The search engine optimisation industry took a beating last year with Google making it harder for SEO´s to position themselves higher in the search engine rankings. The war on spam and low quality content is set to continue throughout 2012, with five important SEO trends that will change the way users search.
1. Natural SEO
Google Panda came in on a wave of anti-SPAM promises with the hope that it would sanitise the search engine listings, filtering out low quality websites and allowing genuine, organic search results to climb up the SERPS ladder. The 2011 results of this war on SPAM were not as effective as originally hoped, and many legitimate sites suffered. However, SPAM listings have visibly declined and with the continued efforts of BING and Google, SEO will have to be more natural and interactive in order to win the search engine battle.
2. Social media
There is no doubt that social media is an important barometer for website popularity, and SEO must focus on the inclusion of interaction with the most popular social media websites in 2012. Google+ has joined Facebook and Twitter to influence SERPs and more weight is given to mentions in the social media giants.
Not only will websites have to provide ways for visitors to interact with social media sites, they will also need to provide varied content on their website. The inclusion of relevant videos and photos on a website will positively influence positioning. The influence of human activity on websites and sharing links will also take over page rank and dormant website links as mentions in the social media sites creep up the SERPS.
4. More mobile searches
The tidal wave of smart phones and tablets available today is changing the way consumers search. Searches from mobiles and tablets have increased dramatically, and will continue to do so as the convenience of using these devices for searches overshadows the use of desktop computers and laptops.
The way users search on mobile devices involves more voice search, tapping and abbreviated search terms, so mobile SEO has to adapt to these evolving search methods.
5. Personalised search results
Search results are going to get local and personalized. Search engines tailor results to user location. Optimising web pages for general keywords might work to get listed higher in the SERPs; however, CTRs will decrease as users are instantly shown targeted results for their local area first.
Search engines will promote their own social media efforts and logged-in users will see links from friends and colleagues from Google+ for example. The result will be a crowding out of ´natural´ results from the top listings, in favour of recommendations from user circles.
Gone are the days of link-building and content stuffing. The social media revolution has entered a new phase where it has increasing influence as Facebook, Twitter and Google+ mentions take their place in the SERPs. Search is local, personal, and interactive, and SEO efforts have to deliver targeted, viral results to compete.