SEO ReviewOver the year, many predictions have been made about Search and online marketing. We made many – on twitter and on our blog post and in comments in fora and Google+. Here they are in one place:

1. An end to Press Release SEO

Most of the Google news for SEO is a mountain of spammy press releases. Badly written, of no news value at all and to serve one function – free ‘publicity’ and links. One large company charges $49 for a press release but $200 if it’s to contain a contextual links. Given that there is no editorial – due to the sheer volume of crappy SEO releases or for-seo-purposes. This was an obvious area to clamp down on. True to form, Google were still slow – first indicating that they would be ignored or have little effect before stepping up to point out some potential dangers.

Vocus, who run PR-WEB, were actually running AdWords around the world, seemingly targeting “SEO” related searches. Their network also re-publishes (i.e. duplicates) these press releases on hundreds of sites. As PR-WEB became popular amongst SEO’s, so it’s activities also increased. They’ve now gone and announced a Social Media Authentication trial – based on the grounds of a social media security or validation finger print. It has merit but the lesson is this: If it involves a contextual link free-for-all, a pay-to-play service and no editorial, its bad news. Republishing it on hundreds of copy-cat sites isn’t going to help either.

2. The media and Europe will continue to struggle with Google

Things since the Irish link gate fiasco, things haven’t improved in Europe for Google. The idea is this: In Germany, Google are now going to have to pay German newspapers for sending them traffic. It’s unreal. In France, Google has had to setup a €75mln fund to help France build websites for search engines. You couldn’t make it up. It’s a disaster.

There’s an odd juxtaposition here. Media were essentially Google until the internet developed. And things probably aren’t going to improve. But Google paying to send them traffic – unbelievable.

3. SEO will get more difficult, not easier

SEO isn’t getting easier, its getting harder. And with Penguin and Panda, we’ve seen a lot of spam sites killed. We’d probably like it to go a bit further but here’s what we’re really happy with. For years, we’ve refused to be drawn into link buying and spam. And even though many other companies scaled faster, we knew that the scale was supported by spam – comment spam, article spam, PR spam. There’s no way that a hotel can expand its online media reach for $150 a month but that didn’t stop a slew of companies from offering $150-a-month SEO. Many knew it was spam. Some didn’t. Some SEO companies were really just sales desks for vast operations in places like India, where wages are low and an army of comment spammers can be hired. They probably didn’t know that comment spam is spam. Just like the gazillion e-mails we get daily offering “ethical SEO” from people who didn’t have the ethics to legitimately acquire your e-mail address in the first place.

One company in particular, that didn’t hide its overseas operations (proudly displaying what looked eerily like an SEO sweat-shop on their home page), and enjoyed a high ranking position for most of 2012 has been all but delisted from Google and have dropped hundreds of places. No doubt they’re filing many reconsideration requests – for their clients and themselves – shaking their head wondering why they got delisted. Still running Google AdWords to make up for it – no doubt  business has been severely dented. But when you look at the enormous amount of fake sites, blog spam, comment spam, article spam you can clearly understand why. I just hope they learn too.

4. E-mail marketing is still a giant in Internet Marketing

Yeah. Told you so :)

5. Social Media won’t register as a major sales too

Its marketing/branding stupid. Actually, my position remains unchanged. I like social networking. Where ever people can engage and talk and share, business will happen. In real life, as I can testify from attending hundreds of Open Coffee events, tweets, bizcamps and other business fora, there are people who innovate, who excite and who work together. And then there’s always the transcational type, who gives you a spiel, a business card and moves on to “work the room.” They understand networking to be singular in purpose: to make sales. If you’re not buying, you’re just in their way. And when you translate that into digital cold-calling on twitter, it just looks even more fake, insincere and cringe worthy. Yet it just keeps exploding. Maybe that’s why we love Google+ so much….

6. Fighting spam will be the really big issue

As touched on above, spam will continue to be  a world-class problem. India, for example, doesn’t have any data protection laws. Which is why each day you’re getting sincere spam about software outsourcing. And Nigeria finally passed a 401 scam law after 10 years of debate which has resulted in its name and brand becoming a global joke. Companies that unethically, unfairly and illegal exploit companies overseas – whether they reason it to be legitimate or not – does little for these countries’ reputation except to harm it. When they wake up in a few years to be repulsed by a global digital community, it will be too late.

The idea of Facebook and social security fingerprints being above spam is fundamentally flawed. Yes, I have a Facebook account and it is me. But the idea that spammers can’t build up thousands of realistic fake accounts that look incredibly real?

7. G+ Author profiles will have little effect on SEO

It’s true. Authorank as it’s being drummed up is having little effect on SERPS. Very little. It feeds the ego, its fun but it doesn’t add that much value to the search user

8. SEO and Social Media

The jury’s still out on this one I’m afraid. I’ll maintain and reiterate my point on this: Google+ and Social Links in general COULD have an impact in SERPS but I just don’t see it. As Google have repeated on many occasions: many links are no follow, many more are hidden (secure and private accounts or just can’t be crawled because they’re blocked). With both LinkedIn and Facebook – most links ALL come from one two pages – for example app.php or l.php. So this page, as an exact canon is linking to billions of pages. It’s effect can only be completely nil. But people don’t understand that – they don’t like to think of Google as a machine but some kind of pet, that likes it when you do certain things or has a sort of balanced Karma that smiles kindly on you when you do things that you think it likes.

There’s a reason that Google supported nofollow with Yahoo and Microsoft on social networks. You might think that Facebook really has a billion users and that they’re all really real and that no company in Dublin with 10k likes in India or the Philippines would ever – or could ever buy them. But Google does. As one of our consultants stated, brilliantly – Google is a machine – both in Search and in E-mail –  built to deal with an enormous amount of spam. That’s really what Google does. And it does it brilliantly

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