THE BLOG

The Top SEO Trends of 2013

06/10/2013 10:59 am ET | Updated Aug 10, 2013

Due to the constant evolution of search engine algorithms, it's important to keep your SEO practices up to date. If Google Panda and Penguin (and now, Penguin 2.0) have proven anything, it's that some techniques quickly become outdated. Many tactics that worked last year are completely ineffective now. That's why it's necessary to make the proper adjustments along the way. Let's take a look at some of the top SEO trends of 2013 and how to use them to benefit your campaign.

Mobile, Mobile, Mobile

A few years ago, mobile devices like smartphones and tablets were just starting to catch on. According to Marketing Land, almost 40 percent of people are now accessing the Internet via mobile devices. When it comes to social media, that figure is even higher at 55 percent. If this growth pattern continues, half of all Internet browsing will be done on mobile devices within a few years.

This means it's never been more important to adapt to this trend and make your website content mobile-friendly. Otherwise, you're giving up traffic, conversions and sales. Even if you offer a fantastic product/service and have a great-looking site, mobile users are likely to go to competitors when they have a negative experience on your website due to its lack of mobile-optimization and become frustrated. Luckily, there are a few ways to meet the demand for mobile.

• Create a mobile version of a website
• Implement responsive web design (RWD)
• Utilize a WordPress plugin like UppSite to convert a site into an HTML 5 app

Each of these strategies has advantages and disadvantages, but can help you capitalize on the mobile trend. Creating an alternate mobile version tends to be less expensive than RWD, but causes you to lose valuable link-juice and SEO "equity."

RWD is more expensive, but ensures a seamless experience for users regardless of screen size or mobile device. Additionally, RWD preserves SEO value for users performing searches from their mobile device. All things considered, I recommend RWD.

Search Engine Manipulation Has Become Much More Difficult

In the past, it was often possible to perform a little keyword research, mindlessly stuff keywords into a body of text while offering little value and climb the rankings. Things have changed quite a bit since then. With Panda, Google officially waged war on webmasters who use black-hat SEO techniques to manipulate search engines and frowned upon poor onsite user experience. Matt Cutts, the head of search quality at Google, has made it abundantly clear that web spam won't be tolerated and that quality content is crucial.

To climb the rankings, it usually requires content that's legitimately entertaining and/or provides value that people can feel. When content meets these criteria, it tends to get shared naturally on relevant websites, which increases the number of inbound links it receives. Using underhanded techniques like paying for links, spinning articles, creating links on irrelevant sites and general spam now have a negative effect, since the release of Google Penguin.

Even if you do somehow manage to get on the first page of Google's search results, visitors will quickly leave and never return if there's no real value. The best way to get ahead is to give your audience what they want. By focusing on quality and putting forth enough effort, your site should flourish, maintain solid rankings and be protected from future algorithm changes.

Longer Content Has Become More Important

While it's still possible to rank well with shorter articles ranging from 300 to 500 words, it's advantageous to create longer articles that are more in depth. A study by Moz has shown that the higher the word count, the more links an article will get. Since the quantity and quality of backlinks are the strongest factor in the ranking algorithm, longer articles tend to result in higher rankings, more inbound links and more website traffic.

For this reason, it's more beneficial for webmasters to create a handful of 1,000+ word articles instead of dozens of 400-word or less articles. At the same time, it's important to stay away from fluff or filler content while giving readers enough details to properly drive a point home. When discussing complex information, use plenty of examples for clarification and try to provide images or data analysis when possible.

Join the Social Media Bandwagon

Social media is no longer simply a way for people to keep in touch with friends and family. It's become a way of life and the medium through which a massive amount of information is shared every day. According to Statistic Brain, Facebook alone had 1.2 billion users as of November, 2012. Also, a total of 2.9 billion hours are spent on YouTube each month. With mobile use on the rise, it's now possible for people to access their social media accounts on the go, which has further increased these numbers.

In order to boost your SEO power, get on board with social media. One of the easiest ways to do this is by making it convenient for people to share your content on the social media networks of their choice. By installing social share buttons, readers can quickly and easily share your content on their profiles, allowing their followers/friends to have instant access. Coaxing visitors to share information with a well-placed call-to-action is also helpful.

Besides this, establish a social media presence on at least Twitter, Facebook and Google+ if you haven't done so already. Creating a network and posting content where your audience spends time can quickly bring exposure for your brand and website, leading to increased website traffic, leads and sales. While the exact correlation between social shares and search engine rankings has been heavily debated, most experts agree that social shares offer at least some benefit to an SEO campaign.

Integrating Multimedia

Traditional text-based content is still a fundamental part of SEO. Since search engines crawl content and learn its meaning via text, it's important to optimize your text content accordingly. However, using multimedia such as pictures and videos has become more important. According to Search Engine Watch, images increase post interaction; videos have the same effect, but quite it's not as substantial. By including pictures and videos within textual content, you can reach your audience on a deeper level than by only providing text.

Multimedia enhances the user experience and makes people more likely to form an emotional bond with your content (ie, evoke an emotion from them), making them much more likely to share it and link to it (both of which are SEO gold). If you're trying to demonstrate the nuts and bolts of a concept or how something works, utilizing multimedia can make it much easier. This way, an abstract concept can be understood with greater ease. There are a few techniques that improve the effectiveness of multimedia even more. For images, this includes:

• Adding a relevant description with the right keywords
• Adding relevant tags
• Including captions when appropriate

For videos, this includes:

• Adding a summary
• Including relevant tags
• Adding a transcript

By using multimedia, you're increasing the likelihood that content gets shared. Following a few extra steps will make it easier for search engines to crawl pictures and videos so they will understand what the multimedia is about. This should result in a little extra SEO juice that can raise you above competitors and achieve a higher position.

Google Authorship

In 2013, the adoption of Google Authorship has soared as industry professionals and business owners have come to realize its importance. Not only does successful implementation provide a boost to click-through rates in organic search results, Google has stated that it actually provides a ranking boost to content. It's rare for Google to confirm anything that affects rankings (due to their desire to protect their algorithm), so when Google makes such a clear statement about something like this, it's worth paying attention to.

Conclusion

In summary, the top trends of SEO in 2013 are:

• The rapid increase in the importance of mobile optimization
• The death of old, black-hat SEO webspam tactics
• Longer, richer content is ranking better than shorter content
• Social media marketing is imperative to a successful SEO campaign
• Integrating multimedia within text-based content improves and enhances content rankings
• Google authorship is playing a major role in search engine rankings and click-through rates

Did I miss any trends? Let me know in the comments!