SEO Predictions for 2012 by Caliber Interactive

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Caliber Interactive’s team of SEO experts talk about opportunities and pitfalls in 2012 for agencies, clients and trendsetters

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SEO Predictions for 2012 by Caliber Interactive

  1. 1. Ca libe r In SEO ter a ctiv Pre e dic tio ns for 201 2Communities and Conversations
  2. 2. Communities and Conversations: SEO Predictions for 2012 –Caliber Interactive’s team of SEO experts talk about opportunities and pitfalls in 2012 for agencies, clients and trendsetters– Caliber Interactive is an international SEO agency based in the United Kingdom. Working with some of the largest brands in the world, Caliber is at the forefront of the industry. This paper gives insights from Caliber’s leadership team as they peer into their crystal ball to see what 2012 will bring. The biggest opportunity in 2012 is to bring SEO to the core of businesses. Often marketing is left as a secondary concern within the development cycle but SEO needs to be at the heart of the channel. SEOs have skills in onsite UX (user experience), content writing, social media, reputation manage- ment, analytics and technology, making them the best placed people to deliver a wide range of insights into what a web business requires to succeed. The challenge is to ensure clients understand the holistic benefit of SEO – not look- ing at it as keywords, links and some content, but rather seeing it as the foundation of online success. The marketplace has already been consolidating a huge amount over the last few years. Fewer and fewer independent agencies exist as more of them get bought up by larger media agencies. I believe this trend will continue as the market continues to SEO is unique among all other forms of advertising. It has the ability to put goods and services in front of a consumer at the exact moment in time that they are willing to consume. Thus it’s both formidable and unique. User intent is a marketer’s utopia and it is rarely expressed as clearly and as frequently in any other manifestation as it is in Search. SEO has grown as the internet has grown. The availability of information in the mar- ketplace has exploded. SEOs become more useful based on the information they have available. With Google closing off keyword level data for signed-in users in analytics, removing the seasonality from the keyword tool, SEOs have reduced ability to make the informed decisions that they had in the past. The market needs to adapt to understanding how to fill these gaps in the data to ensure informed decisions are constantly made about what businesses should be doing.Jonny Scott, CEOTony Samios, COO
  3. 3. So in other words, the biggest threat to SEO seems to be Google itself. It has become increasingly difficult to occupy first page organic results due to the dominance of Paid Search results, local search results and also news results, which take up most of the page above the fold. Another threat in the marketplace is the changes in the needs of rankings versus agencies’ ability to adapt to these changes. This will lead to consoli- dation in the marketplace as agencies begin to “buy talent” and smaller agen- cies are either purchased or pushed to the wall as the talent gap grows. The will lead to two separate segments in the marketplace – specialists and “full service SEOs”. Specialists will push on in link development, social, content and technology while full-service agencies will bring together all aspects of SEO under one roof. From the client’s point of view, the most important challenge is to develop websites which combine search engine rankings and a strong user experi- ence to increase revenue from sales. At no point in history has the bridge between the needs of website users and search engines ever been closer and this focus is likely to grow. As Google pushes on with aligning the signals of UX, on and off site, into an algorithm to determine positioning within the SERPs (search engine results pages), the brand experience becomes stronger. Users and businesses can only benefit from this realignment. The biggest threat to the sector is the way that SEOs portray themselves to the wider world. In recent years there have been allusions to SEO on the television, newspapers and radio. And always it has retained the “black art” of online marketing about it. SEO as an industry needs to grow up and become transparent about what it does and does not do for clients. We also need to move into the language of marketing and away from the language of spamming and technology to make the service accessible to everyone.Mike Briggs, Head of Strategy Tony Samios, COOJonny Scott, CEO
  4. 4. Social had an impact last year, this year it will have a much larger part to play. Social noise will have to be replaced by authoritative signals from trusted social networks. The better your profile authority; the better the signal. These signals will be used by search engines in a similar way to links. There will be an author rank/social rank and trust will be attributed to those who are deemed influential or trustworthy sources. Digg has internally used a similar model for years. Author rank/social rank will be attributed by, for example, the level of inter- action on social profiles, interactions with those already deemed trustwor- thy, and the level of interaction on content that is shared (for example, if content is shared and has a high bounce rate). Those who have a high ‘author rank’ will be able to attribute authority to websites and/or individual pieces of content. However, this will be limited to publicly available information (i.e. Facebook pages, Twitter accounts and Google+ accounts rather than Facebook profiles). The search engines will need to perform a ‘real person’ cross-network analysis before any value is given. This has to be very robust as there are many tools available to automate (spam) social networks using fake pro- files. People are less likely to use these techniques if their online reputa- tions are at risk. Facebook EdgeRank was another massive game changer in 2011, deter- mining what content each individual sees on the newsfeed after analysing affinity, weight and time of each post to ensure that users are receiving relevant content, according to their interests. For brands, it means: stop and think before overloading your community with weak content. It also means that timing, quality and calls to action must be considered on every update to keep the community engaged and guar- antee that the maximum audience will receive the message. All those tweets, likes, comments, +1s & shares help search engines to identify the human fac- tor behind brand popularity and assess credibility across the web. Having clear objectives and KPIs when implementing a social campaign is crucial to measure its success, but companies and marketers need to stop giving so much value to these ‘easy’ numbers and start focusing on estab- lishing a real connection with the community, focusing on engagements levels, trust signals and lead generation.Danny Denhard, Head of Product Karine Nacimento, Social Media ManagerScott Mclay, Search Team Leader
  5. 5. A lot of changes are related to Google’s 2011 Pan- da update. Low value PR hubs are set to become a thing of the past. They don’t belong in the post-Panda era as they are largely a home for poor content which exists only to couch links – Google will address this by tar- geting these hubs and by further decreasing the value of releases sent out through them. Online PR, however, will continue to be a mainstay of SEO as Google will use it as a way to identify trusted brands. Established PR syndication hubs will continue to be valuable, yet they will need to ensure that they clearly distinguish themselves from their lesser competitors. The market is flooded with content marketing pieces at the moment, and to succeed, agencies need to develop on-brand, topical, innovative and visu- ally appealing content. This means moving away from the traditional scrollable infographic towards a whole menu of options including, but not limited to: white papers, blog posts, videos, UGC, games and in- teractive infographics. Content marketing is likely to figure significantly in many major marketing campaigns this year. Many companies have already used web based con- tent to generate links and boost sales; these early adopters will be joined by a host of less daring companies. Content marketing will take a big bite out of traditional marketing campaigns as client-side managers use the internet to attain their goals, while dealing with shrinking budgets. One of the major appeals of content marketing is its price tag - hugely suc- cessful campaigns can be conducted for a fraction of the price of a tradi- tional TV ad. This factor alone should drive growth in this area of online marketing. Additionally, we can expect to see online marketing become more aligned with SEO as marketing and PR agencies come to understand the impor- tance of targeting specific keywords. All too often firms execute excellent projects but fail to SEO optimise them — agencies will have to adapt in 2012 or suffer the consequences. Looking to get more out of SEO in 2012? Make sure you find an agency that fits with the culture of your organisation and can deliver its promises. The agency/client paradigm is a two-way relationship, and therefore you should ensure that you carry out the majority of your agency’s recommendations wherever possible in order to minimise waste and maximise potential.Ian Humphreys, Head of ContentTony Samios, COO
  6. 6. Creating an internet brand is essential, but ensuring search engines pick smaller, less established brands will be the true test. In most markets, quick wins do not mean long-term results. Mid to longer term solutions and evolv- ing strategies are key for 2012 and beyond. Caliber
Staff
Poll:

 What
factor
will
have
the
greatest
impact
upon
SEO
in
 2012?
 Website
interac8on

 9%
 Social
signals
 26%
 Content
marke8ng

 13%
 Google+

 14%
 Micro
formats
 16%
 HTML
5

 21%
 Suggested Reading: Official Google Blog: Search, plus Your World Matt Cutts Opinion on Sharing a search story Hazel Rycroft Press Officer Edinburgh office: +44(0)131- 454 3175 Hazel.rycroft@caliberi.comDanny Denhard, Head of product

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