When it comes to making predictions, no-one has an infallible magic crystal ball. But here at ClickThrough, we’ve got Senior SEO Account Exec, Martyna Sroka – our very own Mystic (Marketing) Meg.

She’s gazed into the future of SEO and drawn some conclusions about the industry in 2012.

Of course, nobody can predict for certain what Google, Yahoo! or Microsoft have up their sleeves. But Martyna’s run the risk of embarrassment in 12 months’ time, and put together a list of her predictions for the coming year. We’ll be back in 2013 to mock her if she gets any of these wrong.

  • SEO in 2012 needs to be supported by a strong social media marketing strategy with an increasing focus on Google+. We’ll see more big businesses adopting heavily-optimised Brand Pages on the young social network, and there’ll also be further socialisation of Google’s search results – for example, when Google+ users input a search query, they’ll see relevant ‘likes’ and recommendations from other users in their circles
  • Top-quality, unique content will still be a high priority for Google, which has long spoken of the virtues of original, readable content. Search engine results will skew further in this direction as improved and updated Google Panda algorithms will increasingly penalize websites which use duplicated content
  • It will be harder to get noticed in search engine results because Google will take up more and more space on the SERP’s with search tools of its own such as Google Hotel Finder or Google Flight Finder, which appear directly below the search box and offer targeted links above organic search results. These search improvements are great news for users, but less positive for online business owners who have put many hours of work into attaining a top-five position in Google’s SERPs
  • Google may try to earn more by allowing webmasters to pay for access to encrypted data.  Currently, Google Analytics only displays keyword data taken from users who are logged out when they make their search – keyword data from logged in users is listed as ‘(not provided)’. Marketers who wish to analyse this hidden data will need to pay to gain access to the full picture. Measuring performance of websites using Analytics (or another analytics tool) will be increasingly difficult when cookie compliance law is enforced
  • SEOs will need to pay more attention to the site mark-up and site code. Google will probably pay more attention to the mark-up standards outlined at schema.org – announced by Google in collaboration with Yahoo! and Bing in June 2011. As search algorithms across top search engines become more and more complex, crawlability will have to be improved. Using extensible schemas such as those detailed at schema.org will – hopefully – make the transition into a fully marked-up future a little smoother.
  • Mobile optimisation, and mobile marketing will be more important than ever because an increasing number of users are carrying out searches on these devices. As sites are further optimised towards mobiles, we should see more HTML5 and less Flash content – following Adobe’s decision to withdraw flash support for mobiles in late 2011
  • Enhanced PPC listings have already been rolled out by Google. For example, when looking for a Delonghi kettle, much of the space on the SERP is taken up by PPC ads which – in some instances – include seller rating, reviews or price comparison information. These detailed ads push organic results to the bottom of the page – bad news for those who rely on organic results to bring in hits. Eager to meet its earnings expectations and deliver the best possible user experience, Google will continue to improve these listings, further affecting CTR from organic search results

Do you agree with Martyna’s predictions for 2012? Get in touch and let us know your thoughts!

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About the author:

John Newton has 14 years of strategic marketing experience across Online Display, Search Marketing and TV and Outdoor Advertising, in companies which include Yahoo!, ITV and TNS Global. John has written on blog monetisation for Web Designer magazine and was the editor of ClickThrough’s two books. John is a CIM Chartered Marketer.