2013 is moving quickly in our industry. The relentless changes and innovations only seem to accelerate – creating both challenges and opportunities for those trying to manage digital marketing in today’s world.
One of the keys to success in almost any business is the ability to anticipate change. If you’re responsible for your company’s online marketing, you need to understand how the convergence of technology with consumer expectations will influence search engines, social networks and your industry’s influencers.
Here’s how we expect SEO to change in the year ahead. We hope this knowledge will help you stay ahead of the competition and dominate your corner of the market.
1. Quality Content – even more importance in 2013
Content, content, content. Quality content is already king and its importance will only continue to grow in 2013. Content will be more important than ever before. Content was always King; this year it might be Emperor. Whatever changes Google makes to continue adding versions to Panda/Penguin, they will seek to do an even better job of weeding out spun content and poorly-written blog posts.
2. Pure White hat SEO activities have more value; Google will develop ways to delay their organic search ranking updates, making it more difficult for search engine spammers to correlate which of their black hat activities are having the greatest impact on their rankings
Don’t overstuff (with food or your website)! See #4
One of the main weaknesses of Google (and Bing) is to rely too heavily on links to determine the placement of content within the SERPs. Just recently, we heard of a firm that received links from sites that Google should clearly identify as inappropriate for this industry. The links delivered incredible results in less than 24 hours as the website grabbed top 5 positions and maintained these positions for several weeks. These things should not happen. We’re confident that Google will develop new technology to delay their organic search ranking updates, making it more difficult for search engine spammers to correlate which of their black hat activities are having the greatest impact on their rankings.
As inbound linking becomes more difficult and care grows about SEO activities, we’ll begin to see a lot more “SEO auditing” emerge as a value to ensure companies/sites don’t get bitten by the Penguin.
3. Social Media – Use of social media to be considered in organic keyword ranking
It’s not just that social media is finding a niche in the ranking algorithms (directly and indirectly), but also that it is becoming the dominant method of content sharing and discovery among Web users. The link graph will remain useful for years to come, but the share graph is eroding its ability to show something new, interesting, useful, relevant and high quality. This trend could undermine the concept of SEO (although I believe that certain practices/tactics will remain strong), and will bring those of us who have used the name “SEO” to describe our profession for over a decade to migrate to something larger.
4. Don’t overstuff website content with keywords, instead focus on content creation best practice and specific keyword density.
Frequency and density are both important to increase your firm’s visibility. ‘Blend’ your chosen keywords and key phrases into the content of your firm profiles. Don’t be tempted to sacrifice the overall quality and effectiveness of your content by using too many keywords and phrases. ‘Semantic’ language is key – ensure that you describe the expertise that your organization has in sufficient detail and make it interesting for a potential customer or client to read. Securing a spot on the ever-shrinking real-estate of the top blogs (through guest blogging) in your niche will be more important, as Google focuses more on quality than quantity. Both quality and quantity have always been important, but quantity is moving into the background. A handful of backlinks from true authority sites will outperform a stable of mediocre links.
5. Use of mobile-optimized websites and responsive websites will have more value , as this will be included in algorithm.
Webmasters with the foresight and know-how to incorporate the mobile revolution into every piece of content on their site will reap huge dividends in 2013 (and in the future). Just think: the latest metrics have shown that desktop and laptop computer sales have suffered hugely because consumers are now buying tablets and smartphones instead. Optimizing your content for reception on these devices will give you a leg up on everyone else in your niche – and they may not be able to catch up.
6. Optimizing loading and page speed of the websites
Web page speed and performance are both very important to the user experience. If your site is too slow, you’ll not only be losing visitors, but also potential customers. Search engines like Google factor a website’s speed into account in search rankings, so when optimizing your site’s speed, you should take everything into consideration. Every millisecond counts.
7. Keep your website updated with fresh content using guest blogging and other tactics
Launching a blog is a lot easier than maintaining one. Oftentimes the ideas are flowing at its initiation, but if you want to increase traffic on your site, you need to update the content regularly, which means coming up with a lot fresh content. If you are finding it difficult to keep fresh content on your business blog, you may need some outside assistance from various sources. If you can’t keep with enough content yourself, then invite others to write something for you. The guest should write something related to the subject matter of blog. Including guest content adds a little variety to your site and if the guest is a professional of some kind, you can offer authoritive entries with valuable information that only this guest can provide.
8. Have you heard of Negative SEO?
Negative SEO has become a hot topic of debate, so much so that Google launched the Disavow Link tool, which empowers webmasters to specify backlinks that should be discarded or discounted by Google when it evaluates links to their website
Negative SEO is essentially where someone intentionally sabotages your SEO efforts to make your site rank lower in Google. This is a scary thought. Suddenly, it’s possible to not only do good to your site by building links, but it’s possible for someone else to damage your SEO efforts by building poor quality links to your site. The argument has been made both for and against the existence of negative SEO; however, we do have some clues that it exists. First is the Penguin update itself. This update was all about Google penalizing sites that used over-optimized anchor text and had overall poor quality links to their sites.
9. Structured Data is important in 2013 for SEO
Structured data, or “micro data,” is special mark-up language that websites can use to provide additional information about their content to the search engines. Given that Google has relatively few indicators to objectively assess quality and considering how much it has been pushing the adoption of this system, structured data will become important to website’s performance. Get your best developer on board, evangelize structured data, find real examples in the wild, keep it fun and pain free to implement. Chipping at small sections of the site has proven to work the best and doesn’t burden engineering resources as much as doing one large code update. There is no need to mark-up every single piece of data either, just the important bits that matter the most to your business.
For those who have become accustomed to sub-par marketing techniques, 2013 is going to be a difficult year. We expect to see some players leave the industry in search of other short-term strategies.
For those who stick around, the focus is going to shift toward brand building, inbound marketing and profitability. This will create an even more competitive industry – but a more lucrative one as well. As online activity continues to grow in the US and beyond, more opportunities will continue to emerge.