If you own a website, you probably know that changes in Google search algorithms are a common occurrence.
Google makes small tweaks to its search engine layout all the time, though they are hardly noticeable in most cases. This is resulting in gradual changes in user behavior—which also upsets marketers who have built elaborate marketing plans around previous information.
Until now, these changes were usually minor and mostly limited to the length of each entry, numbers of entries per page and some other listing modifications.
But they were mostly unnoticeable to general users and by no means changed the status quo of the search engine result pages.
However, things are changing.
The onslaught of new technology is making SERP far more complicated than ever. From more sophisticated search algorithms to wearable devices, every new technological innovation is creating a new challenge for marketers.
Here are 4 changes that are likely to take place by 2016 and how you need to prepare to cope with them.
1. More Algorithm Changes will Follow Mobilegeddon
Google favoring mobile-friendly sites is nothing new; however, mobilegeddon created a buzz in the beginning of this year.
According to this study, the update impacted a considerable number of websites which were not mobile friendly. The study clearly showed that non-mobile-friendly websites had a significant dip in the rankings.
Mobilegeddon is just a start.
Google is likely to release many more updates as and when it discovers mobile usability issues. To be on the safe side, it is better to take Matt Cutts’ words seriously, “… prepare for mobile.”
Besides, algorithm changes are usually nasty and you don’t want to fall prey to Google’s nasty updates. Most businesses rely on the search engine for a steady flow of organic traffic. In the U.S. alone, Google controls two-thirds of the search market.
This means, a single code change can leave you scrambling to recover and re-optimizing your websites to catch up to the algorithm changes.
Consider this: While the top position in the SERP attracts 20 to 30 percent of the total number of page clicks, second or third positions generate only 5 to 10 percent of the click. Let’s not even talk about the links below that.
If we have learned anything from our previous experiences, it is to follow Google’s guidelines to avoid the wrath of its devastating updates.
Remember the major algorithm change of 2011? It caused significant dips in traffic and revenues of some of the popular content farms, including Ezine Articles, Mahalo and Associated Content. History may repeat itself; become optimized for mobile before it’s too late.
2. Google Knowledge Graph will Grow
The Google Knowledge Graph is already in force and it is likely to take over in the coming year.
Launched in 2012, this tweak displays an information box on the right side of the search engine result page showing a run-down of information related to your search query. It aims to provide commonly sought information, eliminating the need to hunt through SERP entries.
The presence of Knowledge Graph is likely to grow in the coming years; it will collect more information, cover more diverse subjects, and appear for more types of search queries.
In short, Knowledge Graph is likely to overtake the top SERP entries, which means 20 to 30 percent of page clicks will see a further drop.
Knowledge Graph can even appear for general queries. So if you are trying to rank for generic topics, you need to reconsider your SEO strategy right now.
3. SERPs will be Filled with Indexed Apps
App Indexing is already a major consideration for Google when it comes to displaying search results on mobile devices. The search giant is also making moves for indexing apps for smartphones and tablets just the way it indexes websites.
In the coming years, wearable devices and apps are likely to gain more importance from both marketers and users. As a result, Google will be keen to include more app-related results in its search engine result pages. It won’t be surprising if users are provided with a list of related and popular apps when searching for a particular topic.
For example, if you search for a query like “digital marketing tips,” Google might come up with a handful of online marketing software and apps in place of the top traditional ranks. This again means a drop in your ranking, which will further affect your click rates.
4. Social Results will Play a Key Role
Google is making alliances with popular social media platforms. It already has a long-standing deal with Facebook and has been scanning this social media site for posts and information from big organizations and major brands.
Google has recently forged partnership with the popular micro-blogging site, Twitter. The search giant can now index tweet information.
The search giant is likely to make more such deals in the coming years in order to integrate real-time social results into its result pages. For news-worthy, socially important queries, we are about to see a listing of popular social posts.
Chances are, these posts will be positioned above the fold. Traditional top ranking sites, therefore, will be replaced with a separate social section.
Impact of These Changes on Your Conversion Rate Optimization
As we know, conversion rate optimization begins with recognizing the problem areas in your sales funnel.
If the anticipated changes mentioned above become a reality, marketers need to rethink their conversion optimization effort. Audience demographic reports and segmenting will play even more crucial roles and optimizing for mobile traffic will be a mandatory factor.
You also need to have indexed apps in order to ensure a steady flow of organic traffic. Social channels too will gain more prominence.
In fact, you need to combine your SEO and conversion rate optimization efforts to sustain the new challenges. You need to focus on mobile SEO in order to make significant impact on conversions.
These changes to Google search will likely roll out gradually in the coming years. But preparing now for them will help you get an edge over the market competition.
Here’s what you need to do:
- Reconsider your SEO efforts.
- Prepare your site.
- Become mobile in the full sense.
- Improve your online presence.
- And get more active on social media.
It may sound simple, but implementing these tactics will take time. You may as well start now.
The days of individual keyword rankings are gone and traditional rankings won’t help as well. Focusing on your business reputation and creating a better and more technology-driven branding strategy is what will help you stay ahead of the competition.
What are you doing to keep up with changes in Google search algorithms? Has it impacted your conversion optimization strategy?