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2012 has been a volatile year for the search engine optimization industry.

Google released a number of algorithm updates, including the Exact Match Domain (EMD) update, 13 Panda updates, changes to actual search results pages, unnatural link warnings through Google Webmaster Tools, the Knowledge Graph, and the list goes on.

If the past is any indication of the trajectory, the industry will continue to change and evolve, and effective campaigns will be maintained through a diverse and holistic perspective to SEO.

Here are my top SEO tips for 2013 that I think should be on everyone’s radar:

Google+ Communities

It’s no secret that Google is using the data gleaned from Google+ to return more socially-influenced search results. Google’s latest endeavor is the new “Communities” feature for Google+, which allows users to create and join communities based on common interests. With Author Rank becoming more of a factor in search engine optimization, you should be leveraging Google Plus Communities to build your own community of influencers and content producers.

SEO Google Plus Community

Social Signals

In a Google Webmaster video from 2010, Matt Cutts mentioned that data from social sites, such as followers of a brand for example, is being used to influence rankings in the same way that Google’s PageRank did in years past. While social signals are just a piece of the overall ranking pie, integrating social media into a campaign should be part of your SEO strategy for 2013.

Data from Searchmetrics:

Ranking Factors U.S.


AuthorRank is a metric that Google will be using in 2013 to measure the authority and reputation of the author of content on the web. Authors who write about specific topics will be able to increase their authority, and subsequently their Author Rank, by tying their content to their Google+ profile, and also through +1s achieved on the content itself. Google’s Authorship Team recently said, “As part of the Google Authorship pilot program, we’re experimenting with different ways to identify and highlight authors in search, such as having people implement authorship markup or signing up on our authorship page.”

Graphic from Mike Arnesen:

Google Plus AuthorRank Factors

Link Removal

Websites that have unnatural links in their portfolios, and have been notified by Google about a ‘manual spam action’, can now disavow those links through their Google Webmaster Tools account. As the industry has shifted away from ‘link building’ and is incorporating more ‘link earning’ methods, this tool is something that every SEO consultant should be aware of.

Google Disavow Links Tool

Mobile Search

Mobile search is on the rise, and more people are using their tablets and smart phones than ever before. According to research from Business Insider, there were 835-million smart phone users in 2011, and global Internet usage is expected to double by 2015. A majority of these users will be mobile, and incorporating mobile search into your strategy should absolutely be on your priority list.

Slide from Business Insider:

Global Internet Users Mobiel Statistics

Facebook EdgeRank

Facebook’s “EdgeRank” algorithm determines how its users see content in the news feed, and the social network estimates only 16-percent of a page’s fans will actually see their updates. Now, brands will need to either pay to promote their posts and possibly reach a larger audience, or ramp up their strategy on Google Plus.

Facebook EdgeRank Algorithm

Page SEO vs. Site SEO

While strategies to increase the authority of specific landing pages on a website are still important and vital to the health of an SEO campaign, it should not be the only strategy an SEO consultant should have. Links should be built to pages across the site, and a holistic, site-wide approach to search engine optimization should be incorporated into your strategy moving forward.

Site SEO vs Page SEO

Local SEO

As mobile search becomes more mainstream, and searcher intent becomes more local in focus, businesses will need to focus part of their efforts on showing up for local queries in 2013 and beyond. There are resources for building these local citations, and businesses should also claim their profiles to make sure they are getting in front of these queries.

SEO Google Places Local

Co-occurrence and Ranking Signals

Google is rapidly targeting sites with low quality content and ‘shady’ practices such as keyword stuffing and link farms, and has incorporated other methods for ranking websites other than keyword-based links. In other words, ranking signals aren’t solely based on links, and neither should a campaign. You can see content on the web mentioning terms, and tying those terms with a brand or website, and the combination of those is likely being considered as a ‘co-occurrence’, and helping that particular website rank for that term. More information about co-occurrence will be discussed in the future as we learn more about it, but the theory and supporting evidence behind this is that search engines are relying less on links for ranking signals.

Link Earning

It’s a post-Panda and Penguin world, and that means now, more than ever, we should be focusing on building relationships over links. Understanding people likes, habits, intentions personalities and problems helps us create better content, better calls-to-action and better social profiles, and subsequently leads to naturally-occurring links over time.

Link Building vs Link Earning SEO

Video Infographics and Content Re-purposing

Content can include blog posts, infographics, video, audio, and the list goes on. Re-purposing that content for use across multiple platforms is a way to make that content stretch further, and one way to do that is through the use of video infographics. Using a platform like Adobe Aftereffects, you can re-purpose the infographic, and upload it to YouTube and Vimeo, or upload it directly to your website. Video infographics are a way to add life to an otherwise mundane world of infographic marketing.

Video infographic by Rufus Blacklock:

The new year offers a chance to seek a fresh perspective, so take some time to think about how you can breathe some life into your website through creative Internet marketing practices.