During December 2011 we had a number of SEO and Social Media developments.
As we head towards the end of the year everything bottlenecks into a few hectic weeks. Christmas shopping, present buying and, obviously, the need to optimize websites, drive traffic to specific pages and capitalize on the Christmas online shopping spree which takes place each year.

November was an incredibly hectic month for both SEO and social media and December looks likely to be even more so. In case you missed it here are some of the highlights of the month that’s just passed.

01. Google+ Pages for Brands went live. The big news of course is that Google+ finally opened up Google+ Pages for brands. The move, coming later than expected caught many online marketers unprepared. Brands hastened to capitalize on the move creating Brand pages though, many of them, seemed to also be unprepared when it came to using them. Despite this, traffic on Google+ surged forward and it is expected that it will be one of the main marketing vehicles for brands seeking to engage potential customers in the social network sphere.

02. Google rolls out duplicate content warnings in Webmaster Tools. Duplicate content is one of those issues webmasters frequently fret about without a real cause. It hangs so much on so many webmasters mind that it helps to know that there is now an extra set of eyes looking out for duplicate content and those eyes belong to Google. Webmaster Tools now has a warning which alerts you to potential duplicate content issues with your site’s content.

03. Google provides more tools for marketers. Think Insight is Google’s property and it has now gone out of beta. The tool allows webmasters to data mine the web for very precise information which comes in handy when crafting online marketing campaigns. This is invaluable information which, until now, would have been available only to large corporations running teams of analysts and you can now enjoy it totally free.

04. Google toolbar is released. The new Google toolbar reinforces Google’s revamp of its branding and provides a few good usability points for all those who use its services. Google has a number of changes planned for the year ahead so this is just the beginning.

05. SEO Trends for 2012 for webmasters and businesses. About this time every year I take out my crystal ball and examine where the year ahead will take us. When I am right (and so far I have been spot on) the gains are huge because they allow webmasters and businesses to start putting in place SEO and marketing practices which will truly benefit their business. This year the task is probably a lot easier than most as there are three trends in SEO and social media marketing which have been in the pipeline for some time and they are now, finally, beginning to surface.

06. Google releases new eBook on Online Purchasing. Google’s Director of Sales, Jim Lecinsky, writes a book, available to download free of charge, which details the process before a consumer makes an online purchase and explains how you can work to influence it so that it works in your favour.

07. How to Develop a Small Business Marketing Strategy. Small businesses are the backbone of the economy in any country and they are the backbone of the web economy. To succeed in the online world, as a business, you really need to understand how the online purchase decision-making process works and how you can work to influence it in your favour.

08. Want to win online? Be exceptional. In a short podcast David Amerland explains that the key ingredient to winning in SEO and social media marketing is to really be exceptional in what you do.

09. Why Google+ is an easy media target? Google Plus gets more than its fair share of negative speculation. Here is why you should not believe the negative hype.

10. Website navigability and conversions. it really is a no-brainer. The easier your website is to use the better conversion rate and stickiness you will get. This quick guide explains the obvious which, again, needs to be explained.