The SEO scenario changed drastically in 2013. Almost all kinds of innovations were targeted towards ensuring better search experience. Right from SERP enhancements to social integrations, and Google Hummingbird, the searcher convenience was given exclusive importance.
SEO Changed Forever in 2013
All innovations and modifications made demand SEO marketers focus on content value for users. In fact, these steps inspire marketers take technical steps to communicate content value to search engines. Furthermore, the increasing shift toward mobile, marketers need to emphasise on instant access of results for searchers.
Google is making dedicated efforts in feeding both quantity and quality to information on the SERP. It has also emphasized on well organized results, and compatibility to spoken language. Simultaneously, Bing has also been busy making improvements in its aptitude to provide accurate results to users, provide webmasters with more info and optimization for the Windows 8.1 environment.
Listed below are key innovations for 2013 and tips for SEO marketers to stay ahead of the game:
How Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird affect SEO? Your Battle for Better Performance
Panda And Penguin: Fighting Spam For The Greater Good
Soon after 25 tracked encounters with ‘content-spam-fighting Panda’, Google declared in March that no more Panda updates will be announced. Later in May, Google endorsed the Panda Dance. It said that monthly updates rolled out over a 10-day period. According to Google, unannounced updates will come in the way of how Panda has affected website owners and marketers. It also cleared that low quality content is no more worth the trouble for any kinds of gains.
Penguin update in its 4th and 5th rounds made its way deeper into site with implementation of linking schemes penalization. The updates addressed to more types of links. Joining hands with Penguin, Google is serious about its links as well as content. It has finally declared that both links and content need to posses some value and a valid reason to exist except for inflation of rankings.
Google’s definition of spam has broadened. This is very beneficial for searchers as well as SEO marketers focussing on white-hat tactics and quality content because it means their websites will rank higher with more spam getting filtered out.
Hummingbird – The Semantic Search for Masses
With the rising interest of web users in mobile, increasing preference for voice search, and the advent of a new generation of young searchers amateur to search in keywords, Google has come up with its most significant algorithm upgrade so far.
Even as most SEO marketers didn’t really understand an impact from the Hummingbird updates rolled out over a month prior to the declaration in the late September, Google’s new aptitude to efficiently address conversational queries and match content based on synonyms further reinforced the significance of audience-centric content.
According to a statement made by Danny Sullivan, SEOs don’t require doing things differently for Hummingbird. It is just about continued focus on high-quality content.
Focus on very high-quality content creation that precisely meets requirements of user and then optimizing it makes SEO a fundamental part of any holistic marketing practice.
In order to make sure your website doesn’t get hit irrelevant beings, try out the tactics mentioned below:
- Topic Matters – Focus more on topics than keywords when considering creation of web content. Your major emphasis should be on various questions the page answers and their relevancy to topic used on the page.
- High Quality Link Partners – Looking out for high quality linking partners is of prime important. Also make sure the link is placed in a context relevant to the topic.
- No Bad Links – Remove ALL bad links from your website. In case, this seems impossible, use the Google links disavow tool.
- Hire Partners – Hire only highly qualified, capable people for both writing and SEO. Both are different and you need people who hold expertise and experience in the respective fields.
- Teamwork Always Win – Encourage teamwork traditions for content strategy. The idea is to conceptualize, write, and embed high quality content on Web pages that drive revenue. This should be a team effort.
Knowledge Graph is the SERP of Future
Launched in the year 2012, the Knowledge Graph is now exploiting the potential of Schema.org association formed in 2011. It also represents an elementary shift in how searchers retrieve information needed. The structured data delivered in search results often answers queries of searchers straight on the SERP or hand out prospects for better filtered results based on their choices.
Google SERp for ‘NFL’
In the year 2013, Google extended the ‘Knowledge Graph’ compass results, which as a rule appear on the SERP as any of the following:
- Information box on the right
- Information underneath search box
- Horizontal carousel of results right at the top
The outcome is the myriad ways results are now displayed. The Knowledge Graph benefits searchers by allowing them to see the value of a website before they click, or by providing them with the information they need without having to click at all.
The local carousel results with images, reviews, and a map provide a richer experience than the previous local-listings pack. In early October, BrightEdge research showed that a carousel appeared on results for 14% of keywords across all industries. It appeared on 33% of searches in Travel and Hospitality, and 27% of searches in the restaurant category. Research has also shown that Google reviews have an impact on placement in the carousel.
Seeing as the future SERP is already here, it is now perfect time to begin with efforts on engaging these potentials. Mentioned below are two keys to ensure your website appears in Knowledge Graph results:
1. Structured Data and Rich Snippets – It is vital to focus on structured data as well as rich snippets. Structured data facilitates Google to systematize the info available on your website and deliver it in rich snippets. This is crucial for you to stand out from the competition.
2. Google+ and Google Places – It is now time to claim your Google+ and Google Places for Business pages. This will provide you greater control over search engine reads and displays to users. For instance you know about hours, images, current rates, menus, rates and promotions displayed on search results.
Social Signals Matter
Facebook Graph Search – Year 2013 begin with the release of ‘Facebook Graph Search’. This is intended towards delivering personalized results derived from social connections. It perfectly blends local, social, content based and business info into search results and offers a new prospect for web marketers to connect with their customers.
Hummingbird – Hummingbird release is an indication that social signals will have significant influence on Google rankings. It has been revealed that increase in engagement on Twitter may increase search rankings. Besides, Google Plus profiles and pages will also have an impact on ranking.
Authorship – With the introduction of Authorship (with the rel=author tag) way back in 2011, Facebook and Google proclaimed author acknowledgment with embedded posts.
Google Plus – Regardless of whether it’s for personal or business usage, Google Plus certainly makes for a crucial structured data source that the search engine can embed in search results without much hassles. This is definitely the last thing to be ignored.
Social – This is very much an integral part of SEO. The best marketing programs will focus on dedicated promotion of a unique amalgamation between search and social to ensure holistic content strategy. Listed below are some tips for retrieving the most out of social:
Active Participation: You must participate in Facebook, Google Plus, and Twitter regardless of whether you’re an individual or an organization.
LinkedIn: For business owners, LinkedIn is of great importance.
Listed below are some helpful tips for optimizing your LinkedIn business page:
Page-Centric Search – The New Trend in SEO
Towards late September 2013, the biggest campaigning happened with Google’s shift to 100% secure search. It is true that many experienced SEOs knew about the steady rise in percentages next to Keyword in their analytics reports; they never expected it to come too soon! It was a surprise attack!
Interestingly, many ‘forward-thinking’ web marketers were armed against the shift and gad already shifted to the demanded ‘page-centric’ analytics. They expected the move in the early hours and closely monitored its progress.
The big switch to secure search synchronized with the declaration of Hummingbird is no concurrence. Hummingbird demands web marketers to focus on sense and significance of words within the content and to create content based on topics more willingly than keywords. The training by Panda’s logical penalizing of ‘low-quality’ content, web marketers are shown a new entryway to quality right in the direction Google perceives search heading.
Google can now enhance its abilities manifolds to help searchers settle on a specific link that will supply info they precisely seek. This has been possible with combined benefits derived by voice queries, question-based queries, and enhanced focus on meanings of words rather than a keyword, and info from rich snippets and social signals.
Google Webmaster Tools with its secure search strategy has managed to gather new importance owing to its position as the sole keyword data source from Google. Although accurate metrics on keyword traffic to the page are not on hand anymore, webmasters can make out the exact pages that need improvement through integration of keyword impression and click data from Google Webmaster Tools through page-level performance. The improvements will now be made according to page performance and potential.
Listed below are some supplementary actions to take towards your shift from analytics focus to page level despite efforts made by secure search to solidify SEO practices:
Audience is of Prime Importance
It is vital to understand your audience. Research who they are and what they need relative to your company offerings and how they get on with retrieving this information. One of the best ways to enliven your audience is personas. This will make you consider your audience past clicks and
Multiple Keywords Optimization
Present age users are smart. They know about possibilities of several methods to represent a thing. Hence adding variety in words won’t turn them away. In fact, this focus may help you rank better!
You must focus on evaluating the competitive setting closely. This means you need give a close look at who else ranks for your keywords. Also know about people who are capable of giving you hint about what users really want. Tools like Share of Voice can be of great help as they provide you with info on your competitors and displaying keywords their pages rank for.
Mobile Gathers Maximum Attention
The “multi-platform majority” is officially here. It has been revealed that since April 2013, over half of World Wide Web users from the United States accessed the internet through a mobile as well as a desktop device.
According to latest reports, the mobile traffic growth has almost beaten desktop traffic growth. Google in June 2013 declared that websites with mobile-friendly environment will be given brownie points in the rankings. Google has also published special set of guidelines for creating websites with mobile-friendly interface. This is a dedicated attempt on the part of Google to help searchers hit upon the information they precisely need on a mobile device they use.
Mobile Searcher Convenience a Crucial Factor
As per a recent study by Google, about 81 per cent of mobile searches are focused on speed and convenience. These searches are likely to support follow up actions. Regardless of whether it is about buying, sharing info, or visiting a location, the searches will support actions. The overall shift to mobile is a clear indication that marketers must regard precise requirements of mobile searcher as one of the most crucial points in their content strategy.
Content relevancy is important. Mobile users expect lightning speed information right at the top of a page. Hence, you must consider the number of pages that can provide relevant info up front.
Mobile users hate to wait. Hence, it is vital to take into consideration how to drive a transaction without wasting a second or aid an interaction later on, for example sharing on social networking site, emailing a link, or even saving to an account.
Innovations on Bing
Most of the marketers and users fail to remember that Google accounts for just two-thirds of search volume and the remaining third is for Bing and Yahoo to handle. The duo has been going strong in search share. According to surveys, it was revealed that the two jointly accounted for 29.3 percent of search share in September 2013. And this is precisely one point rise from 28.1 per cent in September 2012.
Later with the grand arrival of Windows 8 in late 2012 and the acceptance of the new Windows mobile communication and work devices supported Bing boost its market share, soon after the approaching holiday season. The latest introduction of ‘Bing Smart Search’ is exclusively for Windows 8.1. The design was aimed at user’s rage for touch screen devices. It also encompassed varied forms of maps, structured data, social results, and video. At present, Bing is working on reinforcing its voice query capabilities. The latest efforts are aimed at testing on Xbox One.
Soon a Smart Search Preview tool was introduced by Bing Webmaster Tools to complement Smart Search. Bing also focussed on its immediate social offering via launching Connected Pages to its Webmaster Tools. This facilitates owners of website to have a close look at keyword referral data to a number of social networking pages such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
When it comes to accessing to the best keyword referral data source, Bing is undoubtedly the first option keeping in mind that Google functions in a secure environment now.
It is crucial to account for Bing’s innovations as well as search volume in overall SEO program. Here’s how to go about it:
Observe Differences – It is important to take note of differences in page performance. Since major elements such as click-throughs, conversions and revenue may experience variations from Google; enhancing performance on Bing can ensure significant boost in revenue.
Evaluate Competition – Take note on differences in the competitive set precisely those that may not appear in Google such as research competitors and share of voice analyses.
Rely on Connected Pages – When it comes to adding social pages to Bing, this feature is highly dependable. You need to track performance of social on Bing and then make use of findings in order to update on future social campaigns.
In a Nutshell
Several big brands witnessed inimitable arrival of search transformations. Towards the end of last year, a number of surveys were made to wherein organizations reached out to over many thousands of search marketers in order to learn what they precisely wanted to improve on changes introduced in the year 2013. Surprisingly, over 75 per cent of marketers emphasised on taking a ‘page-based’ approach as the ruling factor in SEO strategies. The keyword-driven approach wasn’t the main highlight for a majority of marketers!
To sum up, the wonderful innovations by Google, Facebook, and Bing designate intentions of marketers. They were now right on track.
Search Marketer Future in 2014
The search engines are making dedicated efforts towards delivering best results to users as well as marketers. Fair enough! But it is equally important to make attempts for obtaining accurate information in the presence of users to inspire them to convert. To sum up, SEOs with unique technical expertise and strategic know-how willing to work in a team environment and develop precisely audience-centric content strategies will emerge as winners in 2014. They are the ones to thrive and flourish.