ponyboy96 - 9:43 pm on Oct 5, 2012 (gmt 0)
Here's my thoughts on the next phase of SEO. This might be a little edgy, but it's the honest truth. I've been in the SEO game professionally for 10 years, I've worked on some huge brands, small sites, internationals, etc... That being said, here's my take and in no specific order:
1. Search will become an all paid model. The writing is all over the wall guys. Local search = paid placement. Sponsored posts, search engine portals (think travel, insurance, real estate is sure to follow). This is obvious based on the reduction of organic results and the current trends.
2. Basic on-site SEO will still work; however, the overall conversion and traffic will continue to fall as it's pushed down. It will be a factor, just not the big factor that it has been to the small biz out there.
3. Brand strength will replace exact match anchor text links. Focus on building the brand. Not sure what I'm saying here, go pull a backlink report on any major brand's website. See the signal there. That's going to be the next "link" game.
3. Focus on users and understand user behavior. What's their intent when landing on your page. How can you retain them or convert that traffic. This has already been discussed.
4. Social will become less and less of a factor. Yeah, I'm going against the grain here. The honest truth here is that social does not convert to sales. I'm sure some does, but I haven't seen a way to say x = y directly unless you are talking coupon codes. In that case, take a look at how the LTV of customers from discount sites has played out. People are tiring of social and tuning out. I think it's beginning to reach it's point of DMR.
5. Mobile is a big game, but I think mobile specific sites won't be. Phones are getting smarter and the browser's better. I think a little CSS tweaks here and there will be enough in the future. Also, mobile apps (already huge) will be the thing when it makes sense. Some form of mobile payments will come along to make this buying process simpler.
6. Referral traffic. Think CSEs and lead gen sites.
At the end of the day, SEO isn't going away. The basic methods will still apply, other factors will become more important such as brand strength, conversion, quality, etc.. I just think SEO and organic traffic will be a shadow of what it once was. That being said, as an online marketer, I think it's time to diversify the portfolio.