SEO in 2016: 3 Things Every B2B Content Marketer Should Know
We look at three growing SEO trends that could affect the success of your content marketing campaigns in 2016.
Published: 16 Nov 2015
5 minutes read
SEO and content marketing are more closely intertwined than ever before and the world of search is still evolving rapidly. For B2B marketers, the challenge is to stay on top of every single change to ensure their content continues to be found, continues to engage people and continues to convert visitors into customers.
We're looking ahead to 2016 by exploring three search trends that should be on your radar as you look to combine outstanding B2B content marketing with SEO best practice next year.
1.'OK Google' may be gone, but voice search is on the rise
With its latest version of Chrome, Google decided to remove the 'OK Google' feature, which automatically activated a voice search in the browser whenever the phrase was spoken.
According to VentureBeat, which first spotted the feature's absence from Chrome 46 last month, it was removed because not many people actually used it. (Although voice search functionality in Chrome can still be activated by clicking the microphone icon.)
So it seems that Google is still working out the best way for users to launch a voice search. However, the desktop browser is arguably not the most natural environment for the feature anyway. As CNET's Matt Elliott suggested, most people sitting at their desk probably find it easier and quicker to search by typing rather than voice - and that is unlikely to change.
Mobile is the key area for voice search - and research suggests uptake is already growing rapidly. Young people are particularly likely to search without typing and a recent Google survey revealed that 55% of US teenagers use voice search every day. Of course, Google is not the only player in this market - Apple (Siri) and Microsoft (Cortana) also have a presence.
So what does it mean for B2B content marketers? At the very least, it means you need to start thinking about how common voice search queries relate to your business.In late 2014, research carried out by Rosetta and published by Search Engine Watch looked at how frequently common 'question' keywords ('who…', 'where…', how…' etc) appeared in search queries. Overall, it was discovered that use of these phrases had climbed 61% year-on-year.
As voice search continues to grow, the way people interact with search engines will become more nuanced. Text-based search on desktop browsers will still be used for more in-depth queries that are unlikely to receive a short-form answer. However, people seeking quick answers to relatively simple questions will increasingly use voice search.
For example, think about how you would go about finding the location of your nearest DIY store. With text-based search, you would probably type something like 'B&Q Manchester' and then look for the address details. With voice search, you would simply say 'where is the nearest B&Q?'.
2. Google+ is still important for search
Reports declaring the imminent demise of Google's social media network continued to appear regularly this year, as encapsulated by Mashable's 'Inside the failure of Google+'.
There can be no doubt that Google is still tinkering with the network (it recently removed the requirement for using a Google+ profile to engage with people on other Google products like YouTube) and the project seems to have shifted considerably from its original goal to rival Facebook. However, savvy marketers cannot afford to abandon it just yet.
As The Next Web recently pointed out, Google+ remains one of the largest social networks - that alone makes it worthy of your attention. Furthermore, using the network to share your content delivers clear SEO benefits that you cannot get anywhere else.
The reason for this is simple: Google+ is part of Google. So sharing content on the network opens up the possibility of engaging visitors through a number of other touchpoints - including YouTube and direct search results. This means that as well as generating direct social visits, engagement via Google+ leads to many other potential traffic channels.
3. Search results are becoming 'platform agnostic'
Earlier this month, a fascinating article for Search Engine Land by Jason DeMers examined the potential impact of a new deal between Google and Yahoo. The two online giants have agreed a three-year partnership that means Google will provide some search results and ads for Yahoo, with the latter taking a percentage of the revenue generated by those ads.
Aside from two fierce competitors joining forces, what makes this deal really interesting is that the Yahoo search engine has effectively been powered by Microsoft's Bing since 2010. Under the terms of the new agreement, Yahoo can now effectively decide which search queries it sends to Google and which it sends to Bing. The idea is that it will use its relationship with both providers to deliver the best results (and most lucrative ads) to users.
So what does this mean for marketers? According to DeMers, it indicates that a new era of 'platform agnostic' search results is on the way. While Google remains the undisputed market leader due to the strength of its brand, there is actually little in the technology to distinguish Google from Bing. If you enter the same search query in both search engines, you'll see minimal difference in the results. And people using Yahoo for search will struggle to tell whether their results were generated by Google's algorithms or Bing. (As a side note, Bing increased its share of the US search market to 20% earlier this year.)
So if you automatically think 'Google' when someone says 'SEO', it could be time to adjust your approach. The prominence of multiple platforms does not have major implications for content creation and promotion - best practices in terms of on-site optimisation and off-site audience creation will continue to apply. The real difference will be felt in your search analytics. You'll need to go further than simply checking where you rank in Google. Remember that searchers may be using several platforms and you need to know where you rank for your target keywords on all of them.