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Trends in SEO for 2010

by Susan Esparza, December 22, 2010

As the year closes, it's time to look back at the major trends that affected search, social and Internet marketing throughout 2010. Surprisingly, this action-packed year was centered around a few key areas of development. This year the key to success was being light-weight, nimble and surgically targeted on the user.

Next month, Bruce Clay will bring us his predictions for 2011 but first, let's take a look back at the year that was.


We knew when the year began that we would see the completion of the Yahoo/Bing merger. The year progressed and we learned the shape that the deal would take with Yahoo eventually completing the complete transition to being powered by Bing for both organic and paid search inventory. The organic search transition was completed by the end of August, while Yahoo Search Marketing clients were transitioned to Microsoft adCenter by the end of September.

In terms of market share, Bing seemed to gain ground mostly from Yahoo, not from Google as had been hoped. Some services, such as Yahoo's Site Explorer tool, live on but with uncertain futures.

Page speed

The year opened with a brand new emphasis on page and site speed brought to the search community. Google pushed their page speed tools and appeared at conferences stating openly that they were looking seriously at page speed as a factor.

Those who have followed Bruce Clay, Inc for a long time know that we've always advocated keeping pages small, light and fast loading, so it was nice to see that the rest of the industry getting on board. Not only is speed good for your customers, it's good for search engines which need to spider an Internet that is growing by leaps and bounds every single day.

Social Media

Much of this growth is due to the explosive rise in social media. Though social media has been dominating the conversation for the past couple of years as an up and coming tactic, it was only in 2010 when the social web became impossible to ignore. Bing partnered with Facebook to incorporate real time searches into their SERPs and Google continued their real time integration that was launched last year at SES Chicago.

Facebook itself got a movie and continued controversy around privacy issues but the social network showed signs of strong growth throughout the year.

Twitter also continued to gain popularity. A study released by Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project found that Twitter is most popular among young, urban and diverse individuals. Additionally the study noted that women and the college-educated are also slightly more likely than average to use the service.

Businesses who have taken advantage of the social space with a concrete, well-thought-out strategy will be in a strong position going into 2011.

SERP Updates

In January 2010, Bruce took a look into the future of search and had this to say: I think that in the latter half of 2010 we will see the search results page massively changed and, of course, we will help with that facelift, offering SEO tools that annotate and enhance the mundane SERP. Rather than being wiped out, real-time search results will be implemented as an expandable and configurable engagement object (assuming the spam can be cleaned up).

We've seen exactly that. Beginning with Bing's layout changes last year, this year saw Google introducing a third column to their traditional two column layout. The Everything bar on left of the SERP allows quick access to timeline, location, refinements for queries and more. While not everyone was a fan of the development, it nevertheless was discussed by Google as a permanent change that had proven good for users.

Later in the year, Google implemented Google Instant. The new search implementation allowed for faster results and predictive queries using the Google Suggest feature. The change caused an uproar among marketers but when the dust settled, the new feature appeared to be fairly well accepted.


By far the biggest change of the year however was the incredible and impressive rise of local results. In Bruce's article he predicted that of all the SERP changes the biggest factor by far would be "the massive number of localized map and 7-pack entries appearing for almost all search results by year end." Anyone looking at a search results page recently will know that is absolutely true. Google's attempts at pinpointing location and returning personalized and geotargeted results have never been more persistent or pervasive.

LocalPack - Local SEO Listing Service

Google now has three locally targeted products: Maps, Places and HotPot so their commitment to local is clear.

What does this mean for businesses? It is a wake up call and a challenge. If your business is not ranking for relevant local queries or if you are not appearing in Google Local, you are falling further behind every single day. Services like LocalPack can help get your business indexed and moving forward. Do not wait for 2011 to start planning your local strategy.

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