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Top 4 SEO Areas to Leverage and Their Evidence
I was asked to contribute to a BKV internet marketing blog post. This is supporting research and analysis of SEO areas of opportunity for 2013 based on trends in Google algorithm changes. At a concept level, core ideas in SEO have not changed since 2004, when I began my SEO career. But at a tactical level, new white-hat avenues appeared and will likely continue evolving and growing throughout 2013.
- Core SEO Best Practices …Come Back
- Local SEO
- Social Media for SEO
- Structured Data & Schema.org
1. Core SEO Best Practices …Come Back
Google’s original and ongoing challenge is to rank websites based on original, high quality, authoritative content. 2012 was Google’s first big attempt to algorithmically penalize “cheaters”, evident from algorithm changes:
- constant Panda updates
- Penguin updates
- automatic penalties for too many ads above the fold
- linkbuilding scheme/spam penalties
- boosts for trusted sources
- penalties for repeated copyright infringement
- devaluation for exact match domains used to game rankings
- page layout factors
My SEO Prediction: Google will continue honing its ranking algorithm and efforts to penalize websites using algorithm loophole tactics. If you have not kept to SEO best practices, you’ll need to clean up your tactics in 2013 because 2012 was only Google’s first clumsy whack at enforcing penalties on the same essential webmaster guidelines that have been standing since the first half of the previous decade.
Remaining 3 SEO Areas…
Social Media for SEO, Local SEO and Structured Data
We can see specific SEO areas of opportunity in Google by looking at past & recent trends in Google algorithm change history while keeping in mind Google’s long term goal to organize the world’s information and make it easily accessible and useful. Bare in mind what you already know about 2013 and future estimates for use of mobile devices and social communities. Couple that with Google’s recent developments in Schema.org structured data technology, and we make some assumptions. However, let’s take a closer look at the evidence so we can get a more specific picture of how social media SEO, local SEO and structured data can be leveraged moving forward.
As we head into 2012, we see more and more social media tools showing up in Google Analytics, and some sites like Reddit, Meetup, Diigo and Google Plus (no surprise) are labeled as “hubs” that provide a data feed to Google.
My SEO Prediction: We are likely to see more social websites sharing data with Google, providing stronger Social Media SEO signals in 2013.
3. Local SEO
Closely related to social media and the biggest component in mobile search, local SEO provides Google authentication with the real world using manual human input via phone, mail and reviews. Google rolled out several 2012 local based updates to the algorithm.
- Venice in February
- The 7-Pack in August
- Updates to how local results are calculated in March
- Updates to how local results are calculated in August/September.
My SEO Prediction: Local SEO importance will parallel 2013 growth in mobile device usage, and its authenticity signals will spill over into the general web results algorithm.
4. Structured Data & Schema.org
Knowledge Graph introduced in 2012 is a work in progress that showcases what Google can do with structured data. Microdata data tags using Schema.org vocabulary & definitions make it easy for search engines to interpret meaning for content. You can wrap these tags around content on your webpages in order to label items in a way Google will understand and feed into their databases. You can insert “meta” tags within microdata, but Google asks us to keep this to a minimum and in some places claim to only pay attention to tags that wrap visible content. Structured data tags are the SEO “tags” with the most potential.
My SEO Prediction: Thanks to structured data, the new focus for SEO will be to figure out what content to make visible and wrap with microdata tags. In my experience, I’ve come across many marketing people outside of SEO who wish to eliminate website content and push SEO into a little box of someone inserting keywords in meta tags that only appear in the code. Schema.org now puts SEO back in a place that requires marketers to include SEO in the decisions about creating optimized visible content (which is where white hat SEO people have been saying they need to be all along).