SEO experts are kept on their toes every time Google, the search giant tweaks the knobs of its search algorithms. This was especially evident in the latter part of 2010 when Google made sweeping changes on factors affecting search results. One in particular wherein relevancy of search results shifted to becoming local and more personalized. In the world of search things don’t stand still very long and 2011 won’t be an exception. So as the saying goes, “The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails,” the constant challenge for SEO engineers is to anticipate and adapt to factors affecting search rankings. Below are the top trends that are expected to influence the SERPs in 2011.

A Keen Eye on Social Media

Social media platform is where the online masses converge and converse. A global interaction where search engines mine a wealth of data which they are now using in their ranking factors. For search marketers to stay ahead of the competition, social media should be tied into the overall SEO strategy. Making sure your website URL is being talked about and passed around in Facebook, Twitter and the likes will make a huge difference in the eyes of the search engines. Build connections that would help develop your brand, increase exposure and credibility.

Personalized Search

Personalized search is here to stay and will only have a bigger impact on SEO this year. It’s a feature both Google and Bing already embraces which delivers customized search results depending on the end-user’s historical search and browsing patterns. This would only mean that search results will become increasingly dynamic and will differ from user to user. The challenge for SEOs is to build the authority of a website. As a website becomes popular and users frequently access it for a given set of search queries, it will likely enjoy better rankings.

The Rise of Bing

Since Yahoo, Cuil and Ask.com folded their search operation last year, Bing had an opportunity to take a big bite from Google’s search dominance. It has become a ‘two search engine’ world. Given Bing is now enjoying a 30% share of the search market, SEO engineers should be optimizing for both Google and Bing if they wish to garner more results for their clients.

Growing Mobile Traffic

The Internet population is experiencing a growing migration to mobile. Having full Internet browsing capabilities, more and more search queries will be made through smart phones. Search engines know that mobile users demand location-relevant information and this is one key factor marketers should not ignore. Having a mobile friendly version of your website that only displays the most relevant information will greatly help in your rankings.

Demand for Video

In the last few years video has become and will continue to be an important marketing tool. End users have gotten used to it and are more likely to click on a video appearing in their search result instead of a plain url listing. Since it is easy to consume and is easy to share it holds a huge potential of traffic sources that would contribute to a website’s ranking. One recent study showed that conversion rates from YouTube are up to 20 percent higher than conversion rates from traditional search engines. As search engines continually improve on ways to deliver relevant and instant search results, the top positions will always be an ever-moving target. SEO engineers should face the facts that optimization in 2011 means that they need to diversify and expand their skills if they are to become better online marketers.

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