2010 provided a rocky ride for SEO Experts, particularly the latter part as Google made numerous sweeping changes to its algorithm that left search marketers all at sea. While SEOs will see these changes as an effort by Google to derail their efforts, it seems that the search giant is fully focused on delivering a more personalized, localized experience for the user. This is evident through its places service which organizes results according to proximity, rather than relevance defined by any other means.
2011 is set provide engineers with another big challenge as new and uncharted ranking signals begin to be taken into account. Those that cannot see past Google might also be in for a shock, other players in the search market are making waves at the moment and in the world of the Web, things don’t stand still for very long. Here are my predictions for the world of search in 2011…
Anti-Social Won’t Work
It is a well known fact that a proportion of SEO engineers completely disregard social media as method for gaining positions and building links. This attitude will no longer garner respect in 2011 as social media has an increasing impact on search results. Bing has already began integrating Facebook ‘Likes’ into its results while Google has been flirting with the medium for some time, attempting to find the best way to factor in social signals. Social media means business and search marketers who want results will need to sit up and take notice if they want to stay ahead of the competition.
Bing Steps into the Ring
It was recently revealed that Bing now has an effective 30% share of the search market, this is a big gain on previous figure, a mere 11%. It is difficult to know whether this is down to Google losing support, or Bing doing well, or even both. What is clear is the fact that Google no longer enjoys the dominance of the search arena that it once did. Whatever the reason, SEO Engineers will need begin optimizing for both search engines if they wish to get a full spread of results for their clients.
The Demise of Page Rank
There have been dissatisfied mummers amongst SEO heads for some about Google’s failure to update page rank, the numerical value assigned to each site on the web. This is skewing data and making link building to authority sites a more tricky process. Expect to see link builders looking for new ways to determine the power of sites.
Mobile Grows in Importance
As smart phones become ever more popular, lead by the ubiquitous Apple iPhone, search marketers must rethink their strategies to optimizing for mobile searches. Proximity and locality are more important in mobile searches which means optimizers must find ways to get their clients to the top of the SERPs. Reviews may be key here.
As ever, the SEO industry is truly dynamic and continual algorithm changes mean that top positions are an ever-moving target. 2011 will be no different to any other year in this sense, but in the coming 12 months will require engineers to diversify and learn new skills to keep on top of their game.