In the second of the Experts View series, we asked us our experts where they felt the growth area for 2011 was. 2010 certainly saw the potential threat of the social networks rise, consolidation within the search engine marketplace and the growth of Twitter. Two new experts join us today, namely Bas van den Beld from State of Searchand Will Critchlow from Distilled to give us his views on what 2011 may hold for Search.
So where do our experts think the growth area will lie in 2011?
Where do you think the growth area in search will emerge in 2011?
Local. Sure, I know it’s already done some extensive growth over the last 18 months, but with (Google’s) Marissa (Mayer) recently moving over there and the subsequent announcement of ‘contextual search’, we will certainly see more movement in this area. Beyond that, I still say there will be further decay in the link obsessed algorithms. To that end I am watching for better semantic analysis, deeper personalization (via social) and more emphasis on meta-data and named entities (non-link citations).
Learning to use search intelligently in line with the attribution modelling & retargeting as mentioned above. Attribution modelling has obviously been around for yonks, but the developments in Display remarketing will mean that Search and Display potentially swap roles with Search providing awareness of brands via generic searches and display reaching consumers when they are ready to buy. This changes the game for how we manage our search campaigns. This probably applies most to PPC of course, but will affect SEO to an extent: particularly when it comes to deciding which keywords to focus our efforts on.
Mobile Search & Local – particularly in combination.
Mobile, Location, Hyperlocal, Video, Discovery, Social Recommendation, Social Commerce.
Bas van den Beld
It is obvious that at first sight people will be looking to be putting their time and money into local and social stuff. The recent changes from Google show the local interest of the search engine and many companies will try and act on that. That means more local efforts. They will also still be looking for how to really embed social into search. With Universal at its peak and Google and Bing both actually taking social signals into account companies will look for ways to use that. But I do believe that 2011 will still be a year in which it will be a lot of trial and error on that area. Companies will put more time and money in ‘social search’ but will not find the holy grail just yet…
Facebook. Have you done a search in Facebook lately? Ya, it’s still kind of crap but more and more businesses are directing people to their web properties from within Facebook. The world is using Facebook as a portal to the web much as AOL used to be and I think it would be foolish to ignore Facebook. You *will* have to launch a unique Facebook strategy to deal with it and goodness me don’t set it up and leave it and ignore the wall posts but you will _have_ to be there in 2011 or your business will suffer.
However I’d also like to point towards something else here and I hope you’ll follow my thinking here. It has nothing to do with data and search and everything about social expectations. Wolfram Alpha would be a smart acquisition by someone to further the expansion of the semantic web and I saw some technology from an Israeli university that was as accurate as a human in understanding sentiment. This technology I feel will become a *must buy* for search engines. They are increasingly being expected to deliver not just the best data-driven result but to make a _value judgement_ for the searcher and deliver the *best* result bot just from an optimisation point of view but from an ethical, moral and value-driven point of view. The case with the glasses company late in the year is the best example. It is not about spam or buying links – it is about the perception of the public that the results that are delivered through search are good, reliable, honest and “the best”. Users have started expecting search engines to make not just data-driven judgements but _value-driven_ judgements. I think that for search engines, this will be their 2011 challenge and one the various governments of the world may collectively force them to make through various methods.
Much as searchers expect businesses to be in search, they are also starting to find them within Facebook.
(Answered via Twitter)
the buzzwords will be social (twitter = links etc) but the old stuff will keep working just fine
Smart solutions to leverage links and conversions. Empowering the influencers to spread your message.
Local – We have seen in recent months the local fragmentation of Google. This will mean SEO will become more complex in the way it managed and delivery. Successful campaigns in 2011 will have to operate effectively at a local as well as a national level.
To be honest, I don’t chase the growth areas that much. I stick to ranking in competitive niches for clients and being represented in local verticles, and owning the keywords a client really should be able to own. Not much has changed (for me) in that sense for the last few years, considering all the changes Google has introduced to it’s UI the last year. I’m keeping an eye on social of course – I am really interested (now) in conversion optimisation but I probably need to take a class on it or something. I am even more interested in marketing as a broader subject, than a narrower one in 2011.
Certainly local is going to be a big growth area this year,particularly if you look at the way Google in particular positioned itself towards the latter end of 2010. I would only expect that trend to continue for the early part of 2011. Retargeting is another area where we may see further growth this year, as experience and awareness of this opportunity within paid search increases. Further to that we always include mobile in nearly all of these growth area forecasts but given my first point on local – and new products being talked about such as the Google Newsstand I really think we could see this actually happen this year. However I would suggest we may see vertical search being the biggest growth area in 2011, particularly given the launch of sites like Boutique.com and the impending signoff of the ITA acquisition.
Other parts in the Experts View series:
Q1 : Do you think a viable competitor to Google will emerge in 2011?