<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=763991110377089&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">

8 Things That Changed the Internet Marketing Industry in 2012

In just this past year, there have been remarkable changes and challenges in internet marketing. The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) became the largest protest in the history of the internet. Google’s Gmail became the world’s most popular email service. China blocked the New York Times from their searches and social media. Facebook became a public company, and Apple Inc. became the largest company by market capitalization in the world.

Search engines and social media sites also made changes that altered the entire digital landscape. Here are at least eight game changers that rocked the internet marketing industry:

1. Google+ Gained Traction

Google Places became Google+ Local, which changed the approach to local SEO. Users who log into their Google+ account while performing a search will see personalized results based on social data from Google+. Google+ Local has aimed to make reviews, recommendations and opinions of those in a user’s Google+ Circles a central part of their search experience. Bing also provides what’s known as “social results,” but because Google is still the search giant, users have more incentive to use Google+ more than ever before.

2. Author Rich Snippets

Author Rich Snippets have given internet marketers the opportunity to build their author rank by linking their Google + page to the content they write through what’s known as rel=author. Utilizing rich snippets allows the author to have their photo show up in the search results next to their content, and build author authority which increases click-through rates on those pages.

3. Social Media Accommodations for Brands

Throughout the year many of the big players in social media have made numerous updates to better their platform for users and businesses. One common change was making it easier for brands to standout:

  • Facebook created Global Pages so brands can manage multiple accounts using one central dashboard
  • Twitter announced cover photos so brands have more real estate to promote the company
  • LinkedIn designed new company pages to showcase more company information and logos
  • Pinterest allowed businesses to set up official business accounts

4. Panda Update

To continue the crusade against webspam, Google launched a number of Panda updates throughout the year. One of the major things that these updates cracked down on was page layout. The algorithm adjustments targeted sites with low quality content and ad-heavy page layouts. The update encouraged websites to deliver high quality content “above the fold.”

5. Penguin Update

In another step to reward high quality websites, Google introduced Penguin updates. The first Penguin update hit hard against “over-optimization.” Google cracked the whip to punish spam-like keyword stuffing, exact match anchor text, low quality content and other practices that attempt to manipulate the search engines.

6. Knowledge Graph

In an attempt to start building the next generation of search, Google rolled out the Knowledge Graph. The Knowledge Graph offers additional search results to help users find the right thing faster and receive a bigger summary that is relevant to the search topic. The idea is to help people do less time searching and more time discovering.

7. Google Disavow Link Tool

As the search engines get better at evaluating links, Google introduced the Disavow Link Tool to help websites clean up any suspicious and spam-like backlinks. Websites that receive warning concerning “unnatural links” can use this tool to remove the low quality links to their site to prevent penalties.

8. SEO.com’s 5th Year Anniversary

Okay, so maybe our anniversary didn’t rock the foundation of internet marketing—but it was a big year for our skilled teams and clientele. We’ve been in the industry for five fun years adjusting and anticipating changes all along the way.

Moving Forward

As the way we communicated and even marketed continued to change throughout the year, one thing remained constant: the need for high quality content. The most effective (yet most difficult) SEO tactic of the year was content creation. Honest content marketing assists with social media and SEO efforts, and will surely be one of the best practices to follow in the upcoming year.

Client Spotlight: Thanksgiving Point Uses Digital Marketing to Remain a Hot Community Spot

In the hustle and bustle of modern life, many of us have lost our connection to nature, history and the world around us. A desire to re-establish those connections is why, more than a decade ago, the nonprofit Thanksgiving Point Institute was established. The grounds offer a family-friendly experience nestled in Utah that strives to change lives through education, family experiences and interaction with the community. Offering gardens, museums, an emporium, restaurants and shops, this Wasatch Front destination provides a vast array of fun things to do in Utah, every season of the year.

Visiting Thanksgiving Point is not just for families, the expansive property offers venues and programs for corporate events, parties and even weddings. As a nonprofit organization, the institute’s mission is to foster learning, bring families closer together and give opportunities for people to form lasting community connections.

In an attempt to continue to fulfill their mission and give back, Thanksgiving Point decided to increase their digital marketing efforts, and they enlisted SEO.com to help them raise the online profile of the property’s best features.

Our main goal for the 2012 campaign was to increase attendance to our venues, events and catering bookings,” said Thanksgiving Point’s marketing manager, Emily Duffy.

SEO.com built an aggressive campaign for the organization prioritizing certain search terms to improve their rankings online, and a year later organic web traffic to the site rose 22 percent. Seventeen specific keywords for the organization have risen to the first page of search engine results, and most have increased as many as 20 to 40 positions.

Thanksgiving Point is a stunning venue for weddings, and one of their marketing goals was to increase their search rankings for wedding-related keyword terms.

While most of our chosen keywords have seen significant movement, we also had a very successful summer of wedding bookings at Thanksgiving Point,” said Duffy.

While the organization has plenty to do to prepare for the upcoming holiday season, during which their popular Christmas light display attracts thousands, their search marketing efforts are in good hands. The team at SEO.com is working to continue their success with online marketing for all of Thanksgiving Point’s unique venues.

Hiring SEO.com allowed us to draw from a pool of industry experts who have the ability to monitor our rankings while keeping us apprised of changes that may need to be addressed,” Duffy said.

The dedicated experts at SEO.com will certainly be on top of things for Thanksgiving Point, and work to help them see even more success in the year to come.

SEO Tip: Personalize Your Follow-Up

A study about the effect of dinner mints proved that a personalized follow-up (post-purchase) can affect a customer’s perception of service. According to the research, waiters who left dinner mints saw an increase in tips. But, there’s more.

  • The group that received mints from the server with the check, without the server actually mentioning the mints, saw a small 3 percent increase in tips.
  • The group that received mints that were mentioned by the server (ex. “Would you like a mint?”) saw an increase of 14 percent in tips.
  • The final group received mints with the check, but also received another set of mints a short while afterward in case they wanted more. Here, the tips increased by 27 percent.

In the final group, the difference was not the extra mints. The difference was the post-purchase personalization with the seemingly genuine concern for the customer. This connection can be used to your online advantage as well.

A highly effective method for increasing the value of an online customer is a personalized follow-up. Personalization can have a positive and direct impact on customer loyalty, conversion rates and customer retention.

To get it right, personalization is more than sprinkling a customer’s name on an e-mail. Better personalization dives into what your customer likes, when they want to hear from you and how they want to hear from you. In essence, it’s about delivering the right content to the right potential customer at the best time possible.

Some examples of post-purchase personalization can be offers for free training and support for your product or service, a complimentary guide that is related to the product or service or a reward for trying your product or service.

Industry Events

New Media Expo: Las Vegas; January 6-8, 2013
Affiliate Summit: Las Vegas; January 13-15, 2013
Online Marketing Summit: San Diego; February 11-13, 2013