2013 has been an eventful for SEO, and next year will surely be the same as Google continues with its drive to serve up relevant quality search results. After all, their advertising revenue depends on it. Here are some reflections on how things might unfold.
Content Quality and Strategy
Content is what searchers are after and that’s what you have to provide. Trouble is, the web is overflowing with it. That means you need the kinds of words and images that really stand out as webmasters compete to develop content that grabs visitors. You also need a solid strategy to guide you.
Moreover, to be effective content has to be targeted to a specific market, contextual in that it’s not just a collection of facts, and of course useful. Searchers are looking for answers, and you need to be able to provide solutions if you want to succeed.
The advent of Google author clearly indicates that the search giant is looking to develop author rank. By examining a whole body of work by a particular writer, they can assign a rating to content creators. Other than the content itself, they can value a piece of work by the volume of social media signals and comments it generates.
The Hummingbird Factor
The arrival of Hummingbird in November marks a shift in focus from keywords towards concepts, and looking at overall meaning rather than keywords. It will be interesting to see how it plays out.
Many SEO pundits have been proclaiming the death of links as a ranking factor. But the fact is, it’s more of a metamorphosis. As Matt Cutts once said, “The objective is not to ‘make your links appear natural’; the objective is that your links are natural.” Hence the crackdown on spammy links will continue.
One part of this shift is the focus on branded links. Google now looks for a certain pattern of anchor text in links, and likes to see business and brand names and not just keywords .
A short year ago, social media was poised to take over the world of SEO. That never happened, but social media signals are likely to play an increasingly important role. After all, they represent the votes of millions of ordinary people who are the market. Again, branding is one factor that should play a role in any social media strategy.
Well over half of Australian Internet users use tablets and smart phones to go online and this is sure to continue. Smartphone users are likely to be using their phones as specific tools to check prices and make purchases. That makes them a market segment to pay attention to.
One thing’s for sure, there are bound to be a lot more surprises in store from Google. Just make sure you develop and stick a methodology that’s sustainable, and you’ll be able to happily ride out whatever comes along.