My how time flies when you are spamming improving Google’s results.  Time again for my take on what’s in store for all of you localsearcharati in ‘010. And check out how my seo predictions did for 2009. Drum roll please…

  1. The Open Source Yellow Pages Will Emerge
    Business listing data online has traditionally been severely fragmented.  Different sites have different business names, phone numbers, website URLs, hours of operations, services, etc.  The backend data suppliers like Localeze, InfoUSA & Acxiom have done an ok job of trying to become the source of truth for business listings, but ultimately the world really needs a single source for the so-called golden record for each business.  Twitter looks like it’s about to become that source.  It’s recent purchase of MixerLabs and their GeoAPI product is the yellow pages API I have been whining about for the past year or so.  If this rolls out the way I think it will, Twitter will now become the central clearinghouse for a huge portion of local data.  The data providers, yellow pages publishers, ad agencies will still play a part, controlling what proprietary info they feed into the system, but pretty much any application that involves local businesses will use the Twitter system, so much so that if you aren’t using it, your product will seem deficient.  Mastering the inputs and outputs of this system will become a key differentiator for local marketers in ‘010.
    What else is there to say on this subject?  GOOG will continue on its long march to local search domination.  More organic results will lead to more Maps results in more ways than ever before, continuing to put the organic squeeze on any sites that are not true local businesses.  The Favorite Places window sticker thing won’t do much for traffic but GOOG will send them out to more businesses just because they can.  Now that the Yelp deal may have passed GOOG will leak that they are setting up a call center to target SMB advertisers in a few markets as a test further freaking out everybody else in local.  GOOG voice search on mobile will start to show some serious growth.  Audio SEO aka Voice Search Optimization will be a minor development with huge ramifications.  As I said last year, it’s a Google world and we all just search in it.

Ranking Tip: increase your business’ presence on Google Maps citation sources such as Panoramio, Flickr, Wikipedia & YouTube.  Be the first on your block to discover new sources and get a gold star

  1. What’s Our Demand Media Strategy?
    I almost put this ahead of Google because while the Great GOOG will be where a lot of the action is, it seems like everyone I talk to is fixated on the Demand Media strategy of creating content based on actual demand instead of editorial judgment.  Expect to see big brands creating large amounts of content around hot keywords clogging up the organic SERPs and social media sites.  This has been a time-honored strategy used by spammers. The big difference here is that big companies with big budgets are starting to play in this game churning out more content than ever before.  If you run a company that provides cheap article writing in the Philippines, this could be good.
    Ranking Tip: See Brent D Payne’s great presentation on How To Connect Journalism with the Greatest Possible Audience.
  2. Attack of the Guides
    Given that it’s getting harder for yellow pages publishers to rank well for local queries, expect to see a lot of how-to guides emerge from the various players in an attempt to expand their “search footprint”™.  I expect within 3-6 months pretty much everybody is going to have a wedding guide, a home improvement guide, etc.
    Ranking Tip:  Don’t fish where everyone else is.  Go after a relatively uncontested niche – maybe start with a funeral guide? 
  3. Invasion of the Lame Local Games
    Foursquare and GoWalla have attracted attention for creating games that have a virtual local component.  There is something very cool and futuro about this.  Problem is everybody is going to try and copy this because the potential is insanely huge.  So expect an onslaught of local gaming lameness.
    Darkhorse Tip: A company like Zynga has the potential to do something out of control with this concept which will totally take the industry by surprise.
  4. AdSense for Local
    Adsense performs well on local search sites.  Big local search sites are some of the top local advertisers on Adsense.  They would rather not give their $ to GOOG.  They have a lot of advertisers.  Why haven’t they done this yet?
    Strategy Tip: Companies like Localeze & Yext claim they are already on their ways to a system like this.  We’ll keep an eye on them.
  5. Reputation Management Wars
    It seems like everybody’s working on a reputation management system to help SMBs get a handle on how they are being presented on relevant sites across the Web. Merchant Circle, Marchex, GetListed, Palore have all either rolled out or announced efforts in this area.  Expect to see big publishers and SMB ad sellers like ReachLocal, Webvisible, Yodle, etc. try to figure out how they can play in this space to create more value for advertisers.
  6. SMB SEO Budgets Will Increase Dramatically
    A number of misguided souls are predicting that personalized search renders SEO obsolete.  Bottom line: most SMBs don’t know what they are doing with search, are going nuts because some spammer or the guy down the street outranks them, want to spend more time with their kids and are ready to hire someone to make the problem go away.
  7. GLBC Will Institute An Agency of Record User
    There are all sorts of complicated reasons why Google Local Business Center does not allow for an “agency” user.  Google wants to discourage mass spamming and perhaps they want to force more businesses to claim their own profile and actually engage with the Google.  The best response I heard from Google is that if businesses aren’t signing up on their own then that’s a problem with the product and they need to improve the product to get them to do so.  Hopefully this is the year that Google admits that most businesses just won’t do it on their own.
  8. M&A Activity in Local Search Will Take Off
    There’s a reason I have started including M&A services as part of my consulting work.  The Yelp/Google deal, the ReachLocal IPO, the Twitter/Mixerlabs deal – these events create a growing sense that local search is starting to congeal – meaning that there are a set of services that are starting to show the ability to break away from the fragmented local search pack and have the potential to grab relatively large shares of their markets.  Expect to see a domino effect with a number of large and small acquisitions over the next year.
  9. SEO Consultants Will Become Better Known as Marketers
    2009 seemed like the year when a lot of SMBs woke up to the fact that SEO actually existed and could be an important part of the marketing mix.  In 2010 more businesses are going to start to realize that search and social media could be the biggest area of potential for their companies and they will pour more resources into these channels.  As a result search marketers are going to take on bigger roles helping drive comprehensive marketing strategies.  SEOs will be the Na’vi 2010 – whatever that means.

Oblique Strategy for 2010: Short circuit (example; a man eating peas with the idea that they will improve his virility shovels them straight into his lap)

Great Local Search/SEO Sites To Stay on Top of in 2010:
Local Search Twitterers

Local SEO Tweets
Locals Only
Praized Blog
The Kelsey Group
The Local Onliner
Understanding Google Maps & Local Search
Yellow Pages Commando

feel free to email me with additions to the list and enjoy the decade.

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21 Response Comments

  • aimClear  January 4, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    More and more SEOs will note the need for PPC to:
    Prove the funnel
    Prove optimized messages against conversion

    Great post Andrew. Thanks for the perspective.

  • Matthew Hunt  January 4, 2010 at 2:31 pm

    Great post! I loved reading you last predictions too. You should like to that one too from this post. Fun stuff!

    I’d love to see YP go open source as you suggested.

    I currently use Panoramio, Flickr, Wikipedia, YouTube & and other web 2.0 content sharing sites to snag citations for our clients in G-Maps – it works!

    I jumped over to – what in the world is that and what do they do…? Maybe, I need look further. It looks like gaming site, how it is local…? They do local games…? Maybe I’m missing the obvious here. Not sure about this one. 🙂

    I have seen a ton of micro seo guides and specialist popping up everywhere – seo for dentist, seo for florist, etc. Looks like it will segment this way.

    Reputation management and brand management WILL be a HUGE industry.

    SEO is totally (finally) being recognized by SMB’s BIG time. Internet marketing gives most SMB’s the best ROI than most other mediums.

  • Andrew Shotland  January 4, 2010 at 2:54 pm

    Nice to see you hear Matthew. The link to my 2009 predictions is at the top of the post.

    Zynga is the biggest (?) social gaming company in the world with games like Farmville & Texas Hold ’em Poker on Facebook. My thinking is that if the gaming element is attracting people to Foursquare, then a company that makes games might be able to take advantage of that.

  • stuartpturner  January 4, 2010 at 7:17 pm

    Damn,going to have to revise my list of lists post now,it’s a nice top 3 as well…

    I pretty much agree with all those predictions to be onest, in particular with aimclear’s comment about understanding PPC. It crucial to show business value (as much aspossible) in actual money to clients and anyone who’s run a PPC campaign well in the past should be able to apply some of the methodolgy to SEO campaigns as well.Bring on the changes!

    Except real time search,I just do not see any value in it so far…

  • George Bounacos  January 4, 2010 at 8:13 pm

    Some nice thought behind this list, Andrew. I think Zygna is probably the biggest pure-play online gaming company now if I believe a fraction of the valuations I hear.

    Spot-on about Google Local Business Center. Probably 1/3 of my clients ran decent AdWords campaigns, but they’re small businesses who *don’t have time* and *will not take on another inhouse resource to advertise*. Then there’s that whole changing landscape effect. The local business is busy with cash and growing their own business and operations and a bazillion other things. They don’t want to worry about the impact of personalized SERPs or what happens with mapping and mobile.

    But my biggest comment for you is a hearty thank you for continuing to push the notion that the folks marketing online are marketers first and always. Most of the time we do that marketing online, but I’ve helped clients set up landing pages for spot radio they’ve run. Where we market isn’t important. That we create profit is. Nicely done.


  • Matthew Yarro  January 5, 2010 at 10:37 am

    With regard tot he last prediction, as the Web continues to mature, what people need to realize is that all business will need traditional marketers who understand SEO and so can integrate SEO into a companies marketing plan.

    For me, SEO isn’t a person, it is an activity that a marketing person performs.

    It seems like a subtle distinction, but a difference that will become more profound in years to come.

  • Gab Goldenberg  January 5, 2010 at 2:06 pm

    Junk content gets mass produced. Shakespeare would be pleased.

  • Case Ernsting  January 5, 2010 at 3:40 pm

    I would love to see your last prediction come to fruition. As a newbie to the SEO/Marketing world, I’d love to earn the respect and recognition across the marketing industry. As a marketing major in college, the principles and business practices in SEO and marketing are very similar and deserve to be on the same level…right?

  • Andrew Shotland  January 5, 2010 at 3:57 pm

    it is already happening Case. I have a client that does TV & Radio but their strategy starts with search.

  • Ryan Pitylak  January 7, 2010 at 10:54 pm

    I think you’re right about the SMB budgets increasing in 2010. It’s clear that small businesses are starting to think about search marketing, and they need a partner to do it effectively.

    The Demand Media strategy comments are pretty interesting. I would have thought most businesses would have been thinking about creating content around keywords already, but when I think about it, it seems like you’re in that many of them are not. As long as the content is relevant, then I think it makes sense to build some unique content around a specific keyword.

  • Alt NewWorld  January 10, 2010 at 5:28 pm

    I just finished a mashup of GeoAPI, Twitter, and the Layar augmented reality service for smartphones. Its at . Think Foursquare for everyone – you can check into any of 16M US locations , or create your own location. Your checkin and optional message is tweeted out! You can also see who else has ‘checked in’ to your area! Its on iPhone3g and Android phones via the Layar application – search for dating!

  • Woods  January 12, 2010 at 8:57 am

    Local games are a definate….I expect that to be very huge in 2010! good shouts all down the list

  • Pixelrage  January 12, 2010 at 11:20 am

    Totally disagree on #8 – there’s nothing “misguided” about them. Corporations will spend more time on social networking and SEM than on SEO. I’m expecting a lot more “tickerboxes” in SERPs. I’m also hoping that the days of spamming the internet (i.e. linkbuilding) will start to die off this year.

  • Jamie Ludlow  January 14, 2010 at 9:37 am

    Thanks for your predictions Andrew. This predictions has its basis. I think these predictions have a high possibility to come true. I hope that you’ll keep posting nice stuffs. I will talk about this on my blog. (

  • Chris Preen  January 18, 2010 at 7:28 am

    Thanks for a great article.

    Would love it if you could expand on your tip about google map citation sources.

  • Bernie  January 31, 2010 at 7:13 am

    Hi Andrew. Thanks for those very detailed predictions, as always – and for having the gut to actually write them down at this time of the year. You are right when predicting SEO’s will have, more and more, to get involved with all things marketing; and not sitting there with a list of keywords in their hands.

    Conversion and data analysis will be bigger than ever in 2010 IMHO. Rankings are shuffling all around the place with personalisation and social search; local search is bigger than ever; Social Media traffic is booming; business owners will want to know which part of their online activity brings the highest ROI – and we can now segment this data as much as we want to. Time to start attending advanced Analytics seminars…

  • Alex Becker  February 4, 2010 at 6:18 pm

    If you click my name you should be able to see a really nice SEO for 2010 presentation that was made by Highly Relevant and presented in front of 200 people in January. Hope you enjoy it.

  • Emily Roesly  March 18, 2010 at 10:35 am

    I loved your tip on starting a Funeral Guide! LOL The web is expanding and changing so much that I can’t begin to keep up. It seems I go through a learning curve at least every other day. Right now, I’m trying to figure out what an RSS feed is. Sad, I know. But I’m trying!

    Thanks for the great info in your blog. It gives me some idea of what’s in store!

  • Matthew Cummins  July 23, 2010 at 4:42 am

    6 months or so down the track, one thing I think is interesting is that (at least in Australia where I’m from), there are still SO many people who haven’t realized the value of local search – although perhaps it’s because while not a backward country overall we definitely are backward when it comes to small local businesses getting online properly.

    Also I think the SEO game has changed quite a lot due to the Caffeine and more importantly Mayday Google updates as they have changed to focus back to content in many ways.


  • Sean Fyresite  October 5, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    One hole with #1 is an open source yellow pages…. You guys should check it out, it has fantastic SEO Potential! Nice post none the less, sent to my RSS

  • Nancy George  September 8, 2011 at 2:33 pm

    Another prediction, but for 2015: Google Page One will turn into the exclusive province of major advertisers with deep pockets, much like network television.