As SEOs we are constantly tracking and documenting the latest search trends. However, how often do we pay attention to development trends? In my opinion, not enough. You are probably thinking, well why should we? SEOs need to stay on top of every aspect of development in order to learn new ways of leveraging these technologies to achieve higher rankings. Therefore, I am going to review several development trends that are just getting started that will have a lasting impact on the world of SEO.
1. OpenSocial is an open set of APIs that allow social media sites to provide an universal login system. With OpenSocial, users can login to any site using the OpenSocial platform with their Google, Hi5, Myspace, Netlog, Ning, Yahoo, and a host of other site credentials.
Google is currently making it extremely easy for web developers to add elements of OpenSocial to their sites through the use of their Google Friend Connect widgets. These widgets depend heavily on the OpenSocial APIs. So, I know what you are thinking, How does this help with SEO? Well, there is very good reason to believe (including several patents) that Google will start using Social Media Indicators as a part of personalized search. In other words Google wants to track not necessarily what you think is cool, but what your friends think are cool. But, the only way Google can have access to this data is through OpenSocial. Lesson here: start using OpenSocial elements in your sites, like the Google Friend Connect widgets. Doing this will help your site rank in personalized search.
2. HTML 5 may not be out the door yet, but when it is, it is sure to leave a lasting impact on SEO. HTML 5 will make block segmentation a breeze. Block segmentation is when search engines analyze a web page based on the sum of its individual parts. For example it might look at the content of a blog post, and analyze it separately from the heading, and then do the same for each of the elements in the side bar. Up until now it has been some what of a mystery as to how the search engines are able to tell the difference from a post and a side bar. This is because HTML elements currently do not carry any inherently unique qualities. The content of a blog post is wrapped in a <div> along with the sidebar, and pretty much all other aspects of the page. However with HTML 5 there will be unique elements for each section. The content of your blog post will be wrapped in <article> and the sidebar will be wrapped in <aside>. These unique elements will aide search engines dramatically in page segmentation.
3. Running in the same vein as HTML 5, Microformats looks for a new way to format markup languages. Essentially, they offer a new standard for identifying important information. A good real world example of the use of Microformats would be Twitter’s profile page. Here we see Twitter identify important information such as a user’s name using <span class=”fn”>. Microformats help users and 3rd party services (such as search engines) identify data. Google has already started analyzing Microformats for Enhanced Listings. In this example Google is able to identify important product information such as price and customer reviews and add them to the Enhanced Listing. Because of this, Microformats are ideal for e-commerce web sites that want to stand out from the crowd. Its hard to tell how much of an indicator Microformats will play in the rankings, but it is always smart to make your markup as clear and accessible as possible to the search engines, and Microformats does this beautifully.
OpenSocial, HTML 5, and Microformats are all going to be big players in the SEO world in time to come. But, as always, there is something just around the corner that will affect SEO. What are your thoughts? Can you think of any development trends that are sure to impact SEO? If so let us know in the comments!
Joe Hall is Chief Web Head at jozsoft.com and creator of WhosTalkin.com