2011 is all but a memory. Over the past 12 months we have seen changes to Facebook (of course you can say that about any 12 month period), major changes to Google’s search algorithm (again no big surprise), the growth of mobile computing and Google making a big splash in social media. For online marketing, the inevitable change is both frustrating and exciting. What will 2012 hold in store?

1.  Social search will increase as social media site become even more interactive – Social search is one of the pieces of the online holy Grail, the billions of dollars up for grabs. Google already controls the search portion of the equation while Facebook dominates the social side.  Google + hopes to make a dent in that domination.

2.  Google + will play a larger part in search rankings –  The abuse of external linking has long been a concern of Google. Starting with Google’s Panda update, paid link exchanges and low content quality sites began to feel the sting. But with the launch of Google plus and the +1 button, Google now has a viable link popularity component for their algorithm. Look for active Google + sites to rank well in 2012.

3.  The effect of video on search engine results will continue to grow – YouTube continues to be the second largest search engine on the web. Improved technologies allow the content of YouTube videos to be indexed by Google, making them fertile ground for keywords and search engine optimization.

4.  Expanded customer interaction on Facebook – As more and more time is spent on Facebook, the growth of customer interaction will continue to climb. Look for e-commerce to become more prominent as companies search for alternative ways to connect with their customers.

5.  Activity versus engagement – Through the majority of 2011, activity was the norm in social media.  Posting to a business page with regularity constituted activity for most businesses. But with the October Facebook change, posting frequently is not enough to land on the news feed of fans. Today it requires engagement – posting content that fans will like, comment on or share. It requires much more thought to generate content that fans can easily interact with.

One prediction that’s an absolute certainty to come true, 2012 will see even more changes to the social media and online marketing landscape that we saw in 2011.

Gary Wagnon is the owner of 800biz Ninja Marketing Strategies and the Ninja Marketing Dojo, a program designed to help businesses master all aspects of online marketing. The goal of the Ninja Marketing Dojo is to improve search engine rankings, increase web site traffic and convert more browsers into buyers.