January is a great month for reflection on the past 12 months in regards of SEO while gearing up for what’s coming at us in the future. Here at Searchmetrics we’ve been spending some time looking forward and predicting what’s going to happen in 2011 and the big trends that will shape our industry. But before we get too bogged down with what’s coming our way, we wanted to take a look back at 2010 and some of the biggest surprises that we saw on the SEO front.
Google “Mayday” Update
The SEO world was sent into a tail-spin (no pun intended) when between April 28 – May 3rd Google unexpectedly changed its algorithms, causing some sites to lose their long tail search referrals. With some sites reporting a 5%-15% drop in normal long tail traffic, the industry was pushed into a panic mode, speculating as to why Google made the change and how they can get their traffic back. Later that month Google confirmed its algorithm change, stating ”this is an algorithmic change in Google, looking for higher quality sites to surface for long tail queries.” In the end mainly large e-commerce and large content sites were affected, it also brought an interesting development to light when companies noticed that brand names in keyword searches can now possibly outrank website authority.
With blog posts and articles popping up all around screaming “SEO IS DEAD!” it’s safe to say that many people jumped to many conclusions when Google Instant was introduced in September. While the service was basically the same as “Google Suggest,” these implementations pushed to concentrate searches into the heavy battle short head keyword front, giving us, as some put it “search ADD.” Google’s response to the mayhem was simple: they noted that “ranking stays the same” and the algorithm stays the same. However, Google emphasized that behavior may change over time – the kinds of queries you do may change over time. Meaning that while the SEO won’t change, people’s search habits may.
Much to the dismay of the company, SEO news in 2010 wasn’t all about Google. In fact, one of the most interesting developments has been the Facebook/Bing partnership. We’ve talked about our thoughts in detail before but in short, we are still pretty amazed with this development. To us, it seemed that Bing had figured out how to leapfrog right over Google and Yahoo! by building this virtual bridge by linking Facebook directly to Bing. We even predicated that if Facebook/Bing integration is truly successful, it may well push Bing out in front of Yahoo and Google.
While these were game changers for 2010, only time will tell what the final impact will be on the SEO industry. And for that, we will have to look forward to this year!