Ready for 2011 yet? 2010 was a great year, in more ways that one. SEO changed slightly as Google implemented tweaks to their algorithms, and Bing emerged as the new Search Engine Competition while Yahoo faded quietly into the background and became a news source rather than a search ‘engine’.
So let’s take a quick look at everything Google added in 2010 to make the search experience more rich and useful:
January: Richer snippets for question/answer queries. For example, the question ‘How many people live in mainland China’ should have the simple round figure answer in the snippet, precluding the need for a click-through.
February: Sponsored links in results in the form of highlighted Google Enhanced Listings (tested in Houston and San Jose only). Also, a refined local search option by region was rolled out, and stars can now be assigned to important results on a by user basis.
March: Public data (graphs) directly available in search results; also, microdata (social data) is viewable if available.
April: Site speed became an official ranking factor, forcing many websites to redesign for a faster page load time. In addition, rich snippets went international, including rich recipe snippets. Real time search was improved, with major social network results being integrated. The long tail lost power, and ‘similar results/sites’ began to be grouped at the bottom of the results page.
May: Long tail traffic loss confirmed to be due to a tweak to the algorithm, with added content required to regain traffic. The development of Squared causes Google to add short answers and ‘different’ answers to their standard search engine.
June: Caffeine officially launches – Google now updates incrementally instead of in waves, and newer sites benefit by quicker indexing.
July: English engine now features definitions listings at the top of the results page for searches on single words.
August: An integrated history is made available under advanced settings for users who want to save their searches and edit them for later reference. Interactive results page changes rapidly as user types query, and the Realtime Experiment lets users follow conversations as they happen.
September: Keyboard navigation’s suggests that users can now search more efficiently, but threatens traffic for some sites.
October: Custom location makes finding local attractions easier.
November: Same domain can now appear more than twice in the same page of the SERPS, leading to massive traffic loss for other sites. Instant preview now available without a Firefox extension.
December: Google adds the ability to search by reading level; adds more defined spam alerts; and works to reduce link juice generated by negative reviews or comments.
All of these changes have affected search in one way or another. Your goal should be to examine how they might have affected your own website and take steps to develop approaches to deal with them. There’s always change coming down the pipeline where Google is concerned, and staying on top of the ever changing game is the only way to keep on the winning path!