Wednesday, 26 December 2012

SEO and Linkbuilding Tips for 2013

If 2012 was anything to go by, 2013 looks to be another eventful year as far as SEO goes!

The world of SEO continued to change and evolve this year – something which will continue to happen for many years to come. Developments in the SEO industry meant that the people associated with this industry – such as internet marketers, webmaster, and bloggers, to name a few –also continued to change and adapt with the changes in the industry.

And while there’s simply no way of knowing what 2013 may hold for us, here are some essential things to consider, as far as search engine optimization in the year 2013 is concerned:

1. Content

Content was, is and in all probability will remain ‘king’! In fact, if anything, the emphasis on quality content will become even more important. Despite Google’s updates and algorithm changes aimed at providing users with quality content, and pushing highly-valuable and quality-rich content on top of its search results, there is still a lot of spam and low-quality content on the internet. Google will continue to place more emphasis on the creation of excellent content, and will rank sites according to their quality, and not how good their SEO is.

The best SEO technique for 2013, in terms of ranking on top of the SERP, will be to create unique, engaging, useful, informational, and highly-valuable content that is actually worth reading!

2. Social Media

Social networking websites such as Google Plus, Facebook, Twitter (and even some of the ‘smaller’ ones such as Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc) became an essential and integral part of SEO, and hence any SEO campaign.

Google now takes a website/blog’s social signals into account when determining its ranking. Similarly, Google started displaying content from Google+, while Bing followed suit by integrating results from Facebook into its own search engine results. Furthermore, given social media’s rise in popularity, these social networks became an invaluable source of traffic and exposure for blog and websites on the internet as well.  

As a result, social media became an essential and an important part of any SEO campaign, and if 2012 was anything to go by, its importance for SEOs as well as search engines will only rise next year!

3. Exact-Match Anchor Text

Google’s emphasis on obtaining natural backlinks meant that websites with too many exact-match anchor text backlinks (or unnatural backlinks) were at a serious risk of being penalized by Google. Before this, it was east to rank for a certain keywords by having, say, a 1000 exact-match backlinks pointing towards your website – for instance ranking for weight loss tips was as easy as building a 1000 backlinks with the anchor text ‘weight loss tips’.

Now however – as part of Google’s strategy to bring higher-quality websites on top, instead of those which have good SEO – Google wants blogs and website to obtain natural backlinks rather than having pay for them or get them in another way, as that would mean manipulating the search engine results.

Therefore, as far as link building in 2013 is concerned, it will be important to have a diversified backlink portfolio – which means have backlinks with anchor-text pointing to variants of your website/ blog/company name, descriptive text, or the words ‘click here’, for instance.

4. Guest Blogging

Guest blogging and guest posting is generally regarded to be one of the safest and best methods of building backlinks and getting visibility and exposure, to name just some of its benefits. It has been a popular method of acquiring backlinks for a few good years now, and in 2012, its popularity soared – which isn’t surprising given the benefits associated with it.

As a result, it also started getting abused by many bloggers and online publishers out there. And what does Google do when that happens? Yes, it started clamping-down on this abuse – or atleast hinted that it will start doing so. Matt Cutts has recently posted two videos on Google’s ‘Webmaster Help’ Youtube channel on guest blogging, which is certainly no coincidence!

As far as guest blogging and guest posting in 2013 goes, folks who are doing it the right way have nothing to worry about. The important thing is to remember that guest blogging is so much more than just acquiring a backlink, as its benefits go beyond that. And secondly, legitimate guest blogging – which has a guest-poster write up a valuable, quality post that is relevant to the blog – is safe, and will give you the best ROI as well.

I suggest watching Matt Cutts’s two videos on guest blogging on Google’s Youtube Channel, where Cutts provides Google’s point-of-view on guest blogging for links. He makes it pretty clear that “Google is willing to take action if [they] see spammy or low quality guest blogging, [which is] basically just placing low quality articles on that site.”

Safe to say, guest blogging will come under additional scrutiny in 2013, and it will be a far different practice than it was in 2012.

5. Localisation

Google emphasis on displaying personalized results, and an increased focus on returning localized and contextual results for search queries means that this will be an area of particular focus for SEOs, SEMs and IMs in 2013.

Since search engines are putting more and more emphasis on regional and local results, it will become all the more essential in 2013 for optimizers and marketers to put more emphasis on ranking for the right local keywords.

PRO TIP: Google Plus Local might be the next big thing in 2013, if you’re not already using it, now might be a good time to do so (especially since it’s a new service right now and competition is low). Google has already started putting Google Plus Local pages in the search results, which means your local page could get a lot of traffic next year.

Your Turn

What are your thoughts on SEO and linkbuilding in 2013? What SEO tactics do you think will be important after the turn of the year, and which ones in your opinion will become redundant, fade out and die? Thoughts are most welcome!

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