Grant Whiteside, Amber Green
Social signals will contribute toward search visibility even more than they do now. Run of site links will be even less effective. Directories will provide even less value. Google + will grow but will be over weighted by google as they incentivize brands and consumers to use it. It will also influence ppc quality scores. No one will really like it, but have to use it. More users will have to use the SSL version of Google, incentivizing even more people to use PPC.
Neil Walker, SEO Mad
I think link building will get the biggest reform as well as cookie free analytics, Google still cannot clamp down on private networks and they have tried to put more emphasis on brand and natural link profiles which I can only see the use of plus one and Google local to help to make websites more official and gain more trust, however this can still all be manipulated, I do think that distinguishing between paid and un paid search will become harder and harder.
Neil Pursey, Web Growth
In 2012 we going to see a lot of attention paid to Google + for business and because it's Google businesses will need to be a part of the platform. This will mean that consumers will follow. I do see Google tieing Google Maps and Google + together, so that your Google Maps profile page becomes a feed of news, status updates and customer care. Facebook will still continue to play a major roll in the next 2 years but Google + will take a large chunk of their market share. Because links are becoming more spammy, I do feel that user experience will also start playing a larger role in SEO. Incoming links will still be important, however social media and user experience will just close that gap and spread the importance more equally in a proverbial pie chart.
Barry Schwartz, Rusty Brick/ SMX
Social factors will increase. Google and Microsoft will remain dominate in the space. I think Bing won't gain much more share in 2012. Google will play up ads and content position as a ranking factor in 2012. More SEO tools will come out and that business will continue to grow. SEO and PPC spending will continue to rise.
Sam Crocker, samuelcrocker.com
For me I think the thing to keep an eye on in 2012-13 (certainly in the UK) is what will happen with the ICO/EU and their concerns with tracking users and cookie data. This has the potential to really shake up the entire online marketing industry more than any other single factor in my opinion. It will greatly decrease accountability (from current levels) and is a big concern for me.
In terms of the landscape and so forth, I would look for Google+ to become an increasingly large focus of most SEO agencies – and I think Google+ will have some massive changes over the next year. I think we’ll probably see Google+ Business pages fully integrate or absorb a large portion of the “Places” scene, integrate with shopping, mobile and potentially even Google wallet. I still think that Google+ are going to struggle to get their user base up but I think they have some *actual* game changing plans up their sleeves (and I don’t use this term lightly).
Clients will probably have a pretty frustrating year (in the UK) because so many of them are now finally switched on to what works in the online marketing space and how to hold their agencies to account. We’re pretty much going to have to go back to the days of old and dig around server logs (and still have less data) and/or report in much more general terms about exposure (more similarly to TV/Radio folks).
In terms of technology, I think we’ll move a lot closer to the “holy grail” of tools that will dynamically change and optimise websites. I don’t think this sort of tool will be available to the public in the next year but I can almost guarantee a start-up or two and an agency or two developing technology that does this to a decent standard.
Shaun Anderson, Hobo-web
I can only speculate Facebook and Twitter will take off 🙂 Facebook might take on Google search – I know I will be spending much more time actually using Facebook to promote sites. Google will lose share to Bing. Google+ will fail to capture the Facebook core of users that actually make it profitable. Like the war on drugs – it's proved impossible for Google to foil the spammers so they will continue to try and crowd them out with brands and it's own pages and changes to it's GUI. Underneath the hood – I don't think a lot changes – apart from sites Google finds 'undesirable'. That seems to be how Google targets better serps these days and I can see that picking up pace. Google will continue to squeeze organic results space, and push more people to click on advertisers links. SEO will need to diversify – but that's been the case year on year. I think it's safe to say you'll need to build better sites – I know we are definitely going down this route.
Steve Lock, Analyticsseo (iseo)
I believe anchor text has to become less of a ranking factor and would be surprised if exact match domains are still helping sites as much. Social signals will inevitably increase and could well become as important as links.
Google will aggressively try to monetize their services and I can imagine all of their APIs becoming increasingly more restrictive. Google Analytics could well go the same way as Google AdWords with a large number of API keys revoked next year.
SEOs will be forced to become more and more holistic including covering CRO, editorial strategies, web design, social media, analytics and support for fully integrated digital campaigns. Currently the best SEOs I know concentrate on delivering recommendations that touch many different aspects of digital marketing and business objectives.
Will Critchlow, Distilled
Heavy integration of G+ into the rest of Google. I believe they may have cracked it with G+. I'm seeing private networks spring up through circles etc and I think that is the feature that's been missing from Twitter and Facebook.
Increasing integration of online marketing channels and need to reconcile the paid and earned efforts.
Some consolidation of SEO firms. There's a gap in the market at the moment between companies the size of us, SEER etc and the Hearst medias of this world.
Tom Critchlow, Distilled
The social influence will be huge, as will the advances in technology like Siri that enable people to search in ways that we’re not even thinking about right now.
Paul Rogers, GPMD
I think that Google Plus will become more important and prominent in the results pages of Google and I also expect it, along with the other mainstream social networking sites, to become a more important part of the ranking algorithm.
I also believe that the local algorithm will improve, with reviews from different people carrying more or less weight than others – with personalisation becoming far more important. I am also expecting for the weight of actual reviews to be taken into consideration instead of just the number of reviews being looked at.
I also anticipate product results being driven by reviews in the future, much like the local rankings.
We have to adapt campaigns and optimization based more on segmentation, scenarios and differentiated stages of the users buying process. Knowing that it takes 6 touch points to reach first contact, it is clear that we have to be able to map down all stages in a potential customers buying process, and indeed the period after buying as well especially because satisfied customers with an online identity are all potential link providers, affiliates and brand builders.
We have to decide which messages we want to deliver via which channels on every single step of the buying process. This means that we have to be able to find ways to create ads and campaigns that could use for instance sets of 3 to 6 ads over time that follows the mindset of the “maturing customer”.
The ability to time the right messages and serve the selling call to action ads and content only gets more and more important.
The finger spitzgefühl of an old insurance salesman and a sociologist will become more valuable than the need-driven marketing professional. Combining this with the Analysts ability to track users and use different means of re-targeting services makes it clear that an automated services has a great future.
Professionals being able to handle data, work with it, draw the right conclusions and present it in easy to understand and actionable analysis for the executives, will become more valuable and sought after.
Being able to foresee future tides by understanding the historical data will be a more appreciated skill. Data driven Marketing is the future, but still we must not forget that people yearn for great stories, adventures and surprises.