60,000 times per month. That’s how often the term CEO was searched in 2015 on Google, up 50% from a year ago. Beyond ‘CEO’, there was a dramatic spike in people searching for executives by name.

Taking a closer look at the numbers, it’s more important than ever for business leaders in both consumer-facing and business-to-business companies to better define their online presence and control the search results being found about them. Some search terms grew tremendously in popularity in the past year:

  • CEO Salary: +50%
  • Hedge Fund Manager: +51%
  • Hedge Fund: +22%
  • Venture Capital: +25%
  • Managing Director: +25%

A study on B2B purchasing found that 94% of people leverage online search engines to do their research before making an investment or any purchase. Google, Bing and Yahoo are now business tools, not just consumer gateways.

Looking ahead to 2016, there are several key trends to consider when defining and managing your digital reputation, specifically when it comes to optimization. Hiring a tech specialist to try to “game” the latest Google algorithm will not deliver the results it used to, as the search engines now incorporate a fully integrated look at a company when ranking them in results.

Here are several areas to focus on to improve your online presence in 2016:

  1. User Experience: Search engines are doing more than tracking how often your website is visited and where it is being linked. Search engines monitor the user experience to see website accessibility. It takes into account factors like whether the site is mobile friendly, if it provides relevant information and if it is open to the public vs. a log-in only, locked website. This is particularly important for hedge funds and private equity firms to consider.
  2. Content: That may not sound like a new trend for 2016 but there is substantially added focus on it. Trying to create content that leverages many keywords for your company is no longer a simple answer. Google tries to ensure the content is engaging, people are clicking on it and sharing it. Creating shareable content, with a focus on compelling photography, valuable or meaningful text and videos will also help content resonate and rank higher in search results.
  3. Social Media: Google seems more interested than ever about what you say on social media. The search engine giant has formed alliances with platforms like Facebook and Twitter, allowing Google to scan the social media channels for information and posts. Any recent look for a company or person’s social results will show recent Tweets, as well as the executive’s LinkedIn profile. In addition to Google’s integration into social media channels, the platforms themselves are increasing search capabilities. According to Forbes, social media channels drive more than 30% of traffic to company websites. While Google still dominates search, each year we’re seeing an increase in potential clients searching for information about a company directly on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. 75% of millennials scan social media before making a decision on a purchase or investment to see if there are recommendations from their peers.
  4. Knowledge Graph is Your Best Digital Billboard: You know that graph box on the top right of your computer screen when you Google a company that has all the basic information about them, including location, website, pictures or a logo and additional information? The visuals of the “knowledge graph” will continue to grow and dominate the search results page. Information housed in the knowledge graph is expected to grow in 2016, as Google looks to scrape additional relevant information that is most sought-after about companies. The visual element of the knowledge graph, along with its growing size will make it crucial for any type of business to have that visual presence.