Had enough of SEO in 2012? Here’s some predictions for 2013
Google will keep unwinding some elements of Panda & Penguin
Google’s Panda and Penguin algorithm updates sent shockwaves through the SEO and internet marketing industries this year.
Unfortunately, in its attempt to improve search result quality, thousands of worthy web sites were unjustly punished and lost large chunks of their organic search traffic overnight.
At one stage there was a massage business in Melbourne that ranked number eight in the world for the search term “Viagra”, even though the word “Viagra” appeared nowhere in the entire web site. Google broke Google.
Financially this was good for Google. Google cashed in on advertisers shifting their online spend to a more predictable pay-per-click advertising model.
I suspect that Google realised that Google was somewhat broken, and as much as a very small percentage of people were gaming the system, it’s better to just accept that and go back to the old (pre-April 2012), way of ranking sites. In other words, Google ranking formula worked pretty well.
This means it still pays to a clear and unambiguous page title meta tag, interesting and engaging page copy with natural keyword density, the use of headings and sub-headings, image file name and alt tag keyword optimisation, and quality links for high PageRank pages on authority sites with a very tight set of anchor text variations.
Google Rich Snippets services will become an industry
Over the last 12 months you may have started to notice the appearance of peoples’ faces and yellow ratings stars in the Google search results. These pictures and pretty little yellow stars are generated by what’s called Rich Snippets in the page’s code.
Having a face or stars in the results certainly is an eye-catcher and our experiments indicate that all things being equal, a face in the search results will outperform it’s non-face cousin by a factor of three in terms of click-through-rate.
Unfortunately for the average punter, getting rich snippets to work on their web site is not that easy, especially if they have a web site that is built using older content management systems like Joomla or using an offline html generator like Dreamweaver.
Where there is demand and money there will be also supply. Be on the lookout for services focused exclusively on Google Rich Snippets consulting. This is exactly what happened with Google Places (Google Maps), a few years ago.
Guest posting will continue to increase in popularity
Since the Google algorithm changes in 2012 the use of guest-posting as a lighter-shade-of-black method of getting backlinks has boomed.
Often marketed as a Google-approved, Penguin or Panda friendly link building method, anyone with a blog that has reasonable PageRank and niche focused content can set up shop and post people’s content for a fee.
Is this truly Google approved? If you read the Google Webmaster Guidelines, then no, it isn’t. Paying for guest posts wioth backlinks is clearly not approved by Google.
I quote: “Buying or selling links that pass PageRank. This includes exchanging money for links, or posts that contain links; exchanging goods or services for links; or sending someone a “free” product in exchange for them writing about it and including a link.”
Assuming you think you can get away with it and the Google Black Helicopters are not hovering overhead, how much do guest posts cost? If you do a search in Google for guest blog posting service you will find out.
One of the sites I looked at (Get Links Pro) will research and write a 500 word post and post it on a relevant blog with a PR3 for about $120. Just be aware that the PR3 refers to the PageRank of the home page, not the page that the page created by your post. Yes, your post will be on the home page for enough time to get indexed, but eventually it will drop off the first page and end up as an internal page on a PR3 blog.
Guest posting will be big in 2013. If you have a blog with decent content and PageRank, you may wish to consider joining one of the guest post blog networks while the fish are biting.
Link networks will get smarter and go underground
Early on this year Google de-indexed several high-profile link networks including Unique Article Wizard, My Article Network, Build My Rank, Blog Blueprint, LinkVana and Article Marketing Automation.
What this meant was that clients of these services no longer got the benefit of hundreds of quality backlinks paid on a monthly subscription basis.
In some cases the clients of these services also got a warning email from Google talking about “unnatural link building activities.” Google sent out millions of these emails. Some people panicked and madly started getting links removed. Guess what? Their rankings dropped even more.
Has the practice stopped? Not on your life. Backlinks still work, and backlinks are still the crack cocaine of the internet.
All that has changed is the market for links has been driven underground. The smart ones no longer advertise their services online. They use old fashioned techniques like telemarketing, paid referrals and snail mail to get new clients, usually on a pay-nothing until you see the results basis. And don’t bother asking for a link report. To protect their clients and avoid detection by the Google Black Helicopters, the new link networks do not give you a report with a list of the links you have bought. Pay your money and cross your fingers.
Don’t be surprised in 2013 if you get a letter in the mail offering link rentals on a monthly or yearly basis.
Facebook will roll out its own search engine
What would happen if Facebook embedded a half-decent general search engine in the top right hand corner of your Facebook page just above the sponsored ads section? Do you think people would start using it?
You bet they would. While Google has been grappling with social media in 2012, I suspect Facebook has been trying to wrap its head around search. Easiest thing for Facebook to do is make some sort of deal with Bing or an up-and-comer like duck duck go and turn it on.
I predict that Facebook will have some sort of search engine capability by the end of 2013. Has anyone else noticed visits from a spider named Facebook Bot?
Interested in some other people’s SEO predictions for 2013? Have a look at these: