2013 SEO Predictions

This will probably be one of the most overused blog topics this month on all the SEO blogs. Some will definitely be original concepts, while others will just be rehashed thoughts of others. The worst SEO bloggers proclaim the rehashed thoughts to be their own without giving credit to the original thought leaders. Below are my thoughts on where I think SEO is going in 2013.

2013 SEO Predictions from the Mystical SEO Crystal Ball
2013 SEO Predictions from the Mystical SEO Crystal Ball

Panda & Penguin Updates Are No Longer Problems

Panda + PenguinUnlike 2012 predictions where we just came out of a year of Panda and Penguin updates, many of us SEOs have learned from that already. Many SEOs have been coming up with original link-baitable compelling content as an effect of the updates. So predicting where 2012 was going was simple, it was all about going against the Panda and Penguin updates.

More Panda and Penguins were rolling out for the rest of 2012 and may still continue to in 2013, but most SEOs have already changed in the past year to be Panda-proof and Penguin-proof. So even if new Panda and Penguin updates come out, it should no longer be a big deal.

Author Rank on the Rise

2008 Authorship in Educational Journals

For me 2013 will be all about Author Rank which is not totally a new thing, but what is new is the tying together of pieces of content with the author through Google’s Authorship using Google+. Google taking note of authors is not a new thing, in fact I have a very old blog post when I was still at a previous agency but unfortunately they decided to take down many parts of the blog but I still found it on Archive.org. This post shows how Google looks at authors in educational journals. If you pay attention to how complex the author detection was in that blog post, Google was really reading through the journal references and the bibliography section of published science journals with or without a link.

Author Rank
Author rank image is by Mike Arnesen on his post on SEOMoz "How to Prepare for AuthorRank and Get the Jump on Google"

2009 Authorship in News Articles

Google used to support the author search command and blogged about it on the Google News Blog. This was when authorship tags did not exist yet, and Google was just reading news pages deciphering authors. Back then, the authors often appeared as a Meta tag, or within the RSS feed, or on the page itself on the byline.

2012 Google Gives You a Guideline for Author Information

If educational articles have a standard format for references, and authors appear properly in Meta tags and the RSS feed, it should not be that hard to parse out the author information. But not all websites do this consistently. Google places so much importance in tracking authors that they specifically made a guide for it.

If in the past the value of doing this was mainly for tracking other articles written by a specific author to give users a better search experience, today there is already the consideration of the influence of the users as well as a ranking factor. This is where the authority, credibility and trust of an author can help influence your ranking. As how a colleague of mine describes it:

Author rank could function like domain authority and posts of an author would function like page authority. Basically webpages makeup domains and posts make up authors.

Jeff Oxford, Internet Marketing Inc. SEO Manager

I believe that is one good way to look at it.

Possible New Focus for Panda, Penguin or Whatever Animal Update

There are many ways that Google is trying to gauge content quality as well as the quality of a link. Some are related to user metrics like bounce rate and time on site. Some are related to the appearance of the page, like ad to content ratio, the above the fold update, content cloaking, etc. Some are related to keyword metrics like keyword count, keyword density and if a site is over doing it, it’s bad. Some are related to links where if a page gets more natural links, it must be really good.

Some people will just try to take note of these factors like a checklist. That way, they can automate and scale the process and produce content at large volumes and disregard the number 1 factor to look at, which is if the content provides value to the target audience. Some concerning trends I am seeing are:

  • The possible rise of low quality infographics
    • Infographics are promoted online more than ever before.
    • More infographics about how to make infographics are appearing.
    • Multiple infographics on the same topic are being published online.
    • Infographic making tools continue to propagate.
  • The possible devaluing of guest blog posting
    • More guest blog posting prospecting tools are appearing.
    • More blog posts about guest blogging as a link building tactic.

The only reason I see that Google may run updates in the future that devalue these is because when a certain method becomes popular, sometimes others disregard the quality and just focus on getting a task done in large volumes. If infographics and guest blog post continue to decline in quality, then a Google update may be coming in the future.

HTML5 and Responsive Design May Increase

Responsive Web DesignHTML5 and Responsive design is more about web design and development than SEO. However, this may have some semantic markup advantage as well as influencing other ranking factors like page speed. The main reason why I predict this increasing is because responsive design keeps a single URL for a desktop website and a mobile device website. With the rise of tablets, mini-tablets, laptops, netbooks, e-readers and smartphones and desktop touchscreens, there will be a higher demand for designs that work well with any of these devices. Using responsive design will create single URLs for everything, thus there is no need to come up with different websites and do some type of user-agent device detection. Looking at this from a SEO point of view, this minimizes duplicate content, and creates a single page to optimize. No need to create separate mobile XML sitemaps, and no need to worry about canonical tags or conditional redirection.

Conclusion

I know there is more we can drill down into, from specific on-page elements to differences in inbound tactics but I believe it is these that will have the most changes in 2013. Although there will be less problems with Panda and Penguin a new update might come that possibly devalues low quality Infographics and guest blog posts. Many SEOs will start focusing on Author Rank if they haven’t already, and with the advent of various mobile platforms, there will be an increase in responsive design which just makes SEO easier. What do you think the new ranking factors will be in 2013?

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