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  State of Internet Marketing: 16 Predictions for 2012 by Bruce Clay

Author: Bruce Clay
 

Another whirlwind year in Web marketing is behind us, and the one ahead seems just as exciting. The big news of 2011 emerged as Google worked to make results even more relevant and useful to users, which eventually led to the Panda algorithm update that targeted low-quality sites in the results pages. Then of course, big strides were made by major search engines like Bing and Google to make social search more of the norm leading to perhaps the biggest news in social and personalized search, just announced this month by Google with its Search plus Your World feature.

In keeping with our annual tradition here at Bruce Clay, Inc., I'd like to share with you my forecast of the search climate in 2012.

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  BACK TO BASICS:
Understanding Search Plus Your World

Author: Jessica Lee
 

By now, you’ve probably heard the buzz about the new Google search experience dubbed Search plus Your World – and if you haven't, let me break it down for you.

The way the search engine results pages in Google are rendered have completely changed. Personalized search is more personal in the new view of the SERP, Google+ is heavily promoted and the non-personalized SERPS seem to be giving more "raw" rankings data than we've seen in a long time.

What was once thought to be just a social network trying to catch up to Facebook, we now know Google+ is part of a much bigger plan for Google to expand on social and personalized search. Much bigger.

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  INTERNATIONAL:
Freshness Score and Why It Exists

Author: Brent Yorzinski
 

Previously, it was not uncommon for search engines to return outdated pages among results. This occurred since they matched the words entered by a visitor to content indexed from pages on the Web, often leveraging signals that favoured older pages with accumulated link data to order and display results that contained the visitor’s queried keywords. That method made it possible to show old pages that were not in line with a visitor’s search intent.

As a measure aimed at solving this problem, in 2009 Google expressed that freshness of data, through such algorithmic implementations as QDF (Query Deserves Freshness), would be taken into account when determining what a visitor is interested in finding. However in late 2011, Google significantly extended the signals it used to score freshness and the number of queries this scoring mechanism then impacted.

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  One-Day SEO Training Coming to West & East Coasts

Demand for SEO education is at an all-time high, as search marketing becomes ever-more complex and crucial to the growth and stability of businesses of all sizes. Bruce Clay has partnered with major Internet marketing conferences in San Jose and New York City to present one-day SEO training workshops in the coming months.

On February 27, Bruce presents SEO training with SMX West at the Marriott San Jose. Early bird registration continues through January 28. An additional 10 percent discount can be applied on the cost of conference registration with code smx10bruceclay.

On March 23, SES New York hosts Bruce Clay's SEO training at Hilton New York. Receive 20 percent off conference registration with code 20BRU.

The next extensive three-day standard or five-day advanced SEO training course in Southern California takes place March 12 to March 16.

 
  Hot Topics

Google has dominated the spotlight as the subject of multiple major tech stories despite the year having only just begun.

Punishes Self with Paid Links Penalty

In a surprising twist of just desserts, the Google Chrome browser was outed for a sponsored post campaign containing juice-passing links. The search engine issued a PageRank penalty to the Chrome home page after all instances of paid links were removed. The incident highlighted several concerns, including the inequity in how Google handled its own penalty compared to the penalties it deals other sites, as well as the issue of how webmasters have little defense against malicious paid link attacks by competitors. These issues and more are discussed in an SEM Synergy video with Bruce Clay and staff.

Lower Than Forecasted Earnings Plunge Stock

After four straight quarters of booming growth, Google posted weaker-than-expected earnings for the fourth quarter of 2011. While paid clicks in search results were up 34 percent year-over-year, the average cost per click was down 8 percent. An analysis and accompanying infographic by PPC tools provider WordStream illustrate which industries were responsible for the bulk of the search engine's $37.9 billion ad revenues.

Google+ Integration Signals Biggest Search Change Yet

In what's been called the most radical change to Google search yet, Search plus Your World presents content from a searcher's Google+ network within search results. Images, profiles, business pages, posts and comments from Google+ may be returned for signed-in users' queries. Personalized results are marked with a blue person icon, and the personalization feature can be turned off with a toggle button on the top of the search results page. SEOs may be worried that the personal social results may make organic ranking optimization more difficult. Read this month's article Understanding Search Plus Your World for more on how the change affects SEO.

Privacy Policy Overhaul Under Scrutiny

A new privacy policy that unifies 60 of Google's services was met with scrutiny by some privacy advocates and praise by others. Google will combine data collected across services to create a more complete picture of individual users. The primary benefit to Google lies in the ability to better target ads for users. The changes go into effect March 1 and users cannot opt out.


SEOToolSet Version 5
 
  Shuffles

From Q3 2010 to Q3 2011, Internet ad revenue rose 22 percent. The digital marketing sector showed greater growth than other media channels, and climbed to nearly $7.9 billion.

Cyber Week 2011 set a new record for online sales in a week in the U.S. and three days each topping $1 billion in sales. Consumers reported that free shipping is “very important” to their online purchases.

A major redesign for Twitter, including the launch of brand pages, emphasizes the hashtag and the "@" symbol to improve usability of the navigation experience. Images, links and attached media are also embedded in expandable tweets.

Facebook added the ability for users to subscribe to pages and other users, allowing for the one-way following of public figures, brands and more.

Facebook introduced Sponsored Stories in users' News Feeds. The move looks to monetize the social media site and its user base in order to make the stock more appealing to potential investors.

Yahoo found a new CEO in former PayPal president, Scott Thompson. Yahoo had been without a CEO since firing Carol Bartz in September.

A new report by eMarketer shows that adults in the U.S. now spend more time on their mobile device than looking at print media. In an average day, 65 minutes is spent using a mobile device, while 44 minutes is consumed with newspapers and magazines.

 
  Shindigs

DOMAINfest starts January 31 and goes until February 2 in Los Angeles, and features insights into acquiring and monetizing Web traffic. Bruce Clay will speak on the session SEO Tips and Best Practices for 2012 on Thursday.

Online Marketing Summit happens February 6 to 9 in San Diego.

Social Media Strategies Summit runs February 7 to 9 in Las Vegas.

SMX West will take place in San Jose February 27 to March 1, including a one-day SEO workshop by Bruce Clay. Bruce Clay, Inc. is a gold sponsor of SMX West, and Bruce will take part in the Ask the SEOs Q&A forum on March 1.

Conversion Conference West hits San Francisco March 5 and 6.

A Federated Media event on how to reach customers through both established platforms and the independent Web takes place March 21 in San Francisco.

SES New York will be held March 19 to 23 with Bruce Clay's one-day SEO training on the 23rd. Bruce Clay, Inc. is a silver sponsor of SES New York, and Bruce will speak on the session SEO is Dead. Long Live SEO! on March 21.

The newly updated SEOToolSet® standard and advanced training and certification course will take place in Simi Valley, CA, on March 12 to 16.

Bruce Clay Australia presents the upcoming SEO training courses in Sydney in 2012:

  • One-day training in Sydney: February 29, 2012
  • Three-day training in Sydney: May 7-9, 2012
  • One-day training in Sydney: July 31, 2012
  • One-day training in Sydney: September 4, 2012
  • One-day training in Sydney: November 6, 2012
 
  Attaboys

Google+ is expected to reach 400 million users by the end of 2012. Calculations are based upon the December growth rate of 24 percent, which can be attributed to a variety of marketing efforts, positive word-of-mouth, and the holidays.

Larry Page has been named Investor’s Business Daily's CEO of the Year.

SEMPO has recognized Bruce Clay, Inc.'s SEO training course as a recommended training provider.

Bruce Clay Europe's managing director, Ale Agostini, will be talking about SEO at IED Milan, one of the world most important fashion and design universities, on January 27.

 
  Word on the Wire

According to a recent survey of small businesses, SEO is considered the most important marketing channel. Of the businesses surveyed, 63 percent have an annual marketing budget of $2,500 or less.

Twitter launched a self-serve option on its ad platform with a handful of advertisers for beta testing. It is viewed as a much-needed step to improve revenue optimization for Promoted Product campaigns for small- to medium-sized businesses.

Twitter received a $300 million investment from Saudi Arabia’s Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, giving the monarch a 3 percent stake in the popular social media site.

Facebook advertising in the form of Sponsored Stories might be available on the mobile platform by March. Despite the obstacles or potential negative feedback regarding the expansion of its ad network, Facebook projects $4.27 billion in revenue for 2012.

YouTube executive Robert Kyncl expects that 90 percent of all Web traffic will be driven by online video in the very near future. This prediction emphasizes the importance of video content in online marketing.

Nielsen's "State of the Media: The Social Media Report" shows that in Italy, over 50 percent of the Italian population uses the Internet to research, work and share information. The use of social networks has greatly increased, with more than 20 million Italians saying they have a Facebook account and 86 percent of them using Facebook regularly. Most of Facebook's Italian users are between 35 and 44 years old, with the 25 to 34 year old sector behind them. Thanks to the spreading of smart phones, 40 percent of Italians use social media through mobile devices.