After writing the rather humorous post on predictions for 2011 I noticed more and more trends so I finally decided to write a 30 trends for 2011 list again this year. These trends are the ones you really have to know about if you ask me. These changes take place already or are unfolding and you can’t afford to ignore them as an SEO, web design or other Web professional. So here they are:
Google Chrome becomes one of the most important browsers
I’m not a friend of Google Chrome. I tried to ignore it until now but its market share is so significant by now that you can’t ignore it anymore. Make sure to offer your toolbar, add on or custom feature available in Chrome as well in 2011.
RSS is dying
The rumors of of the death of RSS have been returning over the years. This time it seems RSS really has a problem: Google Chrome and Firefox 4 drop or limit RSS support.
E-mail marketing returns
While RSS has struggled over the years an almost dead medium made a come back, e-mail. E-mail marketing and “creating a list” is a must have again. You can’t rely solely on RSS. Even substituting RSS with Twitter and Facebook updates won’t suffice. Aweber and MailChimp are your friends among others.
HTML 5/CSS 3 usage goes mainstream
HTML 5 and CSS3 are around for a while but with significant improvements in browser support their usage will go main stream in 2011. You can have a competitive advantage by applying these still new techniques. In the SEO industry only a few of us have embraced the new possibilities. Our colleagues from SEO Gadget are leading by example.
Did you know that the “above the fold” web design and usability rule is a myth. Modern mice make scrolling very comfortable and people scroll all the way down it seems. Just scroll this.
Facebook is the emperor
With Goldman Sachs financing Facebook there is no doubt that Facebook will be the most powerful player. So you need to be on Facebook or you risk a disadvantage to those who have a presence there.
Location rules but not on Foursquare
Foursquare, Gowalla and other location based social media were the rage in 2010 but they are already stagnating. Why? It’s because of the big players adding location features to their own services. In 2011 location will matter but not the small startups that made it popular.
In Africa mobile phones boom and with them social media
Surprise, surprise Africa is not the place war, AIDS and famine spreads but the most promising mobile and social media market. Africans leapfrog landlines, computers and static websites and start using social media sites on mobile phones.
Q&A surges but not solely Quora, Yahoo Answers still rules
The current hype is Q&A site Quora. While it’s a valuable service it’s still barely a blip compared to Yahoo Answers. Other Q&A sites still matter and Yahoo Answers is much bigger than most other social sites like Digg, StumbleUpon or Delicious.
Meta tools that publish to several social sites
These days almost all newly popular social tools apparently support Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and the likes. Amplify, Sendible, Trunk.ly or Sprout Social are just a few of useful examples I’ve tested recently. As you will notice they come from different directions but tackle the problem of reaching all your friends and followers on different platforms.
Social Bookmarking disappears altogether
I predicted the end of Delicious last year but was nevertheless surprised to see it happen. I still hoped the flagship of social bookmarking will stay with us. In 2010 many other social bookmarking had to give up or restructure their services. Standalone social bookmarking won’t survive in 2011. Only services like Diigo that have evolved beyond bookmarking long ago can compete.
The only thing constant on Google in 2010 was the change. The number and frequency of changes was mind-boggling. As Google is desperate to find more revenue sources and get more money out of search I’m pretty sure these changes will happen as often in 2011.
Do you remember the days when Google was a simple and easy to use search engine? These days the search results are so cluttered and full of annoying ads and other additional results or features that you really struggle. Sadly the clutter is here to stay it seems. It’s not a bug it’s a feature.
The new advanced search engine Blekko was huge news in 2010 but it will be daily business for SEO practicioners and other Web professionals in 2011.
Google is a privacy nightmare for most of us but until now most people preferred to ignore that fact. In 2011 more and more people will care about it and the FCC and other regulators do as well. Even Google’s search engine competition uses Google employees who have stalked teenagers to advertise.
For the first time in a while there are a few really good alternatives to Google, at least in English: Bing, Blekko, Yandex.com and DuckDuckGo are symptoms for a broader need: People do not want to be forced to use Google, they want choice. They have it again.
Conversion optimization or CRO has been around for years but in 2010 it reached new heights. Most reputable SEO companies practice and offer it by now. Either you do it as well or you can sell “search engine submission” and “meta tag optimization” again.
Mobile SEO, local SEO, video SEO, social media SEO etc. are not new. Also specialist for each discipline focus on each one of it for years. Still the diversification of SEO services reached a point where no single individual and rarely a company can do it all at the same time. While some preach the rise “digital marketing” of bigger agencies offering everything I don’t believe SEO will stay a one size fits all game. I expect specialized services to flourish.
Facebook search and it’s ranking algorithm reached a new complexity in 2010 where the term Facebook SEO has appeared as the logical next step. I see some people who are already specializing in Facebook SEO as well.
Link building on social media
Facebook SEO is just one aspect of the relationship of Facebook and SEO. When Google and Bing confirmed that Twitter updates and Facebook likes/shares count as ranking factors as long as they are public people in the SEO industry weren’t really surprised. Those who haven’t yet considered building links on social media or rather using Twitter and Facebook to spread awareness of their business have to now.
While introduced in 2009, rich snippets have become crucial over 2010. Reviews get used for local and shopping search and you can’t ignore them anymore.
A/B Testing or multivariate testing exploded in 2010 with lots of tools and services offering and facilitating it. In 2011 everybody will try to convert the visitors they already have instead of just wanting more of them. A/B testing is probably the best method to find out what really works on your site.
Believe it or not but not only paper money is obsolete by now, credit cards are as well. What’s next? Mobile payment via your phone. Everybody uses it in emerging markets only we conservative Westerners still stick to the past. Finally some useful use cases appear for mobile payment so that we might embrace it as well in 2011.
Groupon was huge in 2010 but it’s not the end yet. In 2011 it will become even more prominent. Use it or lose it.
Reviews are the new links. Both local and ecommerce businesses get ranked by the number and sentiment of user reviews in Google. So you can’t live without (positive) reviews anymore in 2011.
Real life businesses gaining ground
Many Google local search changes have mostly one thing common: They favor brick and mortar real life businesses with an address. So the Internet uses a big part its virtual aspect as real life businesses get preferential treatment. Also Google Streetview compels people all over the world to clean up their facade or get less customers.
Tumblr, Posterous and a large number of other microblogging or rather miniblogging tools has been gaining popularity over the recent years. By now miniblogging service Tumblr is one of the biggest social sites. Tumblr is also bigger than WordPress.com by now. Also it’s easier to use to has a sleeker web design than both Blogger and WordPress.
Spam, security issues and constant hacking attacks on WordPress, content theft and censorship on both Blogger and WordPress.com have hurt hosted blogging platforms in the past. With the rise of new services like Tumblr many private bloggers turned away from self hosted WordPress blogs to hosted blogging platforms again.
More quality less quantity
The myth of blogging daily has been overcome in 2010 it seems, while some blogs turn media companies blogs several times a day and some group blogs do daily most regular blogs run by one blogger focused more on quality than quantity in 2010. This trend will remain sting in 2011 as the daily bloggers will move on to miniblogging while quality bloggers will focus on thorough research and killer content.
Blogging identity crisis
In 2010 with services like Google Buzz the definition of blogging got blurry. Also when you take a close look at what Facebook and Tumblr do you could consider both services blogging. Content sharing and blogging have finally merged. At the same time the focus on quality in real blogging made it more professional and journalistic. There is an apparent blogging identity crisis palpable 2011.
These trends have been mostly obvious in 2010 already but you can’t ignore them in 2011 anymore or at least you have to know about them. In case you decide to ignore them there will be others who’ll embrace the new opportunities.
SEO is rapidly changing and adapting to new Web trends all the time. That’s one of the reasons people scream “SEO is dead” each time a major change occurs. At the same time the Web slows down, the early phase of innovation is over and only a few big players control it now.
* Image: 2011 by Sebastian Oliva.