2012 SEM Trends & How They Affect Your Business

At the beginning of the year, several bloggers and SEOs made predictions for the top SEO, PPC, and Social Media Marketing trends we could expect for the New Year, and while several of them have been eerily prescient in their forecasts, some newcomers are on the rise! Our SEO experts weigh in on some of the most effective and popular new SEO trends as witnessed in the first quarter of 2012:

1.  Community Is The New Content

For years, SEOs and marketing specialists have been hounding us about the importance of original, relevant content, and while this is still crucial to a site’s search health, it’s no longer sufficient to simply place content on your site without optimizing it socially. We are seeing that it is becoming ever more important to engage in a two-way dialogue with your customer base – whether that’s providing them the option to comment on your blog and responding, or sharing your content in the social sphere, or developing communication on Facebook, Twitter, etc. Engaging with your community will build stronger brand loyalty, allowing you to quickly resolve any potential issues and keep your company in tune with what your customers want and need.

2.  Location, Location, Location!

We’ve been seeing geolocation begin to creep into the social sphere – Google’s integration of maps on the search page, Twitter’s optional location stamp on tweets, etc. More localization will not only boost visibility for smaller, local companies in the online sphere but it really tailors results to the searcher’s needs.

We’re only going to continue to see more location-based search integration with the rise of mobile search so making that information readily available on your site is crucial, as Google uses this information to identify your location and return your business for relevant searches.

3.  Rich Media

We’re thrilled to see the development of rich media ads and snippets in the search network as it opens up myriad new options for our clients and great opportunities for search. Earlier, we blogged about rich media in Yahoo! and Bing (MSN) search, which include the incorporation of video, images, maps, forms, and much more.

Many of the search engines have also expanded their rich snippet inclusions for search engine results pages; Google, for example, has begun to include reviews, music, links to other pages on a site, and much more.  This detailed blurb provides more information for the searcher which may help determine whether or not they opt to click through to your site! Between rich media ads and snippets, there are many new venues through which we can provide information and increase visibility for our clients.

4.  Page Load Speed

It’s become evident in the past few months that Google’s recent algorithm updates have come to include page load speed as a ranking factor. Recent data shows that delays as short as a half-second can impact business metrics, and although this shouldn’t scare business owners into sacrificing content or revamping their entire site, it is important to consider what elements of a page may lead to a slower load time and if any of these elements could be edited or removed.

Some examples of elements that lead to slower load times include flash, huge images, several plug-ins, etc. It’s also important to note that your site may load differently in different browsers (Firefox versus Chrome versus Internet Explorer) so testing is an important component. Why is Google now factoring in page load time? Because slower pages result in less user engagement – those searching online, especially on mobile, want information immediately if not sooner. Data shows that 47% of consumers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less, 40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load, and even a 1 second delay in page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversions.

A slow page may just be the thing that makes visitors hit the back button and go to another site.

Clearly we’re seeing a continued move towards more social integration and the merging of multiple marketing initiatives. As mentioned earlier, the combination of tactics is ultimately the most effective way to see successes in online visibility – a well-rounded marketing campaign involving optimized ads, rich media ads, social media presence and engagement, clean site structure and HTML, geolocation optimization, a mobile presence, etc. will be the ultimate way to improve online presence and search traffic.




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