It’s the time of year when I receive numerous queries about what to expect in 2012 and since somebody already laid claim to “the world will end” I will stick to Internet marketing.
Now this is a tough question to answer since “Internet Marketing” is such an enormous topic, but to appease the masses here are a few random things I would keep my eye on…
1. Google… OMG where do I start?
Whether you like it or not, Google is the single biggest source of buyers for the majority of businesses on the net and their near monopoly and ability to essentially redirect the flow of traffic or shut down an Adwords campaign on a whim, has created a VERY uncertain environment for everyone who relies on Google for traffic.
And their “Don’t Be Evil” mantra is the perfect public relations front for an organization that constantly violates privacy rights, ignores copyright and intellectual property laws and regularly crushes innocent small businesses without the simple courtesy of an explanation (And sending canned emails stating “Review Our Policies…” doesn’t count, Google).
So what can we expect to see from Google in 2012? Well, here’s my take…
- Google will continue to tweak and fine-tune the Panda algorithm which wreaked havoc in 2011 but I think the worst is over. I’m beginning to see the SERPs settle down in most of the competitive categories.
- The quality of the content on your website will continue to become more important as Google continues to refine their algorithms to identify machine generated or mass produced outsourced content.
- Social media will continue to play a bigger role in your search engine rankings. Things to keep a close eye on are Facebook Shares and Google+ (obviously).
- Visitor engagement will continue to play an increasing role. This means keeping your ‘bounce rates’ low and the first fold sticky.
- Link building will continue to be the primary driver for top rankings, but for long term success you need to make sure you maintain a “natural link profile” which simply means NOT having all of your backlinks from one source (i.e. commenting). You need to make sure your link profile is diversified from numerous sources.
- Adwords will continue to become more and more competitive with Google continuing to look for reasons to push the small players from the competitive categories to cut down the number of advertisers, rewarding the big players and cutting down their administration costs.
I could rattle on about Google forever… I haven’t even touched on their anti-trust abuses. But I will leave that for another day.
2. Social Media
Another “Where do I start?” moment. Social media is the new frontier and I felt 2011 was the year that we finally started to figure it out… but we still have a long ways to go.
So in 2012 here is what I expect to see…
- Facebook will continue to dominate and in the world of finance, without a doubt, their IPO will be the highlight of 2012.
- Facebook will continue to refine their advertising platform giving us more ways to profitably reach our customers and giving business ways to sell our products without our customers ever having to leave Facebook.
- Facebook will continue to devise ways to keep users on their platform. Their business model is all about building stickiness, but if you’re looking for something Google is still the ‘go to’ destination for search. When Facebook partnered with Bing this raised a few eyebrows but I really believe Facebook needs to work out a more integrated search engine. Will 2012 be the year? Maybe.
- Twitter is going to be forced to clean up the mess they have become. While they boast enormous numbers second only to Facebook in the social space, these numbers are WAY overblown with a large % of their accounts and tweets being created by bots or simply being inactive. I won’t deny the power Twitter yields when it comes to following trends or instigating revolutions but until they build a real advertising platform and clean up their mess, the benefit to the average business (who will actually pay them real money for advertising) will be negligible.
3. Non-English Speaking Markets Are Hot.
With the fierce competition in English speaking markets we will see more and more businesses using translation services to reach non-English speaking customers. The cost of advertising is far lower and the audience more receptive… sounds good to me!
4. Affiliate Marketing – It Ain’t What It Used To Be.
- Over the past 2 years I have continued to watch Google penalize affiliate marketers and in many cases I can’t blame them. The Internet is littered with thin affiliate sites that are nothing more than crappy content driven by software generated backlinks. This means that if you want an affiliate website to rank well organically you will actually need to create some real original content that actually adds value to the sales process.
- Affiliate sites will continue to be booted out of Adwords on a regular basis with little or no recourse for re-inclusion, effectively killing one of the biggest sources of traffic for affiliate marketers. Google claims they’re not ‘anti-affiliate’ but their actions of the past year would really indicate otherwise.
So that’s it for now… I will share some more this week when I have some spare time on my flight to the Affiliate Summit in Las Vegas.
Do you have any predictions you want to share? I would love to hear them. Feel free to post them in the comments section below.
Happy New Year!