Last year showed a tough time for some online marketers. Thanks to Google’s algorithm changes, Panda updates and the arrival of Penguin, everything went topsy-turvy for a while. Once SEO experts managed to figure out what was going on, things got a little simpler.
So what was it all about? Which changes happened in 2012? What old trends have given way to newer, better SEO strategies?
Panda and Penguin
Google’s Panda algorithm went through several updates in 2012. Poor quality websites were most affected and thousands of them were pushed out of the search engine results pages (SERPs). Google then released Penguin and this saw more webpages dropping from searches.
The most mind boggling thing is that Google now seems to be able to sift valuable content out of the stuff posted merely for SEO purposes.
Guest blogging was the other major tendency that emerged in 2012. The web was quickly flooded with articles touting tricks and tips on how to acquire guest blog links.
Content quality and building links were (and still are) a great method for generating organic traffic. Guest posting was simply the perfect tool for this.
Negative SEO and anchor text abuse
Negative SEO became such an issue in 2012 that Google launched the Disavow Link tool. This basically enables webmasters to point out the back links they want Google to ignore when it evaluates the links to a site.
Anchor text abuse and websites with paid links also saw their dusk in 2012.
So what about 2013 and beyond?
This year the focus is on creating value for the reader. That should, of course, be the main objective of any website anyway.
Providing a high-quality experience for your readers means that they must find your website useful and informative. Original, thoroughly researched facts, ideas and concepts are the winners here.
There are also further factors that will influence your site traffic in 2013:
Social signals are now accepted as valid search rank influencers. This means that their power will probably grow in 2013. People sharing content on their Facebook pages, tweeting it, mentioning it on their blogs and of course, Google-plussing it to their circles, should be something we’ll see much more of this year.
Hailed as the “new SEO”, content marketing can only mean two things. Firstly, it attracts backlinks and gives value to the reader. The second thing is that it provides a major challenge to the content creators. The content has to be of a high quality, as explained above, and it needs to be widely published, shared and spread.
It is clear that Google will only be satisfied with the high-quality content. So basing a 2013 online marketing strategy on content is pretty good bet.
- Localisation: Google now likes local websites and will probably continue to do so. Maps, reviews or listings on local information sites will, therefore, ensure higher rankings in local searches.
- Media: Today, videos and photographs are a normal part of web content. We have seen that relevant videos now bring better SEO results than text-only content. This bias will only increase in 2013, where media content will be expected by users because it gives text content an extra dimension and makes a website more comprehensive.
- Mobile optimisation: Even though mobile-friendly websites do not directly influence SEO, more and more users are using smartphones and tablets for browsing. Pages that do not facilitate easy mobile browsing (either because the page is too large for the mobile device screen, or the media content takes too long to load) will be skipped by many users.
Whilst your SEO might not be affected by this trend, it still bears logic that the more user-friendly and adaptable your site is, the more visitors you’ll get, and the longer they’ll stay.
- Author Rank: A vital metric in deciding SERPs, Author Rank is emerging as a new favourite trend possibility for 2013. Its value is still somewhat uncertain, but it is quite likely to become important and add credibility to your site.
As we approach the middle of the year…
Now that SEO experts and content creators have embraced the changes brought about by Panda, Penguin and content marketing, the rest of the year should show the interesting results these new winds will bring.
Have you been affected by this year’s changes? Do you know of any other SEO tools, tips or strategies that you think will be useful in 2013 and 2014?