Top 4 SEO Predictions For 2012
Social Will Replace Links
While it may be Bing who’s tucked up in bed with the big social players like Twitter and Facebook , Google isn’t giving up on social information just yet. The link has spent the past ten years getting battered to the point where there really isn’t any point, article directories, article spinning, directory submissions have all been thrown in the bin marked ‘cheap nasty links’ with a little bio hazard sticker on it. For now we have guest posts but for how much longer? It won’t be long before the only effective and ethical way of link building will be the old school ‘ask or you don’t get’ method and we all know how effective that is if we don’t have something of value to offer in return.
My first prediction is that social is going to overtake link building in ranking importance. We already know Google are adamant Google+ will become an integral part of their algorithm, we know Bing focus heavily on the information they get from Twitter and Facebook – by the end of the year will be good quality tweet have as much weight as a link?
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Fresh Content Will Lead To More Spam
This one is kind of a given especially after Google’s latest round of big updates but content is going to gain increasing significance over the next year to the point where it’s going to be a hindrance. You can have all the links in the world pointing to one of your pages but if that page doesn’t contain relevant information it’s not going to rank for it.
This is a big problem for e-commerce sites who are just there to sell rather than offering information so over the next 12 months e-commerce sites are going to turn into real high street shops, you won’t be able to get through more than a page without the site asking if you’d like to view their size guide or if you’d like to see how their products are sustainably made. There will be so much ‘content’ on the site all being linked from all over the place you’ll struggle to just find the product you want and all because Google has decided only sites with lots of fresh content can appear in their SERPs. Before the end of the year the web is going to be filled with more useless content than ever before.
The Anchor Text Will Die
If you’re still exact match link building with the same text over and over again to the same page you might as well be waving a big flare right in the Google spam teams face. Nothing screams fake and SEO’d like one page with a heap of links all pointing back saying exactly the same thing. It’s not just about positions on your top key terms any more, you need to be giving equal attention to the number of referring non brand organic key terms too (at least trying to until Google takes these numbers away from us as well). So long as you’re link building it needs to be with long tail terms and branded terms otherwise you’re just going to see your site getting pushed down the SERP’s, not back up. We’ve already discussed the value a link might have, if you have found yourself a juicy one, don’t waste it on an exact match.
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Usability Will Become King
Google have been going on and on about how important all this fresh content stuff is but at the end of the day they want this fresh content because they want to serve up better results. In this context better results means more relevant to what the user is looking for, it means someone typing something into their search engine then being taken directly to the exact page they’re looking for with the exact information and no need to go anywhere else. Google can see what that traffic is doing on your site (assuming you’re using Google Analytics) and we already know it’s looking at these factors as part of the Panda update.
By the end of the year the most important metrics we’re going to be looking at is bounce rate and average time on site. If people are leaving your site after spending just two seconds on it Google knows it’s not the right content so it needs to find that ‘better’ content and present that instead. You can have links from the BBC, CNN and the home page of Wikipedia but if your traffic isn’t liking your site for that particular keywords Google isn’t going to let you rank for much longer.
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