Planning for changes we don’t know will happen is a huge part of Project Management here at Blizzard. One of the constants in the online marketing world is change. Sometimes subtle, sometimes drastic…a search engine algorithm change can either bounce you into the top 5, or drop you out of the top 20.
Being prepared to change tactics and looking ahead to what tactics might or might not have an effect on your online presence is a huge part of staying ahead of the competition.
What’s Coming in 2011
UI vs. Top 10
Rankings, while still important for visibility, continue to send only part of the signal when it comes to authoritative websites. The real measure is how useful the top rankings are. We will continue to see more UI (user interface) factors weigh in the ranking algorithms.
With more and more websites being dependent upon Google for traffic, and Google properties for traffic & reporting (Webmaster Tools, Analytics, AdWords, etc,) we will see factors continue to come out that support the user’s experience on your website. 2011 should be the year of User Testing and A/B Testing. It makes sense to spend time to better-convert visitors you’re already getting.
Better Rankings + More Traffic doesn’t always equal more money – don’t flush money down the drain with a poor user experience.
Google turned the world of those who watch top 10 rankings on its rear recently by pulling local data into organic data for many queries. Because travel-based businesses are all dependent upon geographical queries – this was especially evident in searches for terms such as “Myrtle Beach vacation rentals” or “Outer Banks Rentals.”
Making sure your local listings are claimed, updated, and supported with web mentions, reviews and other local ranking factors is KEY to being included. You can’t afford to ignore these any longer, the local within organic is here to stay – in what form, we’re not sure yet, but Google will soon figure it out.
This may sound a bit “broken record” like – but continuing to build and cultivate great, relevant, and authoritative links will help you with ranking, and with strong presence socially. The more people that can find, like, and read your content – the more likely it is to be shared socially. Links are still a major ranking factor that can’t be ignored, mainly because most sites never will have enough strong links – and sites with more than 100 pages need even MORE links to make those deep 4th or 5th tier pages rank well.
Recent articles have stated that it’s very likely we’ll see social signals becoming more prominent as factors in the ranking algorithm. A recent article at SearchEngineLand.com outlined how Bing and Google currently use and see social signals in search – and what significance factors currently play. The highlights are:
- Bing and Google both use how many “Retweets” or “References” an article or piece of content has in Twitter. Bing indicates they also look at how many people the “Poster” follows, and how many people follow that poster – so the size of your network and the network of others mentioning your content is important. Google indicates they use Retweets and References in both their News and Organic Search rankings.
- Bing and Google both calculate and use the “authority” of the person who tweets a piece of content. They look at the quality of their signal.
- Bing and Google both calculate Author Authority and links that are tweeted or shared by an authoritative “Tweeter” or “Facebooker” carry more weight than those with very spammy or think signals.
- Bing and Google both look at shared links in Facebook – and treat them the same as they do Tweeted links.
- Bing does NOT calculate the authority of someone on Facebook – they only have access to the public data. Google indicates they treat Facebook users the same as Twitter users – I interpret this to mean they DO calculate the authority of someone’s Facebook profile.
Being prepared for change is key to taking advantage of it. While we do like to create and market along with a marketing plan, being ready to amend that plan at the drop of a hat is the secret to taking advantage of change.
Take your marketing to the next level in 2011 by being aware and prepared for the possibility that things might not be the same tomorrow as they are today.