Mobile has been a frequently discussed topic for years now, and rightly so. The majority of mobile devices in the U.S. are smartphones and tablets. You may in fact be reading this on one right now. In addressing this shift in the market, Google has tweaked its search algorithm to reward (i.e. rank higher) websites with mobile-friendly designs, versus desktop-friendly. This change actually happened months ago, so why mention it on a 2016 list? Google’s preference for mobile-friendly websites is actually more of a full-fledged commitment to them. Put simply, desktop-friendly websites might be a thing of the past. More specifically, Google’s search algorithm won’t punish websites that don’t have a desktop version. In other words, Google is dead serious about the future of mobile, and businesses should consider it a requirement to have a responsive website (read more about that in Spray Foam Magazine’s January/February 2014 issue).
2. Video Ads
Like mobile, video ads are not a new concept for 2016. You’ve certainly seen them in YouTube videos, on media sites like Yahoo, in pop-up ads, or in social media. What’s significant about video ads in 2016–and for the foreseeable future–is that one major boundary might be crossed: search results. Google has long championed the simplicity of the text ads displayed in search results, but it has been widely speculated that the future of search advertising is video. That speculation looks like it may end in 2016, as a number of reports surfaced that Google was testing video ads in search results. Now, this isn’t groundbreaking in the sense of Google being ahead of the curve–they’re not, as Bing and Yahoo have been testing video ads for months. However, the significance of this news rests in both the sheer size of Google’s search engine market share and the company’s historical preference for text ads. Basically, it looks like video ads are the future of search advertising, which means instead of simply telling users about your business’s latest product or service with a text ad, you can actually show them with a quick video ad (e.g. a brief commercial, demo, profile, etc.). This is a promising and powerful marketing shift for advertisers.
3. Voice Searching
With the upswing in mobile searches comes a new way to search: by voice. Digital assistants like Apple’s Siri, Google’s Now, or Microsoft’s Cortana are becoming more ubiquitous as they better understand speech and apply that effectively to searches. Also, people are more frequently warming up to the idea of regularly utilizing these digital personalities. In a sense, this throws a wrench in traditional search engine optimization techniques. For example, someone might type a search for “pizza Manhattan,” whereas they might voice search by saying, “find me the closest pizza.” While the person is searching for the same thing (the closest pizza place to where they’re located in Manhattan), the searches are noticeably different; the text search is semantic and the voice search is conversational. Though similar, these searches will produce slightly different results based on how relevant websites are optimized for these terms. This means websites will have to be optimized for both methods of searching, so businesses should definitely make an effort to incorporate conversational content in their websites. •