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5 Trends to Consider when Planning Natural Search in 2011

Author's avatar By Chris Soames 04 Jan, 2011
Essential Essential topic

The start of a new year quite often means lots of reflection & sets in place new ideas / learnings for the year to come. 2011 is no different; its always difficult to remember where you were 12 months ago, but digital marketing and search as part of that came a long way in 2010. Search in my opinion has matured, enough people now understand enough for it to become more widely accepted and feared less.

The smoke & mirrors, black hat techniques and complexity that used to make it inaccessible to so many has finally been broken down. Moving into 2011 I believe Natural Search will start to work its way into marketing teams & businesses rather than outsourced to "specialists" or left to specific roles in the business, it will as my first trend talks about become integrated.

Recommended reading on SEO success factors for 2011

I've been checking out the thoughts of other consultants, agencies and commentators in 2011, this is my pick of the best to checkout to help shape your natural search strategy.

Do you agree, what do you think has in stored for search in 2011? What advice would you give

My Summary of SEO success factors for 2011

1. Integration will be THE key to a successful 2011

Linking natural search knowledge & tactics to other marketing channels as part of your marketing process will be key in 2011.  Interweaving and understanding how SEO and social media influence and support each other will be key to ensuring you secure sustainable positions in key search engines. What I mean by integration:

  • Actions in social networks directly influence natural search listings
  • Marketing team integration - Copywriters / content generators & creative talents will be more important that technical to achieve success
  • Universal search growth links in Maps, Video, Books, Blogs, Forums. Each content type needs to be understood & integrated from a broader search perspective

2. Being active will make it or break it for you

Creating a brand that is lively, alert & active will be key to success in 2011.  With global economies still slowed, unemployment still high & costs for most industries going up in 2011 I find it hard to see how a brand that is not awake, active & being remarkable in its market place will grow in 2011. Customers will require a level of value, trust & excitement to part with their money like never before.

Obviously activity creates content, buzz / excitement around the brand which in turn attracts links, boosts your rankings, brings referrals and suddenly if your product, price & service are of the right calibre 2011 could start to look like a successful year.

3. Quality will matter more than ever

The quality of all aspects of your business will be key in 2011, making information easily accessible and fun to "digest" will help earn visitors trust. We have also seen signs in 2011 (none proven yet) that click-through rates from results pages can also influence where you rank for your target key phrases. Making titles & description tags very important when it comes to ranking. Removing spam and understanding your customer will help you craft titles & descriptions that attract clicks and therefore help you move up the results pages.

Another reason to ensure Search is well integrated into the business as you will need creative thinkers & good writers to win at this game.

4. Mobile / Location Search will grow massivley

A lot of search marketers don't see much value in mobile, I think this is a big mistake. How you rank and appear in mobile search might not be much different but how it is interacted with and the opportunities it is bound to create in 2011 should receive a lot of attention. Time spent on mobiles, the use of apps & mobile browsers is only going one way and that will not change in 2011. How you utilise mobile for your business will be key. Thinking with just a search hat on, are you ticking all the right boxes on. We know that search on mobiles will be highly localised due to majority of phones now having GPS capabilities, are you optimised for this? Moving beyond results pages how does your site appear on popular handsets? Is it easy to use & navigate? Can I share / forward that content easily from my handset?

I believe mobile will be big for a majority of industries in 2011, at worse it requires you get the basics like just as you would outside of mobile, I think its unacceptable if your website is not accessible on mobile phones in 2011.

5. The use of data & analytics will grow

Understanding your customer, their behaviour online as well as in your network is key to understand. The sheer volume of cheap / free tools now available to help you listen, monitor, measure makes it unacceptable not to be using this data to influence the marketing process. Moving into 2011 and to power the marketing process data will be key. The days of a specialist or large scale research to understand your customers at a good enough level have gone. The data available on demographics & their online behaviour will help you make good decisions in 2011. Tools like Google Analytics & Facebook insights will help you understand how people interact with you and you can run tests and monitor results. We'll continue to write a lot about these.

Seeing how your rankings change, how your activity influences search and your visitors behaviour will be key to see what actions you need to focus on and what you should stop doing entirely.

Author's avatar

By Chris Soames

Chris Soames is a Smart Insights blogger and consultant, he has worked in digital marketing for over 6 years with the last few years managing international web strategies for a leading travel brand. Now the Commercial Director at First 10, an Integrated marketing agency, he helps clients get clarity on their marketing strategy and create campaigns engineered to engage with their consumers to help drive sell-through. Most of all, Chris enjoys working with talented people who want to create great (& commercial) things not just tick boxes.

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