2015 is winding down, and to get us ready and excited for the New Year, I wanted to share some predictions for upcoming SEO changes and trends to look out for in 2016! Here are a few things to look forward to this year:

Organic rankings will be affected by real-time algorithm updates

According to Google’s Gary Illyes, the new Penguin update that is expected to be released early next year will actually be a real-time algorithm update. This means that the days of waiting months to recover from Penguin penalties are over, since links will be evaluated on an ongoing basis rather than in waves every now and then. In this new model, it seems like marketers will be able to immediately see the impacts (whether it be positive or negative impacts) of new links that are either created or disavowed.

What does this mean for you?

Continue to practice up-to-date, “earned” backlink strategies and conduct routine backlink audits in order to weed out and disavow any questionable links.

The hype around Mobile optimization is only going to increase:

2015 was a big year for mobile. Now that mobile searches actually outnumber desktop searches, it only makes sense for Google to continue to place an even bigger emphasis on mobile usability and optimization in 2016. Rather than mobile and desktop search being on a relatively even playing field in 2015, experts are speculating that mobile traffic will actually surpass desktop traffic in terms of importance next year.

What does this mean for you?

Mobile should no longer be an after-thought. If you are not already designing, writing, and thinking in a mobile perspective, you will fall even farther behind next year. Invest in upgrading your website to a responsive design, create content that is useful and friendly for mobile users, and make that content as easy as possible for mobile users to consume and share.

The lines between social and SEO could become even more blurred:

The impact of social media on SEO has been a long debated topic. This year, after an agreement with Google and Twitter, a huge number of tweets are now being indexed and are visible in organic search results. In 2016, it is expected that more and more social media posts will be indexed, and therefore, competing against websites for spots in the SERPs.

What does this mean for you?

Step up your social media game if you want to be able to compete. Focus on continuous, engaging social content across multiple networks, if possible.

2016 promises to be another big year for SEO, stay tuned!