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If there is anything that has remained true about online marketing over the past decade, it is that online marketing is always changing. Even the most conservative estimates suggest that Google makes around 9 changes to their search engine algorithm every day.

To stay ahead of the curve, businesses can’t just understand where online marketing and SEO is today. They have to be able to look forward to predict the next wave of updates they can expect in the coming months and years.

With that in mind, I wanted to spend some time today talking about some of the biggest trends you can expect to see in 2020 and beyond:

1) Snippets Become The New “Number 1 on Google”

For years, Google has been using Featured Snippets to highlight quick information that may answer your query without ever having to click on a search result. You can see these when you search for recipes, look for lyrics to your favorite songs, or ask questions with relatively simple answers like “How big is the sun?”

Brands have long avoided targeting these snippets which typically appear above all other search results, believing that they reduce the chance of a person clicking onto their website or otherwise converting. However, growing evidence suggests snippets actually drive higher click-through rates and engagement by quickly establishing a single site as the authority.

Over the next year, the competition for these snippets is likely to continue rising, making them the next big fight for search engine results dominance.

2) Mobile Really Comes First

We’ve been talking about this moment for years. We officially use our smartphones and tablets to access the internet more desktop devices.

As such, Google has announced that its ‘Mobile-First Index” would become its primary search index. That means Google is now looking at the mobile version of your site before it ever considers the desktop version when ranking search results.

With this in mind, having a stripped-down mobile version of your site or not having a mobile site is no longer a viable option if you want to succeed online.

Site speed will also continue to be a major ranking factor because of its importance when accessing sites on the go from mobile devices.

3) Visual Search Gets Serious

Visual search has existed as a novelty in online marketing for some time now, slowly improving with each iteration. Now, we are reaching the point where visual search is becoming a major player in search.

While we don’t have statistics from Google Lens or Bing’s Visual Search, Pinterest’s Lens has been a revealing foray into the viability of visual search.

Within a single year of launch, Pinterest Lens was receiving more than 600 million visual search queries every month. This September, the company announced the tool was able to identify over 2.5 billion unique objects within the fashion and home industries.

With this in mind, it is easy to imagine a day in the near future when people regularly find it easier to snap a quick picture than come up with a precise text query when trying to find a specific item online.

4) Voice Search

Speaking of convenience, people are quickly turning to their Alexas, Echos, Siris, and Dots for their casual search needs – whether it is checking the weather or quickly ordering a product.

Out of all the coming changes, this may have the largest effect on how brands optimize their websites and content. This is because voice queries tend to be almost completely different than the types of queries we make when typing into a browser form.

With some estimates suggesting voice search could account for nearly half of all searches by the end of 2020, brands will have to begin optimizing for more conversational “long-tail” search queries and the unique capabilities of voice assistants.

5) Video Rules The Content Landscape

This is another online marketing trend that has been growing for years, but shows absolutely no signs of slowing down in the coming years.

The simple truth is that videos are more engaging than almost any other form of media, providing both audio and visual information in a quickly consumable package. Thanks to faster internet speeds and improved search indexing, they have also been an increasingly effective tool for sharing your content and driving actual engagement.

To give you an idea, some statistics suggest that videos can increase engagement by more than 80% compared to sharing the same information in simple text or audio clips.

Despite this, many brands have still avoided investing in video marketing because they believe it is inherently expensive or ineffective in local markets. Ironically, most users say they often enjoy videos shot using “authentic” methods like shooting selfie-style using a smartphone as much or more than slickly produced commercial videos.

 

Waiting for the “next big thing” to blow up before you jump in is a surefire way to always be a step behind your competition online. You don’t have to invest in every whim or indulgence of the digital marketing landscape, but focusing on these five surefire trends is sure to have you starting 2020 at the head of the pack.

With 2016 looming, it can be tempting to kick back and celebrate the New Year and successful holiday season. But, as any seasoned marketer can tell you, there is never any time for rest in the world of SEO.

The past year has seen huge changes in the world of SEO, with a newly emboldened emphasis on mobile optimization and responsive design, the change to 3-pack results in local search, and the expected new algorithms running over at Google.

With that in mind, it’s time to start looking forward and preparing for a booming 2016 by predicting the biggest trends likely to define the coming year. CJG Digital Marketing is doing just that with a new infographic detailing the hottest SEO trends in 2016.

See the infographic below, or at CJG’s website.

Hottest-SEO-Trends-in-2016

SEO is an essential part of growing your business online, but it can often seem impossible to keep up with the constantly changing trends and policies. With the never-ending changes coming from Google and the other major search engines, you could drive yourself crazy trying to react to every single update.

Thankfully, a recent infographic from CJG Digital Marketing breaks down the most important trends and changes coming for SEO in 2015. With these tips, you won’t have to fight to keep up to date with the latest changes because you’ll be prepared before they even happen.

 Top-8-SEO-Trends-to-Watch-Out-this-2015

search-engine-optimization-411106_640If you are still running SEO the same way you were at the start of the year you are already behind the curve. SEO is constantly changing and proper SEO strategies need to be well-planned enough to stay on target over long periods of time while also flexible enough to adapt to the constant guideline changes, algorithm roll-outs, and new ideas about usability.

In the past year alone, Google has pushed out 13 updates to algorithms that the public knows about. That number is just the big algorithms that people might know by name such as Penguin and Panda, while there has also been a multitude of more incremental changes that have gone undocumented in the public.

You don’t have to rebuild your SEO plans from the ground up every time there are significant changes over at Google, but you need to keep the biggest changing trends in mind as you progress and refine efforts. As we head into 2015, consider the most important shifts in SEO thinking that have happened over the past year.

1. Focus on Mobile Traffic

This may not be the newest shift in SEO, but it is more important than ever and all indications suggest mobile isn’t slowing down any time soon. Google has also shown their commitment to improving the mobile web with the introduction of mobile analytics tools and new warnings for users who are about to click on non-mobile friendly websites.

You can see if your site passes Google’s mobile-friendly test here, but don’t stop with that. Ensure your mobile site lives up the standards set by your desktop page and your company to keep mobile customers coming.

2. Optimizing for Alternative Search Engines

There is plenty of evidence to suggest that 2015 may be the year when Google’s iron grasp on search market share could start to crumble. Google has lost some major clout as Firefox replaced the search giant with Yahoo as the default search engine for the browser. Google’s agreement with Safari is also ending this year, and Apple seems keen to replace their competitor’s search engine with a more neutral option such as Bing, Yahoo, or even DuckDuckGo.

Even if Google maintains a strong majority of the market share (which they likely will) you should still make it your mission to be visible across all platforms, not just the most popular one.

3. Stop Focusing on Rankings and Start Looking at ROI Metrics

Rankings are so last year. Since all the major search engines have put a heavy emphasis on personalized search results that cater to users’ interests and location data, there is no guarantee your site will show as the top result for someone else even if it is the top result for you. Instead, turn your attention to return on investment. It offers a more accurate depiction of how your online marketing efforts are working, and gives a more direct understanding of the value of your SEO.

4. Emphasize Social Media

In the past, emphasizing social media basically meant blasting the same updates across every platform you can find. But, social media has matured and users won’t respond to your efforts if you treat every platform as the same. You should learn the unique demographics and behaviors of any social media platform you are considering sharing on, and ensure your ideas, voice, and medium match the crowd.

More importantly, social media users expect brands to more than just yell at them. Users expect ways to engage your brand and establish a more personal connection. The best solution is to isolate two or three social media platforms that best suit your brand and build on your efforts there. If you can really succeed there, you won’t need to be on the other social sites.

5. Earn Links, Don’t Hoard Them

You have most likely heard the routine proclamations that “links are dead!” more than once since Google began cracking down on weak or suspicious link portfolios. However, this is no truer now than when the internet first gained a foothold in our society. Links are still the most influential signal of trust and authority to search engines and that is going to stay the case for quite some time. However, the game has changed in a couple important ways.

Back in 2011, you could purchase countless low-quality links to masquerade as a reputable site. Now, Google has means of seeing through the mask. Google can analyze link quality and they don’t take kindly to poor quality, irrelevant links meant to boost visibility without effort. In 2015, earning a single high-quality link the right way is worth more than any number of links you could buy or collude to gain. Put your effort into proper SEO and you’ll find success. Rely on shady tactics and Google will be hunting for you.

Everyone involved in SEO will tell you how drastically everything has changed this past year. They’ll emphasize how Penguin and Panda “changed everything” and they will be more than happy to talk about how dramatically linkbuilding strategies have been affected, but it seems like very few are talking about what these changes mean for SEO as a whole.

John Mihalik wrote about four strategic SEO trends that he sees as important for the rest of the year, but his predictions also work as a summary of where SEO is at right now. He misses a couple things that can’t be ignored like local SEO, but remembering these four trends Mihalik points out should be enough to give you a good idea of what SEO means for website owners today.

Quality is the New Standard – To be blunt, SEOs used to be able to take any site of almost any quality, and improve performance significantly with keyword stuffing, link buying, and all sorts of other borderline spammy tactics, but Google’s algorithm’s have advanced to unbelievable levels. With their complex set of metrics to evaluate sites by, Google can pretty confidently tell if a site is low quality, and there will be no way to bring a site out of the ether until the quality problem is solved.

Social is Important – Social signals are just now beginning to affect search results, but Google has made it more than clear they are implementing social signals into their algorithms and Facebook is working on improving their own search engine relying almost entirely on social data. Aside from questionable privacy practices, implementing social data into search makes sense. Interests, friend circles, location, and even internet habits can help search engines deliver results more tailored for individual people.

You Aren’t Mobile Friendly Yet? – At this point, any website without a responsive or mobile friendly version is beyond behind the times. More and more people are doing their searches on their phones and tablets. You can’t just throw together a low quality mobile portal either. Search engines look for the same quality signatures they do on desktop sites, and you won’t be getting any more traffic with a shoddy mobile page.

Knowledge Graph

The Knowledge Graph – Google’s knowledge graph, or that box of information in the top-right corner of your screen when you search for a celebrity or prominent brand, has been slowly becoming more common on SERPs over the past year. Mihalik also believes it offers an opportunity for brands to optimize their web presence and gain a little added performance for direct searches.

I question to efficiency or importance of the last one. The knowledge graph information does allow searchers to easily find concise information, but for a brand to appear on a SERP, the user has to search directly for that brand. If there is another company somewhere with the same name as yours, you could use the knowledge graph to gain a foot up on them, but otherwise I don’t see the knowledge graph becoming a cornerstone of SEO. Every other trend mentioned is pretty much a certainty at this point, however.