Predictions For The New Year
SEO changes in 2013 were rapid and plentiful. We had several monumental shifts in online optimization, many of which foiled Grey Hatters. In our book, that was definitely something to celebrate. In the post we’ll give you the Reader’s Digest version of 5 SEO changes in 2013 and a few predictions for 2014:
Revenge of the Panda
Google’s Panda targets spammy, low-quality or duplicate content. If you relied on link farms to build SEO rankings, you felt Panda’s wrath. If you used content generated or “scraped” by software or sources that created unintelligible yet keyword stuffed copy, Panda obliged you with a spanking.
Since Google rolled out Panda in February 2011, there have been 25+ confirmed iterations to this piece of the search algorithm. Search Engine Land posted a nice synopsis of the changes chronicling Panda updates thru March.
Key Takeaway: Publish high quality and original content often.
Penguin Marches On
Penguin refers to Google’s targeting sites who have paid for inbound links. There were at least five in the Penguin series. If you’re new to the SEO world, links coming back to your website are like votes of confidence. Links from authoritative sites with quality content boost SEO rankings. Naughty webmasters who created bogus profiles with backlinks were stepped on by Penguin. If their Grey Hat practices were egregious enough, Google slapped them with a manual penalty.
Key Takeaway: Follow quality guidelines about inbound links.
Flight of the Hummingbird
The Hummingbird algorithm update was certainly the most notable of SEO changes in 2013. It marked the first major change to Google’s search core. It incorporates search intent and doesn’t rely solely on keywords; it draws upon synonyms — to help human searchers find the answers to their questions. Some pundits say this is the first in a string of algo changes in Google’s quest toward artificial intelligence. Regardless, Hummingbird is a nod to how search is becoming mobile. Not only are searchers using mobile devices, they are using voice-activated search functions rather than typing their query.
Key Takeaway: Answer questions with content that’s natural and search friendly.
Data “Not Provided”
If you’ve dug around in your Google Analytics, you’ll notice the ever-increasing percentage of “not provided” search activity. In the good ‘ole days we actually knew what keywords drew traffic to our website. Now it’s a secret. Why? Google says to protect search privacy.
Those of us who are bit more cynical think Google earns more revenue by pushing companies into AdWords (PPC) campaigns. PPC enables you to draw a direct-line correlation from keywords to traffic/online conversions. That said, there is a wealth of keyword information still available in Webmaster Tools.
Key Takeaway: Data mine your Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools for visitor behavior and keyword insights.
SEO Changes in 2013 Included Authorship
Search is now more social. For those who create in-depth content and connect that content to their Google+ profile, you can see the effect on a Search Engine Results Page (SERP). While Google+ nay-sayers point out low adoption rates for this social media platform, authors are now beginning to see the power behind it. Authorship had a big impact to SEO changes in 2013.
Key Takeaway: By linking content you’ve written to your Google+ account, your social network sees a more about your page or post via rich snippets on a SERP.
2014 SEO Resolutions
The SEO changes in 2013 were aimed at rewarding White Hat SEOers. If you (or your Webmaster) is a Grey Hat practitioner, now is the time to turn over a new leaf in 2014. Trying to game Google’s algorithm will give you a very bumpy SEO ride in 2014. Rather, we suggest investing in these SEO activities:
- Write high-quality content that answer questions in a way that humans want to read and share
- Publish frequently
- Dig into Google Analytics to improve website performance (Google notices poor performers)
- Capitalize (and download) on keyword data reported in Webmaster Tools
- Monitor keyword rankings via tool like Moz to understand your competitive SEO landscape
How did the SEO changes in 2013 affect your website?
How can we help?
Need help in setting up or interpreting your Google Analytics data? Don’t have the time or bandwidth to implement a consistent SEO strategy?
We are the spectrum group, and we offer strategic and tactical consulting so you can monetize your online presence. Call us for a complimentary 30-minute consultation to discuss how to leverage customer testimonials.