SEO Predictions of 2011 – The World of Search

Well, a new year is upon us so I thought I would provide an insight into how I see Search moving over the next year. I may, or may not be correct, but I’m basing my thoughts on the last year and how trends within Search have been moving.

More local

Search results turning more local. Over the past few months we have seen Google change the way it displays its findings, it now displays ‘local’ results. These are business results that are local to where you are based. These have become a part of the Google Search more and more over the past year and in my opinion are set to continue to be a part of search results.

More Personal

Search results turning personal, yes, that’s right, turning personal to you. Google does many things already to make your searching personal, it displays results based on past search history, if you are logged into a Google account and other metrics. In the next year I can see the search results you see becoming more personal to the searcher, aiming to display the results that you want to see (or not as the case may be).

More Depth

Search engines such as Google not only display website links now, but they are also displaying rich content such as videos. This means that your YouTube videos that you have uploaded can be optimised for search and can be displayed in the Google search results. Just like local results, the videos are listed within existing results. Throughout 2011 I can see Google displaying more ‘rich’ results through its search results.

More Social

The Social side of online is a large aspect of the internet and the lives we lead. Whether that’s using Twitter, or having a Facebook / LinkedIn profile. Both Google & Bing have started to display Facebook & Twitter updates within its search results. This is only set to become an even larger part of Search with Bing recently announcing that it is going to include Facebook ‘Likes’ into its results, displaying how many ‘Likes’ a link has received (currently US only, moving to UK in the not so distant future). I can see Social results being displayed more and more in search results in both Bing & Google over the next year, judging how current trends are going.

What can we learn from this?

There are three main points in which we can learn from the above. Put simply these are:

  • Become local; accept that local search is becoming a large part of search engine results and cater for the local audiences you cover. Optimise for regional keywords.
  • More rich content; create video content to be hosted on YouTube, optimise the video for search. Videos are becoming an important part of search.
  • Be social; integrate on Social networks, whether that is Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or other. Be a part and engage with the audience out there.

How do you think Search for 2011 is going to pan out? Leave us your thoughts in the comments and visit our Search Engine Optimisation page.

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Optix Solutions in Amsterdam to Nurture Social Media among Urban Planters

Two of the Optix Solutions team were recently invited to sow the seeds of Social Media success among franchisees of interior plant design, installation and maintenance specialists Urban Planters from UK and Europe.

Alastair banks and Alistair Gleave at urban planters anual conference

Urban Planters, one of our longest standing clients, specialise in supplying and maintaining indoor plants for offices, restaurants, shopping centres and even private residences. The plants not only make interiors look better, they are also proven to absorb toxins in the air and relieve stress.

Director Alastair Banks and Business Development Manager Alistair Gleave flew out to the company’s annual conference at the Hotel Hampshire in Amsterdam last week. They were there to help franchisees and support staff understand Inbound Marketing and the benefits of using Social Media to grow their Urban Planters business locally.

This included a presentation on the potential for individual franchises to use Social Media to expand their local customer-base by building relationships with businesses in their area and letting them know what they are doing in the locality via Social Media platforms, especially blogs and e-mail marketing.

They also underlined the importance of establishing clear Social Media strategies and guidelines following the recent publication of Optix Solutions’ Social Media Survey 2010, which includes a number of important findings around how businesses monitor and measure the effectiveness of their Social Media activities.

“As there are Urban Planters franchises from the North of Scotland to the South Coast of England, and now Europe, we wanted to emphasise the importance of generating locally relevant content and contacts,” said Alistair Gleave.

As a franchise you need to be fully engaged with the local business community as that is where your customers will come from. Social Media is a huge opportunity to do just that.”

The two Als’ presence at the conference underlines the close and highly productive partnership that has been established between the two companies since Urban Planters first teamed up with Optix Solutions back in 2004.

The businesses have continued to expand side by side ever since, including winning the prestigious Franchise Website of the Year award together in 2007.

and Alistair Gleave’s next speaking engagement is…

at the Shine Charity Recruitment Lunch Event on 19th November, taking place in the spectacular setting of Somerset’s Hestercombe Gardens, near Taunton.

Alongside Shine’s Managing Director Jackie Dawkins, Alistair has been delivering free seminars on how the charitable and third sector can harness the power of Social Media for the past two years.
He will be talking to sector leaders about what Social Media has to offer charitable organisations in terms of engaging with the wider community, how it can be used to promote fundraising efforts and to develop a volunteer base.

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Gaining insight into how organisations are using Social Media

Onwards & Upwards for OptixFROM huge multinationals to small start ups, confusion still reigns in business as to how to join the social media revolution and tap into its vast marketing potential.

Just as social media is transforming the way individuals communicate with each other, the business community is increasingly asking itself just how to it can best harnessed social networking in order to drive everything from brand promotional and increased sales to improved customer services.

The potential for Social Media – Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Linkedin etc… – to open up previously untapped markets, promote products, keep in touch with existing customers and build partnerships with other businesses and organisations is the subject of constant debate.

However, evidence on exactly how businesses are using social media and which sectors are embracing it and which are not is still sketchy.

Devon-based Online marketing specialists Optix Solutions recently launched a comprehensive survey aimed at gathering an accurate, up-to-the-minute picture of business’s experiences of social media, both good and bad.

The multiple choice questions look at areas such as why your business does or does not use social media, how many employees are engaged in it and what problems your organisation has experienced in implementing a social media strategy.

Optix’s comprehensive online survey will provide the basis of a White Paper report on how effectively businesses are harnessing social networks as part of their online marketing strategies and internal communications, to be published later this year.

“Using Social Media effectively requires businesses to engage with potential customers in an entirely new way,” explains Optix director Alastair Banks.

“Social networking is very different from conventional marketing. It’s not about hard sell, it’s about opening up a dialogue with people, not just to let them know about your products, brand or what you do, but also to let them tell you what they want and learning and adapting accordingly.

“When properly employed, Social Media provides a vast opportunity to business to reach new audiences, nationally and globally, and with it increase profits.

 

“But it has to be done right. It is no good adding social media technology to your website if you don’t really understand how to engage with it. We want to find out exactly how businesses are rising, or otherwise, to this latest technological challenge.”

All businesses are invited to take part, even if they are not currently using Social Media at all. Reasons for not getting involved in social networking are of just as much interest as the experiences of businesses that have made Social Media part and parcel of everyday operations.

The idea for the report came from the Like Minds conference held earlier this year, of which Optix were proud sponsors, which brought together some of the country’s leading Social Media and Online Marketing experts.

Optix have received responses from the likes of Microsoft, Hospiscare, Devon and Cornwall Police Authority, South West Water and the Big Lottery Fund, but would like to hear from as many businesses and organisations as possible nationwide, regardless of size, industry or location.

To participate in the Optix Social Media Survey, please visit www.likemindssocialmediasurvey.co.uk

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Facebook Open Graph and Online Marketing

One of our online marketing team, Daniel Cave, was recently asked:

“Facebook Open Graph is pretty cool stuff when you think about it. Is the future of E-commerce online marketing about to change dramatically?”

That question covered such an interesting topic we have edited his response and posted it here for your pleasure.

The most transformative thing facebook has ever done for the web.

When you think about Open Graph and the wealth of information it provides about users, the potential is HUGE for marketing and e-commerce exploitation, the only issue is setup costs and lead times. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg may not have been overstaing the fact when he said that this is the most transformative thing facebook has ever done for the web.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg

Using Facebook Open Graph for marketing is a potentially very powerful tool. Anything that gives you an insight into your potential customer’s likes and wants is powerful indeed. Add to that the fact that it also allows you to leverage social proof on your customers to sell your products then it is a powerful tool for site personalization and customization indeed.

If you have one of your developers learn how Open Graph works and start to do some basic stuff with it then you will be making a good start at moving towards using this potential.

Doing something easy like putting like buttons in place along with trying to match featured items with their likes on a fuzzy search, publishing to people’s wall with permission would be bordering on free advertising that rivals and beats paid for advertising.

It is hard to judge how much of this is hype and how much is really useful, but I personally think if Facebooks ‘vision’ of the web comes to life (without being killed off by privacy issues) then it will become a big factor in marketing and Site Design.

So, is Ecommerce about to change dramatically?

Maybe, but only if the Facebook Open Graph takes off in a big way (which I think it will) and is adopted across the mainstream web.

I think the end effect on sites will be subtle but important. You will start seeing sites extending beyond their own borders and reaching into social to both take information and to post some back too. Borrowing information about users preferences and using them to personalize sites and offer more relevant offers.

Using people’s friends against them as marketing tool is a very slick and clever way to market to them. After all how often do you buy something when you know a friend has bought it, and how often will you place more trust in a site that someone else has already used? That’s not to mention the “keeping up with the jones” effect.

Interesting questions to consider:

Contemplating the future of Open Graph in the context of social media and the wider web brings up almost unending list of ideas/possibilities and exciting potentials. Some of my initial thoughts were:

Could a process which cross references social networks work?

Think about it. If a person’s twitter account and Facebook page can be matched and cross referenced publicly then targeted tweets/follows/offers can be done.

Imagine this tweet:

“Facebook says you like holidaying and you’ve been tweeting about Spanish hotels. We hope you like this website: http://tinyurl.com/2uc2k77

How about:

Click Here to See people on twitter who have similar backpacking travel ambitions and check out their travel photos on twitpic at the same time”

How will site personalisation be treated by Search Engines?

Will they take notice of how many ‘likes’ a site gets? Will ‘likes’ the new links for SEO? Will personaized content be penialised by google as cloaking?

The very short answer is No, but it is an interesting prospect to consider.

What happens to your site when Facebook has downtime?

Will your site break if you have implemented too many Open Graph features and facebook suffers downtime?

Important things to remember:

Don’t get caught up and design your e-commerce site just for Facebook. A lot of people are slow to change and even dislike it, just look what happens every time Facebook changes its layout (millions of people protest, and then reluctantly accept it).

Conventions which work now will still work tomorrow and not everyone in the world is on Facebook so make Facebook integration part of the website not the core of it. A well designed site which is optimised to convert visitors into customers will always do well regardless of Facebook, but the same site with Subtle Facebook integration will possibly do even better.

Conclusion

Yes Facebook Open Graph can, and likely will, have an impact on the web but it will not be a radical overnight change and will most likely be a subtle change used to quietly influence users to buy as part of an overall web marketing strategy. Start small with it and slowly introduce it into your sites while it picks up popularity and you will be well placed to use the more advanced features of it when the time is right

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Introduction to the Use of Social Media in the Charity Sector

Optix Solutions are pleased to announce that we have been invited to deliver a presentation introducing Social Media to Charities throughout the South West.

Organized by Jackie Dawkins, Director of Shine Charity Recruitment the event will take place on Thursday 27th May, at Everys Solicitors in Exeter, between 4 and 6pm. Alistair Gleave, Optix Solutions’ Business Development Manager, will be joining forces with James Barisic, Charity Law Solicitor at Everys Solicitors, and speaking at the seminar.

This is an exciting opportunity for local charities to learn how to embrace Social Media in order to improve following, raise additional funds, increase volunteer numbers and engage with the local community.

  • Have you heard of the Karmic Flute? Fundraising for Devon Air Ambulance Trust following a theft from a charity shop. £265 raised in a matter of days thanks to the power of Twitter and jamesmb!
  • Have you thought how you could increase your following by utilizing Facebook, YouTube or LinkedIn?

Well we have and would love to share our ideas and success stories with you. Take a look below at the review from Matt Young, Heart Radio DJ, from our previous presentation.

Please come along to this free event and find out how your Charity can benefit from the use of Social Media.

Don’t delay, book today! Places are limited and in demand. http://charitysocmed.eventbrite.com/

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