Few can argue that 2013 was the year when search engines put forward user needs, and SEO marketers must follow suit. Almost every single SEO innovation that happened this year - from Google updates to social integrations - targeted enhancing user experiences. It’s here. It’s the future. It’s what we’re discussing today.
From now on, SEO marketers must think more clearly about how their content is providing value to the user, and then take steps toward telling search engines about that value. But even more importantly, that value must come quickly within a website, as search engines are targeting mobile devices more, which means information must be easily accessible.
While all of these changes may sound like a lot, it’s really not that different than any other year. It’s just a matter of adjusting to the way the system works, and we’re here to help with the transition. Let’s break down all the major changes one at a time, and then talk about how a company can succeed in today’s SEO environment.
Google Algorithm Updates
The titan of search engines has put out a ton of SEO updates, and it begins with their Penguin and Panda algorithms.
Penguin and Panda
As the two core systems preventing spam in Google’s algorithm, Google has - in the past - kept them updated to current trends. However, Google announced in March that it would no longer updated Panda. Instead, they would released Panda Dance, new monthly updated rolled out over 10-day periods.
At the same time, Penguin saw a few updates, primarily focused on links. Following the same trend as their view on content, Google believes links should provide content and value, rather than simply SEO authority.
With more people using voice search, Google rolled out Hummingbird, an algorithm targeting conversational search terms. This essentially allowed Google to match online content to synonyms in a user’s search terms. A lot of individuals around the SEO world went into a panic about this change, but really, there’s no major change. As long as someone keeps producing worthwhile content, Google’s Hummingbird will connect it to the appropriate audience.
Still, here are some tips to optimize on Hummingbird:
● Think in topics, not keywords.
● Partner with high-quality links.
● Remove bad links from your site.
● Hire capable writers and SEO managers.
Released in 2012, Knowledge Graph provides users with a better data structure and more information on the SERP, rather than clicking through into a website. This represents one of Google’s major shifts during the past year: more information in a faster, more concise manner.
In 2013, Knowledge Graph expanded, providing information now right below a link, instead of off to the side. This update obviously benefits searchers, as it provides them with data without having to sift through the site itself.
Since the SERP is now a leading factor in SEO, it’s time to start treating it as a serious component. Start by implementing rich snippets and structured data, which both allow you to stand out more in the SERP. Also, make sure to claim your Google+ page, which is a great tool for interacting with audience via social media. (We also recommend claiming your Google Places for Business page.)
This year began with a bang as Facebook Graph Search hit the online world. This little update delivers personalized results based on social interactions, thus making Facebook communication a vital part of search results. Many believe that the Hummingbird update will further this effect, as it has already been proven that Twitter interactions can increase search results.
With this in mind, it’s important to take into consideration your Google+ page, as Google can easily integrate this data into their SERP. Social communications are now a vital part of the SEO world. You must consider them. You must pursue them. You must make your social signals as loud and effective as possible.
Here are three tips for maximizing social signals:
● Understand your intended audience. There is nothing worse than trying to create social signals and not knowing how to socially interact.
● Optimize keywords. This one is simple enough and needs no explanation.
● Analyze the competition. Figure out what is working for them and try to steal a bit of that pie.
Focus on Mobile
Right now, mobile is a booming means of getting online, and knowing the mobile market is crucial for making sales. As of April of 2013, a little more than half of the United States online users are using mobile to access websites. That’s a market share that must be targeted in order for any company to be successful.
According to Google, approximately 80% of mobile searches are influenced by speed and convenience, meaning you do not want to keep people waiting. They demand information and they demand it now.Bing
Most SEO marketers focus solely on Google, but Bing still makes up around a third of the online search market. For this reason, you must seriously consider Bing as a serious opportunity for making sales. Don’t let personal bias get in the way of making money.
Again, the key to success is analyzing the competition. Check out what’s working for them and then try to emulate that success. Also, note any differences between Google and Bing’s SERPs, because even the smallest differences can mean the world to these two very different audiences.
SEO is a world in which changes are constantly happening, and staying on top of those changes can be the key to success. After following through with the above information, please keep an eye on upcoming changes and shifts in the market. Even the slightest, smallest change can mean a huge difference between scoring new customers and succumbing to an inability to make a sale.
And of course, we’ll be here to help keep you informed with changes and updates. Please check back frequently to ensure you stay on top of the market. After all, we’re here to help you help yourself.