Our 2013 Predictions for SEO

In a meeting just before Christmas, a client asked me how often we have time to sit and learn new things to do with SEO, his point was, as an agency, we will always have more knowledge than him trying to do it himself, but i think my answer surprised him.

Regardless of experience, i think an SEO learns something new with every phone call, every ranking report, everything that goes wrong, everything that goes right! Even people seen at the top of the SEO tree, will still be learning from everything they do every day. Our industry is like this because its a continually evolving machine.

If Google isn’t changing something, then your competitors are. Its essential that all websites have the basics, a well built website with good content right? In 2012, SEO got questioned in a big way, i really hate people who brand round the phrase ‘SEO is dead’, SEO will never be dead, it just changes face, i think 2013 will be a continuation of what has been planted in 2012.
Consumer habits have paved the way people search and because of this, Google have changed the way it displays information to you.

SoLoMo

Social, Local and mobile. Something that has been spoken about at most conferences in 2012 and something that will be more prevalent moving forwards through 2013 and beyond.

You will always have desktop search, but as we pass through the ‘Christmas of the Tablet’, everybody’s parents will be starting to take a look at what the latest gadgets are their kids have. Just like the Gameboy, a Tablet is something mums and dads all over the country are now picking up and over the next 12 months, mums and dads will be buying tablet computers because their a pickup item that’s very easy to use. Why does this matter? Because mums and dads search to. If kids, have smart phones, teenagers and young adults are all on tablets now, mum and dad will be on tablets in the next 12 months, this means that in 12 months time, apart from Grand Parents everybody will be searching from a mobile device most of the time. This means local results will be more common than ‘regular’ results’, the number of searches complete on a mobile device giving local results will increase dramatically. Ranking a business locally will be more essential.

Social

Either commit to it, or don’t even set up the account! Lots of successful businesses have active social accounts, is this a ranking factor or is it to be expected when a company has lots of active customers? having no social accounts is better than having a social account that has never been updated.

I think with the introduction of Author Rank, social will be playing a part to a campaign’s success, but it certainly isn’t a primary factor, if you’re outside the top 10 in your industry should Google care if you have an active social accounts? I would say no, if you’re outside the top 10, then there will be other areas that need to be improved. I do however believe people should be social, it may not be a strong ranking factor, but it does drive traffic which is the important factor. Google likes authority, if you are active within your industry (outside of your own domain), then this can only be a good thing which leads me onto the next point.

Google Communities

Google communities is something else to be placing some thought into. Again, Google won’t develop Author Rank if they wasn’t going to use it. The admin of a Google Community can be linked back directly to a website. If you start an industry related Google community, and it takes off to become a large active community, why wouldn’t Google use that to see if you deserve to top the search results?
Google + In General

Craig Bradford published a blog post on the Distilled blog about how to rank and gain traffic without link building to your website. Google plus can have a direct effect on how your website ranks. In short, if you have lots of +1’s on google, your website will rank higher for everybody associated with the google account that made the +1 action.

Potentially, websites can gain traffic without building links, remember when Moonfruit gave away Ipads for following their twitter account? They will have lost a lot of followers but they currently have 18,000 (ish) likes. If these were +1’s and each person that had clicked the +1 button had 30 friends on G+, then over half a million people see you in their rankings through recommendation.

I predict this way of influencing the search results will become much more active through 2013 and because of it business will push users to use G+ which ultimately means G+ gains users which is what they want.

Local Search

A bit of a no brainer, but local will become more important in a strategy, any type of localised search is already massively localised. I think google will improve on what they have, but more so i think website owners will become more interested and expect to see more about it in their strategy.

In 2013, you will be thinking about catching the search for people that are already in town searching from a mobile, as opposed to people at home. ‘Used Cars Manchester’ is a search that will start off on a desktop, probably on auto trader. Once you have traveled and seen that the car is a wreck and you’re out and about, then the search goes mobile. you’re no longer interested in Auto Trader, now you are looking for your nearest car dealer.

Google local search will bring more footfall through the door through 2013, though measuring this will be almost impossible.

Mobile Search

As mentioned previous, mobile search is getting bigger and bigger, better phones, better connections, more free WiFi etc. By the close of 2013, i think how a website looks on a mobile and if they rank (lots of mobile searches are localised) will be the main concern for a website owner.

Currently, the regular search results are identical to a mobile set of search results for a given search term. With a larger amount of websites having mobile websites, i can see google changing the way it ranks websites on a mobile search, so mobile websites get preference in the mobile search results and websites that don’t have a mobile offering being left behind.

Updates

Another no brainer, google will always be updating the algorithm, most of the updates will be connected to the above, as well as penguin and panda, these are updates that will be around for a while to come.

I think google may start to be quieter with announcing their updates again. I think for penguin and panda, there was a need for google to make a big show about it. Google has changed massively in the last 12 months on how it ranks keywords, how it treats anchor text, placing more relevance on the subject of content around a link as opposed to what the anchor text says.
Panda and Penguin have done a tremendous job of ‘Cleaning’ the internet which i think needed to be done for their new algorithms to be rolled out. All the manual penalties, as its been blogged about before, gave google a chance to verify their algorithms worked. I would question whether google need to do this moving through 2013 and i think more updates will be done silently.

I think 2013 will be another year of positive movement in the world of online marketing, there is still so much to offer for the majority of website owner. The emphasis will be less on specific keywords ranking, but the traffic a website will be receiving. A great campaign will be judged on traffic, the traffic sources will get greater, and with this so will the rewards for any website owner.