Looking Forward to SEO in 2010

Niall over at SimplyZesty asked Erik Qualman and I to write up some thoughts on SEO and social media in 2010. Here’s what I wrote.

My brief here is to talk about the importance of search engine optimisation (SEO) vs social media, and where I see the industry going over the next year. SEO here meaning “organic search”, or more simply: the results you get when you search Google, etc.

SEO and organic search is very important in 2010 – as is social media. Most organisations are significantly increasing their social media spend compared with last year – mainly because it was so far behind other marketing spend. SEO spend continues to increase, though at a smaller pace since larger organisations released the importance of SEO in 2007-2009 and started to invest heavily then.

SEO itself has undergone huge changes in 2009, mainly focused on the areas of real-time (e.g. incorporation of Twitter results and news), personalisation (based on your browsing history), and the related local results (geographical based). This trend will continue as Google drives to improve in particular their real-time results which are still at an early stage currently. There is a general shift of consumers moving from their reliance on search to peers for news, recommendations and answers – Twitter and Facebook are capitalising on that, and Google are working hard to combat it by the partnership with Twitter, amongst other strategies.

The first port of call for most people looking to answer a question online is still Google search. Why? This is Google’s stated goal in search:

“Our goal is very simple: We want to return to the user the answer that they need. It’s about getting people what they need, and about getting the results to be as accurate and fast as possible. We’re innovating, and concentrating just on the relevancy of results. Last year we made over 450 improvements to the algorithm.”

Google Search Guru Udi Manber, April 2008.

Even in 2010, SEO basics are still the same as before: if you focus on creating good, relevant, link-worthy content then your authority and relevancy will build and you will rank highly in results. Unfortunately there is no quick fix or silver bullet for SEO, and as your competition invests in creating content so the bar rises.

If Google made 450 changes to their search algorithm (the formula which they use to rank results) in 2007, how many tweaks and changes do you think they made in 2008 and 2009? Google are continuously tweaking their algorithm on a daily basis – so instead of trying to cheat on this exam, it’s time to knuckle down and put in the effort!

What’s to come in 2010? More real-time stuff: more focus on Twitter, news headlines and maybe even Facebook integration in either Google or Bing. Social media will continue to grow, though not at the breakneck pace of 2009. My advice – sign up for whatever social media you prefer, e.g. Twitter & YouTube, and start blogging: high quality posts infrequently are more useful than poor quality posts frequently!

Back to the original question of the importance of SEO vs social media – ultimately choosing the right tool for the job is as important as ever. SEO, social media, and all of the other facets of online marketing (don’t forget email marketing) will continue to be relevant for some time to come.

Thanks, Niall, for the interesting question, and helping me get my blogging muscles warmed up for the new year!

You can see the full post including Eric and Niall’s commentaries here.

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About the Author:

Alastair McDermott is an online business and technology consultant specialising in web design & development, internet marketing and search engine optimisation. He has been building websites and software since 1996 and is a nine year veteran of using WordPress. He has co-founded several software, web and information based startup companies and has provided solutions for many large Irish and international organisations. Alastair blogs, and makes media of all kinds at WebsiteDoctor.com. Follow him on Twitter at @WebsiteDoctor.

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