SEO Predictions For 2013

The world of Search Marketing has undergone something of a revolution in the last two years. With Google updates coming at us left right and centre already, including some fairly major Panda updates, what major changes look set to define 2013?
  • It put up a massive neon flashing sign saying: 'ignore local search at your peril.'
  • To ignore Social Media in your inbound marketing campaign is foolish already. Soon it will be perilous.
  • Just make sure that the content is genuinely interesting, because Google can tell if it’s just there to manipulate your search status.
  • We predict that cocitation will become fundamental to the success of SEO campaigns.

The world of Search Marketing has undergone something of a revolution in the last two years. Or perhaps revolution is the wrong word. Perhaps it is more a suppression of a rebellion. Bad SEO has irritated Google so much that they have cracked down. The SERPs have been changing on an almost daily basis. At Go Up we have been tracking these algorithm changes, to make sure that we are prepared for anything. Simultaneously we have to predict what the year ahead is going to bring to search.

Here are our predictions for 2013:

Penguin will evolve to punish spammy Guest Blogging

At Go Up we love Guest Blogging. There is no better endorsement than an article written about your brand on a great blog, with a link to your blog. It lets Google know that you are a respected brand.

Of course, since the death of the link directory thanks to a rather angry Pingu, low-quality guest blogging has become the industry go-to for link building. This, I have no doubt, will be top of Google’s hit list for 2013. Look out for blogs that mention SEO, that have ‘Guest Blog Guidelines’, that have poor designs, that accept Guest Blogs without moderation, or that have a ‘linking policy’. Most importantly, check to see whether the content is mad cup from 100% Guest Blogging, or whether there is indeed a blog owner who takes time and care of his or her blog, updating it with fresh, non promotional content. Finally, and perhaps most obviously, look out for Guest posts written in broken English. This last one is a shout out to our friends in India, Pakistan, Indonesia etc: if the article i unreadable, it is obviously link spam.

Essentially, all of this can be summed up in one quick sentence: if the Guest Post provides no user/reader value, and is there clearly to manipulate the Search Rankings, then Google will start to make your life very difficult.

There will be another major Venice-like update, aimed at increasing the importance of local search

The Venice update was a major game changer in 2012. Despite this, it received a very small amount of online attention, dwarfed by the Panda and Penguin Updates. But Venice permanently changed the way that inbound marketers plan their campaigns. It put up a massive neon flashing sign saying: “ignore local search at your peril.”

We believe that 2013 will see another major shift towards locally focused search. Through geolocation targeting Google will supply local business results as their main search results, making it easier for small businesses to contend with the blue chips. Local landing pages will become fundamental for all larger businesses if they are to remain prevalent in local areas, and local back linking, citations and social media metrics will all become even stronger factors.

The importance of Social Media will continue to grow (but so will the exaggeration by SEOs of Social Media’s current SERP importance)

We have all heard it: “SEO is Dead, Long live Social Media”. Fortunately everyone who has made this claim has been proven to be somewhat mistaken. However, Social Media is an undeniably important factor in Google’s search algorithm. It is also a brilliant marketing platform in its own right. Go Up offers Social Media marketing as a stand alone service, as well as a part of our inbound marketing packages.

To ignore Social Media in your inbound marketing campaign is foolish already. Soon it will be perilous.

However, all of our research has shown that Social Media’s search engine significance has been hugely over hyped. It is possible to rank very well in the search engines for even the most competitive search terms without any social media presence at all. At Go Up we believe that this will continue to be the case in 2013. But, to stay one step ahead of the game, you should still be working your Social Media platforms.

Successful Inbound Marketing campaigns that do not have content creation at their core will go the way of the dinosaurs

Content Content Content. 2013 will be the year that a campaign without content becomes a dead campaign. Already, thanks to our friend the Panda, a website without great, constantly updated content is in trouble. However there are still plenty of websites that have little to no decent informational content (or what we call UOIC: user-oriented informational content) still perform well in the searcher results. But this will be the year that every business, from the smallest to the largest, will need to jump on board the content train. Find yourself on the wrong platform and you will not be going anywhere.

Just make sure that the content is genuinely interesting, because Google can tell if it’s just there to manipulate your search status or if it is there to improve the user experience.

Bing will win over a further few percentage points of market share

Bing has been very clever with their market penetration. They have been very successful at becoming the search engine of choice for huge corporations and banks. Why is this? Because this is where very rich people work. And very rich people are very good at buying things. So companies who want to target the wealthy can do so through Bing’s own Sponsored results. To compliment this, 2012 saw one of the largest marketing campaigns that Bing has launched to date, targeting the general population. And with it being the build in search engine for Windows 8, expect to see more people using it for their day-to-day searching.

Now we just have to hope that the quality of Bing’s SERPs catches up with the quality of Google’s .

Google+ will become fundamental to conversion optimisation

We area already hearing a lot about the importance of utilising Google+ to get anywhere with local search and, indeed, national search. However 2013 will be the year where Google+ storms the conversion optimisation market. It already made huge inroads to this in 2012. Businesses with positive Google reviews will get a four or five star rating appear next to their SERP listing. There are direct links available to their Google+ accounts, key people biographies appear in the top right of the SERPs in addition to a plethora of alternative information scraped from Google+ now visible in the SERPs.

It allows Search Results in the lower positions of the first page to contend with the top three results, as ratings and other material further pulls the gaze of searchers from the standard results to more interesting looking results.

2013 will be the year when it really is no longer enough to just target getting a listing into the first position of Google. It will be the year in which it is crucial to get those star ratings, images, social media links and biographies too.

After all, which is the SERP listing that you are most likely to click on?

Screenshot of Google’s SERP listings

We’re guessing the Rollingsons link, right?

Co-citation will become a standard SEO tool

There has been a lot of chatter about co-citation lately, compounded by Rand Fishkin’s Whiteboard Friday back in November. At Go Up we agree with SEOmoz on this one. We predict that Co-citation will become fundamental to the success of SEO campaigns. LSA (Latent Semantic Analysis) is already a crucial element of Google’s algorithm, and, as the algorithm matures, the relationship between words will become more and more important.

This means that, if you were to optimise for the Go Up website, you would not necessarily have to link build at all. If BBC News was writing an article on inbound marketing, and in that article they mentioned ‘SEO’, and then went on to mention ‘Go Up’, Google would see that these words might be associated with one another. If this correlation was repeated enough times across the Internet, Google would be able to satisfactorily rank Go Up for the search term ‘SEO’ without the need for any inbound optimised links with anchor text reading ‘SEO’, and even without the need for optimised Title Tags or page copy.

Of course this does open the floodgate for many different types of article spam, making it even easier as links would not be required, so this update will be closely moderated.

No matter what for Inbound Marketing campaigns bring you, we hope that 2013 is a tail naggingly excited year for all of you Go Up-ers, filled with long walks, lots of food, and oodles of cats to bark at. After all, what is life for if it’s not for barking at cats.