It’s fair to say that 2013 has been a roller coaster in terms of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). There was a lot of shake up, and a lot of small businesses lost their hard earned rankings.
Much to the dismay of many of us in the profession, SEO was even declared ‘dead’ by publications such as Inc, and Forbes magazines. Fortunately, that isn’t the case.
Let’s take a look at some of the latest SEO trends of 2013.
Google Algorithm Updates
In 2011 we saw a major change to the Google algorithm in the form of the Panda algorithm, which primarily focused on low quality, spammy sites that didn’t have content of any real value.
Then in 2012 Google released it’s Penguin algorithm, which finally began to address the proliferation of black-hat SEO practices such as excessive anchor text, and low quality, artificial link building.
And finally in 2013, we saw the released the Penguin 2.0 update which continues to demote sites with large numbers of low quality backlinks. The idea is simple, you’ll be much better off with 5 links from highly reputable sites that you will be with 5000 links from low quality, spammy sites.
In response to the backlash, more and more SEO companies have had to turn to Google’s new ‘Disavow Tool‘ to manually remove low quality links to their site.
Perhaps the biggest change of the year was Google’s recent but relatively quiet Hummingbird update which addresses what they call ‘conversational search’. These are search queries that are usually in the form of questions such as ‘why is the sky blue’, or ‘what is SEO?’.
As a direct result of the Hummingbird update, we’re recommending our clients spend extra time with FAQ’s and ‘How-to’ type sections for their websites.
Content Marketing is King
For those who haven’t been paying attention, the official line from Google hasn’t changed in years.
“Create high quality content that is valuable to your visitors and keep updating it on a regular basis.”
Ok, that’s not an exact quote, but that’s essentially what they’ve been saying and it makes sense. This has been our philosophy for years and we consider this approach to be central to creating a ‘future-proof’ SEO plan. No gimmicks or miracle results, just a lot of consistent hard work that your customers will appreciate.
Whether you produce content in-house or hire a freelancer or agency, you get to have complete control over your messaging and can get real time feedback from your customers.
With such a premium being placed on creating new content, we’ve gotten pretty good at re-purposing content. For example, re-using copy from blog posts as content for email and print based newsletters, audio podcasts or even as topics for short videos. This gives a huge boost to the overall SEO efforts by allowing us to use a wider variety of media types your website.
Link Building is Risky Business
The fact that so many agencies are still offering their link building services just shows how shallow the talent pool really is. Any offer that suggests a large scale link building campaign is a disaster waiting to happen. Link building has been one of those SEO trends that people just don’t understand.
Think S-curves – if you were to plot the number of incoming links to your site it should resemble a pretty traditional S curve, much like the growth of a business.
A large spike in the number of incoming links is an immediate red flag. A lot of fly-by-night SEO companies have been using this technique for years and thanks to Penguin, the game is just about over. The algorithms are getting better at discerning a large link scam from a legitimately successful marketing campaign, which means white-hat SEO is in higher demand than ever.
Like/Plus/Share/Love – Social Really Matters
Social media properties such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google + all pass some ‘link juice’ to your website. Each like/plus/share offers a tiny bit of help in the search rankings, the question is by how much. Here at MadTownSEO, we believe that the SEO benefit from social media sites will continue to increase over the coming years, for one simple reason. Real people use them.
From Google’s perspective – What is the best way to determine the authenticity of a recommendation or review?
The answer isn’t from an unknown webpage, adverstisment or author. It’s going to be based on an authenticated profile with a history and reputation that has already been well established.
While a full court social media campaign isn’t right for every business, there are a lot of ways to take advantage of of the possibilities of social media marketing as it pertains to SEO.
At MadtownSEO, we work with clients in industries where a Facebook profiles aren’t appropriate, so instead we focus on more industry/professional networks like LinkedIn, and Manta. Every business has different needs and we really strive to find the solution that will best fit your needs.
Feel free to contact us to learn more.