So it’s that time of year again. Festive cheer, sprinkles of snow and SEO predictions that could well leave us with egg on our face come this time next year! Having said that, looking back at our predictions for 2010, many of them certainly ring very true today (#smuggrin).
2011 was the year of the Panda, but there was plenty of other action in search that didn’t cause quite as much commotion but was still certainly significant. Here’s what we think will be causing the biggest stir in 2012...
With the upcoming necessity to accept cookies when surfing the web, many sites could take a big hit in 2012 as they struggle to record data from users who don’t opt in. As well as ecommerce businesses taking a big hit on user data, this could have serious implication for SEOs as less and less data is available. Following the backlash in the SEO industry when Google started withholding data from signed-in users, they clearly won’t be happy when even more information isn’t available in Google Analytics.
The Continued Amalgamation of Social and Search
Social is no longer the new kid on the block, though its influence on search continues to provide heated debate. Whilst we did experience a short period where Twitter was affecting the search results, Google’s loss of access to that data quickly put an end to it. Hence the arrival of Google+ and the +1 button as they decided to collect the data for themselves. Whilst this is almost certainly affecting the search results already, its effect is only likely to increase as the platform attracts more users and more people clicking on +1 buttons across the web. This emphasises the need for SEOs to become more social than ever, though it will no doubt also spawn a wide variety of spammy tactics as black hatters try and game the system. Either way, ignore it at your peril.
Having seen the retirement of Yahoo Site Explorer, 2012 certainly has the potential to become the year of ‘The SEO Tool’ (no laughing at the back!) as its various offspring battle it out to become the new king of the castle. Majestic SEO, Open Site Explorer and Raven Tools are all staking a claim, we’ll see who the SEO community decides will come out on top.
Will 2012 become the year of ‘Video SEO’? With Google providing ever richer search engine results pages (SERPS), the ability to optimise videos better than your competition may give you a shortcut to page 1. This can benefit you in various ways, whether it helps a page rank better as Google which is aware it has a richer variation of content on it, or in the purer sense of the video itself ranking. Either way, with the additional real estate and click through rate you can gain in the SERPs as a result, it’s time to widen the focus of your SEO efforts to incorporate the moving picture.
The Decline of Anchor Text
Anchor Text used to be the SEO’s not-so-secret weapon, but this has been in steadily decline as Google has become more intelligent in filtering out anchor text heavy link profiles. There have been studies which have shown that a more successful route is now through a partial anchor text profile, as well as considering the effect of things like social media, on page optimisation and the hundreds of other ranking factors which come into play. 2012 will be the year when lazy SEOs relying on exact match anchor text get found out, don’t be amongst them.
The Rise of Author/Agent Rank
Along with the increase in social influence comes the ability to track the work of specific users rather than just individual websites. This means that websites with little authority themselves in link terms could still rank for difficult phrases if a guest writer contributes a piece and the author mark up indicates they have written the piece. SEOs are going to have to work their schmooze more ever in 2012 as this element becomes more influential and the benefits of getting influencers in your niche to contribute to your site are huge.
There’s no doubt that 2012 will be a big one in the world of search. 2011 saw a huge development in the way search results are calculated and this rapid pace is only likely to continue as factors like Google+ and author rank continue to gain traction. So strap in, put your SEO helmet on and enjoy the ride!
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