Experts View 2011: What do you think will be the 3 biggest challenges facing search practitioners in 2011

by Peter Young on January 11, 2011 · 5 comments

2011 is shaping up to be an interesting year, and given some of the early goings on looks set to present search marketers with even more challenges. With comparison ads on the horizon,the expansion of local, social media more and more integrated – what do our experts think will present them the biggest challenges during 2011?

What do you think will be the 3 biggest challenges facing search practitioners in 2011

David Harry

Understanding it all. If there was one thing I learned last year, it was that a large portion of the industry doesn’t think beyond simple on site and throwing a shit load of links at things. As search is evolving, this reliance will prove to be many folks undoing. I have long stressed that SEOs understand how search engines work, their evolutionary history and ‘future proofing’ one’s efforts. There were a TON of changes to search last year and many folks didn’t ‘get it’. We really do need to have a deeper understanding and corresponding strategies in place to best utilize the aforementioned budgets. This is part and parcel to the problems we have as an industry establishing legitimacy. So hmmm…

Ben Bisco

Remarketing/Attribution as detailed above

Paul Reilly:

Google Comparison Ads -with Google blatantly stepping on the toes of it’s biggest spending advertisers! #2 will become the new #1 Watch out flight and insurance aggregators, you’re first on their hit list… you know who you are! ;)

Google places – how do you compete, when power is handed on a plate to the business owners themselves, it’s a new ranking algo which needs to be cracked.

Next years forthcoming algo update. Google seem to be rolling a major algo update yearly, based on historic SERP volatility data. I’m expecting fireworks this year! Bring it on!

Bas van den Beld

  1. Integration
  2. Keeping up with the changes which are going in a rapid speed
  3. Figuring out what users really want

Nichola Stott

Google are getting much better at combating poor SEO practise algorithmically as opposed to manually. Don’t think for a second the search engines don’t know what you’re upto or that your linkfarm is beyond detection. Trust me, I’ve sat on data for six months to a year before whilst evidence is documented and compiled, (and in some sectors applying action algorithmically would wipe out the top 10,000 sites pretty much!) When you have as much data as Google, you can spot a gnat fart in the metrics; so 2011 is going to be a challenge for lazy SEOs. I can’t think of any others. It’s all part of the job really.

Judith Lewis

1) Creating services that businesses understand and want to buy. One thing I have encountered again and again are businesses that don’t understand what search or social media can do for their bottom line. If as an industry we do more education and create services that businesses understand from a bottom line then we’ll succeed

2) Ethics/Standards. I think this is possibly *the* biggest challenge facing the industry in 2011 (and every year). We need standards of practices that we all abide by. We need a code of conduct and an industry body that can call us to account and seriously punish us if we seriously breech those codes. We need to stop acting like a bunch of cowboys and children who scream blue murder when someone tries to impose boundaries on us. We need to stop fearing regulations, qualifications and the like. We also need to start acting with integrity, be transparent, educate our clients and derive a legal torture method for those who being the name of SEO into disrepute. OK… maybe not torture but we need something. As an industry we must STOP playing fast and loose and START creating at least a set of standards. Nothing angers me more than when I hear the stories – you know the ones. £10k practically stolen by someone who did next to nothing. Someone charging for Google Analytics. People soaking clients for money and using threats like drops in rankings if they stop paying. If we’re seen as extortionists because of the behaviour of a few rogue individuals then our industry is as good as lost. If we grow up, collectively grow a pair and set in place some standards and get the IAB or something to help us grow this initiative, we can repair the reputation of the industry, filter out the rogues and be seen as the knowledgeable specialists we are. (wow… OK, rant over!)

3) R&D. I think that’s the best word I have for constant resting and research and development of techniques and information against which things can be measured. We can look to newer industries like advertising to see how they measure, how that industry is understood and use that and other measures to try and create a language we can use to demonstrate value. We will convince business of the value of utilising our expertise if we can also demonstrate measurable value.

Andy Beard

Being paid, measuring results and staying ahead of the curve.

Andy Redfern

The rapid fragmentation of our marketing channels and the birth of new ones are going to be search marketers biggest challenges on 2011; here are three challenging areas to our industry this year

1) Tracking – more fragmentation means more tracking headaches – how can you be sure elements are being measured and allocated correctly.

2) Reputation Management – Online reputation management will become mainstream this year, and will be increasingly seen as a vital aspect of any marketing campaign. Reputation management will involve reviewing more sources of information that in 2010; only clients with a well automated system operated by trained staff will be able to operate effectively

3) Cross Platform support – HTML 5 will allow for a more strategic view of the web creative, to function over multiple platforms. Having the right staff will continue to be essential.

Shaun Anderson

I think running a business, managing personalities, and keeping new clients happy is more difficult than the challenges search throws up but then again I am not crazy enough to keep up with every new craze. I don’t get paid to consult on the latest squeaks from search news hounds, I get paid to change rankings – so that’s where I spend all my time. I think some search practitioners biggest problem is how much time they are going to waste playing with social media toys and instant messaging their mates rather than get on with work – especially less experienced search marketers new to the game in 2011.

Peter Young

Accountability – still too much ‘smoke and mirrors’ in the industry for my liking. In an environment where many other channels are accountable back directly to ROI, I still find myself coming up against smoke and mirrors, intangible metrics of success and a lack of transparancy. SEO clients are far more savvy these days, and expect more from their search services, whether that be SEO or PPC.

The Variable factor. Personalisation and Local both offer significant challenges in themselves, however the continued expansion of Google’s comparison ads can only serve to muddy the waters, particularly if we look at some of their recent tests and trials. Further to this I can’t help thinking its only a matter of time before we see verticals such as travel come under the microscope of Google’s comparison ads

Integration and Attribution – IMO we still have a lot of growing up to do as an industry – and I think those savvy clients mentioned in point 1 are going to start looking more and more at their ROI from search. Deduplication in particular is something so many people forget about with SEO but with more and more tools coming to the market allowing us to get a truly integrated picture, this has to start becoming a mainstray of any SEO campaign.

Will Critchlow

1) Mainstream media articles predicting the impending fall of Google

2) A major leap forward in search innovation both from Google and startups (not sure what this is or I’d be betting my house on it)

3) Facebook buys Quora (you asked for bold ones)

Other parts in the Experts View series:
Q1 : Do you think a viable competitor to Google will emerge in 2011?
Q2 : Where do you think the growth area in search will emerge in 2011?
Q3 : Do you think Social media’s influence on SEO will continue to increase or fade away?
Q4: With many recent figures suggesting a ‘mini-revival’ – do you think 2011 will be a bumper year for search

Google+ Comments

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

JG January 11, 2011 at 9:39 am

1) Creating services that businesses understand and want to buy. – i agree with thie one –

I fell search in an ever changing sphere, and as so we as optimisers have to stay on the curve – but then i see stratification and picking online battles as this years big point.

Know your market, know your site and now your SERP vertical, optimise accordingly and everyone is happy.

Lets see what it holds, thanks for the read


rishil January 11, 2011 at 10:45 am

1) Google Own Properties Jumping the Shark – this is going to be paifull in many top cash rich industries. They are building their own content spots and are aiming for dominating with their own proerties. See some of their rect investments:
2)Continuation of the trend of the growth of the Super Content Farms, such as ehow and Mahalo.
3) More Brand bias, coming soon. If you search for brands, lately you will see that the first 3 or 4 results are from their site. Despite not actively trying for that. Expect more of that.
4) Matt explicitly stated that the Spam team had been busy fighting hackers (!/mattcutts/status/2574830167654400) , hence why they havent attacked webspam as hard as they would have liked. They are ready to restart the battle, expect that to take loads of causalties.

Peter Young January 11, 2011 at 11:08 am

Thanks Rishi

I think this could be a painful year for aggregators in particular – especially if GOogle continue to develop their online presences. Both Paul Reilly and myself suggested we may see further infiltration of these during 2011.

Your final point as well is something I think is worth highlighting. Imo Google has a big job to do this year in order to clean up their index.

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