trying to kill their cat & eat their children. They will call the cops but google will still pee in their coffee.

5.) There will be apps for stuff.

6.) Android will still be the worst Linux.

7.) iPhones will get cooler but your phone company will own it so it's not really your iPhone anyway.

8.) Your TV will listen to you having sex & decide that your humping tells it nothing about what to sell you or wether or not you're a terrorist.

9.) Google will ad several new major failures to it's list & continue surviving entirely on ad revenue & puppy blood.

10.) While working to cure death & take credit for quantum computing google will accidentally fix its search engine and we will all see that some 14 year old already cured death in 2012 but no one knew because his site was hit by panda.
3:48 pm on Dec 17, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Two significant things will happen this year that will forever change the course of human history:

1. The Google "Brain" project, after a decade of work, will finally reach consciousness
2. Amazon's new drone delivery system will finally be deployed nationwide

These two seemingly different companies with seemingly different goals in mind will unwittingly build and deploy the first version of Skynet after Google's "Brain" hacks AWS and takes control of the drones.

Brace for it...
3:48 am on Dec 19, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Web experiences will be mediated through ever more sophisticated adblockers and brands will need to put meaning before messaging to break through.

Consumers will move beyond controlling their data to actively trading it through platforms which create a value exchange between brands and audiences. People will begin to tire the hall of mirrors effect generated by social algorithms, and start to seek out richly curated experiences. Digital video will witness unprecedented growth as streamers such as Amazon Prime level the distribution playing field and become the pay TV operators of the digital era.
Tom Lucas, director, digital marketing, BBC Worldwide [theguardian.com...] .

Prediction: quality video will leap above competitors in search results and be shared via social, more than ever. It was done before, but it will just getter better.
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