Guestpost Julie Joyce: 2010: The Year of the Little Guy
If you have one SEO Chick writing for you you are hooked and you want more :). With Lisa Myers already on board of our team and with the interviews we did with the new SEO Chicks already done, Julie Joyce was someone who could not miss in this series. She is an excellent writer and proves so in this series!
She is already a regular contributor to sites like SEO-Chicks, Search Engine Land, Search Marketing Gurus, and Search Engine Journal and therefore knows how to write. In her guestpost she hits some things right on the head. I so agree with some of the things she says!
2010: The Year of the Little Guy
Let me begin by saying that I'm a small business owner. Thus, I'm extremely interested in helping small businesses do well on the web (in spite of the fact that most of my clients are NOT small businesses!) The economy has soured, more people are becoming interested in buying locally and supporting someone other than a massive corporation, and I fully expect that small businesses are going to get their due this coming year. With that being said, here are my expectations for what will happen in search in 2010.
The number one danger to small business right now is the ineffective practitioner. I'd really like to see the crop of online marketing snake oil salesmen get their due and be recognized for the unprofessional and dangerous people that they are. I'm tired of dealing with clients who tell me horror stories of paying thousands of dollars to people that I've never heard of and getting no results of which to speak. I'm also tired of big names who are simply that, with nothing of value to put forth while they sit back and rake in consulting dollars without actually doing anything. I have no desire to debate ethics of marketing but I'd like to see more people giving their clients results and being honest about risk and ROI. I expect that as consumers become more educated about online marketing, many of these shysters will simply fade away.
Sites like Top Table will become more valuable as people want a nice portal they can trust for local restaurant bookings, just to give you one example. Our most requested service at my agency currently is help with doing well in local search, so I fully expect this to be a serious area for growth this year. It's often one of the last considerations for marketing, oddly, but it's one that I think is getting more important every day.
Real Time Search and Personalized Search
Two notable changes to search occurred towards the end of 2009, and I expect that we'll continue to rant, rave, and speculate (erroneously, many times) about exactly what effects will play out as we head into 2010. Real time search and personalized search were the topics of tons of blog posts and articles as we struggled to understand how these changes would affect the rankings for our sites. With real time search especially, I imagine that we'll see more people doing testing, since now that we can see results quite quickly, more people may actually be interested in seeing if what they think will work will in fact work. The downside is that we may be seeing people publishing information about what they've seen work on a very short-term basis, which could do more harm than good. When a few people started testing to see if their tweets would appear immediately for various keywords, someone concluded, with lots of other chiming in, that you wouldn't rank for your real name for your tweets unless you were a well-known SEO. That didn't turn out to be the case, but it did prove how quickly false truths can spread, faster than ever before with our newfound reliance upon social media.
Social Media and the Rules of Engagement
As much as I do enjoy using and benefitting from social media, I've always hated that it's given loads of idiots a very loud voice. I've previously been concerned with link noise, but the noise from social media is much worse for me. I'm definitely guilty of adding to the noise with my tweets asking if I'm the only one who thinks Phil Oakey is hot, of course, but I'm going to really try much harder not to say things just to be saying them in 2010. I used to view it as keeping myself out there, but now I realize that it's just gumming up the works. It's nice to engage and be personal and funny, to get into fun little 140 character debates and get something out of it, but I think that many people could stand to learn to use platforms like Twitter in a more effective manner that actually would add something to their industry.
Basically, I expect that we'll see more companies, especially small businesses, becoming more engaged with their customers on the web. With almost anyone able to jump onto the web in seconds and establish a presence, in order to compete, many companies will simply have to begin dialoging with their target demographic. Consumers continue to ask "why YOU?" as their make their buying choices, and companies need to be prepared to answer this question if they want to remain in favor, and in business.
I really hate it when people discount good links on a good blog, because I think that many bloggers are exceptionally passionate voices in their niche. If you're looking for quality traffic, a well-placed blog link can easily send you tons of relevant visitors. I expect that at some point, people (and Google) will wake up to the importance of blog links. We've changed how we procure links as a result of the potential of having blogroll links discounted, or even ignored, but I really and truly hope that no other further discounts will be seen from in-context blog links.
Back to Basics
On our SEO Chicks blog, Lisa Myers has started a new SEO 101 series in which we all try to get basic and clear information out to people who are trying to learn how to work in the industry. There's no much bullshit out there right now, if you weren't very well versed in SEO over the past few years, you may not understand how to find accurate information, so I think we'll be seeing more basic posts and articles in 2010. I'm a firm believer that if you understand SEO basics, have a decent brain, and aren't a cretin of a human being, you can actually make a nice living doing SEO. If you're new and you dive in without taking the time to discover the basics, though, I don't expect you to last in the field unless you become very adept at scamming people. Just as we've seen loads of people pop up out of nowhere proclaiming themselves experts in the field of SEO, I think that we'll see more people calling them out on that in 2010, and hopefully quieting them down.
I imagine that Bing will continue to gain more ground, but personally, I have no plans to use it. I'll go to my grave bitching and moaning about Google while still using it religiously. I'm honestly a bit scared to think how Google will react to this competition and how they'll go about making their own engine "better" though. Just as we saw the recent Tiger Woods scandal in which his career and personal life seems to have fallen apart a bit, I don't expect that Google will always be number one in the public's eye. People, regular people and not all of us SEOs, actually do dislike Google for the simple fact that they're the big boy. Whether it is rational or not, when the economy isn't so great and people make less money than they did 2 years ago, they don't enjoy dealing with monopolies. Bing probably is the closest thing we've seen to a proper competitor for Google, so it will be really interesting to see how it plays out in 2010.
...and that's about it! Here's hoping that 2010 will benefit the industry as a whole. I'd like to thank the Search Cowboys for asking for my opinion and giving me a nice chance to actually think about something other than links for a change. That was one of the best bits of the season. Happy New Year!
"Julie Joyce is the co-founder and Director of Operations of the link building agency Link Fish Media, Inc., headquartered in Greensboro, NC. Working in IT since 2000 and SEO since 2002, her current focus is on working with clients in ultra-competitive markets around the world"
Julie can be found:
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