Online Marketing Trends and Predictions 2016

Online Marketing Trends to Watch for 2016

2016 is in full swing and businesses are applying new year resolutions to their online marketing plans. As the most fickle media channel there is, it’s important to stay on top of trends in online marketing on an annual basis, if not more frequently. To get you started off on the right foot I’ve compiled a list of trends and predictions that will help you improve your search engine rank and online customer acquisition in the year ahead.

5 Trends to Watch for that Will Boost Your Online Marketing Plan in 2016

1. Branded Link Acquisition

Link building is essential to your search engine ranking success. But old school (black hat schemes) link building will get your website in hot water with Google’s Penguin algorithm. One of the ways around link-penalty concerns is to use your brand name and/or website domain name as the anchor text instead of using exact match keywords as the anchor, the latter being a tactic that tells Google you may be trying to game the system. Using fictional “Holo Holo Condos” as an example, consider the guideline below:

  • Suggested anchor text“Waikiki occupancy rates are on the rise according to the owner of [Holo Holo Condos]” (link to website placed within “Holo Holo Condos”)
  • Inadvisable anchor text“Occupancy rates are on the rise according to this [Waikiki vacation condo rental] company” (link to website placed within “Waikiki vacation condo rental”)

In 2016, anyone consistently using exact match keywords when link building will live in constant fear of the respective Google algorithm update.

2. Building Branded Search

Branded search will rise to prominence in 2016. Building online and offline brand awareness is the key. Simply put, the more you put your name out there, the more people will perform online search using your name as the identifier in relation to a product/service they need. These individuals are more qualified (further along in the purchase process) than those searching for a product service without your brand identifier. So how do you build this brand awareness? Do the following:

  • Increased use of branded anchor text when building links – As per item #1 above
  • Increased use of brand mentions in lieu of link building – Getting natural links to your website isn’t easy. However, convincing a webmaster to provide a brand mention (using your domain name in an article without the link) in exchange for sharing content and/or valuable information that is relevant to their readers is much more likely. In addition, a recent Google patent filing has shown that Google may consider using brand mentions as a search engine ranking factor.
  • Increased brand exposure on social media – More on this in item #3 below
  • Complement online with traditional marketing (if there is room in the budget after online)

3. Instagram

There will be no “next big thing” in social media for 2016. 2016 will also be a plateau year for Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest (it pretty much has been already). That being said your business should still maintain these corporate profiles for your branding efforts and given the fact that social media impacts search engine rank (4-6%). However, Instagram will continue to grow in popularity with consumers AND businesses alike. Expect them to hit at least 600 million users in 2016 (from 400 million in 2015). It doesn’t matter if you can’t get referral traffic from posts (which is a part of why the public loves it), it will be instrumental in building brand awareness (as per item #2 above) and has proven to be a successful sales tool for small and medium businesses (ask me to find out how). Start building your brand photo/image database and start posting on Instagram daily.

4. Intuitive Analytics

Secure-search and increased use of private browsing is making Google Analytics (and KISSmetrics, etc.) analysis harder and harder. This is especially true if you don’t have PPC campaigns in place. While analytics-driven marketing decisions remain important, 2016 will not be kind to analysts that can only make conversion decisions based on hard facts. With organic keyword-specific and affiliate tracking (where applicable) data dumped being into “Direct Traffic” at a greater volume your conversion analyst will have to draw intuitive conclusions when looking at reports. You will have to look at overall traffic lifts per landing page that occur once new online campaigns have been instituted, even if detailed data is nil. Google Webmaster Tools will provide less insight into which keywords delivered X number of visits to XYZ pages so you will have to perform manual searches on a regular basis to see which pages rank and draw inferences about keywords accordingly. When trying out new campaigns, make sure that all else remains equal to help you directly gauge its success. In addition, be sure to record dates and times of when new campaigns (a new landing page, a social media contest, etc.) were released and watch carefully for traffic spikes and fluctuations in the days/weeks following.

5.  A Return to Technicalities

Technical SEO will become an even bigger search engine ranking factor in 2016. A recent Google algorithm update known as Caffeine put webmasters on notice – if you don’t get your technical issues in order they will drop your search rank. Caffeine targets specific server related errors being delivered to users attempting to visit your website. If your site ever delivers an error 500Internal Server Error – The server encountered an unexpected condition which prevented it from fulfilling the request” your keyword rank will almost certainly drop in rank within 24 hours, lasting for a week or much worse. An error 503Service Unavailable – The server is currently unable to handle the request due to a temporary overloading or maintenance of the server” will have a less immediate but no less damaging impact, with frequent occurrences (during high traffic periods) driving your search rank down. The 503 driven drop won’t be as “overnight” but it will last longer. These are just two examples of common technical issues that can directly hurt your website performance. Have your developer perform routine health checks on your website, including Google PageSpeed Insights for mobile and desktop.

Conclusion – Wonder why I didn’t bring up mobile device optimization? That’s a given, and no longer to be considered a trend. If you don’t already have your website optimized for the most popular mobile devices you’re basically screwed in 2016 (excuse the bluntness, it’s necessary). Avoid the embarrassment (and loss of customers) by getting a redesign here ASAP. For help in accommodating all other trends and predictions listed above feel free to contact me anytime – I’d be honored to help you dominate your competition (as per my location exclusivity clause) in 2016 and beyond.

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