SEOAndy posts explore all aspects of Digital Marketing, aiming to help small businesses, social enterprises and charitable organisations Grow Today.

The Future of SEO - The Game is NOT Over

I recently spoke to a group of SEO's and Marketer's about an article I wrote last year predicting the SEO trends of 2012. There were many questions asked about why I thought things would happen and how we can best leverage what we know and predict. Today I wanted to share a few of those questions and answer them in public. If you have a question about my predictions for SEO in 2012 and beyond leave a comment below this article.

Personalised Search is moving to the main stream, how can we best use this to our advantage as marketers?

One of the things as Marketers of the Digital Age which we have come to realise is that search was always going to become social, ever since the birth of twitter the writing was on the wall. Today we are in a world where Google is showing some Google+ pages next to search results, and certainly profiles within it's "suggestion" boxes. A world where Facebook and Bing are so tightly integrated it is hard to find a search where they are not personalising using facebook.

How can we best use this knowledge? Well that is a little more tricky. To answer it you need to consider what you do everyday as a searcher and marketer. You search using Google... it knows your IP, so it knows your location... search will be localised to that ... you let Google keep your search history, instantly pages you've visited will move up the rankings ... its personalised. Actually, it is quite hard with any search engine to not get some kind of personalised search results. The answer is, you have to keep doing what you are doing - optimise completely for your local market, keep blogging away and use social media like there is no tomorrow. Talk to people on twitter and facebook and don't spam them with just links. Use Google+ as a means to say what you are doing but have in-depth posts on there and always always optimise your "about sections" (on all social media) - here is mine for Google Plus.

The Panda Update really hurt some of our websites, how can we best work towards recovery for those websites we are struggling with and will it happen again?

Lets be honest Panda wasn't nice, it kicked you when you had written potentially thousands of articles and press releases and spread them far & wide. No, really I am kidding. Google Panda kicked you for creating low quality content which you spread across the web, you treated the web like it was your bedroom back when you were a teen, you messed it up and left it for someone to clean up... well now your parent is ignoring it and letting you find how to improve - deal with it.

The solution is to a) focus internally, make the best content possible and put it on your site. b) use only quality websites to promote your own, this means no more writing for craparticles.com but for quality and relevant blogs and article websites for your industry. c) use social media to talk to people and show you are a real company and not just some marketing robot that eats bits for lunch!

Panda the Sequel? mmm not quite but there will be another update quite soon from Google which will do 3 things ... 1) lower what a domain name is worth - its already happening but you can expect even less weight to be given to your domain name ... why? simply because search engines know there are only so many domains and a lot of "exact match" domains are spam-filled so it doesn't like them and will stop ranking them just because they have a nice name. 2) Link Farms will be next to worthless ... search engines will stop giving any weight to websites dedicated to link building ... will this include directories like the yellow pages? who knows - but the value of the yellow pages isn't in its link power but in the traffic it sends from visitors. 3) social will play an even larger role outside of personalised search. this means if there is a lot of talk about something on twitter, facebook, digg or elsewhere and the same link is always posted (such as say micheal jacksons death and a BBC news article) this link will hold it's juice for longer than a few days. Essentially a larger proportion of results will be based on social directly.

SEO has become harder this year, is there anything we can do to beat the competitors?

Someone had to ask this, it was inevitable. The answer is simple. SEO did not become harder in 2011 any more than it did in 2010 or 2009 ... nor did it die off nor will it for the foreseeable future.

The fact is each year things change, it is how we as SEO professionals deal with this change that counts. We need to evolve our best practice for link building, we need to stop putting thousands or articles up for just one stupid link which is worthless, we need to stop using copywriters (sorry for this) from India and the likes writing crap and worthless content for websites. We need to refocus our energies and understand how best to spend our time, effort and monies to get the best return on investment. If you don't change, and change now, then you will find this year harder - just as you did last year and the year before. Change in the world of digital media is a constant, everything changes (CRT to LCD, Landline to Mobile) evolution is faster in technology than any other industry, get used to it or get out.

Is the Game Over for SEO, as Social Media platforms take over will be as an industry be left for dead? How can we prevent the death of SEO?

One of my favourite quotes, and I've mentioned this before is from Mark Twain.

The News of My Death is Greatly Over Exaggerated

A few years back Jason Calacanis of This Week in Startups announced SEO was Dead. It caught so much attention, as he had intended, that in itself it helped his marketing and SEO. Funny hey? Not really, quite clearly a ploy by a very very clever marketer and entrepreneur.

So just as with Jason's proclamation, it is with so your own... SEO is not dead and it won't be in 5 years. The truth is 5 years in search is a long time, 1 year is a long time. Sometimes a day can seem like an eternity as updates are rolled out. No body can see that far in advance (except me? no joke i can't) but I can give you a guess of what I think will happen further to my seo predictions for 2012.

1) SEO will become less important as more content is gathered by social platforms which will have grown and grown and become the hub for businesses. 2) corporate websites will become selling platforms, which SEO's must still optimise for both search and mobile / apps. 3) monkies will become tigers 4) SMO will become the "big boy" in the park as the world optimises its social pages. 5) Hubs will form away from facebook and twitter, such as behance, which will be industry based social networks - this is where online business will live (not on their corporate website). 6) Facebook will suffer the fate of MySpace and be dieing a slow death as a competitor takes over the market.

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At this point I want to leave the questions, I will post some more questions in the coming weeks - and update my predictions blog as to say whether it was right or wrong (some items have already been proven!).

If you have any questions please leave a comment below.

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