2011 SEO Predictions

    What’s in store for natural search in 2011?  Among other things, Greenlight is predicting that Google and Bing will offer app search before the year is out, competition between Bing and Google will heat up and duplication filters will get even tougher as the search engines take more drastic measures to limit the amount of resources they spend on less valuable content and maximize the focus on everything else.

    Greenlight is a leading independent, award winning search marketing specialist and technology firm, the largest of its kind in Europe and the fastest growing. With over 100 blue-chip clients including Santander, Vodafone UK, New Look, Interflora, Co-operative Financial Services, Nespresso and ghd, Greenlight is a leader in the search marketing space, and is recognized worldwide for its commitment to delivering record ROI for its clients and investing in the future of search. Greenlight is considered the premier thought leader in the sector, publishing widely read industry reports, original research, speaking at trade events, and delivering a highly respected search training programme in conjunction with the IDM. Founded in 2001, Greenlight is headquartered in London, with offices in New York.

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    Click through for five SEO predictions from Greenlight.

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    As a smartphone user, you probably feel the pull of your respective app store/marketplace as much if not more than a traditional search engine like Google. This is a new frontier for search: the idea that instead of finding a website that will be able to answer your question right now, you’ll go and find an app that will answer the question, and questions like it, again and again, in a more usable way.

    So to maintain any grasp on the mobile user, Greenlight Marketing believes the engines will need to be able to point out apps that are relevant to the user's search –  even providing a one-click install option for mobile devices.  This will manifest as another type of vertical search on Google and Bing, as well as being pulled into the normal results as a universal search element.

    Additionally, serving apps in search results will enable Google and Microsoft to push apps for their respective smartphone platforms (Android and Windows Phone), which could help them in the battle against Apple’s dominance with the iPhone.

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    By anyone’s standards, Bing has had a disappointing year in the UK. Despite having a good search engine with many innovative features and more than holding its own in terms of strategic partnerships, its market share (according to Hitwise) has barely budged from the 3% point it achieved shortly after it was released in 2009.

    In addition to squishing one of Greenlight’s 2010 predictions, this will make Microsoft determined to make a better showing in 2011, accelerating the tit-for-tat game of one-upmanship that Google and Bing have been engaged in since 2009.

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    The Web is big. Back in 2008, Google announced that they had indexed 1 trillion (1,000,000,000,000) unique URLs belonging to hundreds of millions of sites. That alone presents logistical problems for search engines, leading them to consistently develop new ways of finding and indexing content faster. But the real problem, of course, is not that there is too much content, but that there is too much similar or identical content that offers no real value for search engines the second, third or one thousandth time they come across it.

    In 2010, Google implement its “May Day” algorithm update, part of which penalized cookie cutter content that is excessively template driven or syndicated to multiple sites in favor of more unique and valuable pages. In 2011, Greenlight predicts that duplication filters will get even tougher as the engines take more drastic measures to limit the amount of resource they spend on less valuable content and maximize the focus on everything else.

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    Predictions about the increased importance of design, usability and customer engagement have been making the rounds for several years now without ever really coming true. But Googles introduction of Instant Previews will change that.

    Now, search engine users get to see your site before they arrive at it, meaning they’ll be making important decisions before you have any chance to engage them with the strength of your content or functionality. Although Instant Previews usually contain a few highlighted snippets of text as well as the overall screen grab, those snippets are barely noticeable at present making the previews basically entirely graphical. Consequently if your site design isn’t up to scratch you’ll start to see click through rates dropping, which will have knock on effects on your rankings too.

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    Some time ago, we started to see the advent of search based call to actions, where an advert ends with the line “search widgets online” rather than a URL. Easier to remember and quicker to carry out, search call to actions promised a much better transition of users from ATL to online.

    In 2011, QR codes will usurp search calls to action in display advertising. So what’s a QR code? A QR code is a “matrix” or 2D barcode that can be read by many mobile phones and has a URL (among other things) encoded within it, letting advertisers replace the whole affair with a simple point and click.

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