Understanding SEO in 2013
By: Justin McGill
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has changed greatly in the last few years. Have you managed to stay ahead of the curve, or are you trying to find out how you can take advantage of these changes to put your business over the top?
I will show you what has changed and what to expect going forward the rest of the year and into 2014. Before I do that though, let me start by covering some basic background on SEO.
Manipulating Search in Years Past
10 years ago all you had to do was update meta tags and title tags and you would be able to see drastic improvements in your search results.
Even as little as two to three years ago, you just had to build a bunch of easy links with the same anchor text.
In February 2011, Google rolled out a massive update aimed at lower quality websites that were obviously ranking due to massive link acquisition, had minimal useful content, and wreaked of SPAM. Google makes their fortunes on user relevance and when these types of sites are ranking in their index, users will go elsewhere.
In May of 2011, Google gave folks 23 bullet points to follow with regards to their quality guidelines for websites.
In April of 2012, Google rolled out another massive update to its algorithm code named Google Penguin. The focus on this update was to penalize websites who used “black-hat” SEO techniques. Black-hat is a way to describe techniques that exist for the sole purposing of “gaming Google” such as:
- keyword stuffing
- over-use of anchor text in links
- blog/link networks
- duplicate content
There are several elements, but these were some of the major ones that Google Penguin focused on.
What Will Be the Target of Future Updates?
At some point during this year, we will see another major update to the algorithm that will be targeting low quality merchants. Matt Cutts announced this at the SXSW Conference in March of this year. So if you are in the e-commerce game; now would be a good time to make sure your website is user friendly and brings a great experience to your customer.
Beyond the next update targeting merchants, there will be future changes. Neil Patel recently put together his thoughts on this topic and I feel he is spot on with just about everything. Here are the highlights:
- True social signals – you can try buying re-tweets and likes, but this could come back to haunt you at some point.
- Author rank – Writers that set up their G+ profile are able to establish credibility for their content. As this gets more widespread adoption, it is easy to think Google will look more favorably on content by well received authors.
- Co-Citations – Not everyone links to a website when they are talking about it. Google knows this and they look for the mention of your brand name or un-linked URL and give credit this way.
- Continued Devaluation of Links – Repetitive links, and in some cases links in the first paragraph, will probably see a decrease in value as well. This is because Google is seemingly going with Co-Citations as a truer indicator.
- Continued Devaluation of Sites – Weaker websites will continue to be pushed off the radar by Google. It is important to try earning your links through authority websites.
What Won’t Change
So what can you do to protect yourself? Put out great content and be social on networks and other blogs.
Stop link building, and start link earning.