Where is SEO going in 2012?

It is a usual complaint from website owners and SEO experts that no matter what they do there are not enough visitors or conversions happening. And SEO being what it is, this is hardly surprising. In fact, it is an irony found perhaps only in SEO that while it is an ongoing process that shows results very slowly, the techniques that are required to make it effective keep changing and that too very fast.

As you’ve already seen, 2011 has brought its own set of trends in Internet marketing making social media more important and introducing SEO in all types of mobile operating systems. We also witnessed the localised and personalised search increasing. So, what is in store for SEO in 2012? Looking at the current scenario, some aspects are quite predictable, though as always what might exactly happen in Internet technology is quite unpredictable. However, here are a few trends in SEO that are likely to become prominent in 2012.

SEO in all enterprises

With the competition in the corporate world increasing almost on a daily basis, most companies who wish to enhance their online presence are likely to have a dedicated SEO team for optimising their website. And this is in fact a highly recommended step with SEO growing harder and more competitive. Also, even those businesses who till now had a physical store for selling their products are going for an online store to make their markets wider. This calls for well-planned SEO campaigns that are better done by experienced SEO professionals who can look at the crystal globe and foresee what would happen a few months ahead.

Expert knowledge and hands on experience of SEO tools for analytics, crawling, webmaster consoles, logging files, tracking backlinks, checking page-ranks, link popularity, website speed, etc. have already become crucial and their relevance are only going to increase in the coming days.

More importance to human visitors based ranking

With the popularity that social media and real time search have gained last year, the trend seems to be going for ranking based on the popularity of a site among human visitors. This might mean that link baits and link buying might soon be backtracked and techniques that rank a page based on human visitors are going to gain more relevance. We already see this through the ubiquitous presence of social media buttons in almost all websites. The more clicks on these buttons, the more popularity among the customers. Social media has already linked itself with SEO so closely that any SEO campaign without proper social media techniques is obsolete. And with search engines with their own social media tools like Google+ will only strengthen this factor even more.

The importance going to human visitors also mean that the originality, genuineness and freshness of website content would become more relevant. Already, Google has shown its preference for original and quality content for ranking through its Panda algorithms. The year 2012 might see another similar algorithm change or it might be a re-enforcement of Panda, both ultimately upsetting the existing importance given to link farms and link baiting and the popularity of backlinks decreasing due to their misuse.

An alternative to Facebook and Twitter

Facebook has already shown the signs of reaching the saturation point and the new changes like the timeline have not brought back the initial interest. The year 2012 might therefore witness the birth and growth of a new social networking website that has various new features to win over the users, where Google+ failed. It might even have another form to replace Twitter, thus offering social networking and micro blogging at one go.

SEO experts turning conversion rate optimisers (CROs)

When competition becomes tough lesser conversions are going to annoy customers who are going to put more pressure on the search engine optimizer for conversions. This is going to change the very definition of a search engine optimiser who now has to think of ways to increase conversions and not just bringing the web pages to the front pages of search engines. In other words, SEO is not just the on page optimization of websites but off page marketing as well, with social media marketing at its core. And to make customers happy, conversions need to happen for which optimisers are likely to transform themselves to CROs as well.

Mobile search is going to become more common

Mobile phones have long ceased to become devices to talk or message. Today they let you do social networking, organising, emailing and of course browsing. Search today is not confined to desktop, laptop or even tablets. Instead 2012 is going to see revolutionising changes in mobile search with smart phones and iPhones letting the user find what they need as and when they want.

Studies reveal that most phones come with built-in apps for search engines and 10% to 15% of searches are from mobile phones today. And this means the websites have to be made compatible for mobile phone interfaces as well. Besides, mobile searches have been found to be highly focused and local, which means your website has to be optimised for localized keywords. As people search for what they need on the go, the chances of conversions are more, or at the very least you could expect more visitors to your showroom who are most likely to make their purchases then and there.

Speech recognition by search engines

Ever since Apple has added the speech recognition tool Siri in its latest iPhone 4S, its competitors are coming up with similar tools that would function as your personal assistant. And if you are asking the phone to search something for you, that is going to reflect on your keywords accordingly. For example, you would ask the phone to search for an Italian restaurant in London by saying “I want to eat Italian in London” because it might look silly to tell the phone just “Italian food London”. In other words, your main keywords are going to change for mobile search and the more skilled you are in foreseeing these new keywords that are more colloquial in tone, the better results you might find.

High quality and relevant content requirement is going to increase

With more advanced algorithms like Google Panda and its subsequent versions, search engines are going to demand for more quality content that is original and fresh. And this is not just for the content on the web pages of a site but also for off-site marketing such as longer, interesting articles, press releases, blog posts and so on. And content scraper and farming sites seem to have no future. This means websites with genuine and fresh content that include relevant information about the business and its products for the visitors would greatly benefit from this trend.

Similarly, the frequency in which people read your content and respond to it also matters. And this includes your blog posts and the responses and comments they get from your readers and customers. Search engines are going to give more importance to your social media content, keyword-rich articles, product reviews, etc. The number of people who read and share what you write and the number of comments you receive are also going to matter.

While these are some of the most probable things going to happen in 2012, there are even more in the list that cannot be listed for want of space. However, changes are definite and all we need to see is how soon they are going to happen and in what frequency. One thing is definite, that when 2013 dawns, the SEO scenario is going to be a lot different from what it is now and perhaps the very definition of search engine optimization might change, with more competition and more demands made on the optimisers.

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