Following on from our post last year about SEO trends, we thought we would post our top trends for next year. First though, here are some noteablr things that happened last year.
- Panda update. This update was aimed at reducing the effectiveness of content farming, and reduce the prominance of so called “low quality” websites. A lot of speculation about the algorithm update was that Google was looking to promote websites with original content, and where a user would trust the content more. The update took down a lot of websites, including good ones. Some of the changes were for the better (the punishment of eHow etc).
- Google Fresh. This update increased prominance of pages that have been recently posted. The aim is to increase the value of websites that keep up to date with the latest information on topics, especially ones that are time sensitive like sporting results.
- (not provided). Google Analytics started showing this for keywords. The response from Google is that SSL users will not have their keyword search show up in the website’s analytics.
Increased integration of Google+ sharing and Google results
There has already been a lot of integration with Google+ and seeing results from users inside your circles. I think this will increase in prominence, first as there are more users of Google+ and second as Google starts to look for other signals for the quality of a page. What also might start to happen is, Google+ users in a high number of other people’s circles will be able to influence the ranking of pages by sharing them.
Complete integration of webmaster tools and analytics.
Most of the data is already there, but it makes sense to no longer have separation of data that basically does a lot of the same tasks. If Google moves to make all searches via SSL, and Analytics no longer shows the keywords users use, then the only way this data will come into the system would be through the queries in webmaster tools.
Expansion of Google Merchant.
Google Merchant is only a relatively new thing to Australia. However more businesses are using this to output their ecommerce data. Over the next year I think product specific queries will start to have Google merchant searches.
Increased use of Rich Snippets.
Some authors have already started to see their profile appear next to pages they have written. There is a whole raft of other rich snippet information webmasters can build into their sites, including locations, reviews, events etc. How exactly these will be integrated is not clear, but there is certainly room to add them.
Refinement of Google Places.
Right now, even though it is meant to be the least easy to rig, Google Places has a big problem with spam in highly competitive markets. As Google Places are often the top result for local searches, there is a big incentive to try to game the system. You only have to look at some of the top results for plumbers or SEO companies to see a number of these results with 100% glowing reviews of 5 stars from users that rate nothing but those companies. Also a lot of these companies set up post office boxes at places around big cities, so they can claim their address in that area. Whether Google are bothered by all this is another matter all together, however if they do want to take it seriously they need to remove the benefit from reviews and operate on a system that is more like their current ranking, that is places appear according to search quality and location.
Promotion of SEO into the mainstream marketing process
SEO spend compared to PPC is very low. A large number of businesses who build a website would rather pay for traffic than actually optimise their website. This has to change. Over the next year we think larger business will increase their focus on optimisation as competition hots up in medium sized markets.
Serious changes to Google
Every year we predict that Google will change a lot about how their ranking works, basically because it is so easy for low quality websites to rank (still). There is still a big incentive to use article marketing, blog spamming and other poor link building techniques. This has to change.