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5. Too much content on the web
The real problem is not that there is too much content, but that there is too much similar or identical content that offers no real value for search engines the second, third or one thousandth time they come across it.
2010 saw Google implement its "May Day" algorithm update, part of which penalised cookie cutter content that is excessively template driven or syndicated to multiple sites in favour of more unique and valuable pages.
In 2011, Greenlight expects duplication filters will get even tougher as the engines take ever more drastic measures to limit the amount of resource they spend on less valuable content and maximise the focus on everything else.
6. There will be massive growth in the contextual based PPC model - pulling away from the search engine domain to advertisers such as eBay or Amazon
With the success of Google's Content Network (now rebranded the Display Network), many publisher sites and shopping aggregators are following with similar paid for listings models, offering their real estate at a price. Although very early stages, none of them have quite mastered a 'quality score' of some type making the payment model very much a fixed cost per click (CPC) but still split by vertical.
For advertisers, this is another advertising option that in most cases is a cheaper option. With CPC's being relatively low it helps spread the risk, so all an advertiser's budget isn't just spent with Google. But it does not quite offer the same amount of reach as advertising via one of the search engines or Google's contextual network.
That said it's an interesting proposition and one which many advertisers (especially retail and travel) are already exploiting. So far the biggest selling points are the competitive CPCs some of these publisher sites are offering, almost undercutting the search engines. Are they offering something different? And do they have a real chance of cutting into Google's monopoly of the contextual space? Greenlight thinks so.
7. Instant Previews are here to stay, making 2011 "web design year"
With the introduction of Google Instant Previews, search engine users now get to see a site before they arrive at it. This means they will be making important decisions before the site has any chance to engage the viewer with the strength of its content or functionality. Although Instant Previews usually contain a few highlighted snippets of text as well as the overall screen-grab, those snippets are barely noticeable at present making the previews basically entirely graphical. Consequently if a site design is not up to scratch, it will start to see click through rates (CTRs) dropping, which will have knock on effects on the site's rankings too.
In addition, CTR optimisation will become its own semi-discipline built around the arrival of Instant Previews and incorporating competitor analysis, title and meta description optimisation, to offer a rounded and compelling package to top ranking sites.
8. Pre-targeting, Re-targeting, Re-marketing – all will be a prerequisite of any search strategy
Personalised re-targeting, is the channel that allows advertisers to re-engage with lost customers via personalised banners across the Internet. Some of the biggest players in this market include Criteo, Struq, My Things Media and adGENIE. Even the search engines are giving it a go with Google's Remarketing or Yahoo! Smart Ads. Personalised retargeting is quite a unique proposition and twist to display in some ways, to the point whereby dynamic personalised retargeting has been proven to drive increased CTRs and conversion rates from what is considered the typical 0.005% for traditional display versus personalised re-targeting which normally starts off around 0.8% CTR and has been known to reach as high as 5% CTR.
The dynamic nature and flexibilities of re-targeting mean advertisers can optimise their ads in real-time, therefore responding to what their consumers really want and getting the most out of their investment. Again this is another example of display marketing taking on the qualities of paid search – and making it work for the advertiser.
Combining our earlier prediction (Display marketing will mirror much of what is search in practice) with the re-targeting model sees search marketing expanding its remit within the online space – claiming more investment, and presenting more opportunities to close the loop outside the existing buying cycle
9. Quick Response (QR) codes will replace "search online" calls to action in above the line (ATL) advertising
Some time ago we started to see the advent of search based call to actions in ATL advertising, where an advert ends with the line "search widgets online" rather than a website address.
Greenlight predicts that in 2011, QR codes will usurp search calls to action in display advertising. This is probably just as well given the hash most companies seem to make of search based calls to action when it comes to search engine optimisation (SEO), often failing to achieve or even try to rank naturally for the keyword they are encouraging people to search for.
So what's a QR code? A QR code is a "matrix" or 2D barcode that can be read by many mobile phones. It has a URL (among other things) encoded within it, letting advertisers replace the whole affair with a simple point and click.
10. Google comparison ads will be rolled out across all finance (and perhaps more) vertical keywords
Over the last year, Google introduced Comparison Ads into the mix (part of the AdWords programme). After a successful trial in the U.S, Google rolled out the proposition in the UK at the beginning of 2010. Invited advertisers were able to set a target cost per acquisition (CPA) against a group of specific keywords and not have to worry about inflating CPCs as a result of a poor quality score or aggressive competition. This programme alone not only assists Google in monetising its excess inventory. It also allows the advertiser to have confidence in securing a positive return on investment (ROI).
Now almost a year on, it makes sense for Google to push this proposition out across the entire Financial sector and most likely into Travel.
However, what does this mean for the aggregators, as Google is effectively taking a punt at their business model? Furthermore, with some of the aggregators being Google's biggest clients, is Google shooting itself in the foot by trying to recreate its own version of this market? It remains to be seen.
- Natural Search - Listings in search engine results pages that appear because of their relevance to the search terms
- Paid Search – an Internet advertising model used on websites, in which advertisers pay their host only when their ad is clicked. With search engines, advertisers typically bid on keyword phrases relevant to their target market
The full presentation of Greenlight's 'Year in Review Briefing' charting paid and natural search predictions for 2011 and what transpired over 2010 can be viewed here
Greenlight is a leading independent, award winning search marketing specialist and technology firm, the largest of its kind in Europe and the fastest growing. With over 100 blue-chip clients including Santander, Vodafone UK, New Look, Interflora, Co-operative Financial Services, Nespresso and ghd, Greenlight is a leader in the search marketing space, and is recognized worldwide for its commitment to delivering record ROI for its clients and investing in the future of search.
Greenlight is considered the premier thought leader in the sector, publishing widely read industry reports, original research, speaking at trade events, and delivering a highly respected search training programme in conjunction with the IDM. Founded in 2001, Greenlight is headquartered in London, with offices in New York. http://www.greenlightsearch.com/