SEO Predictions for 2010

Another year of search engine madness is about to come to a close. In 2009 we have seen the Google search engine display many variances and ranking fluctuations. So before we put on the swami cap and bring out Nostradamus SEO quatrains into the light, let’s recap some of the major Google changes and initiatives.

In 2009 The Google Search Engine:

Put more weight toward the keywords in the domain. In fact, keyword-rich domains could achieve top 10 rankings in less competitive phrases just on the weight of the domain name and a few onsite optimization tweaks.

We saw Google increase the visible space for the Adwords Sponsored PPC displays. The money maker for Google is encroaching more and more on the organic search results territory.

We saw name branded companies get extra weight in the organic results, not from normal SEO algorithm enhancements and features, but from manual Google manipulation.

Searchers’ IP addresses were instrumental in displaying Google Local results for major keyword terms in various 1 box or 4 box positions in the organic search results.

Customized Search and IP captured-related searches made search results for the unknown more focused on what you have visited in the past rather then the “true” organic listings.

The introduction of Caffeine by Google displayed more real time results from news, Twitter, Facebook and other sources and was displayed in various locations on the organic search results page.

There were many other factors that changed in 2009, but the ones above are the most prevalent (in our eyes) and affect the potential customer click through rate.

Now for the 2010 predictions:

With the introduction of  the Caffeine Google Search Engine enhancements and the ability to display real time results, and more of the old “Universal Search” parameters of images, news, videos, et al.  traffic from first page SEO results will decrease for organic results if you are not in the Top  3 for that respective search term.

Google will be displaying so much more data and manipulating the organic displays with their data enhancements that normal percentage click through traffic for front page results positions of 4-10 will dramatically decrease.  Here’s what this should mean to the average reader and company: it’s time to increase your SEO budget now rather then be caught with your search engine traffic results in the gutter and scrambling to attempt to catch up.

Social media’s impact on search results will be misguided.  Many will attempt and are attempting to divert budgets to create social media campaigns to attract visitors and catch the wave of potential search traffic.  Organic search results in the future will display social media mentions in a live format. However, they will only be displayed for milliseconds as their display order is chronological.  Link values from social media campaigns will have little impact on the organic ranking results.

Social media done correctly and for branding awareness and bringing like-minded people together is a great concept and can improve your marketability. But in terms of SEO rankings, the affects will be dismal at best. Your ROI will be your measuring tool to determine if social media is effective for you or not.

Google will continue its push to become a Broadcast Network for the Internet.

Many in the industry view Google as a Search Engine with products and services to display websites and enhance a webmaster’s efficiency. Unfortunately, that view is misguided.  In 2005-ish this prediction was made, and every year Google positions itself away from a Search Engine environment and into a source to view data online. The broadcast network business model is like the major television networks (ABC, CBS, NBC Fox etc.) that display shows to attract  viewers.  Commercial advertisers pay for that model.

Google will continue to promote, provide, and display data to attract viewers. They are targeting IP addresses to identify your location. They have brought the Google iPhone application to capture your mobile consumption.   Google wants to know as much about you as it can so that it can tie advertisements directly to you.  In terms of advertising dollars,  knowing you can get your message directly to a “buyer in need” rather then a “channel surfer” will pay huge dividends in the end.

As Google continues to move forward and push the envelope of data distribution, Search Engine Optimization will become more target-focused.   The ROI in SEO is up for grabs and will remain significant, as long as your budget, focus and SEO company can see the big picture and be able to adapt.