There is no such thing as a person who knows all about SEO. Yes, you just heard that from a professional search engine consultant. We recognize that SEO is a rapidly changing field. It changes with the adjustments of the algorithm, the whims of the Google engineers, the colossal fights between search engine super powers, and the torrent of social interaction that occurs on a minute-by-minute basis.
Part of our strength is that we recognize that SEO changes by the second. That keeps us on our toes. That helps us create cutting-edge solutions for our clients. This realization is how we stay on top of our game. Now that we are well into 2013, we wanted to deliver some of the most valuable information available — information we have gained as we research SEO and implement powerful solutions.
Here is what we see happening in the field in 2013, and here is how you can stay on top of the game.
1. Content is not king.
There is a saying in the web world that goes like this, “Content is king.” That’s not really true anymore. A few hard-hitting realities have made this aphorism part of Internet history. First was Google’s Penguin algorithm change. Content farms got hit hard, as did many blogs and sites that depended on saturation metrics and finely-curated lists of keywords.
The search engine crawlers, and the algorithms that back them, are smart. They know how to penalize keyword stuffing. They can identify synonyms. They can tell the difference between an intelligent and intentional author, verses a bunch of article spinning.
Let’s make sure we have an understanding here. Content is important. Really important. One does not simply forget about content. It’s what makes the web go round. You must have content, and it must be good. It cannot contain grammatical errors. And it must have keywords. And it must be readable. It must pull linear readers down the page with engaging bold sub headings that entice and encourage the reader to dig deeper, read more and then be inspired enough to share it.
Can the machine that is Google really tell what’s good? It’s getting there. This technology is rapidly advancing and will continue to improve in 2013 and beyond.
So, content must be good, but it’s not king.
This negative assertion begs the question. What, then, is king?
2. Social is King
Social is the new SEO. Nearly every Internet user is part of some social network. The same person who Googles also Facebooks. The individual who searches for “Best Deli in downtown Seattle” on his Android is also on Google+. Social is an inextricable part of the web experience. Because this is true, it is an inextricable part of the search experience, too.
Google owns search. By extension, they dominate SEO. They also created something called Google+, which is a quasi-social network. This social network now has an incredible power to affect search engine rankings. In one study, a single company raised its search engine rankings dramatically simply by increasing its +1 count by about 60. That’s all it took, and the company went from low ranking to high ranking on Google.
Google+ isn’t the only thing that affects search returns. Remember Twitter? In a parallel study, one large Twitter account encouraged all of its followers to tweet the URL of a certain selected company. This company was selected because it ranked on page 13 of a Google search for a targeted keyword. In other words, they didn’t exist. After a few hundred retweets in a few days, the company rose to page 4 on Google. The torrent of Tweets lifted their presence in search returns.
That’s the power of social. It transforms the way that search happens and the way that people search.
4. Make it for Mobile.
Mobile usage rates are higher than they have ever been. 2013 will witness even higher growth of mobile. No doubt, you’ve heard of the importance of responsive design to adapt to the mushrooming mobile rates. But there’s more at stake than just design. Reconfiguring your site for mobile will drop bounce rates, which will increase your SEO. The most important mobile SEO feature has to do with local results, so make sure you’re watching your local listings, business citations, and social reach.
3. Do all the things.
Lest this “tip” sound too generic, allow me to explain. SEO isn’t really about a few tips or tricks here and there. When someone asks, “What should I do to improve my rankings,” I am forced to answer “Everything.” That’s because search is about a wide variety of factors — link building, tags, directory listings, keywords, anchor texts, URLs, duplicate content, social presence, citations, marketing techniques, organic traffic, and…yeah, everything. As SEO Moz’s Dr. Peter Meyers put it, “A long list of suggestions…boiled down to just one idea…Diversity.”
SEO is about diversifying your approach, mixing methods, employing a variety of strategies, and expanding your reach. You cannot rely on one-and-done techniques or sweet shortcuts. SEO is hard work. It takes effort, knowledge, and devotion.
Do all the things that optimization requires, and you’ll be good.