Warning: SEO Trends in 2012

Last week I had a small table at Pubcon and was chatting with an attendee who dropped this bomb…seo trends in 2012...adapt or die

“Last year I was making $150K/mo….then Panda hit. We are going to be in the red this year, with just a few employees besides myself.”

Ouch.

And another very well respected SEO shared this,

“I had to sit down my wife and explain that things would be different this year because one of my best sites got hit last week.”

2011 has been the most volatile year since…the Florida update?

Between Panda, Panda 2, Panda 2.5.3, and more Panda, the SERPs have never seen such flux as they have this year.

So what’s in store for 2012? Here are my predictions.

1. Links will stil matter (gasp!)

Thought I was going to lead with “social media will play an important role in…blah, blah, blah”.

Look, of course social is going to continue it’s growth, but the bottom line in both Google and Yahoo is that links are still the #1 force driving traffic and rankings.

Links will still matter in 2012. Book it.

2. “Who wrote that?” will matter as much as “Who published that?”

Google will start valuing the author of an article as highly as where the article gets published.

So if you can get Sanjay Gupta to write for you, you’ll be set.

Google is pushing hard to get journalists and reporters to verify where they post so they can start to give a boost to more trusted and authoritative writers.

Your personal brand will become as important in 2012 as the company brand.

More reading on “Author Rank”

3. Twitter Search Will Explode

With “You have to tweet that” becoming as common as “Google it”, Twitter went mainstream this year.

Twitter Search goes mainstream in 2012.

Make sure you are following the important hashtags and topics in your space and don’t be stingy about posting your blog or site content to the correct channels.

4. Bing has a major algo update, Google tweaks monthly

After the major “Panda” Google algorithm update in February, and the subsequent seemingly monthly tweaks it’s hard to see Google doing any major update in 2012.

But Bing? Oh, they are due.

Look for Bing to do a significant Panda-level update this next year. They have finished their integration with Yahoo! and I think they make a splash with a significant shake-up.

Google will continue to refine, but I see most of their changes coming in the personalization and local space vs another major algorithm shift.

5. (not provided) will be your top “keyword”

(not provided) tshirts by serps.com
(not provided) SERPs.com t-shirts at Pubcon 2011. This guy said it was for his wife.

It’s already near the top for many publishers and as more and more people are perma-logged into a Google account between Gmail or Google+ or Youtube, the (not provided) % of queries will continue to creep up.

Long shot: Google reverses this after one it’s top Adwords clients goes ballistic and threatens to pause their spend.

6. Solo SEO consultants get bought out or go in-house

Super niche SEO consultants will always be in demand, but the generalist SEO consultant will fade.

The agency model is winning.

Top SEOs are getting picked up left and right by larger digital agencies and the trend will continue in 2012. The demand for talented SEO operators will keep agencies converting all the solo consultants they can grab into salaried employees (benefits for the win!).

Lighting Predictions

    • More SEOs conforming to Google’s “rules” especially for client sites
    • Offline communications become a more powerful link channel. Think direct mail linkbait, or our “(not provided)” T-shirts I made at CustomInk.com)
t-shirt box from CustomInk
"Inky" in the wild...
  • Google+ grows by the sheer force of Google promoting it everywhere
  • Mobile continues it’s growth
  • SEO goes mainstream as a subset of marketing
  • Someone gets pissed at Matt Cutts
  • RavenTools gets a high profile acquisition offer, rejects it.
  • SEOMoz raises a Series B at a 100m+ valuation
  • Nobody reads the 2nd to last bullet point
  • A major link broker goes bankrupt

What are your SEO trend predictions for 2012?

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