In January, Rand Fishkin of SEOmoz posted his list of 8 SEO Predictions for 2012. We're certainly fans of Rand and the folks at SEOmoz, but like anyone trying to predict the future - not everything will be right. The SEO team thought it would be fun to comment on how well these predictions will play out in the future. We had 3 members of our SEO team react to the predictions and offer their opinions on where things might be right or wrong.

Our SEO Contributors


Jeff Sauer - VP of InteractiveJeff Sauer - VP of Interactive Manos Kalaitzakis - SEO ManagerManos Kalaitzakis - SEO Manager Alex Pokorny - SEO SpecialistAlex Pokorny - SEO Specialist

SEO Prediction #1: Bing Will Have a Slight Increase in US Marketshare, but remain <20% to Google's 80%+

Alex - Agree (1) – Even with only 20% of the market, there is a different demographic for Bing and Yahoo then Google. It is still worth looking into to ensure that our practices align with those search engines, especially when the product is aligned to their demographics. Many sites rank well in Google and not at all in Bing/Yahoo. There is still some work to be done to pick up that traffic.

Jeff - Neutral (0) - Not sure I believe the Google 80% plus number in the first place, so I am neutral here. I think that the predictions of Bing/Yahoo having 30% share of searches seem more accurate and that the numbers Rand uses are referring to actual traffic driven and not market share of searches.

Manos - Neutral (0) – Nothing really changes as far as I am concerned. I was always under the impression that it was 70-30, but I can see Google gaining more market share with Google+. It might worth looking at our own data and figuring out where those percentages really fall.


SEO Prediction #2: SEO Without Social Media Will Become a Relic of the Past

Jeff - Strongly Agree (2) - All reports from people at Google are that Larry Page said you are onboard with social (and particularly Google+) or you are out at Google. Leads me to believe that they are making some pretty serious bets here. The results definitely show this, especially with the launch of search plus your world

Alex - Agree (1) – While not a big believer in social media, as the links are mostly nofollow (removing most of the SEO value), there have still been examples of sites being indexed with only social links. Therefore, the search engines are taking social into consideration. If we work on projects that involve a QDF event, then social and PR is huge. I also think that Google really wants social data, so the importance will grow.

Manos - Neutral (0) – As I mentioned before I am not a big believer. This same message has been around for the past 4 years and yet, you can still do SEO without social. Having said that, as Internet Marketing professionals we need to be targeting the entire spectrum of services and social is part of it.


SEO Prediction #3: Google Will Finally Take Stronger, Panda-Style Action Against Manipulative Link Spam

Jeff - Neutral (0) - This seems too difficult to gauge, so not sure how we will know. Panda was obvious in hindsight because it made their results lower quality for the searcher. Link Spam may also do this as well, but it's harder to detect.

Manos - Neutral (0) – Nothing new again. They have taken action (almost a full year now since Panda was first rolled out) and they will get better at detecting spam. That’s a given. Is manipulative link spam going away? Not by long shot. Any weak spot in the algorithm will be exploited. :)

Alex - Neutral (0) – No kidding, Google is anti-spam? No way.

… In all actuality, it matters more if Google is actually acting on this, and to what extent. Search ‘Viagra’ sometime, my personal favorite SERP. Its full of spam and hacked sites that stay for days. Currently the 2nd page has 3 hacked .edu sites. Seriously, if Google can’t clean up the most used example of spam, I don’t really think they are working that hard on it.


SEO Prediction #4: Pinterest Will Break into the Mainstream

All three - Strongly Agree (2) - it's already mainstream!

SEO Prediction #5: Overly Aggressive Search Ads Will Result in Mainstream Backlash Against Google

Alex - Disagree (-1) – If people find irrelevant results to their terms, sure they will be annoyed. But a mix of quality score and better results will push Google’s results back into alignment. It may be from changing the color of the paid ads back to a darker shade, or just working on the algorithm. In either case, what Jeff said is true, people want information quickly. Paid or not, I doubt most people care that much.

Manos - Strongly Disagree (-2) – Our industry complains about what Google does in order to increase their bottom line. All you have to do is follow SEO Book. Every other person that has never heard of SEO, PPC or any other industry term could care less. I am sure that every now and then Google will be some bad press, but then again, nothing will change in a major way.

Jeff - Strongly Disagree (-2) - Mainstream doesn't care about less organic results above the fold. They want information and one could argue that products and prices higher on the page so they can find what they need faster. This achieves that desired behavior. It's a pain in the ass for SEO's, but I would argue it's better for the user to have more information, quicker. It would be great if they actually consistently applied for products in the SERP, though. It is very inconsistent and unfair to a website that isn't a big AdWords advertiser.

SEO Prediction #6: Keyword (Not Provided) Will Rise to 25%+ of Web Searchers

Manos - Strongly Agree (2) – Already over 25%. The more Internet savvy a site’s audience is, the higher the number.

Jeff - Strongly Agree (2) - It's already > 25% in some cases! That said, I predicted in October that (Not Provided) would be repealed by Google within a few weeks. That obviously hasn't happened, so it may be here to stay. Hypocritical that you can get this data for PPC, but not Organic search because of "privacy" reasons. Overall, Not Provided wouldn't even be an issue if Google Webmaster Tools' metrics weren't so horrible. How is the average position for your brand name 7 when you are always #1 with sitelinks?

Alex - Strongly Agree (2) – Android my friends. All Android users are logged in 100% of the time. And mobile is rising. Even without, I totally agree with Manos and Jeff, the numbers are already at 25%



SEO Prediction #7: We'll See the Rise of a Serious Certification Program

Manos - Neutral (0) – From a marketing perspective, this makes sense, but I don’t know how a certification program will affect an Internet Marketer’s someone’s career development. It’s just theory without practice, especially for SEO. For entry level candidates, it might be a good tool to show a prospective employer that someone knows the basics and is seriously interested in a career in this industry, but for experienced professionals, it makes no difference in my opinion.

Jeff - Disagree (-1) - Doubtful that this will happen. There are flaws in each of the programs and it seems like every online marketing program needs to be driven by the software vendor. Since there isn't a vendor in SEO, I just don't see it happening. I'd say it's more likely that SEOMoz themselves get a certification program to be taken seriously before the incumbents.

Alex - Disagree (-1) – The industry needs it badly. But I don’t think the industry will accept it. Awhile back, there was a guy who tried to create a SEO Certification program. It resulted in a huge backlash from the industry. Then again with a guy who did a SEO evaluation service. Major backlash again. I think we will be swatting lil SEO flies, showing clients how they have been deceived for years to come.


SEO Prediction #8: Google Will Make it Very Hard to Do Great SEO Without Using Google+

Jeff - Strongly Agree (+2) - I think that this is already in the works. Google+ is given a disproportionate weight in rankings already and this will only get more prominent as they push their platform. Now if they could only produce a damn desktop client for Google+, I might actually use it.

Manos - Agree (1) – It is unavoidable. Might as well create a Google+ presence in case they decide to use all that data in large scale and not just drop the project altogether after a while. What can I say, I am a skeptic.

Alex - Agree (1) – I’m with Manos on this, I don’t fully buy into any +1 program, whether it be number of Facebook likes, Twitter shares, Sphinns, or +1s. Less than a week after Google+ was live, there were deals online for to buy 100 +1’s for ~$50. It is a spammer’s paradise. And there are programs to make the spam profiles look real. I can’t see this actually working without spam taking a heavy toll.

Oh and SEOMoz really needs to stop screaming about their social correlation data. Causation vs. correlation. If the website already ranks high, then yes, it’s more likely to have social shares. I truly doubt it’s the other way around. Now, true social (non-spam) with personalization results, that will have influence. But until there is advertising on Google+, the ability to work it into a process aside from adding a button is limited.


What do you think of our reactions to the SEO Predictions? We'd enjoy your thoughts!