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March 29, 2011

SEO Factors and Trends Report: Developments in Search

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Bruce Clay Australia released its SEO factors and trends report for 2010, highlighting the changes we saw in search this past year, and tips on how to best address them.

For those who haven’t had time to keep up with all the developments in search in 2010 (and let’s face it, what businesses have the time and resources to follow this as closely as those in the industry do?), this is an insightful look into the direction search is headed, and how to stay on the same path.

In this post, we’ll take a look at some of the highlights of the report and share some additional insight we’ve compiled here at Bruce Clay headquarters.

Download the full version of the SEO Factors & Trends report.

Street Signs

Local Search

Developments in local search in 2010 included the rollout of local search results in the SERPs, Google Places pages for local merchants, Google Hotpot for merchant reviews and personalized search results, and Google Favorite Places, a service that gives QR decal stickers to those merchants that are most popular on Places.

Some action items for marketers include:

  • Claim and optimize your Google Places listing.
  • Ensure all the information about your business across the Web in important directories is consistent.
  • Develop strategies to increase and monitor reviews. Check out a November 2010 blog post that has some ideas on how to capitalize on Google Hotpot for business.

For more information, check out the Local Search Tactics session coverage from SMX West this month.

Google Instant and Instant Previews

Google Instant rolled out in 2010 and allowed for instant results as the user types, before they even hit the enter key. It also offers suggestions to users about what they might be looking for as they type, based on most popular search queries.

This is another attempt by Google to make the Web faster for users, and presented additional ways for marketers to identify keywords that they could potentially optimize site for.


Then, Instant Previews rolled out. This offered users the ability to view the Web page associated with a result the SERP, before they even clicked through to the site.

Google reported Instant Previews improved the search experience for users, as data showed they were five percent more likely to be satisfied with the sites they go to.

Some action items for marketers:

  • For Google Instant, analyze organic search traffic for phrases that have shown significant growth in popularity and adjust Web content accordingly.
  • Understand what Google Instant Previews might mean to your business, and design your site accordingly.

Social Signals

Social is becoming a part of search, and affecting the way the SERPs are presented. Bing and Facebook partnered together in 2010 and announced that Facebook “Likes” were becoming a ranking factor in the SERPS.

Not too long after that, Bruce Clay authored an article questioning if “likes” are the new links in search engine optimization.

Google also confirmed in a video response that social cues are taken into account in search. Another video attempted to explain what social search means and why it’s important to the average user:

Some action items for marketers include:

  • Develop and optimize your online social media presence. If you haven’t yet dedicated the time to putting together a social media plan, you’re not alone. Check out some tips on getting started with social media.

Mobile Search

Google is placing importance on the seamless mobile search experience. Many of the same options we experience from search on a PC are being replicated in mobile. This includes things like user location taken into account for a tailored SERP and the availability of Google Instant.

Mobile-only experiences are also becoming a great way to market, as apps like Google Goggles take pictures of objects nearby and return local results for the item.

Some action items for marketers include:

  • Determine and implement a mobile strategy that follows best practices. This includes making sure your Google Places page is optimized.
  • Make sure your site is setup for mobile users; think about quality design and user experience as a driving factor.
  • Look into apps marketing by checking out info from the session on mobile apps and search at SMX West.

2011 Updates

Since the Bruce Clay Australia SEO Factors & Trends report came out, key changes to the Google algorithm were made that more aggressively target sites with low-quality content. One update in particular, the Farmer/Panda update, has been called the most significant update to Google’s algorithm in years.

Baby Panda

The update was in response to increased spam in the SERPs as a result of one of Google’s developments in 2010: Google Caffeine. Caffeine allowed Google to index the Web deeper, which inadvertently allowed more spammy sites to be included in the results.

In the March SEO Newsletter, our Hot Topics section gives an outline of the Farmer/Panda update and what it means to websites.

A more in-depth look at the influx of changes in 2010 search can be found in the full SEO Factors & Trends report. Print it out and share it with your colleagues.

P.S. If you’re in the Sydney area, check out Bruce Clay Australia’s three-day SEO training coming up on April 4, 5 and 6. Bruce Clay Australia will also be presenting on Day Two of SMX Sydney 2011, speaking on using SEO, usability and analytics for amazing results.

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6 responses to “SEO Factors and Trends Report: Developments in Search”

  1. Jessica Lee writes:

    You’re very welcome. Nice to hear from you, as always!

  2. Slide Buddy writes:

    Thanks for collating these reports. I personally love Google Instant, it tells you up front if you’re going to a site with a seamless design, that can connote its importance of style and substance.

  3. Jessica Lee writes:

    Right on the money, Kate. In the beginning, there was SEO. Now it’s all about Internet marketing optimization — a holistic approach to a business’ presence online. We just have so many more options now. Thanks for weighing in!

  4. Kate O'Neill, [meta]marketer marketing optimization agency writes:

    The social signals section seems especially key, particularly as it relates to procedural changes in optimization. This means it’s not just about search anymore, but then it never really was; the best optimization was always about a brand’s holistic online presence, since even link-building should drive relevant visits as referral traffic, not just serve as PageRank fodder.

    Thanks for the great research!

  5. Jessica Lee writes:

    Hi, Adam! Good insight as always. Agreed, Google Places needs to make some major improvements, but it’s great that local merchants can compete in the SERPs. Thanks for being an active member in our community!

  6. Adam Humphreys writes:

    Google Local Business is pretty awesome. I’ve been optimizing it since it first came out and had amazing results. The fact that Google decided to throw it into search verticals was icing on the cake. They really need to get multiple businesses per location though because that’s not working properly right now.

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