5 Essential Digital Marketing Focuses for 2012

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Generating links of any significant value has become increasingly difficult over the last few years, with so much focus on backlinks remaining a solid ranking factor in search engine algorithms still, it results in billions of mass produced spam links every day and more and more online communities, blogs and forums are tightening up the prevention of spam by introducing plugins, stripping tags and really limiting the opportunities that contributors can obtain a link back from the site – the reality is, unless you’re a large brand with an equally large customer base already for email marketing and an equally large social media following to continually push your products/services to, the likelihood of naturally acquiring backlinks for a small to medium sized business is going to prove difficult.

More and more emphasis will be placed on coming up with innovative and creative ways to generate links naturally further still in 2012, and whilst links remain to be a strong ranking factor in search, with many businesses in the same sector competing for the top positions, and Google making further progress in improving their algorithm and combat against spam – those that will really stand out from the rest will be those that have the ability to create genuine, unique, quality and naturally linkworthy content.

Social Weight & Signals

With social signals now affecting ranking in search engines towards the end of 2011, it can only be expected to see these play more of a role in ranking sites throughout 2012. Already, there are companies selling hundreds of ‘Likes’, ‘ReTweets’ and ‘+1s’ however in a bid to manipulate search engines into thinking that these pages are authoritative and trustworthy so it will be interesting to see how the likes of Google tackles this later in the year.

If you have a business presence online and you haven’t got to grips with social media yet, now is the time to do so if you want your customers to find you online. We may even begin to see the power of links decline whilst the power of social rises when ranking web pages fairly online during 2012.

Rich Snippet Markup

The implementation of rich snippet markup on websites using scheme.org microdata has grown significantly during 2011. What this does, is display more relevant information in search engine results against listings for certain types of content, such as events, reviews and authorship. Whilst the implementation of rich snippet markup does not currently bear any direct affect on the ranking of pages, it is likely only a matter of time before this is factored in to Google’s algorithm.

Using rich snippet markup on your website tells search engines much more about your content, this allows them to make a better judgement on whether your content is more suitable for any given search query. The more information you provide and the more relevant your content appears to be to a search engine, the chances are, that in time, your content will be favoured over competitors – via any means possible.


Whilst Google still hold the vast majority of search engine market share, it is essential for any website to predominantly focus on ranking well on their search engine(s) and doing anything possible to influence the chances. Welcome Google Plus.

Whilst not frequently used by the mainstream outside of the tech/digital sphere, Google are frequently stepping up their efforts to combine their search platform with their social platform. This includes the public ‘voting’ of web pages on the web via the use of a +1 button – you would be a fool not to utilise Google+ and ensure that you are doing everything you can to encourage the social interaction and sharing of your content via Google+ as it is the perfect leverage for Google to use their own social platform as a direct social signal (one of many) for ranking web pages plus allows them to incentivise the entire web to use Google+ in a bid for Google to compete with Facebook on the social front.

More Creative and Inspiring Ideas

As with anything on the web, it’s only a matter of time before an idea is exploited, over-killed and eventually abused until the method is devalued / frowned upon by many. 2011 was the year of guest blogging and infographics, both methods of link building / link baiting have undergone considerable attention from the masses – both of which appear to be reducing in quality from month to month.

2012 will no doubt see a new idea, a new way of creating buzz around a topic. It might be a new social media website, it may be a tool/app, it may be the next evolved step from guest blogging and infographics to build links… But whatever it is, it will happen, it will arrive and it will become the next ‘big’ thing… At least for a short period of time on the web.

Geoff Jackson | Clubnet Search Marketing | @zigojacko

Geoff Jackson is the Director of Search & Technology at Clubnet Search Marketing, a UK based search marketing agency. Geoff manages a team of SEO consultants/executives, designers/developers and copywriters and has an extensive background in ecommerce development and optimisation.

Geoff Jackson
Geoff Jackson is the Director of Search & Technology at Clubnet Search Marketing, a UK based search marketing agency. Geoff manages a team of SEO... Read Full Bio
Geoff Jackson

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  • Ranking Signals

    Google+ is definitely worth watching – especially now that Google pretty much requires users to create a Google+ enabled account (kind of annoying if you ask me).

    • Geoff Jackson

      It’s the perfect opportunity for Google to capitalise on social media market share via their dominance in search engine market share by combining the two. Whilst many websites’ focus is ranking well on Google above all else, it only makes sense to play ball and encourage Google+ usage, sharing and growth to increase success rates on Google search engines.

      It will be interesting to see how this develops in 2012.

  • Daronet

    Well, it seems pretty hard to make it to the top 10 rankings in Google ever since Panda hit the world. Moreover, after Google’s last Algo change, we see more and more G+1 results appearing in Google search. I guess they would like to use their best product ever i.e. the search engine to beat Facebook once and for all. Sadly, it messes the SEO and Marketing community plans.

    • Geoff Jackson

      The Google Panda algorithm updates will only affect web pages that have essentially not ‘played ball’ with Google’s guidelines. It is extremely unlikely that any genuine, legit website businesses that have not attempted to cut corners with their online SEO/marketing strategy will be affected. In the event your website has suffered as a results of 2011’s algo updates, maybe it’s time to address your strategy and look at what could have harmed your site by backtracing your steps?

      Google +1’s are only one social signal in ranking web pages, it can’t ignore the many others it uses so there will never be the evidence of only +1’d pages ranking ahead of non +1’d pages on that signal alone. Just factor in the integration of Google+ with your current social strategy and as the Google Plus platform grows and becomes wider spread outside the tech /web industry then Google social sharing can only increase.

  • Manish

    Hey Geoff in 2012, every internet marketer should highly concentrate on making a informative content which will help their readers. So I think more informative content you are providing to the readers then more your site or blog will get exposure.

    • Geoff Jackson

      As has always been the case Manish, Google is only ever been interested in user experience. Provide quality, unique and valuable content to your websites visitors and this will shine through by the many ranking factors that Google uses and will be rewarded accordingly.

      I find it surprising how the quality of content is still such a hugely discussed topic in marketing today, when this has always been the case and should always be the case for website owners. As Google develop their algorithm and new developments come into force, weeding out the junk from the valuable will only get easier for Google making it critically important to ensure every aspect of your online strategy is being addresses and optimised.

  • Nick Stamoulis

    It will be interesting to see what happens with Google+ in 2012. The projections are that it’s going to grow and reach impressive numbers, but I’m not convinced. While brands are using Google+ for search purposes, the masses still don’t see the need to switch from Facebook and don’t want to manage another social network.

    • Geoff Jackson

      I feel Google have still yet to identify an integral reason for the wider stream market to utlise their platform. It currently appeals predominantly to the tech/web industries, and whilst there is a definite recommendation for anyone that is involved with the marketing of a website/business to factor in Google+, this still leaves many millions of web users with no major reason to leverage Google+ over Facebook. With many not happy with Facebook, maybe it will come down to a slip up from Facebook which could essentially result in Google capitalising on their mistake to capture some of Facebook’s reach.

      I agree, it will be interesting to see whether Google Plus does progress from strength to strength this year.

  • Debajyoti Banerjee

    Research, Research, and Research. Provide best researched and well informative articles on your site. Update regularly. Add values, values to your website, to your user, to your community. If you work sincerely keeping patience towards offering the best user experience on your site, you’ll rock. In support, you need strong and smart marketing moves. Take care of personal as well as professional branding. Be pro-active and try experiments. That’s it. BTW, good points Geoff. Thank you for such nice post.

    • Geoff Jackson

      You’re welcome Debajyoti, glad you liked the content.