Crystal Ball

Our Search Predictions for 2016

With Google always moving the goalposts, it can be hard for SEOs and businesses alike to keep up. Fortunately, if you keep your ear to the ground, you can monitor rumours and trends to predict and plan for the year ahead.

With this in mind, here are my top five search predictions for 2016:

Google Knowledge Vault

As we have already seen in 2015, we can expect Google to become an even bigger authority by expanding it’s knowledge vault – moving away from just directing you to different resources to answer your query, to providing the answer directly at the top of the search results.

Google Knowledge Vault

The Knowledge Vault collates information from across the web into a single database of over a billion facts, providing what Google sees as the most relevant answer to your query, along with related questions in some cases.

This is likely to push organic results further down page one, and potentially cause drops in traffic for sites ranking for longer tail query-based searches, if users can access the answer they need instantly. You are likely to see the big players like Wikipedia showing in the knowledge vault for a lot of searches, but there is an opportunity for sites with a lower domain authority to show if they can provide information about a query that Google sees as particularly relevant and accurate.

Penguin Becomes Real-Time

Google Penguin Algorithm

If you’re anything like we are, you will have been talking about the new Google Penguin algorithm for what feels like a lifetime, cleaning your backlink profile and ensuring your links are as natural as possible. But what’s different this time around, compared to the 2012 update that targeted black hat link-building tactics?

The premise is basically the same, but this time around the update will be working in ‘real-time’, meaning that sites who are penalised but clean up their act can expect to see a quicker recovery in rankings than experienced with the previous update.

The Rise in Mobile and App Search


Mobile search has become more prominent than ever before, with many SEOs suggesting it reached its peak in growth in 2015. As digital marketers and business owners, it’s now more important than ever to consider all devices not only when building a site, but creating campaigns to ensure the user gets the best possible experience whether they are on a desktop, using a tablet or their mobile phone.

We have already seen the number of mobile searches take over desktop searches in certain countries including the US and Japan, and we expect this trend to continue in 2016. If your website still isn’t mobile responsive – it’s time to get that upgrade.

App search will also continue to grow in influence. The introduction of app streaming by Google enables users to find and browse content within apps as easily as you would on a website. With app streaming, Google will  show you the content you’re looking for within an app, without requiring you to download it at all. If it works as it should, this is great news, especially for app-only publishers who want to get their content in front of users in the search engine results.

Using Schema to Differentiate

There are still a lot of companies (including big brands) not utilising schema mark-up to make their search listings stand out from the crowd. This is a fairly simple tactic to ensure your listings contain relevant information to drive the user to your site – with the Google Knowledge Vault ramping up, it’s obvious that consumers want as much information as possible in the search results – and it stands to reason that they are more likely to click on a listing that provides this.

A great example of this can be seen below for, which is currently ranking organically for the phrase ‘cupcake recipe’, which includes reviews, the time it takes to make the cakes and how many calories they contain:

Search Listing Schema Mark-Up

With few companies adopting this, it represents an opportunity for companies to mark-up their data to differentiate them in the SERPs, and we expect to see more of this in 2016.

The Rise of Voice Search and Personal Assistants

Voice Search

Voice search is going to continue to grow, with the rise of mobile search as well as the likes of Microsoft adding their smart assistant Cortana onto Windows 10 for desktops last year. Add Google Now and Siri to the mix and voice search is set to grow quickly.

It’s important to consider how voice searches differ from text searches, in the language used and the fact that voice searches are likely to have more words per search and be more qualified. For example, rather than someone typing ‘B&Q’ in the search bar, they are more likely to ask ‘where is the nearest B&Q?’ if using voice search. This prompts content marketers and SEOs alike to think more about how they target their content and keywords to cater for the language used in voice searches compared to text searches.

While we can monitor trends and predict what Google will do next, the main thing to remember is that search is going to continue to evolve in 2016 and beyond, so we need to be responsive to change if we want to continue to compete.


QUIZ – Are You Navigating the Dynamic Digital Marketplace?

The digital marketplace is always evolving, making it a difficult landscape to navigate. As an agency, we know the process of setting out your marketing objectives and putting a plan into action can be daunting.  

Don’t know where to start? You’re not alone.

These questions have been designed to help you figure out where you are right now, how you can start to define those goals, and what you can do to help your business along in the right direction.


5 Ways Your Business Contacts Can Boost Your Digital Presence

Since starting your business you’re likely to have made a number of valuable connections through networking. However, we often overlook the value that these relationships can provide in the digital space.

Here are five ways to use your connections to boost your digital presence:

1. Ask Your Clients for Reviews

Quick question. Which of the following plumbers stands out the most?


Naturally, our eyes are drawn to the business with the highest number of quality reviews. Without even contacting ‘J S Gas & Plumbing’ we already trust them more than the others.

Reviews are a huge part of the online decision making process.

Utilise your existing customers to build up a number of quality reviews to ensure you appear favourably against your competition.

Ask them in person or email your satisfied customers with a link to your review page.

Quick Tip: Getting at least five Google+ Reviews brings up the stars in Google search – this can greatly improve the chances that people will click through to your website.

Relevant to: Customers and Clients.

2. Gain Testimonials from Loyal Customers


When approaching a business for the first time, consumers can often be skeptical about whether or not to trust a brand.

Testimonials bring an external voice to the decision process and can help potential customers to overcome any doubt they may have about the product or service.

Approach your most valuable customers and ask them to write a testimonial for your product or service – placing this strategically on your website will bring an increased level of trust to you and your brand.

Quick Tip: If you’ve personally been working closely with a contact, also ask them to leave you a LinkedIn recommendation to boost your personal credibility.

Relevant to: Customers and Clients.

3. Collaborate with Contacts to Enhance Your Content Strategy

Warren Knight

When creating content to be posted on your website and blog, consider getting some input from your business contacts.

Here are some ways of collaborating with your connections:

  • Interview a customer, partner or supplier to form a unique and interesting blog post
  • Ask for some quotes to support your content
  • Run a survey across your business contacts and use the data in a post

Getting your business contacts involved in your content strategy does three things:

  1. Gives your content some credibility and support from a third party
  2. Gives them exposure to your audience which enriches your existing relationship
  3. Creates an attachment between them and your content which makes them more likely to share it with their audience

Quick Tip: Collaborate with business contacts who have large social followings to maximise the reach of your content.

Relevant to: Customers and Clients. Suppliers. Industry Contacts.

4. Earn Links from Your Business Contacts

Pitch Supporters

If you are running an SEO campaign then you’ll know that building hyperlinks back to your website is an important factor in improving your rankings.

Building quality, relevant links can be difficult and time consuming. This is where your existing network comes in:

  1. Visit the websites of your business contacts and look for relevant webpages on their site where you or your brand could be mentioned.
  2. Outreach to your contact and ask them if they would consider adding you, your brand or your commentary to their site

Quick Tip: Adapt your approach to each website that you contact. You could write an article for their site, provide some images to their existing blog posts etc.

Relevant to: Suppliers. Industry contacts. Event Hosts. Industry Bodies.

5. Write Testimonials for Your Suppliers

Our testimonial

Writing a testimonial for a supplier not only helps them to grow and enriches your relationship but it also has direct benefits to you as the reviewer:

  • Being listed on their website gives you exposure to the supplier’s audience
  • This often creates a hyperlink back to your website to support the SEO campaign

Approach your suppliers and ask them if they would like you to write a testimonial to add to their website.

Be detailed and genuine when writing your testimonial to improve the chances it will be published, the best testimonials share the key benefits that you receive from the supplier.

Quick Tip: Try to include a link a link back to your own website somewhere in the testimonial.

Relevant to: Suppliers.


How else have you used your business relationships to benefit your business online? Let us know in the comments below, or tweet us @creare.

Growth hacking

Growth hacking; the big tech company trend that isn’t just for big tech companies

Growth hackers; every big tech company is recruiting them. The latest trend taking Silicon Valley by storm is really just a buzzword for being smart in the way you think about growing your business through simple, low cost, tactical steps that produce fast and effective returns.


So let’s break that down; fast, effective, tactical, smart, low cost… nothing preventing any business getting involved, right? Right!


So what is a ‘growth hacker’? Basically it’s a fancy term for a business savvy individual that is part marketer, part analyst, part self starter. You had to be all of these things in order to set yourself up in business in the first place, so there is nothing to fear, you already have growth hacker potential.


But what does a growth hacker do? By analysing customer data, the return on any marketing activity, their sales figures and by having a general awareness of ‘what works’ and ‘what doesn’t’ they test different approaches with the aim of rapidly acquiring customers. They make pragmatic decisions on where to focus the company’s time, effort and most importantly, limited investment and in many instances delivering returns without any significant marketing spend. They iterate their approach based on their learnings and constantly evolve the focus for getting the best new customers.


Let’s take some simple ‘growth hacking’ examples you can quickly implement without much technical understanding…


  1. Do you send emails to potential customers? A growth hacker would simply test two versions of an email and see which one generated the most opens, click throughs and responses. Going forward, simply use the version that performed the best.
  1. Which of your customers make you the most money? A growth hacker would create a simple spreadsheet of all their customers, the products they buy, how much they spend and how they found out about their company. Then ask yourself, how did you acquire those top customers in the first place? Going forward, focus your investment and energy on those profitable activities.
  1. Do you tweet or share content on Facebook or Twitter? A growth hacker would monitor which tweets or posts generate the most interest by way of shares, likes or new followers. Simply do more of the stuff that generates the most positive actions from users.

Simple enough, right? Whilst there are many more complex and involved approaches to taking a growth hacking approach to growing your business, often the simplest ideas are the best. Here you have some immediate examples of how you can think differently about acquiring new customers and get your business to grow rapidly.


You can find more information on growth hacking tactics by visiting

Or check out Quick Sprout’s excellent guide to growth hacking