Looking back on 2011, as always, there’s lots of change in the search engine marketing world! New ad products, new features and new media keep in-house online marketers ever on their toes to stay up on the latest and greatest opportunities in an increasingly complex field of online marketing.
What were the most interesting and impactful search marketing innovations for in-house marketers in 2011?
1. Google’s Panda Update
2011 kicked off with a series of Google natural search algorithm updates that the blogosphere still buzzes about, Panda. There have been eleven updates in all as of today, and with every one in-house search engine marketers responsible for SEO have been on the edge of their seats.
It’s fair to say no past series of Google updates has been as widely written about, speculated on, or contentiously argued about (why me!?). A search on Google for Google Panda garners 134,000,000 results, which is impressive for only being around 11 months!
2. Facebook Sponsored Stories
In January, Facebook launched a new type of ad, Sponsored Stories. I’d mark this as the first truly social media paid advertising. Everything before was just targeted display ads with like buttons, sure a little more social, but not much of an innovation.
Sponsored Stories leverage the social network to create essentially word of mouth advertisements from your friends. Sponsored Stories already generate much higher response rates (CTRs, likes) than the more traditional ads on Facebook.
We’ll see more innovation here; social media advertising is just getting started. Facebook will continue to find new ways to insert friends into ad placements, there’s no one you trust or like more than them.
3. MSN AdCenter Negative Exact
After more than a year of sitting as the #1 advertiser request, MSN AdCenter added negative exact keyword capabilities. We probably shouldn’t be celebrating the addition of basic functionality to a widely used platform, but hey, they finally did it, and it does have a big, positive impact for in-house marketers trying to manage all the crazy broad match queries.
4. Tablet Targeting in AdWords
Without a lot of fanfare Google added tablet targeting options to AdWords in July. I’d argue this might be the most underused or talked about significant feature released this year. Many advertisers are differentiating mobile vs. desktop campaigns and optimizing accordingly, but I don’t know anyone (including myself) who has yet to raise their in-house search engine marketing game to mobile vs. tablet vs. desktop.
There’s no denying the rise of tablet popularity and use, it’s only a matter of time before marketers start targeting and optimizing for it specifically. I have my first test down to kick off January 2012, testing mobile site vs. regular site landing pages for tablet targeted AdWords campaigns.
5. The Launch Of Google+
Arguably there’s minimal impact from Google+ to in-house search engine marketers this year and only time will tell if Google+ is a serious social media contender or not. But, there’s no arguing the buzz and that there could be significant potential for marketers.
With +1 buttons on AdWords ads and organic search results, verified +1 pages for brands, and social extensions, there’s lots of ways Google is weaving Google+ into search results. In-house marketers would do well to stay on top of these trends and opportunities, someday the audience might be there.
As I see more and more Google+ ads appearing on TV, I can’t help but be reminded of all the Bing ads I saw when it launched as the also ran to Google as the dominant player. Mostly we all still use Google for search, I’m not sure the millions MSN spent bought them much in terms of long term share. I wonder the same for Google+…so far we’re all still using Facebook.
If you’ve got other contenders for a top spot, I’d love to hear them, leave a comment! And to everyone, a safe and Happy New Year!
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.