On 1 January 2012 it’s a good time to take stock of what happened in SEO last year and what will likely happen this year.
One of the biggest things from last year was the Panda update that killed off a lot of low quality websites. Then in October we had an update that seemed to reward the sites that were regularly updated and had regularly increasing incoming links.
The message from last year: successful SEO is focused on quality content being regularly published.
Nothing new, really. Just good, sound practices that many have been preaching for years. Only now you get a penalty for not following it.
This is a trend I believe will become increasingly important this year. It ties very well into the focus on social media that will undoubtedly be huge this year. It lays a great foundation if you want people to share your site around.
I predict that this year will be the year that social media and SEO are truly integrated. I don’t know whether a new term will be coined to cover the integrated approach, but I can’t see anything that properly covers it.
With Google bringing out Google+ it will have far more data and control of the social space than ever before. This will translate to a much better idea about what people deem relevant. Bing has a data sharing deal with Facebook, which will give it a massive competitive advantage.
At the end of the day, all the search engines are trying to do is serve up the most relevant results for each query. The better a search engine understands the query and the person making the query, the more relevant the results returned will be.
Add to that Google’s personalized search – simply allowing cookies or being logged into your Google+ account drastically changes what results you see for a query. It also has avatars saying “x person shared this” which are huge attention grabbers. The more people share your articles, the more people will see them, regardless of any ranking power or other SEO factors. It’s word of mouth marketing at its finest.
That’s not to say SEO is dead. By no means. It’s alive and well. But ignoring social media will cause you to lose a lot of search engine visitors that you could easily get otherwise.
As I see it, there are 3 pillars of SEO:
- killer content
- a powerful website
- social marketing
Being great at all three will ensure your success in the search engines in 2012, I believe.
Killer content takes time, effort and practice. You need to know what you’re talking about and craft a well written article, video or audio. Multimedia is very important to having killer content, so make sure you at minimum add a relevant, interesting picture to every post.
A powerful website is what we would traditionally think of as SEO: quality inbound links, good site infrastructure, integration of search terms in your content, etc
Social marketing takes time and commitment. You can’t build a following of 100,000 on twitter overnight. And even then, engagement is far more than sheer numbers. Just chat to people, build relationships, hang out. You’ll meet new friends and maybe even enjoy the process! :)
Finally, don’t forget Bing. Google was all powerful until 2011 when Microsoft finally came to the party (in classic Microsoft fashion). Bing now commands anywhere from 20 to 30% of searches, which could be the difference between your business breaking even and turning a healthy profit.
So what direction do you think SEO will take in 2012?