As I flâneured around the blogosphere this week (permit me to verb a French noun  derived from a verb), I was overcome by a gadget-induced ennui. Nexus One. The iTablet/iSlate. Blah blah blah. I have nothing to say about these developments. "Will 2010 be the year of the smartphone ?" Who cares? Sorry, gadgetheads—not me so much.
I am, however, interested in other directions the industry may take in 2010. (And while we're on the topic, you are on board with saying "twenty-ten,"  foregoing the cumbersome "two-thousand" prefix, are you not? Excellent. Glad we're on the same page.) And luckily, bloggers are still churning out resolutions  and predictions for the year ahead.
I especially liked Debra Mastaler's Link Building Trends For 2010 . After providing an overview of 2009, Debra , Julie Joyce , Garrett French , and Eric Ward each placed their bets on what trends will dominate link building efforts in 2010, including:
- Traffic will be king. Both Debra and Julie say that traffic will be more important—will outrank, so to speak—rankings this year.
- More social linking. Almost everyone thinks we'll continue to use (and find better ways to use) Twitter and other social media to share links.
- Rise of link management software. Garrett notes that people will forsake Excel for more sophisticated tools. Yahoo Site Explorer, he claims, "will die."
Eric Schmidt of SEO Boy posted his SEO expectations for 2010 . He too says the impact of social media on SEO, already huge, will get huger. The social aspect of SEO, he writes, expands beyond link building to user-generated content and "anything else that can carry your brand name or URL without your direction influence," bringing "a wild card element to the game." (Also check out Colin Alsheimer's post on LevelTen Interactive on social media's "halo effect" on organic search . He shares a case study of a salon getting a big boost in organic search traffic after being mentioned in a tweet by Selena Gomez—even though she didn't include a link!)
John Battelle's predictions  include that Google will reimagine itself as a software company a la Microsoft ("a massive cultural shift"), the quality of search results will deteriorate, Bing's market share will grow, and a "major privacy brouhaha" will go down.
Others aren't quite done with looking back yet. Tamar Weinberg (watch for an interview with Tamar later this month!) posted a massive list of the best internet marketing posts of 2009 , sorted into categories like social media measurement and ROI , blogging, reputation management, link building, affiliate marketing and SEO strategy.
Jeremy Schoemaker (AKA Shoemoney) preferred to focus on the negative (hey I'm not judging; I've been known to be a glass-half-full kind of girl myself), writing about how 2009 sucked for most SEOs . Basically, there was a lot of SEO backlash—with people like Bruce Clay, Matt Cutts, and the much respected Robert Scoble denouncing SEO in one way or another—causing a lot of SEOs to jump ship for greener pastures (I'm taking metaphor tips from Dan Brown), those pastures being social media and brand management.
I'm not sure I agree that 2009 sucked more for SEOs than anyone else. Most industries took a big hit—that's what makes it a recession. Who were the biggest losers? I think I give my pity points to journalists. (I managed to find an SEO-related job after my content editing position was slashed.)
Other Highlights from the Week
Gawker's Valleywag started a rumor that got a lot of people talking and seemed legit: AOL wants to buy Mashable , or, in their words, "lusts for the Brad Pitt of the blogosphere." Can you blame them? Pete Cashmore is H-O-T-T. Apparently the company that reeks of the '90s plans to refocus on content, and Valleyway notes that Mashable "excels not only at writing Google-friendly content but also at earning a flood of links on social networks, most notably Twitter."
However, last night Cashmore dispelled the rumors with a Tumblr post  stating:
While commenting on speculation isn't something I've done in the past, I think it would be nice to keep our community in the loop as much as we can on recent Mashable-related rumors. [...] We're very open to partnerships and always talk with those that get in touch. We've certainly spoken to lots of potential partners, some of those conversations more significant than others. But I don't feel that any of those conversations reached a point at which Mashable is likely to cease being independent.
This may be for the best. The public reception of imeem's sale to MySpace  demonstrated that getting bought by a dinosaur (by online standards) can leave a bad taste in the hip masses' mouths. (On a side note: I like how Cashmore's Tumblr profile characterizes him as the "Quiet type." He might as well have gone with "Strong, silent." Or "Tall. Darkish. Handsome.")
A lot of people recommended Aaron Wall's post, "Is SEO Science or Art? " And I'm going to recommend it again. A thoughtful post on the pitfalls of testing and sharing those results in the search community—a community that distrusts tests, takes advantage of what works until it doesn't work anymore, and includes people in a position to alter the circumstances that determined the results. Always be testing, we say, but how dependable are our tests?
Is SEO scientific? Yes, in the same way that sociology, psychology, and economics are scientific. But economics is referred to as the dismal science. ;)
Anything that involves understanding human behavior and trying to influence it is not just science. It is also an art.
And a couple of tactical posts:
People are naturally typing questions into search bars (yours and the ones owned by the search engines) looking for answers. Don’t wait for the formal invite to give them what they’re looking for. Just tackle ‘em.
Will Reinhardt on Search Engine People names three mistakes to avoid when doing keyword research :
In the process of creating targeted keyword lists for any particular project it's easy to simply say "target the keywords with the highest search volume." This is almost never true, of course.
We agree! Relevance is far more important than search volume. Pay attention to what works with your audience, not Google's.
Have a good weekend, all.
Photo credit: Wendy Piersall /Sparkplugging.com