How SEOs Should Prepare for 2013

How SEOs Should Prepare for 2013

This has been quite a year for search engine optimization. We saw the normalization of Panda, the introduction of Penguin, the manual penalization of various link networks, better Webmaster Tools notifications, the Exact Match Domain update, the Pirate update, and much more. It’s clear that this industry is in constant motion, so what should we as SEOs be doing to prepare for the changes coming in 2013?

The Commercialization of Google

Google Shopping has been a big success for the search engine giant, despite critiques that it goes against the spirit of “Don’t Be Evil,” and their historical opposition to “paid inclusion.” We can expect the ad blocks and other Google properties to grow in an effort to impress shareholders, which could have a negative impact on click-through rates in the organic search results.


This means that search engine optimizers may find more success investing in “noncommercial” search terms which are less likely to be dominated by advertisements and Google Shopping results. This will also bring stronger emphasis toward conversion rate optimization, getting subscriptions, and using SEO to build brand recognition.

More Updates to Come

There is a very good chance Google will release another major update like Penguin or Panda. (Will it also start with the letter “P?”) The update will serve to intimidate people out of the SEO industry so they will turn to AdWords and other Google properties. More user metrics, co-citations, and statistical correlations will be leveraged and links as a whole will lose some, but certainly not all, of their value. Google’s updates will aim at keeping users interested and using the search engines longer and more frequently.

Site owners will need to focus on increasing their online influence as the search engines get better at distinguishing links that result from influence and links that anybody can get. They can do so by using content development to release data that can’t be found anywhere else, by building relationships with other influencers, and by doing online community building through forums, wikis, and social media.


Google will promote the use of Google+ in part by placing more weight on authorship. The use of rel=author already gets your picture in the search results, increasing click-through rate by making you stand out. Many suspect that Google will introduce “author-rank,” which will favor authors who are influential on Google+.

To take advantage of this, SEOs should make sure their clients are using Google+ and getting attribution with rel=author. Site content should be designed with virality in mind, and shared on Google+. Authors should also engage in conversations with other influencers on Google+.

The Normalization of Guest Posting

As the value of spam, purchased links, site wide links, comment links, and other easily acquired links goes away, guest posts will become the default method of link building (if we aren’t there already). As it becomes a mass tactic, some sites will lower their standards, others will tighten them, and still others will get so tired of guest post requests they will stop accepting them altogether.

Outreach efforts will need to be more targeted. More value will be found in links that come from sites that don’t openly advertise guest posting. Those that do will only pass value long term if their quality standards are high.

The Loss of Keyword Data

As more users search while they are signed in, “not provided” will dominate the keyword data in Analytics so heavily that most web marketers won’t be able to do much, if anything, with the data. In response, they will need to turn to a combination rank tracking tools and landing page data in order to infer which keywords are offering the most success. Keyword research will be more important than ever, but it won’t look the same.


SEO is changing fast, but this shouldn’t be anything new. Optimization based on sound marketing principles will continue to be the road forward in 2013. By anticipating changes in the industry and staying ahead of the game, SEOs with their client’s best interests at heart will see a great deal of success next year. As amateurs continue to be intimidated out of the industry, it will also become more lucrative.

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