SEO & Social: What's to come in 2016?

| 22 Dec, 2015

From Content Marketing, Technical SEO, Social Media and Outreach, our experts take a look back on the big things that happened in 2015. They also take an exciting look at what 2016 may hold and what weŠ—'ll be looking out for.

Content Marketing
Jane Cronin, Content Marketing Manager

A look back at 2015

This was the year of data visualization as the power of data and storytelling collided. Whether it's mining for new information using social listening or combining some of the vast arrays of open data sources, this is one of the most powerful ways to grab the attention of journalists and readers.

We've seen the inexorable rise of collaborative content, where brands increasingly work with influencers to create their onsite content.

There's also been a shift from creating "linkbait" or "click bait" style content as audiences become savvier. Instead, the focus has returned to genuinely helpful, original content that serves the needs of core audiences.

A look forward to 2016

In 2016, authenticity is going to be the touchstone for content marketing, focusing on putting the voice and experience of the customer first. This is often through user-generated content, where brands focus on curating rather than broadcasting. Expect to see many more UGC hubs and posts.

I expect to see more sophisticated forms of attribution modelling being used to measure content marketing's performance, allowing us to better understand how different types of content contribute to conversions.

Technical SEO
Nick Fettiplace, SEO Director

A look back at 2015

For me, one of the most exciting changes within the realms of SEO in 2015 is the way we saw content getting served.

First up, the number of tweets being displayed within the mobile search engine result pages (SERPs) soared in the early half of the year following a new deal between Twitter and Google in February 2015. Not only did this mean more content from Twitter appearing on Google, but it also signified the growing allegiance between SEO and Social within integrated digital marketing campaigns.ξThen came the evolution of real-time tweets showing up in Google just a few months later in May 2015.

I also feel that emerging knowledge and use of schema has done a lot in getting richer content types more easily understood by search engines. As such, we're seeing a much greater diversity of content within search campaigns and it feels as though the industry as a whole is gradually getting to grips with utilizing all that is available to it. This has made SERPs a much more intuitive and engaging place for users and my gut feeling is that schema will fast become a commonly upheld web-standard among developers as we begin to see more and more benefits from it within our marketing campaigns.

Peter Richards, Senior SEO Manager

A look forward to 2016

Back in August 2014, Google announced that serving content through an encrypted secure server environment (https) became a ranking signal. But the general opinion in the industry was that in practice migrating to an https site resulted in little or no impact on rankings.

Since implementation came with several perceived negatives, including the cost of migration and slighter slower average page speed performance, uptake has been low.

It looks like this will change with John Mueller's announcement in Search Engine Land that Googlebot will support HTTP/2, the latest update to the HTTP protocol 'by the end of the year, or early next year'.

At this point HTTP/2 is not supported well by all browsers and requires the encrypted secure server environment (https) in order to benefit from considerable increases in page speed performance - great for users and SEO. Once this is supported in 2016, webmasters will begin to utilise the technology and Google's ranking algorithm will start to deliver the ranking benefits originally promised for those who went through the cost and upheaval of migrating to the secure environment.

Social Media Outreach
Maria Bain, Social & Outreach Manager

A look back at 2015

Opening up Instagram ads from a beta offering was the biggest development in paid social, a particularly exciting opportunity for brands with visually appetizing products. But this is also a chance for brands in more conventional industries to rethink their social storytelling, persuading them to put a face or compelling image to lead their marketing.

Twitter polls were another development, showing the premium now placed on generating engagement rather than vanity metrics (like followers). Social media platforms and marketers alike needed to adapt, following the industry-wide trend to encourage conversation rather than broadcasting.

A look forward to 2016

In 2016, expect to see the once silos of offline and digital activity blur even further as campaigns take an integrated approach to events, social media, link acquisition, PR, and content. This is particularly true as brand citations become even more valuable in their own right for SEO. After all, it looks unnatural if a site has a significant number of inbound links but very few people are talking about the brand.

Calculating the ROI of social has long been a hot issue, particularly in regard to top and mid-funnel activity. In 2016, Facebook is bringing in a new conversion-tracking pixel which will help to assess returns more accurately for paid activity, and I expect this to be part of a move to enhanced analytics ability across social platforms.

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