Google performed two major updates to their search algorithm in 2012. Between the Panda and Penguin updates, many web marketers and SEO specialists saw their efforts to promote client sites instantly wither. Though Google performed these updates with little, if any, forewarning, the goal of these updates was to provide users with quality service and more authentic, valuable search results.
Most SEO professionals have successfully adapted to Google’s new algorithms, and a few even argue that the updates provided a level playing field for clients. Though Google has not released any information regarding major updates that will occur in 2013, the search engine giant has made public the goals of these updates, as well as some SEO practices that will be considered as “black hat”promotions in the future. Google seeks to make search engine results pages a source for reliable information for users.
The goal of the Google updates is to list and rank the most accurate “organic” content on the Web. Gone are the days when simple backlinking to random sites provides a boost in page rank. The Google algorithm now looks at the relevance of the links to the site content. A goal of the search engine giant is to rank a site according to the quality of its content, rather than the quantity of content, links or other previously acceptable SEO strategies. This means that SEO now needs to provide relevant content to users, rather than simply provide a lot of content. Google changes have opened up opportunities for content creators as sites must become more user-focused.
Even though no one knows what the future holds in terms of the updates that Google will implement in 2013, we do know that SEO must focus on the goals of Google. In doing so, any updates that Google implements in 2013 will minimally impact page rank for client sites. A few tips for SEO professionals for 2013 include:
1.) Provide Quality Content
Google’s foremost goal is to provide reliable, quality content to search engine users. Quality content is key. The competition for quality information is expected to heighten in 2013 as content experts compete for space. However, press releases and quality articles will still be important. However, the length of articles will be of consideration. For example, content created for SEO in past years could be a short article of 400 or 500 words, with an overabundance of certain keywords. Going forward, however, fresh content with a word count of 700 or more will be preferred, and overuse of keywords will be targeted as “keyword stuffing.” Keyword stuffing will lower the site’s page rank.
The best articles will encourage interaction with users, build brand trust and strengthen the brand’s authority on a particular topic. For example, an HVAC company might consider providing rich, informative blog posts for users about how to conserve energy by altering the way they use appliances and air conditioning in the summer.
2.) Implement Social Media Interaction
Google’s algorithm now includes the site’s interaction with social media. Linking through social media sites is one way to build brand visibility and to enhance Google page rank. As social media users share links on Facebook and Twitter, as well as the newer platforms, Google+ and Pinterest, the client site’s Google page rank is impacted in a positive way.
3.) Mobile Accessibility
Over the past couple of years, the use of mobile browsers has significantly increased. User access to sites from mobile browsers is expected to exceed desktop browser access by the year 2015. Ensuring that client sites are responsive, or at the very least, clients provide a mobile site for users to access from their mobile devices, is an important factor in staying competitive.
4.) Quality Link Building
Link building is still an important strategy in SEO. However, backlinks must be relevant, and preferably to a quality site, in order for link building to enhance page ranking in the SERPs. SEO experts recommend that marketers focus on developing organic links to relevant sites and forgo backlinking to sites that do not relate to the client site’s purpose.
Pay Per Click campaigns are still on the rise. Google Adwords and other PPC strategies are still important ways to market client sites. In fact, SEO experts estimate that many companies will increase their PPC budgets by at least 10 percent in 2013. PPC campaigns are considered to be organic marketing techniques and should still provide a significant ROI.
6.) Vary the Multimedia
Not only will varied multimedia elements keep users on the site longer, each element provides the potential for adding rich textual descriptors that are considered for page ranking. Image captions, alt tags and descriptions for all visual content will boost the site’s rank. Additionally, adding these items increases the site’s accessibility for visually impaired users.
Many SEO pros were hit hard by the 2012 updates implemented by Google. However, by developing new habits that capitalize on Google’s goals, you can minimize the chances any devastating effects with the next update.