2011 ReviewIt doesn’t seem like five minutes ago we were publishing our 2010 roundups on this blog. But here we are, on the brink of Christmas once again, and what a year it’s been.

We thought it would be nice to take a look back at some of the key digital news and events that happened in 2011. Not just the biggest news stories, but the things that got us talking and affected us in one way or another.

So here’s a run down, starting way back in January…

January

January was a month of mixed fortunes for two of the web’s biggest social players. Facebook continued to dominate and graced us with the launch of Facebook Deals – a much hyped initiative that has consequently turned out to be a less than inspiring tool for business owners.

While Facebook was doing everything in it’s power to rule the universe, MySpace was having a torrid time. In November 2010, owners, News Corp., gave the veteran social network a complete overhaul, but just months later it was confirmed that the company was looking to offload the failing web property.

Other notable news; Quora launches, App Store approached 10 billion downloads and Google starts censoring piracy related search results.

February

In February the Penny dropped. The SEO world was treated to a rare display of consistency from Google, when  uber-brand J.C. Penny was punished for it’s link buying exploits. But J.C. Penny wasn’t alone, as Forbes also had it’s knuckles wrapped for selling links – tut, tut.

Other notable news; Android gets an app webstore, Blekko blossoms and Facebook implements new page features.

March

In March LinkedIn marked it’s dominance by reaching 100m members, taking only 18 months to double the number of users it took 6 years to garner. At this time the site was growing at a rate of around one million new members every week.

While LinkedIn was busy providing a home for recruitment consultants and spammers, everyone’s favourite bleet-machine Twitter was celebrating it’s 5th birthday. At this time Twitter had 200m registered users and was seeing 50 million tweets per day.

This month was also a huge month for search, with Google’s then dubbed ‘farmer update’ marking the start of a set of algorithmic changes that would shake the SEO world later in the year…

Other notable news; Yahoo turns 16, Twitter stamps out third-party developers and MySpace’s future still in the balance.

April

It’s April, it’s cold, and your search engine rankings have plummeted. You could be forgiven for thinking that you’re playing  victim in an elaborate, not so hilarious April-fools joke. But for the thousands of site owners who took a serious rankings hit, it was far from funny. Google Panda was to blame.

The Google Panda update has undoubtedly been the biggest on-going digital news story of 2011, and one that continues to create drama for site owners and SEO professionals.

As if Google wasn’t busy enough upsetting the internet with Panda, the search giant started the roll out of it’s social sharing tool, +1. A few lucky soles were starting to see friends’ page endorsements appear in SERPS.

Other notable news; Questions raised over relevancy of Google’s search results and Twitter plots Facebook-style brand pages (which thankfully never happened).

May

YouTube made us all feel really old by celebrating it’s 6th birthday, yes six. At this time more than 48 hours of video content was being uploaded to YouTube every minute. YouTube attributed success to faster upload times and it’s streaming of live events, such as the Royal Wedding.

May was also bought confirmation that ‘mobile’, was in fact, ‘booming’, with various studies showing advertisers experiencing higher CTR (click through rates) than desktop for the first time. It was also suggested the proportion of companies utilising mobile search had doubled when compared to 2010.

Other notable news; Spotify takes on iTunes with series of new updates, Facebook lets users tag brands and Apple’s App Store reaches half-million app milestone.

June

Another month, another torrent of Google developments. In mid June, Google unveiled it’s latest addition in it’s quest for lightning-speed search search results, Instant Pages. We were also treated to the global roll out Google’s +1 button.

But the biggest talking point, not only of the month but probably the year was the launch of Google+, Google’s intuitive yet ambitious answer to Facebook. A flurry of invite requests ensued as the site was opened in an invite-only testing phase.

Other notable news; Twitter rolls out follow button, Google Places throws a wobbly and Facebook test real-time feeds.

July

Going, going, gone. MySpace is finally sold. After months of speculation, News Corp. finally offloaded it’s failing property for a fraction of the cost it bought it for less than four year earlier. A sad day for the world’s once biggest social network and for all who sailed her.

Other notable news; Google+ growing fast (approached 18m users) , Facebook ramps up ad costs to reflect high demand, Google adds ‘top vs. side’ reporting and LinkedIn rolls out nifty job application button.

August

There’s panic on the streets of London as UK riots cause havoc in the capital, and other major UK cities. Social media played a huge role during this time, for both right and wrong reasons, with some even suggesting technology was to blame. The #RiotCleanup hashtag became the UK’s number one trending topic overnight and showed the power of social media as communities rallied together to help clean up littered streets.

Later in August Facebook rolled out a number of new and much needed privacy settings. For all it’s previous privacy sins, the social network received deserved applause for the update that finally gave more power to the user.

Other notable news; Google Chrome claims position as UK’s second most popular browser, Foursquare rolls out Lists and Twitter puts user’s tweeted images into galleries.

September

After doing so well in August by improving privacy, Facebook went and upset the masses again by implementing a number of changes across the site, most notably ‘Top stories’ and the dreaded real-time ’Ticker’.

While Facebook was upsetting people, Google took a welcome pat on the back for a number of newly announced services. First came the launch of it’s ‘real-time’ and ‘Premium’ analytics services. The search giant also unveiled it’s revolutionary contactless payment service – Google Wallet, a way to pay for bottle’s of Coke via a swipe of your smartphone.

But most notably, September saw Google+ throw open it’s doors to the public, allowing any Tom, Dick or Harry to set up a page on the site. Problem was, Tom, Dick and Harry were already happy on Facebook, so didn’t bother.

Other notable news; Twitter rolls out web analytics tool and ASOS crowned UK’s most loved digital brand.

October

October saw Blackberry crumble, as the the mobile service provider failed to provide any service at all to it’s legions of users. The country watched with unforgiving eyes as the company’s epic system failure was further exaggerated by the company’s virtual communications black out.

While it was all gloom for Blackberry, it was boom for Twitter, who revealed that 100 million people were now using the service, with half logging in daily.  The company was currently seeing almost 250 million tweets per day!

It was in October that Google unleashed an astonishing example of double standards by “enhancing our default search experience”. This, to the delight of site owners everywhere came in the form of encrypted search results. Thanks, Google.

Other notable news; Twitter gets real time chat (of sorts), Aurasma offers a QR code alternative, Google tests Dynamic ads and restricts Maps API usage.

November

After a considerable decline in interest since it’s hyped launch, Google+ finally launched phase 2 of it’s social campaign, Google+ pages for business. Much like the initial interest the site received form the general public, businesses were queuing at the door for their slice of Google+ pie. That pie has since gone cold, lukewarm at best.

Not one to put all of their eggs in one basket, Google also graced the world with the launch of Google Music, a self proclaimed competitor to iTunes and Amazon’s digital music store. Simply The Best? Time will tell.

Other notable news; Google rolls out bottom of SERPs ads and improves Product ads, Foursquare gets a facelift and Facebook Ticker starts serving up ads.

December

And so we reach the end of the year, and in keeping with tradition, Google published it’s annual zeitgeist, revealing the most searched for terms of the year. Based on the results, you could be forgiven for thinking that the internet is a celebrity-obsessed, tight fisted moron, and that would be a fair assumption. Scampi flavoured news here.

Other notable news; Android Market delivers its 10 billionth app download, YouTube rolls out site redesign and the Facebook Timeline makes an arrival.

2012

So that was 2011, and what a year it was, but what does 12 hold in store? Will Google+ finally capture the hearts of the masses? what’s next for Google Panda? Will MySpace make a comeback? Stranger things have happened.

What do you think, we would love to hear your predictions for the year ahead.

Until then, have a Merry Christmas and a great New Year! See you in January.