We’re just wrapping up the 2nd month of this year and, already, we’re seeing the rise and fall of many trends on the World Wide Web. No, it’s not the Harlem Shake that’s gotten everyone on craze mode.
I’m talking about the onslaught of new trends in SEO that are both promising and terrifying. Promising because they’ll surely bring down unsuspecting spammers, and terrifying because what if those “unsuspecting” people include us? What if the trends we so look forward to slap us right in the face and boot our sites to the lowest position on the SERPs?
Scared yet? Don’t be! Worst-case scenario is you will get booted. However, you still have a second chance at redeeming yourself and your website.
But in the first place, what “fads” will take root in our industry this year?
It’s hard to find people these days who don’t have a smartphone. Whether it’s iOS, Android, or even Windows Mobile, smartphone users are definitely now a huge part of the Internet browsing audience. On top of that, Web searches through mobile devices are garnering attention, especially as the numbers go up and higher each month. It won’t be long before websites clamour for updated strategies to make their pages more appealing to the mobile-using industry.
Hold on to your haunches, this one’s a major surprise! Well, not really. We all know how our link profiles influence our rankings on SERPs. This year, it won’t be any different.
Google and other search engines will still set their sights on proper link building strategies, condemning website owners who are still participating in black hat SEO cults and other I-can-get-away-with-this SEO techniques. 2013 is no longer the year of link spamming; instead, it is the dawn of the era of organic link building. In a gist, it won’t make sense if 2,000 links sprout up overnight in your backlink profile.
It cannot be denied that Google is indeed the king, no, emperor of the search engine market. Because of this, it has the unofficial privilege of changing the course of the entire Internet industry at the mere snap of its fingers. Why? We are ALL clamouring for a spot in its coveted search results.
This year, expect the “clamouring” done through the help of Google+ and Google Authorship. Both services allow website owners or authors to claim their work or content by linking the Web page to their G+ accounts. Sure, it’s a genius way for Google to promote their brainchild social network, but that’s beside the point. To put it as simple as possible, if you’re not on Google+, you’re committing a BIG mistake!
Pretty soon, we’ll be bowing down to our benign robotic overlords, watching as they lead humanity into a better more advanced never-before-imagined inter-galactic future.
But that’s just me trying to make a joke. Though seriously, robots are the next big thing! They’re not just hot and awesome on cinema screens, but sizzling as one of the most efficient digital marketing techniques ever.
I’m talking about robots.txt files. This year, more and more people will realise the importance of utilising and maximising robots.txts, particularly in building their websites. Since Author Tagging has become an immense part of our SEO strategies, site builders will know exactly how to play with their robots texts to, shall we say, please Google and satisfy its hunger for top-quality Web pages.
CONVERSION RATE OPTIMISATION
Remember this because you’ll be hearing about it for the next, say, couple of years! CRO is the new buzz around the Internet because EVERYBODY wants conversions! Who doesn’t, right?
In the context of online marketing, this is the method of enhancing browser experience on a website with the goal of “converting” visitors into consumers. It’s a pretty straightforward technique that goes a long way towards increasing your potential on the World Wide Web. It is an excellent addition to actual search traffic, particularly because some sites rank for specific niches, but don’t actually get “conversion”.
In a gist, there’s a reason CRO and SEO rhyme, and it’s not because they both end in optimisation.
TITLES, TAGS, HEADINGS
It’s not surprising that these are dominating headlines in 2013. After all, they’re one of the most crucial aspects of our SEO strategies.
As it turns out, Google and other search engines will look into title tags and headings on our content to gauge the quality of our posts. No longer are content and links the main focus, so are anchor texts and alt attributes. As long as it’s applicable, SEO writers should sub-divide their write-ups into keyword-based sections, if only to up the chance of ranking on the SERPs.
QUALITY AND DERIVED CONTENT
I’ve said this over and over again, quality is what’s important people!
But other than that point, content marketers are no longer just concentrating on single-faceted Web content. Take for instance a single topic, which you can turn into an article, a podcast, an infographic, a Slideshow, and a stop-motion video. Scatter all of these on forums, blogs, websites, social networks and you already have an arsenal of relevant marketing campaigns.
Better yet, save your “more meaty” content on your website and entice Internet browsers to your original page by giving previews through social media. Not only will you be generating links, but you’ll also be amassing traffic by the numbers!
THE FINAL SAY
2013 is no longer “just around the corner”, but is already strutting down the street and intimidating us with its awesomeness. But before we bask in the sure glory that is two-oh-one-three, we must first understand the possibilities that lie in our future, particularly with our standing in SEO.
Only then can we assure ourselves that, “Yes, I will rise from the ashes and come out alive come 2014!”
Just this May, Google rolled out a new feature in their search results. Since this is best explained if you can visualise it, here is what you should do:
- Open up a Web browser
- Point it to Google
- Type a name of a person or a place. For this example, let’s just use C. S. Lewis
Are the results you generated similar to this image?
Now, if you take a look at the far right corner, you would notice that it shows a short biography of C. S. Lewis, a list of his works, and a “People also search for” section. All of these things are what you call a Knowledge Graph.
What it is
Basically, it is a way for the search engine giant to give you what you are searching for without leaving the page. However, it is important to note that it does not always appear for every query.
Right now, it only returns results on things, people, and places that Google knows about. And these include art works, celebrities, cities, films, and geographic locations, to name a few.
In short, it is a method devised by Google to enhance the search experience for you, so that you will find the information you want quickly and easily.
If you are wondering how it gets its facts, Google has mentioned that it retrieves information from websites such as the CIA World Factbook, Freebase, and Wikipedia. If you look at most of the results, you would notice that most of them come from Wikipedia.
What it does
What is the main reason you would use a search engine ()? The obvious reply would be to learn about something.
It understands what you are looking for
Now, before the Knowledge Graph came into being, when you typed “Taj Mahal” into the search bar, you would receive results based solely on those two exact words. But Google took this to a whole new level and developed a “graph” that understands how entities in the real world are connected to each other.
So, when you search for “Taj Mahal,” it will give you the most likely result that you are looking for, i.e. the iconic structure in India. Below that, under the “See results about” section, it also lists other things that might refer to your search.
There are also cases where it just lists the related entities. Let us take Ahab as an example. What is the first thing that comes into your mind when the name is mentioned? Do you immediately think about the biblical character? Or do you know him best as the captain in Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick?
Google provides you with all the possible answers!
It gives you pertinent information
Let’s say you need to find all you need to know about the author Charles Dickens. Through the Knowledge Graph, you will be given a brief overview of his life. In addition to that, you will also be presented with facts such as the day he was born, the date that he died, the name of his wife and children, and his body of work.
It allows you to dig deeper
Let us take the information returned about Dickens a little further. If you look at the “People also search for” section, you are given Mark Twain, Jane Austen, and Arthur Conan Doyle as suggestions. For the literary lover, this could mean new writers to discover.
Here is another example. If you want to know “Chinese restaurants” that are closest to your location, Google will give you a list of dining establishments as well as a map showing their locations.
This is also true if you want to find out the next concert of your favourite singer or band. You just type in their name onto the search bar and, if they have new shows, it will be listed under the “Upcoming events” section.
Also, if you want to visit a particular place and want to know famous attractions, this will be listed in the “Points of interest” area.
The Knowledge Graph also has a carousel feature that allows you to explore further the topic you are searching for. Let us take “museums in London” as an example. It displays a series of images featuring the museums found in London. However, this is not yet available for all Google domains. But if you point your browser to “google.com” and type in a query, you can see this in action.
It allows you to see relationships between entities
This is a relatively new feature added by Google. To help you understand this better, let us use another example. This time it is Kevin Bacon.
If you look at the “People also search for” area and hover over the images that you see, it would show you small pop-up with added information. Take the case of Kyra Sedgwick. It would tell you that she is his wife and also mentions a few films that they worked on together.
In his Inside Search blog, Google engineer Golan Pundak states that the search engine giant is starting with the connections between actors, actresses, movies, TV shows, and even family relations.
However, it is also important to note that this does not apply for all search queries. As Pundak adds in his article, “When there is an interesting explanation available, you can now see it at a glance.”
The Knowledge Graph is still in its early stages, having just been released this year. As Google continues to improve upon this addition to its search engine results page, we can only hope to expect changes that would enhance the user search experience in the near future.