SEO is Changing Fast, Let’s Know How
October 28, 2016 Nashaat Quadri
While researching the latest SEO trends that are influencing the search engine rankings of websites in 2016, content and user experience came on top. These are the two major current ranking trends almost all prominent bloggers and agencies agree on.
It indicates that the future of SEO is going to be different from what it’s today.
And if you continue doing the same old things, very soon you may realize that you’re lagging behind in the race.
In 2015, with Google’s announcement of a mobile-friendly algorithm, an immediate impact was seen in the form of a noticeable traffic loss for the websites that were not mobile-friendly.
It was the time when companies started talking about the need for improvement in the entire mobile content ecosystem and open source initiatives such as the Accelerated Mobile Pages project were launched.
Here is an alert! Google is doing similar water testing at present and some big changes are just around the corner.
Search appearance is everything that is displayed in the Google search results. So, products, events, recipes, reviews, software applications, articles and local business information, etc. everything can be a part of search appearance.
Let’s discuss user experience and content specifically with respect to search appearance.
Well, when we untangle the complexity linked with user experience, we come across several pointers. We will begin with annotation of content for a better understanding of your business by Google.
Appearance on new search channels
“Structured data markup” is one such thing we use for content annotation for machine understanding. So, when you use this markup your data can be indexed in a better way and appear prominently for related search queries.
This markup also helps in boosting your search visibility on new search channels such as Voice Answers, Maps, and Google Now.
Voice Answers is a personal assistant app, which can answer your queries and assist you with different tasks to be performed on the web; it is controlled by voice. You can control your web world through Voice Answers and give instructions for tasks such as reminders, sending an email, getting something translated into another language etc. etc.
Similarly, Google Now is also an intelligent personal assistant. It comes with the Google Search mobile application. You can use it to get your questions answered, make recommendations and issue instructions to a host of web services.
Both these platforms are being used widely apart from the normal search query field of Google.com and this latest SEO trend is bound to grow further in future.
Using “Structured data markup” and schema.org, you can make your site appear in the search results for these virtual personal assistants as well.
Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)
Now moving ahead to another aspect of user experience – faster mobile pages or the Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), which is an open source initiative that will help publish mobile content that will download faster.
Local Business Cards
It’s reported that Google is experimenting with a new search feature – local business cards. The official Google name for the project is still unavailable but the idea is to make your site appear on top of search results pages with local business keywords.
Schema.org has a vocabulary that is compatible with many different encoding scripts such as JSON-LD, RDFa, and Microdata. It is used by nearly 10 million websites. Furthermore, these vocabs are being used by big names such as Microsoft, Google and Yandex for their applications to support extensible and rich experiences.
As you know, you can leverage schema markup to make search engines understand your website’s content in a better way enhancing its visibility. In fact, developers around the world are using structured data to create signals that are easily understood by search engines.
It impacts your rankings. Google officials have also speculated about the inclusion of structured data markup as a ranking factor.
One more problem faced by the business owners and SEO professionals is that their properties appearing in the organic searches disappear fast. So, we need to make the sites more Google friendly with “local business cards” (another feature of Google).
Example: You can promote your website using events’ mark-up. Google crawlers will instantly find the event data and the search engine will use it for creating rich snippets in its search results. It will help attract additional traffic.
Image Courtesy: Google Support Doc
Through Place Actions, you can fix appointments, place orders, and complete reservations, etc.
This is also under experimentation but will decide the future of searches as Google wants to be “your best friend on the planet” and help you with everything technology is capable of.
Knowledge panel card
When you search for a business on Google, a highly visible “Knowledge Panel” card appears on the right. The information displayed on Knowledge Panel is sourced through Google’s Knowledge Graph.
It’s not just an image, but a combination of many things – all of which are directed to provide relevant information about the business without having to open the home page of the website.
You can see Place Actions inside the card. It also offers deep linking to relevant landing pages directly from the card.
JSON for Linking Data
Google has expressed its commitment to support JSON-LD in future, but has also made this clear:
Using AMP articles and future mobile rich snippets
Google has recently released AMP articles in the content carousel. To improve user experience, search engines are also putting emphasis on mobile rich snippets. So, you can click the call button directly and go to deep links through rich snippets.
Anything which improves user experience is also good for SEO. Visually enhanced and user-friendly sites are at a greater advantage and they are more likely to appear in the SERPs. So, businesses should focus at improving their expertise, reliability, authority and technical efficiency. To become better at SEO, one should have some coding skills as well, so that they can add schema.org markups etc.