The 2012 IM trends landscape continues to look increasingly competitive. We’re no longer in the age of a few early adopters monopolizing the first page of Google. Now every, dentist, auto mechanic, flower shop etc. is online; not only online, but actively investing internet marketing dollars in the areas of PPC (search and display), SEO and social media. As more players enter the game, the bidding war for ad space heightens. 2012 will see increased barriers to entry to those who are late to the game.
Social is the New Word of Mouth
Facebook’s “talking about this” metric is a nod to what social media really is: a massive network for word of mouth recommendations. You don’t have to share your status to let others know what you’re doing anymore. Facebook is moving in the direction of publishing more than just your like and comment activity. By installing apps like the Washington Post Social Reader, your friends can now see that you’ve read an article, not simply that you’ve liked, shared or commented on it.
The Fracturing of Search Results
Search results are now highly geared towards a user’s location and social network. Browsing habits still play a major factor. All of this leads to fractured search results, where some sites may rank, while others don’t depending on who the searcher is.
Other key shifts will include:
- The inclusion of socially relevant posts
- The rise of PPC as the core strategy for online marketing
- New challenges for SEO
- Fresh Content will become ever more important, if you don’t have a blog, get on it. Use this guide to help you.
- Local search and reviews, Google Places and Yelp will continue to influence buying decisions.
- Mobile search will be influenced by location, companies with mobile websites will see better conversions from organic and paid traffic.
Google Quality Continues to Get Better
- The quality of referring links will need to be high. Google will not give credence to poor quality backlinks, link farms and link wheels are a thing of the past. Quality will outweigh quantity.
- Search results will contain high quality, fresh content that’s been shared.
- Sites with great user experiences may rank higher, Google can analyze this if the site has Google Analytics installed.
- Websites with high CTRs, low bounce rates and original content will have an edge
- An integrated strategy will be needed in order to rank organically – UI, Social, PPC, SEO, Content Strategy.
Referring Sites Will Continue to Proliferate
- Sites like portals, destination guides and niche resources will be a valuable source of traffic. Don’t be surprised if these sites pop up overnight, as social media is now a primary springboard for many start-up sites looking for traffic.
- Referring sites are growing more quickly than your competitors, actively research them and get linked to.
- Consumers will continue to research in more places, and these sites will increase in importance as they provide links, rank for related terms and influence buying decisions.
- Search engines will continue to reward sites that are present on highly trafficked, socially connected sites.
That’s a wrap! Authentic, original content, is key to your online marketing success in 2012 and moving forward. Produce original content and spread it through social networks. Google’s algorithm will reward you for hard work e.g. consistent content creation, social updates, networking with referring sites and building organic links. Sprinkle in a little PPC and you’ve got a recipe for success!