Well here we are at the end of 2015. I hope everyone had a fantastic year! As usual, my business had the best year ever, more than doubling my 2014 revenue. With that said, I never feel as if my income is totally secure. Even though I have multiple websites in multiple niches earning me revenue, any Google algorithm change can wipe me out. Sure, well all like to say things like “diversify your traffic” and “don’t rely on Google”, but most seasoned affiliate marketers know that Google is the single most important traffic source. The year 2016 will be no different as far as that is concerned.
Unfortunately, many online businesses, particularly affiliate marketers, have been completely wiped out in a single day due to a major Google algorithm update. The Google Panda and Penguin updates are the most notorious for doing that. Thousands of businesses were wiped out in a single update or two. While we all like to think we are immune, anyone who relies on Google runs that risk, including me.
So, the ultimate trick is to stay ahead of Google. There’s no need to use black hat SEO strategies or use attempts to trick Google. Even if you do find success doing that, it is almost guaranteed to be temporary. The real trick to building a sustainable online business that keeps the Google traffic coming is by staying ahead of what Google wants. If you know how their algorithm will change, you can plan ahead.
The truth is, nobody really knows how Google will change the algorithm in 2016. Even most people at Google can’t tell you that with any detail. However, if we look at what Google has done in the past as well as monitor what their search quality team has been saying over the past year, we can get a good idea of how 2016 Google algorithm changes will look. I’ve been extremely successful saying ahead of Google so far, and so I thought I’d write up some of my predictions for Google algorithm changes in 2016 based on my experience and many, many hours each week researching various changes at Google search.
Google Will Fact Check Articles
For many years now, Google has been working on technology for its algorithm to automatically fact-check content on the web. It appears that this technology is finally getting ready to hit the live algorithm. If it doesn’t arrive in 2016, we can be pretty sure it will be here by 2017 or 2018, so there’s no reason to ignore this huge change in web search.
The exact details behind how their fact checking bots will operate is still a bit unknown. We will also most likely see a very gradual rollout of this technology. Fact checking isn’t always black and white. For example, you can’t fact check a poetry blog and sometimes there are facts that could be accurate under some contexts, but not others.
Regardless of how this will ultimately work, it is important to start preparing now. If you want to build a real and sustainable online business that will last for many years, you have to plan many years ahead. The articles you write today might not even earn you any revenue for a few years before it one day suddenly starts ranking, so plan ahead and make sure your content today will meet the standards of tomorrow. Fact checking is coming.
What You Should Do About It – Everyone knows the internet is a cesspool for false information, distorted facts, and misleading information. It’s everywhere, and quite frankly, anything that helps to combat that will help to improve the quality of the internet overall, as well as provide a better search experience for Google end users. As long as you are building a site with high quality content that is well researched and gives truthful information, you have nothing to worry about. One thing you can start doing is citing your facts, similar to how Wikipedia does it. Citing facts will likely become a bigger factor for SEO in the future. On the other hand, if you have some misleading or untruthful information on your site (be honest!), you should begin fixing that as soon as possible. Everyone should also check older pages to make sure information is still accurate and relevant since facts change over time.
Google Will Get Better At Link Checking
While the true days of backlinking are over, links from other websites pointing to yours are still extremely valuable. There is no doubt that links will still be a very important part of the overall Google algorithm in 2016, but Google will get even better at detecting “unnatural” links to your site. For example, right now, private blog networks (PBN’s) are still very popular among some website owners. These PBN’s do still work for many, but I very strongly urge anyone using a PBN to begin diversifying and finding other strategies. The days of PBN’s are almost over. Google hates PBN’s and other forms of unnatural link building because it warps their algorithm. They only want to count links that were placed there by choice, not due to manipulation or some guest blogging arrangement. Google is going to get even better and better at sniffing out any unnatural linking attempts.
What You Should Do About It – As I stated earlier, the most important aspect of building a long-term and sustainable online business is staying ahead of Google. Building a PBN or partaking in any other unnatural link building tactic is working against Google, not with them. You might be seeing some success now, but sooner or later Google is going to hammer you for unnatural links, and you’ll have to constantly live with the stress knowing that day is coming. If you have a website that has a lot of unnatural links, you need to start diversifying RIGHT NOW. Build a new site from scratch, without using unnatural link tactics. A site with lots of unnatural links is destined to get hit by a Google algorithm change, so get ahead of it by diversifying your business before that happens. If you have never used unnatural link tactics, sit back, relax, and wait for the traffic increase.
Content Standards Will Increase
Back in 2010, if a web page had 500 words of text on the page, that was considered good for SEO. Around 2012, that number was around 750. In 2015, I considered 1,000 words to be the absolute minimum and now, going into 2016, I write most articles to be between 1,500 to 2,000 words in length. It’s important to know that pages with little content can still rank well. It’s also important to note that just because a page has 2,000 or 3,000 words doesn’t mean it will rank well or is high quality. With that said, the average word count for pages listed in the top spot in Google have gone up just about every year. The average word count for top position sites is nearly 2,000 words now, so that does give us an indication that Google likes detailed content. This will likely continue into 2016.
What You Should Do About It – Simply writing a long article and stuffing as many words into it as possible is not enough. You also need to improve the quality of your content. It needs to be well researched, helpful, and preferably include some images, graphics, and videos as well. The standards are always increasing, so find out what your competition is doing, then do things a little bit better. Also remember the quality is always more important than quantity. Don’t just hammer out 2,000 word articles each day for the heck of it. Make sure you are creating 2,000+ word articles that are well researched and helpful. Even if this means less content but higher quality, that’s the way to go.
Google Will Continue To Put Their Own Interests First
There seems to be some strange expectation out there from a lot of website owners that believe Google owes them something. They don’t, and Google will always put their own business before yours. What Google truly cares about is delivering a great search experience to end users. If those end users keep coming back and using Google over and over again due to positive search experiences, advertisers will continue to purchase advertising space from Google, and Google can keep making their billions upon billions of dollars. Google is essentially USING you as a means to deliver what Googlers are searching for, and you are USING Google as a means help grow your own business. If you give Google what they want, they will give you what you want. It really is that simple. If you attempt to fool, trick, or deceive Google, be ready for trouble.
What You Should Do About It – If you plan to rely on Google traffic for your business, remember to deliver whatever it is Google wants. You don’t work for Google and Google doesn’t work for you, but you do have to work in partnership. Knowing that Google simply wants to deliver a good experience to end users, you must deliver that experience for them. For example, this page (I hope!) will rank well for the search term “2016 Google Algorithm Changes”. If this page was simply filled with spam and low quality information, Google would never rank it. That’s why I’ve taken the time to write this lengthy article in the hopes it helps others, which will then send signals to Google (bounce rate, number of pages visited, time spent on the site, etc.) that this page is indeed high quality. It’s a win-win-win situation. So, as always, just create as much high quality content as you can. If you’re truly helping others with your content, Google will eventually come around.
Google Will Make It Harder To Rank Websites
I began blogging back in 2009 and went full time in 2011. Let me tell you… It’s getting more and more difficult to rank websites in Google. It is taking longer to build and establish trust and the Google sandbox has gotten bigger. Back when I first started, I could rank a site and bring in a decent amount of traffic in about 3 to 6 months. These days? That’s being pushed back more towards 12 months and in some cases 18 months. With literally billions of new websites started every year, Google has a bigger and bigger pool to choose from. That’s why niche research, planning, and patiently executing is so crucial these days. Yes, you can still succeed online, but the time it takes to succeed will be longer in 2016 than it was in 2015.
What You Should Do About It – Quite simply, stop procrastinating! If you have been planning on starting a new site, this is the time to do it. It will just get harder from here. That’s not to say making money online will be impossible in 2016 or beyond, but the barrier to entry is getting thicker and thicker. Quite literally, the clock is ticking, so get started and do it now before it’s too late!
Some Final Thoughts
In the end, nobody really knows what specific changes Google will make. We know Google will make more than 400 algorithm changes in 2016 and most of those will go totally unnoticed, just like what happened last year. We also know there will likely be at least a couple larger algorithm changes in 2016 with hints of a Penguin update early in the year. In the end, though, it doesn’t really matter. As long as you’re focused on building a fantastic resource on the web, you’re essentially doing what Google wants. While sometimes good businesses get caught up in well intended algorithm changes, the main people who need to worry about Google algorithm updates in 2016 are those who use deceitful tactics, black hat SEO, or do not provide a true resource for people. Keep the quality high and keep building. If you do that, you should have a great year in 2016.