I have no doubt 2012 is going to be another fascinating year in the world of digital; from search to social we’re going to experience evolution at a fast pace. The established channel of search will still experience some twists and turns, with social starting to have a greater impact on search results from influence through to customer targeting segmentation.
With the array of tools and extensions available to us through the search engines, I fully expect to see click through rates continue to rise, thanks to the volume and richness of data we’re now able to capture. However, this will no doubt lead to an increase in CPC’s, especially CPC’s with ‘local intent’, as SMEs & local business catch up and the engines provide them with dedicated platforms. As Google further develops quality score ranking the historically-strongest advertisers will become even stronger next year and new brands will find it difficult to penetrate the space, unless they execute effective PPC. As mobile becomes a larger piece of the digital pie, there will undoubtedly be a greater focus on mobile search rankings through both PPC and SEO. However, it is essential companies do not neglect the core driver behind SEO rankings; content. Good quality content will continue to reign supreme; through social platforms, everyone can now play the role of the journalist. 2012 will see companies start to leverage this role more strategically.
As Google accounts and +1 grows, Adwords will allow advertisers to target search to exact demographic & behavioural data, utilising the great aspects of social as a driver within search results. In turn, I fully expect social media content from +1, Facebook Likes and Tweets to further impact on indexed search results. Companies are starting to crack the social formula, although there is still a long way to go in the development of the channel. We’ll see companies more accurately gauging social media user activity whilst more clever collaborations between companies utilising the increasing open data sets and API’s will facilitate greater action amidst the social noise. On my radar for next year is smarter geo-social plug-ins and platforms emerging, such as hyperlocal services.