1. Google + (formerly places) will continue to be a pain point.
When Google partially decommissioned its places offering in May 2012 search marketers familiar with the offering crossed their fingers and hoped for the best. The integration was a fairly obvious experiment to force businesses into becoming more social within the G+ ecosystem (of which the success is yet to be determined). While the previous version of Places was notoriously buggy the new Google+ iteration has also seen glitches which include: unverified profiles displacing owner verified listings, the mashing together of disparate data sources, patchy review retention and migration, unclear data citations and a general lack of ease around location removals and management. These issues will likely see the average business owner or marketer struggle to get their Google+ for business strategy in order. This is a shame as Google+ is a critical component of all successful local search strategies.
2. Smart multichannel businesses will capitalise on local opportunities.
In line with the above commentary, local search opportunities continue to grow exponentially within Australia partially due to the inexorable rise of mobile. This provides significant opportunities for businesses to leverage the one asset that pure play online competitors don’t have - physical locations. Over the past four years we’ve helped a number of clients grow and maintain local traffic streams through tactics like restructuring and optimising store locaters, optimising Google+ listings and cleaning up and consolidating secondary data sources. Our pick is that the race for local real estate traffic will only heat up in 2013 and may be further accelerated by Facebooks recent foray into local search.
3. Product Listing ads will push increasing numbers of businesses to dig into structured data led marketing tactics.
Prior to the launch of Google Product Listing Ads (PLA’s), marketers wanting to efficiently target product SKU level paid search traffic at scale were reliant on either developing their own in-house feed system or licensing more robust options like Kenshoo’s RTC product (Disclosure: Salmat Digital licenses Kenshoo’s digital marketing software). To a certain degree the introduction of PLA’s has democratised the ability for e-commerce enabled businesses of all sizes to (relatively) easily to publish product SKU level ads to AdWords. Our pick is that PLA’s will open the eyes of marketers to the power of structured data and likely popularise the tactic much like Google’s remarketing product did for the retargeting category.
4. Re-targeting will continue to grow in adoption and sophistication.
Retargeting is now a firmly established tactic with most Australian search marketers. Our pick is that alternative retargeting offerings to Google will capture a larger slice of the Australian display market as advertisers become more comfortable with the concept and experience firsthand the potential ROI on offer.
5. “Safe” link building options will be the tactic du’jour.
Anyone in SEO will remember 2012 as the year of Google’s Penguin update targeting link quality (along with the rolling content focused Panda updates). The fallout from these updates is that poor quality link sources can hurt a sites organic ranking. The rub is that inbound links (and associated metrics) are still likely the number one determinant of who triumphs in competitive search results. This environment has seen the push to perceived “safe” content lead link building options like infographics, outreach, guest blog posts and bigger viral content pieces. Our take is that while publishing quality targeted content should be viewed as a mandatory and integral component of any long term SEO strategy other tactics shouldn’t be discounted outright without testing.
6. Negative SEO will grow as a trend.
2012 was also the year that negative SEO became a relatively mainstream concept (within the search world). Essentially Google’s push to punish sites based on the intent behind their backlink profile has opened up the ability to get a site penalised with unscrupulous link bombing. While there have been a number of negative SEO examples purported globally our search team has only seen one example in the wild in Australia. Our pick is that while Google continues to actively penalise a sites rankings (rather than dampen or discount link sources) negative SEO can occur. Given the value of organic traffic this trend will likely continue to grow in Australia.
Note: The Salmat Digital search team doesn’t advocate, endorse or engage in negative SEO.
7. More Australian organisations will grasp the importance of becoming publishers.
2012 saw the concept of "content marketing" (along with inbound marketing) gain significant velocity within the search and broader online marketing community.
Our pick is that to win online in 2013 and the coming years Aussie businesses need to seriously treat content development, publishing and promotion like any other marketing discipline. Ideally organisations will be targeting content at core audience personas with an aim of engaging potential customers throughout the buying process.
From a search marketing perspective integrating SEO, UX, content and social can be extremely effective as pieces can be leveraged for offsite promotion (think link attraction / link sources with a barrier to entry for competitors). What successful content marketing looks like will vary from client to client but may include tactics like: blogging, infographics / data driven pieces, how to guides, whitepapers, online videos, widgets, podcasts, lists etc. Content marketing examples we like include:
- The Nextness (STW group blog) approach to content curation
- Metro Trains hugely successful dumb ways to die video
- Blendtec’s “Will it Blend” video series
- Mrsupplements text and video content targeting bodybuiding enthusiasts.
- SEOMoz’s Mozcast “weather report”
8. Authorship gains momentum.
One of the upsides of the Google+ rollout has been the ability for publishers to link content back to the authors G+ profile with authorship markup. The benefit for search marketers is that once content is tagged authors will be able to develop “authorship rank” and any content published may pick up an additional snippet in the search results likely boosting click through rates and traffic. The benefit for Google is that if enough publishers jump on board Google will be able to develop a significant corpus of data and potentially be better able to determine topical authority and relevance from alternate signals to inbound links. Our pick is that we will all start to see more headshots in the Australian search results as sites adopt authorship markup.
So that’s our pick of the emerging trends for 2013, please let us know if there’s anything that we’ve missed and you think warrants a mention via Facebook.
Find out more about Salmat's search offering here or call us on 1300 725 628.