Google started the year dominating search, and no surprise, Google still dominates search now; although Bing was able to capture modest market share gains. According to comScore, there were 17.8 billion searches in November 2011, of which 11.7 billion were run on Google, and Yahoo! + Bing accounted for 5.4 billion collectively.
Wake Up with Caffeine
In January, Google kicked-off 2011 with a revamped version of Caffeine, their super-fast ability to crawl and index content, allowing real-time content to be displayed in the results within minutes, and therefore, firmly establishing that content freshness will be an increasingly important ranking factor.
Social Influence Officially becomes a Part of the Ranking Calculation
In February, Google makes the “official” announcement that social signals are part of the SERPs weighted algorithm. Bing stays on the sidelines until the following month and then joins-in… a tacit admission by the major search engines that social media is here to stay.
Year of the Panda
Also in Q1, we saw the launch of Google’s Panda – a qualitative filter aimed at “thin” content sites. Overnight many content networks see rankings plummet across the board. The fear of Pandalization becomes every webmasters fear, as several reiterations are run throughout the year.
Google Launches the +1 Button & Google +
In Q2, the world experiences the launch of the +1 button – the Google equivalent of the Facebook “Like” icon. Google proceeds with a full-scale launch of Google +, an online social network in June.
In Q3, Google continues to dominate the headlines – August sees the introduction of ‘jumbo sitelinks’ – providing all brands with multiple links to help engage consumers identify deeper pages within their sites quickly to further improve relevancy and site engagement.
Yahoo! Site Explorer
Also in Q3, Yahoo! declares that Site Explorer will be sunset in 2011, and while there are alternatives on the market – Yahoo! Site Explorer was the only link graph tool produced exclusively by a major search engine.
In Q4, the SEO Industry sees the introduction of “Secure Search” by Google. If a user is signed into Google, their search terms are automatically stripped from the keyword data which shows up in Analytics.
November/December Holiday Retailers Cheer
The US consumer showcases online spending confidence with record sales across the board for the Holiday Sales Season – online sales surpass $30 billion. Amazon is the clear winner.
Bing gets accused of copying Google search results, Google and Microsoft bicker. Author authority introduced and Google provides guidance on content duplication issues with canonical tags. Google embroiled in anti-trust investigation and Eric Schmidt goes to Washington to testify.
Google launches “trusted stores” and makes massive moves into the ecommerce space. Facebook ties up with Skype (and Microsoft) in a video chat deal, and Twitter severed ties with Google.
Goodbye 2011… Hello 2012
Innovation across the Search Landscape continues to evolve at an increasingly rapid pace. From RankPay’s perspective, we are working hard to remain current (and hopefully ahead) of continued innovation around the page design implications of local and mobile, and of course the never-ending algorithm enhancements with respect to content freshness and social influence. We hope each of you had a fantastic 2011, and wish you continued success in 2012.