SEO Trends to Watch for in 2010

Another year in the world of SEO has come to an end, and it’s time to put together your SEO strategy and to-do list for 2010. A new year means another chance to capture rankings, to try out new marketing strategies and to take advantage of the areas where the search engines are looking to expand and place new importance. Because, despite what some may think, SEO for small business is not becoming less important. It’s more important than ever.

With that in mind, here’s a look at the SEO trends to watch out for in 2010.

Search engine optimization trends

Site Speed

It was during last month’s PubCon Las Vegas show that Matt Cutts, the head of Web spam at Google, told the audience that site speed may be used as a new ranking factor for 2010. Google’s goal is to help its users to find information as quickly as possible. How quickly a site loads definitely fits into that.

With all the site speed chatter as of late — say no to panic. Do, however, take steps to decrease the load time of your site. The order of things on your page will affect its load time, so make sure you’re using proper HTML, and cleaning up your CSS and JavaScript so that users aren’t left waiting when they try to access your site. If you don’t know how fast your site is loading, tools lke WebPageTest or Pingdom Page Load offer easy ways to test it out. If you do need some help getting your site up to speed (no pun intended), there are number of free resources available to help.

HTML Validation
Page Speed Firefox extension
Closure (compiles JavaScript into compact, high performance code.)


It’s been “the year for mobile” every year for the past five years and this year is no different. A recent Nieslen study found that there are now 56.9 million people looking for information on mobile Web sites (up 34 percent from last year). The push towards mobile has been heavily backed by the emergence of smartphones like the iPhone, Google Android and the popularity of Blackberry device. Combined, they mean that 2010 is the year where small businesses not only have to create a mobile presence, but where they have to create an optimized one, as well. Research says most consumers are not happy with the performance of mobile Web sites. Ignoring mobile means not only losing out on that initial transaction, but all future mobile transactions from that customer. That’s bad business. Can you really afford to do that?

Your first step to capitalizing on mobile is to find out how your site performs on small devices. Sites like BrowserCam (a paid service that offers a 24 hour/200 capture free trial) can give you an idea of how pages are loading, whether certain functionality is disabled, where it’s hanging up, etc. Once you’ve made sure it’s functional, take advantage of all Google’s new mobile services and free online coupons. If Google’s putting resources toward something, it’s probably a smart idea for SMB owners to follow suit.

Online Video

Last year YouTube became the second largest search engine. This year it continued its dominance, bringing in more than 11 billion streams in November, up 17 percent the previous year and even down just slightly from the month before. If you haven’t been playing with the love affair that is SMB owners and video, it’s time to start. Because your competition probably is. Also, with news that the bigger companies may be pulling back, it opens up a big door for SMBs to hop in there and use video to take back valuable search space with the help of Universal Search.

Reputation Management Meets Real-Time Search

When Google put real-time search updates into the SERPs they unleashed a potential online reputation problem of epic proportions. They essentially opened the floodgates to give angry customers immediate power in the search results. You no longer have a window to reach out to an angry tweeter to ask them to amend their update or tone down that blog post. Google is pulling from tweets, from blogs, from news, from articles and other Web content and throwing it immediately into your search results, often right above your own site. All of this means that you need to be even more vigilant about monitoring the conversation in an attempt to protect your brand.

For a small business owner, your best line of defense is to build a listening station that will help keep you abreast of conversations as they happen. Waiting 24 hours to be notified of a fire may be 24 hours too late.

What do you do?

• Use Twitter Search to track mentions of your name, your competitors’ names, important keywords, locations, etc.
• Use Comprehensive Google Alerts to track blogs and news sources talking about your brand.
• Use Social Mention or WhosTalkin to track anything the first two may have missed.
• Start work on owning your Google 10 to neutralize anything bad that may pop up.

Using Twitter to Network Locally

In 2009 small business owners got comfortable using social media. In 2010 it’s time to take the connections they’ve made online and learn to leverage them off. For many SMB owners that will mean looking to Twitter to network locally and then grabbing that conversion in the real world. For example, if you own a local catering business, you don’t just want to use Twitter to be helpful and build your company brand. You also want it to drive business into your physical locations so that you can benefit from those relationships.

That will mean using tools and information like tweet location, the Advanced Search features of Twitter itself or third party tools like Twitter Grader or Twellow. More and more we’re seeing the tools and apps designed to integrate into social media to help create virtual neighbors. Applications like FourSquare are just the beginning.

Increased Awareness of Local

Tried and true SEO is more important now than ever before. If you haven’t tied up all your local listings and profiles, it is beyond time to do that. The search engines, especially Google, are looking at the consistency and completeness of your local listings in order to rank you for relevant queries. That’s a huge ranking factor that is 100 percent in your control. Take advantage of it! Corner the four corners of local search, go through the process of claiming all your local listings, dominate Yelp, manage your customer reviews, get quality citations and do everything you can to build the authority of your site on the Web.


Another trend we’re going to see with SMB owners this year is a move towards consolidating Web properties in order to make the ‘whole’ stronger. For example, a lot of small business owners have blogs that are currently located on Blogspot or  I think we’re going to see a lot of people start to move these on-site in order to build link equity and build a site that, overall, is stronger. When you have a blog located on a separate domain it means you’re trying to build links, authority and a community on multiple sites. You’re splitting your efforts. With Google changing things at whim and social media sites challenging our privacy, it’s going to strengthen the sites that you do have complete control over. There are plenty of free WordPress guides onsetting up WordPress and how to optimize it.

That’s my take. What SEO trends do you expect to see in 2010?


Lisa Barone Lisa Barone is Vice President of Strategy at Overit, an Albany Web design and development firm where she serves on the senior staff overseeing the company’s marketing consulting, social media, and content divisions.

38 Reactions
  1. The potential 2010 SEO trend that worries me is Google & Bing building up their own content empires and decreasing the traffic they send to independent Websites. For example, Bing + AP + Murdoch vs Google + YouTube + Yelp, etc. Will each engine move to own or exclusively license content? To handle more through OneBox and the like? At PubCon Lawrence Coburn mentioned these kinds of things as an ominous trend to those relying on the engines sending most of its traffic downstream. That era, and all the businesses that are counting on it, may see a downturn in 2010 and beyond.

  2. Another post with great thought provoking information and actionable items. Well done Lisa and thanks!

    Often you get complacent on marketing efforts like SEO (or any other marketing activity that you’ve invested in) especially if you’re previously put in the effort and developed a baseline of success that is “motoring along”.

    This post is a terrific reminder to not sit back and rest on your laurels. While the initial effort takes lots of work, on going effort is equally important. So thanks for the complacency wake up reminder.

  3. Jason @

    Very good SEO points. SEO is certainly not my forte and I learned more about the google updates here.

    Thanks for the insights and I’ll working on shifting my social media usage.


  4. I think along with consolidation you’re going to see a greater focus on narrowing and integrating SMB involvement across multiple platforms. Along with that, I believe, as you mention, a focus on local will be huge with the combining of online and offline strategies. I think the time to experiment with social media is over and it’s now time to be very strategic. Facebook which can no longer be ignored by small, localized businesses will continue to flourish and we will see new, creative ways the platform can be leveraged to achieve business results. Reputation marketing – not just monitoring your brand and managing reviews – but actively building tighter communications and trust between seller and buyer will be essential in 2010. For example, look at what is offering to select verticals. Thanks! Greg

  5. Another trend that I see in 2010 is the increased emphasis being placed on conversion optimization (and perhaps this is for larger sites that already get significant traffic) to better leverage existing traffic.

  6. One thing that isn’t going to change is the time and effort required to effectively implement SEO strategies and overall online marketing programs. I would recommend that business owners contact their local high schools and colleges to find/hire interns that can complete the tactical work.

    Happy New Year!

  7. Old Unix users when they look at Twitter immediately think “oh, the .plan file”. Anyone remember that? It was a quick ‘n’ dirty way of letting people know what you were up to. I think a lot of SMEs can easily use Twitter internally and externally to let all concerned know exactly what you’re up to.

  8. I find this an excellent post consistent with your work in general. I’d add to the list use of smart search tools like TipTop As more users become aware of the kinds of search experiences these new tools provide, focus will have to shift to optimizing search over a wider set of services than just Google.

  9. Robert Brady: Could you expand on what “conversion optimization” is meaning?

    I will keep my EGO blog on due to the fact that I have had since 2002 and I have stuff related to the URL, e.g. CaféPress & SpreadShirt gears. I will create a new hub with my own domain, based on a new WordPress template, in the near future.

    Talking about site speed, do you know what is the “upper threshold of hearing” (seeing / waiting) for a site to load? I have had problems with external third party applications and widget in the past, slowing down the site.

  10. Lisa,
    What about content? I feel better content driven websites will have an edge this year. With smarter indexing by the search engines, clear , precise content might be one of the key components and a prime SEO trend this year.

    Best of Luck with all your good work.


  11. Lisa,

    Thank you for another rockin article! I had no idea that Google would start looking at site loading speed as a ranking algorithm.

    I wonder what’s next. Never mind. You’ll tell me.

    The Franchise King

  12. You should always endeavor to make your site load fast anyway because it has a secondary effect on your rankings, that being an increased bounce rate due to all the people getting fed up of waiting.

  13. Cambridge Who's Who

    Everything in this blog is 100% correct. You need to increase reputation, market your business and network. Networking with other business will improve your reputation and also improve your business.

  14. I think the fact that Google bought Admob and just launched Nexus One that this is truly the “Year of Mobile” get ready, set, go!

  15. Wow – that’s a very good written article.
    But in my opinion SEO isn’t that important then moderating the comments and trying to communicate with the readers. When you got an personal connection to a few of them, they will promote your website and new visitors were found 🙂

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  19. Thanks for the SEO trends. Definitely some things to consider for the upcoming year.

  20. Correct me if I am wrong, Linkscape too uses similar queries to retrieve data from Yahoo explorer and derive intelligence from it. If it’s a gate closed for users, it’s a gate closed for Linkscape too.

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  23. Nice article and yes in 2010 things are changing with social media and a web 2.0 in style.. I have been proactive with youtube videos and they are kings for rankings and helping out website keywords rank.

    I will check in often to see what the conversation is..


    The SEO Agency

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