In terms of search engine optimization, 2013 will undoubtedly be a historic year. In 2011, we saw the impact of Google's Panda update. Panda was a search engine algorithm update designed to lower the rank of low quality websites while improving the ranking of high quality websites. While the update reportedly affected 12% of all searches, many webmasters reported vast ranking changes across a much larger percentage of searches. In 2012, Google followed Panda with the Penguin update. Penguin penalized many of the link building methods used by local search engine optimization and Internet marketing companies. This year, we will see major enhancements with Penguin and Panda and perhaps another major, game-changing SEO update.
What does this mean for your Kansas City business in 2013? If you work with a local Kansas City Internet marketing or SEO consulting firm, depending on the methods used, they will have a much harder time maintaining or improving your website’s search engine rank this year. Traditional link building methods have been discounted and even penalized. On the other hand, consistent content creation and social media participation will continue to be handsomely rewarded this year.
1. Blogging: Blogging is now undeniably one of the most important organic ranking factors. If you have been putting off blogging or adding a blog to your website, it will be unavoidable this year if you want to maintain or improve your organic search engine rankings...and the content will need to be good, relevant and timely. You should plan on blogging once a month, but preferably once a week. Try to write in house (after all, you are the expert!), but it can also be a good idea to hire an experienced, SEO-savvy writer to help you write, optimize and edit your blog posts.
2. Content Marketing & Distribution: While blogging will be your primary tool to build up the content on your website, you will also need to find ways to place your content on other high quality websites that are relevant to your business. Guest blogging on other websites, social media bookmarking, video marketing and strategic SEO press releases are great ways to improve your website visibility while helping your search engine rankings.
3. Social Media: Surprised? I didn't think so. I spent the last ten years without ever disclosing much information about myself on the Internet. For years, I was able to show people that my own Kansas City web design firm could rank well without any investment in social media. No Twitter. No Facebook. No Google+. Well, that has all changed. In November of 2012, we overhauled our own site. We integrated a blog. We added integrated Twitter, Facebook and Google plus. Talk about a one hundred and eighty degree turn around. The trick with social media, however, is to use it in a way that promotes your website rather than social media user pages. After all, Google does not want its search results to show a page full of links to Facebook pages – BUT Google does want to leverage social media signals to rank free standing websites.
4. Analytics: We see advances in analysis and tracking tools every year. This year we will see improvements in conversion analysis. Google Analytics is a powerful too for SEO, yet it is becoming more and more complex and harder for do-it-yourself SEO. This is the one area of search engine optimization where it may be helpful for your business to consider hiring an Internet marketing consulting firm.
5. Mobile: For many local businesses, mobile websites has evolved from nice-to-have to must-have. The number of mobile users is growing and will overtake desktop users. How can this be possible? Larger devices such as iPads are running on mobile operating systems. In mobile searches, search engines rank sites with mobile versions higher. In other words, if you are ranked highly on a desktop search, check to see if you get the same results on an iPhone.
6. Trademarks & Copyright: Trademarks, Copyright & SEO are becoming one of the hottest topics in online marketing. Aside from algorithm changes, in 2012 we witnessed Google remove a record number of websites and web pages due to copyright and trademark infringement.
As a small business, you may want to consider copyrighting your work and registering your trademarks and brands. Trademarking in particular may give you an enormous amount online benefit, as well as protection from competitor keyword abuses such “trademark stuffing”.
7. Web Design: Many of Google’s search engine updates are affecting the way information is presented on websites. Chances are that your website may need an update or redesign to compete in the coming year. For the reasons stated above, integrated blogs, social media and even how and where text is presented on your web pages (see: “above the fold”) will all affect how and where your website ranks this year. Additionally, new web design and development technologies such as HTML5 and parallax effect sliders may be making your current website appear dated.
8. Adwords: Over the last two years, the only constant in SEO has been change. Google in particular is shuffling rankings on a regular basis. The frequent minor updates and “data refreshes” result in different results every one to three weeks. With organic rankings becoming less and less stable, Google Adwords (i.e. pay-per-click) is becoming more appealing. In other words, the only way to ensure a top rank for a given keyword will be to bid the highest amount per click. You may want to consider a pay-per-click strategy to supplement your Internet marketing efforts this year.
The good news is that it’s much harder to take shortcuts with SEO anymore. This should really level the playing firm for local Kansas City business owners that are committed to maintaining their websites and engaging their customers and potential clients online.