Wow, what a year. So many things have happened in a short time span that have changed for the internet development and marketing industry. My hometown was plagued with a wonderful mayor that received international attention. Mr. Bing (our new mayor) received our help with his social media campaign. Bankruptcy of large corporations, government bailout and job cuts are affecting us all. The water runs downstream and I believe many businesses are going to see this pattern through 2010.

The United States economy has really put a hold on corporate spending, with estimates near 15% in overall ad spending there are signs of a slight recovery towards the end of the year. So far, the holidays for our clients, and the chatter we hear from others are reporting stable to little dip over last year. Well last year was not all that hot so I’m not sure if that is half full or empty.

Online Search and Development

Google still dominates search uses, with some 65% of all consumers, with Yahoo! in 2nd place at 18%; Bing comes in at just under 10%. Ask and AOL make up the difference. Microsoft, David (Bing) to combat Goliath (Google,) announced a partnership with Yahoo! that solidified in December. Bing will start to supply the search results for Yahoo! in 2010 and combine advertising forces too, I am sure. This should be an interesting race to grab my, and other agency, ad dollars for online marketing. (I was never a big fan of the ultra-slow Yahoo Search Marketing platform and archaic ad approval speed.) In other news Time Warner completed a spinoff of AOL, not that anyone really cared.

Getting Mobile, Getting Local

We have new smart phones, the Apple iPhone turns three years old and Google Android is becoming more popular. Heated mobile debates are still running rapid (should we all get rid of the .mobi domains we all invested in?) However, clean fast browsing on your mobile device is a sign that things are only going to get better. Smart phones are now offering new areas for agencies, small businesses and marketers to reach. Local advertising from Google and their push to small advertisers are showing positive results. This December they even announced their testing of QR Codes for phones, which are bar codes that you don’t need to print.

Speaking of Google, they are hot-to-trot with Android, their open source operating system for phones. So, no more over-priced iPhone app development, numerous revisions and waiting period to release on iTunes. They are also testing out some cool stuff with search by voice, search by sight (Google Goggles which is pretty cool too) and search by location or product. I had the opportunity to play with the new Google phone over the holiday break and it is cool. It was officially launched at CES last week in Las Vegas.

Personalized Search

While customized search results for you are not anything new, in December Google announced that they are personalizing results for all users. A small cookie keeps your history data for 180 days. For this reason, it is my opinion that search engine ranking reports are dead. They don’t matter anymore (not that I ever said they did for a long time, it’s all about a combined effort of your rankings and conversion on-site) and SEO’s should be optimizing for a target audience. This would include social strategies, focused keyword strategies, fresh quality content, better site usability and using analytics to its maximum capacity for user/site intelligence.

Real-Time Searching

Twitter, Twitter-Twitter. I’m bored of it now, but that should not sway your decision to get your company involved. I was tired of this word “Twitter” after my PubCon conference this past November; tons of sessions on marketing and gaining followers. And a good reason this new social media tool should not go unnoticed is that Google, Yahoo! And Bing all added social search components to their engines. is a daily stop for me fishing for leads, engaging others in conversations and seeing what the competition is doing (three great tips there!). Twitter also showed us that there is a new “spam” outlet to abuse by all. Herbal Viagra anyone?

Cloud Formations

Cloud computing is taking the world by storm, and for good reason. Expanded storage space, easier remote access and improved collaboration are strong points for the change. Using clouds for your file hosting of your website could improve speed performance which Google has claimed to like. Privacy and security are still a bit of a concern for the adoption. Twitter employees got hacked and a bit of their financial statements were leaked. Not good. However, this can be combated with a strong password and accessibility policy in your organization. Overall I say “reach for the sky and grab a cloud in 2010.”

What Twenty-Ten Holds

Google Caffeine is rolling out as a new search engine. Minimal differences will be apparent to the average user, but will show results faster, more accurate and more comprehensive. I am sure another update will follow the first quarter as well. SEO this year should be fun and interesting as I am sure more and more revenue-lacking, traditional advertising agencies will be becoming SEO experts. It has been a hot word for a while now, so they will be behind and of course give us a bad name.

True ROI, in terms of bottom-line numbers reported in annual reports and quarterly statements, will continue to elude the usability profession. Wake up please; website usability is a huge factor in your online campaign’s success.

Twitter will roll out a new advertising platform. It’s been in the works for a bit under the covers (shhhhh I was not supposed to say). and have been monetizing Twitter for a few months and I am sure we will see more sponsored conversations. I’m convinced it can work when executed properly. Also look for Facebook and Twitter to become strong challengers to Google.

Speaking of Social Media… I think we will see some real case studies and strategies outlined for social media success. Bottom line is to be genuine and get in the conversation and help people. Stop selling stuff. Let it happen naturally.

Expensive keywords will plague our industry all year. With the integration of Bing and Yahoo! to take place, (can we please do away with Yahoo Search Marketing please? I never liked the new version) there will be a new wave of over-inflated per-click pricing as the two giants try to level things out. Seems to be happening every 2-3 years now anyways. Also, expect paid search to go multi-channel, and the online to offline conversion and vice versa will become a factor.

Two words: Google phone (or Nexus One). Game changer and new revenue stream for the big G. People will be talking about this all year. Did someone say “iPhone Killer.”

Start-up 2010: We will see more people, regular “Joe” individuals, go into an online business. From home, following an idea or hobby they have perfected, more and more individuals will start a business and it will be an online business. Ford offering early buy-outs again in January plus an overall ailing economy and lack of job growth will encourage people with more time on their hands to take a stab at their own business. My opinion is to go for it, and remember we are here to help – even at the early planning stages.

And lastly…Links. Links and more links. Back links are still essential to help you achieve better rankings. It’s a simple formula tried and tested. Write great content that people like, comment on and publish often. Create a great tool and give it away. Do a study and release a white paper. These tactics produce quality content that Google loves, and if people love it too, they will link to it naturally.

Have a great Twenty-Ten!

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