Google does not share the intricacies of its algorithms openly, so webmasters cannot pinpoint the kind of SEO issues that they are likely to face. Take 2011’s Panda and 2012’s Penguin updates – the scope of these updates and their impact on SEO practices – just couldn’t be predicted.
What we do know is that Google launches about 100-odd updates every year; however, it is near-impossible to say if another Panda or a Penguin can hit us any time soon. But some shifts of a more fundamental nature can affect the way we look at SEO. Here are a few things you can ponder over.
#1 The increasing importance of structured data: Presently, Google does not have many indicators to evaluate the quality of website content. It is expected that structured ‘microdata’ may soon become an important factor that helps search engines objectively appraise website content and score/rank websites accordingly.
#2 Decisions driven by data: 2012 was the year of ‘big data’, which involved the processing and evaluation of big data sets to support decision-making in the real world. Marketers are expected to rely on big data more and more, to make important SEO decisions. There are many reasons why big data is increasingly being leveraged by digital marketers:
– Social media is generating massive data
– Data is being migrated to the cloud, which facilitates easy analysis and sharing
– There is easier access to organizational and institutional data
– Data standards are allowing greater potential for informed analysis of different types of data
How does big data play a part in SEO? Data makes it simpler for search engines to understand and analyze web content, and get the answers they’re looking for. Google is already using semantic information for content assessment. An awareness of different schemas adopted by search engines can enable you to inspect content in the context of semantics, and make better SEO decisions.
#3 Value-driven content marketing will be critical: For your content marketing strategies to bear fruit, you will need to focus more on creating valuable content that readers find useful and appreciate genuinely. This way, you’ll be establishing trust, attracting referral traffic and getting more inbound backlinks. All of which can push your search engine ranking higher without too much effort.
Is it time to say goodbye to old SEO methods?
Now that you have a glimpse into the possible shifts in the SEO domain (for 2013 and the near future), it’s time to look at your current search optimization practices and figure out how to develop a sustainable SEO strategy. Are they giving you the same results as they did earlier? Can you do better? Let’s evaluate.
Guest posts versus article submissions
Once upon a time article submissions to the likes of ezine were good ways to get quick links to your website. But do you want to spend time and effort in link-building when there is a better solution? Guest posts are much more authoritative ways to announce your presence, establish trust and get quality references from authoritative sites. It makes more sense to build relationships with bloggers and concentrate on adding value to the particulars sites and communities to which you contribute blogs. If you don’t have the in-house resources for it, you can hire a writer to create compelling guest blogs on your behalf.
Automation makes your brand less human
Using automated tools for your social media outreach efforts is no longer such a good idea. Granted, it helps busy business owners stay social with least effort, but it defeats the whole purpose of engaging personally on social media networks. The beauty of social media is that it gives you your own distinct voice – one that you can share however you want to gain loyal fans. Make time for social media posts and updates; no one knows your brand, product or industry better than you do. So it is obvious that it is you who should be interacting with your followers online.
It’s time to expand your traffic portfolio
Just like how a diversified investment portfolio is a smart idea, a diverse traffic portfolio is a great way to manage risk and make the most of options other than Google to drive organic traffic to your site. Keep Google on your list of course, but also actively explore other pathways that can multiply your traffic numbers. The most obvious example is to seek out and actively engage your potential audience on social media.
More focus on quality content
Thin content doesn’t get you links, quality content does. If you’ve paid heed to this golden rule, chances are Panda and Penguin may not have interfered with your site ranking. Always emphasized upon, yet seldom heeded to, content is the lifeblood of any site and a key factor in any good SEO plan. You should not just write for search engines but also for your target audience. Like an author, your goal should be to build an audience that keeps coming back for more. If you’d rather outsource to professional writing services, go ahead and do it. It will be worth the investment, as long as you get link-worthy, engaging and highly-relevant content.
Website design still not up to the mark?
Nothing like a poorly-designed website to drive away customers and sales. A functional, optimized and attractive website is integral to any SEO effort. You may want to engage the services of a reliable web design company to enjoy a people-friendly and search engine-friendly website.
When you get your SEO techniques right, algorithm updates won’t matter a great deal. Follow best practices and re-evaluate them with the passage of time to stay relevant and on top of search engine rankings!