2012 saw some significant shakeups in the world of SEO. Google will take credit for most of it seeing that its Panda and Penguin updates have forced change across the board. With Google being the king of all things search, the moves it makes will likely drive change for many years to come. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. 2013 is up next. SEO marketers who want to keep up with Google and the emerging trends will need to follow a specific format.
Eyes on Google Updates
In 2012 alone, the controversial and now infamous Google Panda received more than 20 updates. The changes of this algorithm update and others will no doubt impact the search game in 2013. From what we currently know, SEO marketers will need to pay special attention to:
Original Content. There was a time when duplicate content could actually benefit your web presence. The more places you have it published, the better your visibility in the SERPs. That all changed with the introduction of Google Panda, which targeted duplicate content as a way to knock low-quality sites down a notch or two in the results and reward for quality.
Proper Optimization. Not too long ago, anyone who understood the basics of SEO could cash in on search traffic by utilizing the simplest of methods. If you built up enough links and sprinkled in a lot of keywords, you could easily enjoy a comfortable spot in the rankings. Now that Google is penalizing sites for what it calls “over-optimization”, learning how to optimize content in a natural way is vital.
Quality Over Quantity. The increased focus on original content and proper optimization ties into the growing importance of quality. Google and other search engines are committing to delivering results to users based on the quality of the content. In 2013 and beyond, SEO marketers will need to understand that quality reigns supreme over quantity.
Create a Social Presence
Social media has long been viewed as a channel that offers a way for businesses to create awareness, connect with an audience, and boost engagement. That hasn’t changed, but what has is its importance to SEO. Bing is admittedly looking at social activity, while the evolution of Google+ hints that Google is onto something similar. The channels will continue to merge, so don’t be surprised if 2013 is the year social influence starts to have a notable impact on rankings. This would make creating social content and gaining endorsements critical to SEO success.
Optimize for Mobile Search
Smartphone sales are soaring, and as a result, mobile search is on the rise. An infographic put together by web hosting company 34SP revealed that the mobile search sector has grown by more than 500% over the past two years. This has led to predictions that mobile internet will overtake connecting via desktop by 2015. More people are using mobile phones to explore the web, so if you want them to find you, optimizing your site for mobile traffic is a must.
What isn’t surprising about mobile search is Google’s dominance. In fact, its near 100% share of the market is so impressive, that the FTC has decided to take a closer look with an anti-trust investigation. That’s another story for another time. The moral of this story? Make Google the focal point of your mobile search strategy.
CRO After SEO
Many experts are predicting that 2013 will be the year the SEO industry starts paying closer attention to CRO. Conversion rate optimization isn’t an entirely new concept, but is deservingly creating more buzz at a time when search marketers are learning the hard way that traffic doesn’t convert itself. A CRO strategy is all about optimizing your website in a way that gets visitor to buy something, join an email list, or complete other actions you have identified as conversions. No site is converting 100% of its traffic, so this is definitely a good trend to follow.
Search is changing rapidly and SEO has no choice but to keep up. Although this evolution has pushed adjustments that have been uncomfortable for some, the trending madness appears to be all for the best. Instead of being good at using automated tools and shortcuts, search marketers must excel at delivering quality experiences. The search companies are essentially leveling the playing field by giving everyone a fair chance to tap into massive traffic resources and benefit from added visibility.
Aidan Hijleh is a freelance copywriter and serves as the Non-Profit Partnership Liaison for Benchmark Email. Aidan advocates free email marketing services to assist with the flourishing of grassroots organizations.