Every year brings new changes to the realm of SEO, and 2012 has been no different than previous years. But there’s still some months to go, so here are my predictions for what we will see as some of the biggest trends going into the end of 2012 and beyond in the world of SEO.
With sites like Yelp and a reliance on Google Places really taking off, getting clients to leave great reviews is becoming more and more important. People are now very comfortable with social proofing and will now spend the extra time wading through reviews to see what other people have to say about your service or product.
Look for relevant sites within your niche for this. For hotels, sites like Yelp, Google Places, and TripAdvisor are key places where you should have some solid reviews. Remember that every vertical is different, so it pays to research where your referrals may be coming from.
2. Higher mix between PPC, social media and SEO
Mixing SEO and PPC yields higher visibility and allows for a lot more testing. We are seeing more and more companies shift and focus on multiple marketing strategies as opposed to just focusing on SEO. With Google offering vouchers to test their ad platform, as well as Facebook and Twitter coming into the mix with ad platforms, the possibilities to mix and test keep getting bigger and better.
To stay competitive, it may be necessary to branch out from just SEO and mix it up with other options as well.
3. SEO for mobile
With mobile browser usage set to tip PC browser usage over the next few years, optimizing a site for mobile usage is now more important than ever. Making sure your site is well-optimized for mobile with a possible mobile subdomain and minimizing load times will ensure a better user experience.
Optimizing for local results that may appear higher on mobile or optimizing for mobile autocomplete results will help give you an edge with mobile search. If you are an agency, more and more clients will be asking to secure one of the Top 3 results, as people on mobile browsers tend to have less patience with having to dig through a lot of search results to find their answer.
With more mobile devices, tablets, and touch-based devices coming out with Windows 8, a focus on this technology is mandatory for businesses that want to stay competitive.
4. Less focus on outsourcing and more focus on keeping things in-house
Providing quality content for both on-site posts and guest posting is now even more important. Outsourcing to a non-native writer and hoping to get an article published in this climate is hard. SEO is becoming a lot harder to outsource, as content must be well-researched and provide a ton of value. Google is also placing a lot more weight on authors that have authority within their niches.
5. Better conversions
With Google Experiments being implemented in Google Analytics, it is now fairly easy to set up experiments. This allows for better testing and increased conversions for both SEO and PPC campaigns. You could set up a PPC campaign with an original and variation page and the experiment will tell you which one converts best according to a specified goal. You could then use this page in your SEO campaign.
Although conversion is not SEO’s direct responsibility, suggesting and doing experiments helps bring a higher ROI for a client or for your own website.
6. More on-site content
Building more content on-site has been important with SEO for a long time, but now it is even more vital. Competition is tough and ranking for just head terms can be risky. Shooting for longer tail traffic with three or four term keyword variations in blog posts and new pages on a website will help cast a much wider net for searchers.
What we will see here is much more solid emphasis on content and blog development for thinner sites.
7. Facebook advertising
Facebook went public on May 18 in a $16 billion share sale, with shares barely holding above the $38 level on opening day. The price has declined ever since. Facebook will need to step it up even more to make sure it can deliver on converting it’s almost 1 billion person fan base into a solid advertising machine like that of Google’s.
Overall, what we will see is further refinement and experimentation from Google. Those that capitalize now and come up with a solid strategy will be able to get in early and take advantage before competition heats up. Think of the glory days with Google advertising. These could very well be the glory days of Facebook advertising before they really ramp up.
So, what do you think are the biggest SEO trends for 2012 and onwards?
Image: 2012 Calendar by Shutterstock