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2010 was a busy year for search and particularly Google who have upped their game yet again. In this post we’ll review some of the major highlights for SEO in the last year.

New Ranking Factor Announced: Page Load Time

In April 2010 Google announced that the speed your page loads for a visitor is a factor considered in their ranking algorithm. Basically if your page loads slowly then you’ll drop down the rankings. Don’t panic though, its only likely to affect really slow loading sites but keep your eye on this factor and if you are in a very competitive market and your rankings are slipping this could be an area to improve.

The Bing-Yahoo Integration

In the USA the integration was complete and Yahoo’s independent index was retired thus giving Bing a leap in market share. Of course they are so far behind Google that they cannot be compared at all however Bing is now a competitor worthy of attention.

Google’s May Day (or Brand) Update

Google applies an extremely complex algorithm which takes into consideration hundreds and hundreds of different factors and they are constantly tweaking and improving it to ensure that the results presented are the best they can be. Sometimes there are more significant tweaks, or algorithm updates, that have a more dramatic affect. The May Day update resulted in many websites losing long tail traffic (up to 10 percent or more). The sites that suffered seemed to have a low number of deep links. The winners were “high quality” sites and big brands.

Google Caffeine

This was not an algorithm update although its often confused as one especially as it was introduced close to the May Day Update. Caffeine was an infrastructure change which related purely to speeding up the indexing system. Caffeine allowed new content to be indexed almost instantly rather than in batches which was slower.

Google Instant

In September Google Instant impacted the user experience in a very noticeable way by showing suggested search phrases as you typed your phrase into the search box. The idea being that if you saw what you wanted appearing in the list then you wouldn’t need to finish typing. It wasn’t just the suggestions popping up that was so noticeable it was the fact that all the results changed as you typed too – it could be quite distracting. Google Instant also impacted the long tail as more people gave up typing in longer phrases & went with the suggestions.

Review of Major SEO Events in 2010 by