With 2016 just around the corner, and volatile search engine algorithms being as temperamental as ever - many people are worried about what the future holds for SEO. However, many professionals within the industry aren’t panicking at all, and thanks to careful monitoring of the latest trends, a few are confidently predicting what 2016 may have in store for us.

So if you’re curious about what’s going to be hot in 2016 when it comes to search engine optimization, then you’ve come to the right place.
Over here at IWI, we’re going to show you some of the top predictions for what’s going to happen over the next year, so let’s begin.

1 - Social media influence

Google are in love with the potential that social ranking holds, and while they haven’t created a ‘foolproof’ system of social ranking just yet, you can definitely expect to see social authority having a greater influence on rankings as they test and tweak new strategies - especially with Google +.

Once you’ve got your on-page SEO dialed, it’ll be time to focus heavily on your social promotion strategy. This means becoming active on a variety of social platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. When Google see you have real authority on these mediums, you’ll certainly start to see this reflected in your search rankings as time goes on.

2 - Mobile is a huge deal

It’s no secret that mobile search has seen incredible growth over recent years - but we’re now reaching a fascinating tipping point, where a huge chunk of all internet traffic is being generated via smartphones and tablets, instead of conventional computing hardware like laptops and desktops.

While Google have already shown huge favoritism for sites that provide a quality mobile experience - you can expect this to become even more apparent in 2016. With this in mind, don’t be surprised if your rankings tank if you’re site isn’t ‘mobile friendly’. Of course, you’re also likely to experience improved rankings if you thoroughly optimize your mobile loading times and overall user experience.

Ultimately, in 2016 you can expect to see more mobile-focused product pages, as marketers and webmasters adapt to make their websites more accommodating for mobile users.

3 - Conversational voice search

Something else that goes hand in hand with the rise of mobile is the use of ‘voice search’. Simply put, more and more users are starting to use voice search to browse the web - and because of this - the way people use keywords is beginning to change.

These days, users are taking more of a ‘conversational’ approach to searching the web, and they’re frequently using a ‘question’ format. For example, rather than searching for ‘local restaurant’, many users are now asking ‘what’s the best restaurant in my local area?’

Fortunately, these long tail keywords are ripe for the picking, and they’re often easier to rank for - especially with newer websites which are still notoriously difficult to rank within the first 3 to 6 months.

If you want to take full advantage of this, it’s wise to begin with various question prompts whenever you’re performing keyword research in 2016. Start with words like ‘how, who, why, where, and what’. These will guide you to think in the ‘conversational voice’ style of search, and if you’re quick to jump on this, you’ll get a great head-start on your competition.

4  - Content is king

Google have long proclaimed that superior content will ensure better rankings, and it’s quickly becoming the truth.

These days, it’s foolish to use anything other than stellar content on your website. What’s more, making sure your website is regularly updated with fresh content will be important for demonstrating you’re up-to-date and relevant within your industry - especially with the ever-growing competition that’s joining the web every day.

If you haven’t already, consider adding a blog to your website and posting regular content - with the goal of becoming a genuine thought leader in your industry.  Simply put, if you place a strong focus on content in 2016, you’ll definitely have a smoother SEO experience.

Think out of the box

As you can see, there’s a variety of predictions already in the works for 2016 - but the main sign from Google seems to be ‘more of the same’. Ultimately, they want to see more quality content, more trusted social signals, and more true signs of authority.

The days of ‘hit and run’ blackhat tactics are long gone, and the only way to succeed with SEO in 2016 is to focus on becoming a truly respected and authoritative presence within your industry.