I’m moderating the SEO roundtable discussions at the upcoming Econsultancy Digital Cream where client-side marketers discuss approaches to improve their digital marketing. 

On the SEO table, the discussion naturally turns to “Advanced” SEO tactics. So to prepare for the event, I’m currently thinking through what is Advanced SEO and what is new for SEO in 2011.

This is a preview of what I think the major issues are to succeed with SEO in 2011 and I’ll share what we discuss at the event afterwards.

What is Advanced SEO?

The “What is Advanced SEO” part is relatively easy since I remember a great article What is Advanced SEO? from SEOMoz blog late last year which nails it perfectly. 

If you missed it, here are the five aspects of advanced SEO:

1. “Advanced SEO” means secrets.

2. “Advanced SEO” means new.

3. “Advanced SEO” means new to me.

4. “Advanced SEO” means technical.

5. “Advanced SEO” means enterprise.

I add that “Advanced Means Analytical” – really mining your analytics data to find out what’s working and what isn’t for you and competitors and then gradually plugging the gaps.

What are the key SEO trends in 2011?

At the roundtable we’ll be discussing all of these, but especially what’s new. These are the areas of SEO I think are going to be worth watching in 2011. 

1. The impact of social signals on rankings

The announcement that social signals now influence SEO rankings won’t have escaped most readers of the Econsultancy Blog, so this has to be a big issue to consider, particularly since many companies don’t have a blog and/or it’s not so well integrated into their site products and services pages.

Even before this announcement I noticed many companies making efforts to integrate their SEO with online PR and social media. There seem to be more joint responsibilities for SEO and social in the larger companies that get it, a good move I think.

Many of the challenges for larger organisations involve getting SEO specialists to work more closely with other parts of a company or agencies working on online PR and social media initiatives. 

2. Mobile search

Google revealed recently that over the past two years, its mobile searches have grown by more than five times

In the same post, you can see how much this matters for your sector since Google recently introduced mobile search volumes by device for certain keyphrases in its Keyword Tool.

We’ll be looking at specific tactics for mobile SEO and how important these are since the move to smartphones means that the search results returned are very similar to desktop search, e.g. see http://www.google.co.uk/m and http://www.google.com/m.

So how important is it to support mobile-specific content? I imagine it is for some larger publishers and transactional sites, but for many mobile-specific content may be an unnecessary overhead?

3. Local search

Closely related, following an algorithm and interface update towards the end of last year, Google Places has become a lot more important for local searches involving the name of a location plus a service. 

If you see the tell-tale red balloons dominating the search results for searches related to your services in an area, that’s a sure sign you need to take action.

4. Real-time search

We haven’t heard much about real-time search since Google integrated Facebook and Twitter into it’s results around a year ago. It seems this only really impacts high volume brand searches and trending topics. It will be interesting to hear what others think about it.

But as we have said before, Google is favouring recently published content more and more, even new posts that are only linked within Twitter and Facebook.

5. Video search

Did you see the stats showing that YouTube has become the second-most important search engine in many countries? That suggests the opportunities for video SEO should be explored alongside other forms of blended search, if they’re not already.

6. Opportunities to engage on other sites

There’s a tendency within SEO to think inwardly about driving traffic to your sites and gaining links on other sites. But as the social web has evolved there may be new options for reaching an audience on other sites which perform well in the SERPs.

I see these types of sites as increasing in importance – often within the SERPS:

  • Q&A sites – Yahoo! Answers is still important, but other generic sites like Quora and niche sites like StackOverflow are increasing in importance. 
  • How-to sites such as eHow and VideoJug. 
  • Article sites – old-school SEO, but sites such as HubPages are still favoured by Google. 

7. The Microsoft-Yahoo! alliance

I’ve focused exclusively on Google since I find that this is what most marketers want to hear about unless they’re working internationally.

None of the benchmarking data I’ve seen so far suggests this is having a significant long-term impact, but I’ll ask the question to see whether it’s an issue for others.

8. Semantic markup

The “semantic web” has been heralded for years without major progress towards the original vision of Sir Tim Berners-Lee. But each year there have been significant evolutions in microformats.

Google now supports many microformats with Facebook and Twitter involved too for different types of events and videos. Microformats are something anyone involved in SEO, particularly on transactional sites keeps a close eye on.


So those are eight aspects of SEO that I think should be reviewed in 2011, although I still see many advances from getting the basics right.

Are these issues big concerns for you, or do you see others as more important – I’d like to know!