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2006 Predictions Review

Online marketing information can change quickly This article is 14 years and 167 days old, and the facts and opinions contained in it may be out of date.

It’s been a pretty cool year in the world of search marketing, and the year end roundups are always a great time to build those bookmarks full of a ton of great information that you’ll likely never have a chance to go back and read (learn to skim or speedread). I thought I’d take a look at some of the topics I discussed last year, and see what panned out, and what hasn’t yet come to fruition (as well as some things I missed. It didn’t seem like I had a lot of new predictions, but there are a few near the bottom. Here’s my predictions from last year, and how I think they’re doing.

2006 SEO Predictions Review

  1. viral link attraction – the increase in popularity of social network sites will continue to make this more and more important. The ability to cater your message to individual demographics, and reach the mavens, salespeople, and connectors within a specific industry will continue to make this skill an increasingly valuable one.
  2. user generated content – Content is the "blocking" of search marketing. If you can get your users to do the work for you, you are doing something right. Make image tagging a game and get someone cool on board to promote it.
  3. bashing pagerank – I will always have a secret love of toolbar pagerank – at least it’s still good to explain link popularity. Just be sure to explain the history and contradictions of pagerank to your clients.
  4. on-page naturalization – fix your overkill SEO. You don’t need to go overboard. Three things – content, links, structure. If you can’t figure out on page, you had better start selling some "branding based services"
  5. "non-seo" links – Think google doesn’t have a nice big map of scummy seo links? I think you had better have a career backup plan.
  6. trusted links – trust is the new SEO. Good business is trust. The best SEO’s know how to budget their time effectively for things that make the most impact. I spend A LOT of time on trusted links.
  7. content with links exchange – recips are dead. Long live context exchange, and cooperative business model cross-pollination.
  8. geovertical targeting – I hope you’ve figured out that local search WASN’T just hype. I think geovertical targeting will be the major catalyst for mobile search once we all have better devices, where it isn’t easier to just fire up a laptop.
  9. community reviewed content – I should have seen digg coming sooner. Peer reviewed content (more importantly by qualified expert) will be the "audit" level that is needed on top of traditional search in vertical areas. Strong expert peer review is the unique selling point needed by any vertical or niche search engine or website.
  10. url rewriting for user appearance and viral distribution – WordPress helped to propogate this idea, and it has been extremely effective. Sites that use effective rewriting from launch (or relaunch) position themselves much more effectively for long term growth. There are several benefits to creating proper urls, and the value will only continue to grow over time.
  11. trustbox – I’m a bit surprised there isn’t more discussion of the "trustbox". The idea of the sandbox took off, but ideas for improving credibility and trust seem to be few and far between. Perhaps this stems from most ideas being overly used and abused to some extent once they are shared.
  12. article submission – I doubt this will ever go away. Targeting specific sites with well written article to obtain trusted links will always be a good strategy. They want exceptional content. You NEED strong trusted links. Don’t be afraid to pitch big sites with good ideas.
  13. media distrubution communication – The lines between social media and public relations has, and will continue to blur. The more you understand both, the more effective you will become at packaging and delivering your message.
  14. blog community outreach – If you’re not reaching out to big bloggers in your arena (and sucking up to them) – your competitors are likely giving you an ass whooping in the SERPS.
  15. web-copy language synonymy substitution – please use regularly. SEO copywriting IS NOT repeating keywords anymore. Not even BOTS want to read an article that repeats itself and looks like it was written by a fourth grader anymore.
  16. information architecture and strategic deeplinking – I am continually amazed at how underestimated this is to the overall process of search marketing. A strong information architecture is the critical to the success of any SEM campaign. Start with your foundation – or start over. Plan a deeplink strategy to any and all of your many categories. Decide between subdomains and subdirectories. If your CEO didn’t do this – find a new company or tell them why you should be doing their job.
  17. gut feel and multi recipe conversion tracking – Split testing, funnel testing, landing page optimization – whatever you call it, you should be doing it. If you’re not converting, your SEO is pretty pointless
  18. algorithm variable hedge betting – Even if Matt, Brian, Aaron, or any other generous soul at google gave me the current secret sauce, I would likely change very little of the process I use for an online marketing campaign. Developing a process that isn’t dependent on the latest algorithm shift is the best type of SEM you can create. Plan for fluxuations – don’t build sites for search engines – but build sites that search engineers would approve of.
  19. rise of user tagging and bookmarking incentivization – User tagging has gained some momentum, but there is still a WIDE OPEN marketplace for creative new business models that offer worthwhile incentivization for community contribution. This is one of the areas I think I was looking a bit too far ahead on.
  20. discussion of online media – Traditional media outlets are definitely making the discussions more interesting. As more people catch on to what we’ve been doing for years, more people start to get interested and talk about it. Just the sheer growth size of the conferences proves the attention that it is getting.
  21. parasite SEO – This will only grow, and likely continue to add to the stigma associated with SEO.
  22. sandbox existence debates – This has died down as people gain understanding of the new principles of search engine ranking factors. (Thank God!)
  23. real marketing principles actually start to matter again – I guess they never went away. In a year’s time, I’ve come to appreciate "traditional marketing" a whole lot more.
  24. automated mass tag distibution – this still hasn’t been beat up TOO badly (I’m surpised some better wordpress extensions haven’t been developed), but as tagging gets easier, I would imagine it will, and "meta-tags 2.0" will become less useful unless they are audited by human quality control.
  25. reputation management through the blogosphere – I think more folks will either embrace reputation management and optimization for their names and/or alter egos and do so proactively. It was kinda cool to see Ted Leonsis address this issue, and it was a shame we didn’t pull him into the search marketing community a bit more.
  26. one box optimization – Many more people should listen to Brian Mark about one-box optimization. I’m sure he’s not the only one who’s used the one box (among other things) to build a company’s site traffic to the point they can barely keep up. There is growing opportunity and competition in this area every day.
  27. affiliate content network based sales generation – CPA would have been an easier way to say this. I think Cost Per Acquisition networks are growing by leaps and bounds, but they also bring their own unique problems with fraud, and CPC will continue to be a model that is effective and not always replaceable.
  28. SE based PPC tools – PPC is the search engine’s bread and butter. Not surprisingly, we saw Google release tools like their adwords editor, adwords landing page optimizer, and a whole ton of tutorials and information for PPC managers. The release of panama from yahoo was a big step, and could certainly be seen as a better "tool" for managing YSM.
  29. SE click fraud tools in response to increased advertiser pressure – There’s still plenty of room for improvement, but improvement HAS been made by both 3rd parties, an understanding from advertisers on auditing quality clicks, and the search engine’s tracking and enforcement of click fraud.
  30. lots of msn acquisitions and products – It seems like there were many more google and yahoo buys. Bill or Balmer – it’s TIME to break out the checkbooks. You can’t HIRE the good developers anymore. It’s time to take search serious and starting shelling out some cash. It would not be at all surprising to see yahoo and msn join forces. The battle for search is no longer about relevance – it’s about loyal user base.
  31. vertical niche specialization – Pick a vertical niche and automate. Write what you know, etc. Just ask the guys at local launch what a good idea focusing on local search was.
  32. page view maximization – I’m really happy when the page view averages improve on my sites. Incorporate statistic and analytic information you can actually USE, and yours might improve as well.
  33. page view duration optimization – see above
  34. usability and standards compliance – Not too many big lawsuits on this front during the year, but this will become more and more of an issue as we all start to depend more on the internet for the tasks of daily life.
  35. content contribution incentivization – Still LOTS of opportunity here. Incentivization is NOT necessarily always monetary. Unique business models are what dominate the web. If it wasn’t so damn cliche and anti-creative, I would tell you to "think outside the box" or "shift your paradigm".
  36. mobile content optimization – still a bit early on this one. Everyone needs the cool mobile devices they have in Japan. It’s hard to sell people on thumbtyping when normally we’re only minutes away from a laptop and a net connection if we’re truly net junkies. As devices get improve there is still opportunities in this area.
  37. fictional users – HOW many users does myspace, facebook, and digg have? Riiiiiiiight.
  38. "trust spam" – See parasite SEO.
  39. improved tracking capability – Tools for tracking are the most important developments in search. If you don’t have good tracking tools for your company – you had better hope someone catches on to it soon, or start polishing your resume.
  40. personalization manipulation – Personalized search is still not quite mainstream – this will likely be the future of "blackhat seo". In my humble opinion blackhat is only worthwhile in niches I don’t personally work in. If you’re going to go to all that trouble, you might as well put together a plan that will ultimately be legit to a search engine quality control rep.

Things I didn’t see coming in search this year

Paid reviews on blogs – services like ReviewMe, Payperpost, Blogsvertise, and many others that will continue to evolve and improve in the marketplace. I think these are a great idea as they pick up traction in vertical spaces they will become absolutely essential to the search marketing/ online marketing mix.

Danny leaving SEW – gonna be really interesting to see what our fearless leader does next (Did ANYONE see that one coming?).


New predictions for 2007

  • Google is no longer a media darling – but will handle the press fine and continue to dominate search, and creep their way into every other media further and further. Good luck stopping them.
  • Wikipedia will not "kill" Google
  • A proliferation of pligg sites (or subdomains on sites) – as people try to adapt and improve the digg model to given verticals.
  • People will realize social media is really just the human quality audit that search needed
  • Best SEO’s will embrace "defensible traffic"
  • At least 3 larger SEO companies will get gobbled up by big ad agencies for technology, personnel, or process
  • Social media optimization will become part of public relations
  • Reputation management will become a part of public relations
  • Billions of man hours will be wasted watching online videos
  • AJAX, gradients, and beta tags will continue to rule the world
  • CPA will not solve clickfraud
  • Mobile search still won’t be HUGE this year


Let me know if anyone else has any cool 2006 roundups or lists.

Happy New Year’s Everyone – Have a great 2007

More information about Todd Malicoat aka stuntdubl.

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  • Brian Turner

    I’m glad to see convergence between both of our 2007 predictions. :)

  • SEOidiot

    Great Post Todd!

  • Ben Pfeiffer

    Awesome Post Todd, those are some big and new words in there.

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  • Nick

    Nice post, but I have to disagree with your prediction that Pligg or other Diggish sites will become popular in 2007. The main reason that Digg is so popular is that their demographic consists of users who spend a good chunk of their time online and are willing to contribute to community sites. I cant see many other demographics doing this same type of ‘job’ that digg users do.

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  • markus941

    Dead on balls accurate. Impressive.

  • Nathaniel Broughton

    Nice post, Todd. Never commented before but I love the blog man. I thought Rep Mgt would really take off too – maybe 2007 will be its time to become more mainstream.

  • rumblepup

    Todd, this is a fantastic post for a couple of reasons. The most important is that you share my ideas on social marketing. (If we didn’t, then it would be a terrible quote, and you wouldn’t know what your talking about. LOL)

    As far a social sites, Pligg based or not, bookmarking or networking, is that that because of the speed of the internet, Branding happens at a much faster pace. Brand loyalty even faster.

    Many of your predictions point to the return of actual MARKETING, as opposed to MARKETING BY ALGO. Traffic is fine, but sites with little to offer in terms of attracting visitors to become clients.

    Your points
    Social media optimization will become part of public relations
    Reputation management will become a part of public relations

    Are very traditional in nature. Corporate culture, branding, trusted representation.

    It’s all circular isn’t it? Traffic is fine. Qualified traffic is better. Your points lead to this argument, I think. Then again, I’m a dumb doo doo head rumblepup.

    Mobile search still won’t be HUGE this year
    But what if search technology finally caught up to the promise. I agree, I don’t think that mobile search will be even close to regular search, but Mike McDonald had an interesting point. One day, maybe not next year, you can search for Chinese restaurants in Chicago and get tne closest one to your location, what is their lunch special, and how many seats are available right now. I love that concept, but it’s a concept that I think will lead naturally to mobile search, and until the complete technological solution is available for those types of results, I don’t think that mobile search will take off.

    Ford didn’t become rich until driving was popular. Driving became popular when Ford came out with an economical car. So whoever beats everybody to the punch on mobile search, I think will own it.

    All of your other predictions I still have to read and fathom. Just a (big) little guy.

  • Brian Mark

    Great… now I’m going to have to give one-box optimization tips on my blog. Thanks, Todd. ;)

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  • Dave White

    Wonderful post and I think I’m heading in the right direction in terms of social marketing. It has become a must to make optimal utilization of these kind of networks.
    But ion terms of conversions and rankings I do not see a lot of success using these networks.There are already a lot of speculation regarding the management or editing procedure of certain social networking sites.