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What a year it’s been! Do we say that every year now, or has 2016 truly been one for the books?
I’ll let you decide.
In our world, here are some big trends we’ve been following this year:

Mobile, Mobile, MOBILE! 

Mobile and tablet internet usage exceeded desktop for the first time worldwide in October 2016. Source
That means that if your website is not mobile-friendly, you are missing out in a BIG way!
Mobile first is making an even stronger push as mobile usage soars and search engines are responding in kind to give priority to mobile friendly websites.mobile first
While all of our client’s websites are already mobile compatible, we’re exploring even more ways to improve the mobile experience and mobile conversions.
For any searches done on mobile, preference will be given to AMP or Accelerated Mobile Pages in the future as well. And man oh man do these load fast! Just more ways that content is getting easier to consume on the go!
If you aren’t sure if your website is mobile comparable, use Google’s Mobile -Friendly Test to find out!

Google My Business Pages

It seems like Google is still trying to figure out the best use for Google My Business pages and with all of their changes, they are really keeping us on our toes! They are making the pages more streamlined by removing the lengthy business descriptions and adding features like analytics for images. They’ve also made the addition of “amenities” i.e. is your business wheelchair accessible. Google is all about showcasing your business and making it as informative as possible to people searching.
The importance of having a verified Google My Business page is as important as ever as well as reviews which still are playing a part in Local rankings.

Service Area Local SEO Map Spam

This is killer in our industry and the worst part is that not many people know about it.
Say you are searching for a locksmith. You find one that LOOKS like it’s located in downtown Seattle. But what you may not realize, is the company is actually located in Everett. But how? The company knows how to work the system and opened up a “fake” address at a UPS store so they could be better optimized for that area. That’s the best case scenario. We really can’t blame companies for doing this as it can be extremely difficult to rank for service area businesses outside of their physical locations. Local SEO is all about location, location location, and the closer you are to the center of the city, the better. The worst case is that the business you call is fake and when you call them, you are actually calling a lead generating service, who then turns around and sells your name and phone number to a locksmith in your area. There is usually a big price tag that comes along with it that the local business has to pay.
Stay tuned for a future post about this. We’ve been diving deep!

Fake News

In the digital marketing world, 2016 has shown us the power of the Facebook newsfeed and how fake news can dramatically impact the outcome of a presidential campaign.
Fake news sites with fake articles get hundreds of thousands of views by using click bait and shocking headlines. Knowing that people are getting more and more news from social media these days, what are ways that we can verify a legitimate news source? Facebook just announced that they will be releasing a “disputed” tag that will allow Facebook users to flag suspect news articles, then the articles will be subjected to fact checks from third party companies. Will this fix the fake news in our Facebook feeds? We shall see!

Adwords

There have been some really substantial improvements to Adwords this year that has us super duper excited. The biggest change has been the introduction of Expanded Text Ads (ETA’s) which are roughly twice the size of the original ads. These are designed to improve click through rates and allow you to create more emotional ad copy that resonates with people looking for your services. We’ve seen dramatic improvements in all of our campaigns with an average increase in click-through rates of over 30% and a 7% increase in conversions. Not bad Google, not bad at all.
Local search ads have also had a big impact here as well. If you’re searching for something within maps, you can now see ads populating in these results. This is huge in the search community as over a third of mobile searches are done within Google Maps. When people are looking for something on their mobile device, they’re much more likely to click on the first thing they see and showing ads within maps is an awesome advantage to have over your competition.
There has been a whole slew of improvements that revolve around mobile from bidding adjustment, texting extensions and price extensions all of which are designed to help you stand out and create better messaging within ads. We’re still in the testing phases of all of these exciting additions but the results so far are looking pretty positive!

What other trends were you watching in 2016 and what are you excited to see next year?