2011 SEO Predictions

2010 was an exciting year for Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).

We saw the rise and rise of Google and the launch of Google Caffeine and Google Instant, the increasing influence of Bing and local search, growth of mobile search-enabled devices and it was the year that social media came of age.

But just what exactly does 2011 have in store for us? Here our Business Analysts talk about their 2011 SEO predictions, expected trends and what they believe is in store for the next 12 months.

Search Engine Optimisation (general)

Bernard Somja, SEO Director – With Google Instant now rolled out, in 2011 it’s more important than ever to properly optimise your title and description tags – expect shorter attention spans from users; your elevator pitch is now reduced to the blink of an eye. Show your users what to do; have clear call-to-actions and optimise your checkout process.

Steve Pronger, Business Analyst – SEO will continue to shift away from basic on-page optimisation and link building to external factors such as citations, likes and reviews. Content development and optimisation of video will become integral for SEO services. Services in conversion optimisation will grow in importance and more SEO agencies will be offering these services.

Chris West, Business Analyst – The basics will remain the same – titles, site content, and even old link building tactics will continue to have an impact – however in addition, social ‘likes/dislikes’ will become as important as building links. Duplicated content may not be an issue anymore, only if it’s duplicated across one’s own site.

Google

Bernard Somja, SEO Director – Google will use data from Gmail and Analytics to feed its algorithm. It would be unbelievable from Google not to use analytics data to assess which sites are relevant to the searcher. Bounce rates have been coming into play for a while but expect other factors (time on page; pages/visit even mouse cursor following text) to count.

Google is getting feedback from angry users due to privacy concerns, lack of consistency in SERPs (with or without local, video, images, news, real time and or a mix of them) and poor relevancy (too many forums, comparison sites; less branding or standalone sites) – expect a shift in users to Bing.

There are no more unified rankings on Google; it’s all personalised. Logged in or not; Web History enabled/disabled; localisation turned on; mobile devices – 2011 will see the death of Google unified rankings.

Chris West, Business Analyst – As we saw at the end of 2010 / beginning of 2011, Google Webmaster Tools (GWMT) did updates to show snap shots of clicks and most linked pages etc. GWMT will become more relevant for business websites. As more business managers/marketers get comfortable with Analytic data they will want more reporting and more information – conversion rates will continue to become important.

Lisa Baade, Business Analyst – 2011 is likely to see a lot more activity from Google Ventures, a financial arm of Google that invests seed money into companies that provide new and unique user experiences.

Louie Ramos – Business Analyst – Google products will eventually get into all ecommerce type websites and become part of SEO activities because this will become the main core of Google in shopping related searches. Microformats will also become an important feature since it’s now a Google ranking signal.

Bing

Bernard Somja, SEO Director – More an innovator and precursor now, Bing will slowly catch up to Google’s market share in 2011; expect even greater Search Engine competition in 2012.

Ian Creaser, Business Analyst – We will have to take more notice of Bing who is gathering momentum and pulling a larger share of the Search Engine market.

Steve Pronger, Business Analyst – Market share for Bing will continue to grow, possibly to around 30% by end of the year. Bing will continue to integrate social media factors such as Facebook “likes” into ranking algorithms and lead the way in this area.

Mobile Search

Bernard Somja, SEO Director – The percentage of searches run on mobile devices has steadily increased; smartphones and above all tablets are hot items. Those mobile searches are distinctive in the way that they often imply impulsive action.

Tools like Layar are already big but with the advent of local search, there will be a time when you can obtain more info on a business by pointing a smartphone in its direction.

You will need a mobile version of your website in 2011; and it will have to state clearly what users can do – build it around your goals.

Ian Creaser, Business Analyst – Using mobile devices for local search is becoming increasingly popular so we need to start looking at local SEO more carefully.

Steve Pronger, Business Analyst – Optimisation and Web design for smart phones, tablets etc will become integral for web development and SEO agencies.

Chris West, Business Analyst – Mobile will continue to grow, but I don’t think that it will become as big as many people think, not this year. I think 2012 will be the year for the mobile.

Local Search

Bernard Somja, SEO Director – Google Places is now integrated in SERPs and is the major location to get listed and visible. In 2011, listings need to be optimised and focusing on the right categories for your business to remain competitive. Local SEO will become a fully integrated part of your optimised online presence, increasing both branding and visibility – last call for going local!

Steve Pronger, Business Analyst – Links will decrease in importance while citations, ‘likes’ and social media activity will become more important. Local search and social media will become integrated into SEO services rather than add-on services.

Google HotPot

Bernard Somja, SEO Director Google HotPot will become even hotter in 2011. It’s a tool that identifies business reviewers, allows them to personalise their Google Maps/Places and share their recommendations with friends – good local-social mix.

Sentiment analysis is the next en-vogue factor. Reviewers’ feelings are now analysed and used to determine local results rankings; every client is a potential reviewer so give them reasons to rave about your products/services.

Lisa Baade, Business Analyst – 2011 will be the make or break year for Google HotPot depending on whether or not Google will get the critical mass to embrace this new technology. One of Google local’s biggest vulnerabilities is the lack of both in-house reviews and social graphs – HotPot appears to be their solution.

Clearly the advantage of having more content submitted directly by users is Google’s motivation and they are even willing to break their own rules on review solicitation with this one.

The incredible combination of review velocity, link authority and geo-social signals combined with the latest HotPot sentiment could see HotPot become more successful than Facebook Places.

Social Media

Bernard Somja, SEO Director – Citations, ‘likes’ and social media activity (tweets and social bookmarking) are telling Search Engines that real users appreciate that content, product or page and see this as a signal of trust.

Ian Creaser, Business Analyst – Social media will have a larger influence on position. Bing already incorporates Facebook ‘likes’ into its results. I think Google will follow suit – if not this year, in 2012.

Louie Ramos – Business Analyst – Social media will become an even more integral part of SEO since Google wants to see more activities happening on websites for quality verification purposes.

Steve Pronger, Business Analyst – Privacy concerns on Facebook will impact user experience causing marketers to rethink investment plans.

Chris West, Business Analyst – Social media will become more important to organic and local/maps search. We already know that at the end of 2010, Bing and Google both announced that social signals from sites like Facebook and Twitter are being counted in Search Engine algorithms.

At SEO Works, our SEO consultants are constantly researching new SEO techniques, reading blogs and websites, attending SEO conferences and webinars so we can keep abreast of the latest innovations in Search Engine Optimisation and provide you with the best SEO Services and SEO packages. Speak to our Business Analysts about how we can help you increase your Search Engine visibility and deliver quality leads to your website to substantially improve your conversion rate and maximise ROI.

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