SEO For Latam in 2016

11 April 2016

As nice as it would be for SEO to be some universal formula, it sadly isn’t.  Each country deals with different search styles, different mobile usage, different CTR, and different competition.  So instead of simply digging into the best universal references, I want to take a look at what I see happening in Latam SEO in 2016.

Return to SERPs is the new Bounce

UX is becoming more and more important to SEO and that first experience is a defining factor.  The reason Google is trending towards this piece of data is because they finally have a huge volume of additional tracking.  With Android and Chrome owning such a large market share, Google can track users at a much deeper and more accurate level.  As a result, Google can factor in these user exit and bounce trends at a deeper level.  They no longer are just guessing that you didn’t like it or used tabs, they “KNOW.”  This is a game changer and there have already been quite a few experiments that have backed up this hypothesis and shown how quickly results move when users are happy or unhappy with what they are seeing.    With android being so prominent here and users on such limited data this is more important here in Brazil than in the US or China.

This means you need to knock that first impression out.

  1. Speed matters not as a score here, but as a time to first byte and most importantly times to first render and interactive.
  2. The call to action needs be front and center so the user is confident they are in the right location
  3. Don’t confuse users.  Make the top of the screen contextual and intuitive.
  4. Don’t “lie”.  If the promise of the SERPs aren’t fulfilled, users will exit

SERP Content is Relevant

This “no lying” brings us to the next trend in SEO for 2016, the SERPs are relevant again.  Ranking on top used to be head and shoulders more important than anything else in the SERPs.  However, due to a wide array of factors ranking #1 is less important to CTR than is been for the last few years.  Why the downshift is first place clicks?  A variety of reasons including:

  1. Increased focus on ads by Google and more variety in these ads
  2. Smarter users who are understanding Google better having grown up with it
  3. Mobile users getting a different sets of information displayed (and them mobile friendly tag)
  4. Google pulling different data than your pre-provided meta information
  5. Rich Snippets
  6. Trust of domains – everyone loves a good Buscape or Reclame AQUI result that they will trust

So what does this mean?  It means you need to make sure you have amazing title> tags.  It also means you need to reinvest some time in writing beautiful short snippets that can be used as meta description>  AND appear on the page.  Finally, you need to make sure you can back up what you’re selling in the SERPs.  Getting a high CTR with an awful bounce will drop you down the rankings.

Machine Learning

Google has been presenting on machine learning and talking about it heavily for the last year plus.  They’ve started using it more and more in the image results and supposedly have started playing with it some in the standard search results.  Honestly, I’m not sure what’s going to happen when it hits hard and has more influence, but I do know there will 3 big changes as it rolls out.

  1. Keyword rankings will evolve as the systems adapts to understand human reactions to related syntax and content (meaning ranking for words that never appear on the page!)
  2. SEO will become more of a blackbox and will require heavy lifting inside analytics
  3. Rankings will be able to change faster than ever

Google is sending messages to us if we pay attention

More than ever before, Google is sending us messages about the quality of a site. In addition to the tools added in GWT over the past 2 years, there are in SERPs signals like sitelinks, rich snippets, impressions and more.  If you can find these on select queries only, it means you’re lacking in quality in their eyes.

As they understand sites better they can display this information for very small volumes of queries and ignore it for the vast majority of searches.  As such, we need to pay careful attention to these signals and watch for drops.  The best sites have consistent rankings and information displayed whereas the lower quality sites bounce from format to format as the results of Google’s constant experimentation.

Content and Copy Are Making a Comeback

For those of you who read SEO blogs, you’ve probably heard about 10x content.  The idea is that you need to have content that is 10x better than anyone else out there, because there is just TOO much information on the web now.  And although I agree that from a social standpoint (only a small amount of content accounts for 75% of all shares) this is hugely important, I don’t believe the 10x phenomenon hasn’t quite hit Latam the way it hit English speaking regions, yet.  It’s coming and probably in 2016, so start thinking on how to produce high end copy and content.  Basic content marketing isn’t going to work for much longer.  Focus on content that users want, is unique, and you can put out in a highly usable format.  If you’re taking time to product content it needs to be amazing!  Otherwise, try to produce content in a hugely scalable way and user driven then select the best of it.

For sites with lots of user generated content you need to review it and make sure it’s not awful low end content.  This means reviewing from a quality of the writing (grammar, syntax, readability), the repetitiveness (not having 20 one sentence reviews that say the same thing), and the content (make sure its relevant).  You’re NOT only getting judged by your best content, but also for your worst!

So how do you produce this better content?  Lots of ways:

  1. Invest time in defining what is forever contentand what is right now content.  Find a place in your product for both so you can have authority as well as freshness (think content pages vs. a blog)
  2. Find information in your database that is special and unique like
  3. Do the research.  Not just the Adwords tool but discussions such as Reddit, Quora, Medium and Twitter.  And take advantage of your counterparts in the US, Europe, and India and see what content is thriving in similar industries.
  4. Write amazing reviews and descriptions for any product you’re selling, don’t just cut and paste.  Make sure you tackle each type of searcher for your product, not just how YOU search

Mobile is more than just simply looking mobile

Google gave us the mobile-friendly tag, mobile suggestions, and mobile tests so we know being mobile friendly is a huge factor in SEO moving forward.  Heck, they are using an altered algorithm that accounts for the style and content now.  So being mobile SEO friendly is huge already and growing in 2016.  For the last 18 months, this simply meant having a mobile format, but moving forward, its something more:

  1. Be light and be fast!  Google has their googleweblight crawler that is functioning in Brazil and is being used and really screwing up a lot of content.  To make sure you avoid appearing in these lesser formats, you MUST be super-fast and super light on mobile.  Conversions are awful in Googleweblight as its designed primarily to be a content viewer.
  2. Put your best foot forward.  You have 3 seconds to convince a mobile user they are in the right place.  Give them that instant reward!
  3. Having mobile first content formats.  Focus on bite-size answers and solutions.  Solve peopl e’s microquestions and micromoments by producing content that is helpful and not overly wordy and long (like this email!).  Solve a problem in 30 seconds not 5 minutes
  4. Make sure you have great mobile images and mobile vides (but also content that stands along without it)
  5. Build confidence by being fast, professional looking and secure.  If you expect a user to not bounce and potentially process a payment or share personal information, inspire their confidence or direct them to your app!

ASO and Deeplinking Powering mobile SEO

Mobile app searchers fall into two main categories explorers and seekers.  Both are important to mobile but they aren’t quite the same when it comes to SEO.  Very few people go into the app store and search for “Jobs app” or “Nike shoes” instead, they search that on the web and look for “Lovemondays” or “Netshoes” because they’ve already decided on the app their looking for.    The real work is much deeper and personal per company, so no tips here!

For Kaszek Companies looking for the full text, not just the excerpt, please email me directly

Andy Young (VP Growth @ KaszeK Ventures)