With the numerous algorithm updates done by Google over 2011, most SEOs are on the edge of their seats waiting to find out what’s in store for 2012. The new year will likely require SEOs to bone up on their ethics, visitor interaction and smarter optimizing practices if they want to get the best results.
The past year has proven that Google is planning to bring the hammer down even harder on SEOs with questionable practices. Quality, ethics and smart optimization strategies will be the factors that differentiate the smart SEOs from the uninformed ones.
1. Quality Content Is A Must
2011 has taught many SEOs a valuable lesson in focusing on well-crafted content that engages readers. Gone are the days of useless keyword-filled, pseudo-articles clogging the web’s arteries and leaving the end user frustrated and searching for something legitimate.
The Google PANDA updates of 2011 have left once-profitable websites in the dark, as Google has taken to penalizing websites with poor quality content. Placing an emphasis on the quality, uniqueness and the readability of the content will be the name of the game in 2012. However, keywords are still important factors in good SEO. Moving forward, the challenge will be finding the delicate balance between optimizing for readers and staying in step with Google.
2. Emphasis on Social Proof
Google will take social proof into even higher consideration in 2012. The number of comments on content, the amount of tweets and Facebook ‘Likes’ as well as ‘+1s’ will be an indication to Google as to the quality of the content. Place a stronger emphasis on engaging users and inspiring social media interaction in order to come out ahead on this trend.
Expanding the scope of your social efforts, such as establishing and maintaining a presence on Google+ and other growing social channels (such as Pinterest, YouTube and others) will be key . Though Google+ is still growing, the search engine that created it will likely take the size of circles and ‘+1s’ to gauge the quality of your content.
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3. The Growth of Mobile Search
With the increase in smart phone technology, more and more users are relying on their mobile devices to search for information. Mobile marketing proved to be a colossal contender in 2011 and its rank of importance in the SEO world will only climb higher as the year progresses. Leave no stone unturned when optimizing for mobile web – this is where the users will be in 2012.
4. CRO & SEO & Best Practices
The relationship between CRO and SEO will be more important than ever in the coming year. Conversion Rate Optimization is the process of creating an online experience for an end user with the goal of converting the user into a customer, and a good conversion rate is crucial to an online business. Driving all the traffic in the world to a website that does a poor job of converting visitors does little to actually help the client’s business prosper. 2012 will force SEOs to place more of an emphasis of SEO/CRO hybrid services, as one is not very effective without the other.
5. More competition!
2012 will be the year that more and more companies let go of their reservations and start investing in SEO. This increased interest will bring a higher number of competitors, and ranking for once-easy search terms will require more . In 2012, true SEO professionals will stand out from the crowd by continuing to provide their clients with strong results. SEOs using questionable or weak practices will find it harder to find and retain clients in 2012.