What’s Going to be Big for SEO in 2011?
I know we are only at the start of December but 2011 is looming and if this month passes as fast as the previous 11 it will be on us before we realise. On reflection 2010 has been a pretty big year for Google – we have had Caffeine and the May Day update, changes to local search and Google Page Previews…and if you try and stay up to date with all the tweaks to Google Maps, Earth, Gmail, YouTube and the million other Google products, I tip my hat.
By Wayne Barker
So what is going to be big for SEO in 2011? In my opinion two of the biggest changes that have occurred this year were the changes to Google Places and the Google Page Previews. If you are unaware of what these are then I suggest you continue to read. If you are already familiar with the changes you need to make sure you are one step ahead of the crowd and get your thinking caps on.
The changes to Google Places
One day it was all fine and the next…Google made a massive change to the way they return the search results for location specific queries. It was a massive change and if you haven’t already it is time to start thinking about how you carry out your local SEO.
There were three major way in which the search results changed:
- The map for the old 7 or 10 pack jumped over to the right and started to scroll down the screen as you did (most of the time anyway – it looks like this may be dependent on screen resolution)
- If you had good organic SEO (and if it was locally good organic SEO that was a plus) we started to see blended results in the search engine results
- We started to see extra information in these blended results, this included addresses, photos, reviews and a link to your Google Places page
This was a huge leap for Google (and as normal panicky SEOs, well, panicked) but there are some steps that you should take if you have any localised search queries for your site. So for 2011 it is time to get local:
- If you haven’t yet (if not, why not?) claim your Google Place page listing and get it verified via a quick phone call.
- Optimise your Google Place page – you need to make sure it is 100% complete (include photo, video and the oft missed extra services section at the bottom)
- Make sure your Places page has both a localised telephone number and address – you are not going to rank without them.
- Make sure you have local signals in your organic SEO (the usual places – Title Tags, Meta Descriptions, Alt Tags, Headings, Copy)
- Get your address and LOCAL telephone number in the footer of every page. If you have freephone or toll free numbers hide them in an image.
- Make sure your Google Places pages have relevant categories – i.e. make sure that you choose two that Google recognises.
- If you aren’t already get featured in local directories, try and get mentioned on the site of the local newspaper or government (and a link would be nice)
- Actively seek out reviews from customer and point them towards the big review sites like yelp, tripadvisor or the ones that are relevant to your business.
- Get on the sites that provide local data to Google.
Exhausted with the local stuff? It isn’t over yet! A lesser change that recently happened in Google that I feel is worthy of mention is the recent addition of the Google Page Preview. It could turn out to be another game changer for 2011.
Google Pages Preview
You may have noticed a little magnifying glass appearing next to the search results, you guys in the US saw this before us in old blighty (you always do!) Well hovering over the little magnifying glass will give you a nice big preview of the page before you even visit the site – which is great, or is it.
If you think about it from an SEO point of view, now the searcher has an extra factor to consider before visiting your site. Before if you had your content right and the SEO right you could get onto the first page (maybe!). If you had a compelling Meta Description that backed up the content and the SEO then maybe you could further encourage people to click.
Now they get to see what the site looks like before they choose to click through to your site. We all love to say that beauty and aesthetics don’t influence our decisions that much but who are we kidding Design should not be a strong part of your SEO plan. Simple colours, appealing design – the box isn’t that big so you need to keep it simple to attract and pull searchers in. At the end of the day if a searcher isn’t convinced by the title and description of the search results the design could be a massive deal breaker.
It’s worth thinking hard about.
|Wayne Barker works for Hallam, an Internet Marketing and SEO company from Nottingham, England. They deal with clients all of the UK delivering bespoke training, PPC campaigns, search engine optimisation and consultancy.|
This article is an original post from The Web Optimist – SEO in The Desert.
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