Google’s going places in 2012

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  • February 16, 2012
Patrick Altoft

Patrick Altoft

Director of Strategy

2012 is shaping up to be a really interesting year for the SEO industry. There are plenty of issues which need to be factored into SEO campaigns to ensure the best results. Take a look at some of the key factors we believe all SEO campaigns need to address over the next 12 months.

Local SEO

Over 20% of queries carried out on Google are related to locations and, according to Bing, 53% of mobile queries have local intent. With these figures in mind it’s easy to see the huge potential that a local SEO campaign can deliver.

Branded3 has a lot of experience running geographic campaigns for major UK brands with multiple locations (such as cinemas, florists, gyms and hotels), as well as brands that only have one location but service the whole country. A good example is a travel client where we increased traffic from 14,000 SEO visits in January 2010 to 173,000 SEO visits in January 2012, purely by targeting location based keywords around the UK.

Google Places

Google Places is a very useful way of generating visits to sites with multiple locations or even just brands with one location in a major town or city. We offer a full service for registering, optimising and building natural reviews & citations to increase exposure in Google Places.

We recently ran a campaign for a major cinema chain and after five months are generating 2m monthly impressions and 200,000 clicks to the client’s website via Google Places alone.

Making Links More Natural

Google has released several new algorithms recently designed to penalise brands that have been carrying out manipulative link-building tactics. One of the major red flags to Google is when sites build too many links with the same anchor text so it’s really important to make sure that you vary the anchor text across lots of keywords when you are targeting a specific landing page.

Keyword Data Not Provided

When Google changed to using a https connection for all logged-in users, it meant that keyword data is no longer passed to web analytics tools when a user clicks on a search result. Google claimed this was to protect users privacy but AdWords advertisers still get access to the data so it seems the decision was more to do with the roll-out of Google+.

The major change for SEO is that sites which get a lot of brand search traffic will be seeing a lot of that reported as “not provided” – make sure that if you are seeing non-brand SEO traffic increasing this isn’t just because your brand traffic is leaking into the non-brand bucket via the “not provided” keyword.

How to Easily Manage SEO Across Multiple Countries

In the past it wasn’t very easy to launch sites in multiple countries but recently we have worked with Google & a major UK ecommerce client to test and refine the use of the hreflang tag which allows websites to have exact copies in multiple languages without risking a duplicate content penalty. The site we worked with had a UK main site as well as a US and Irish version on separate domains with identical content. The only difference was the currency that prices were displayed in.

The hreflang tag allows sites to consolidate link equity across the multiple sites and works in multiple languages too so you can run an international campaign without any extra link-building expense.

Branded3’s Head of Search, Tim Grice, has penned a summary on his blog, SEOWizz, or you can read more about it on the Google Blog (this article is from 2010 however the system didn’t work correctly until November 2011).

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