King Content Has Found a New Queen
It’s that time of the year; people in the industry are looking back over 2012 to make SEO predictions for 2013. Of course, no one knows what kind of changes search engines will make, but the trends in 2012 give a pretty good signal to the kind of things we can expect.
Google Panda really shook the foundations of many SEO strategies and shifted the focus away from low-quality, high-quantity backlinks and over-optimised on-page content. No matter what you think about the reasons Google made the changes, one message was clear: Content is king.
As part of the Off-Page SEO team at Search Laboratory, I create great content day in day out on a variety of subjects. I have noticed a shift to increasing quality over the last few months, so we are going to take a look at what is likely to become important for Off-Page SEO in 2013:
Is Author Rank going to take off?
Author Rank was arguably the biggest game changer of 2012, with Google giving a signal that Google+ is going absolutely nowhere. The amount of content available on the internet is limitless with ideas and opinion being constantly shared. As we see news stories developing on Twitter before BBC news, it is a pretty seismic shift in the way we consume content.
Not even Google have the manpower to oversee completely humanised ranking signals, but allowing trusted authors who consistently write great content (and share it on Google+) to rank before any links point to it seems to make a lot of sense and in my opinion, it potentially is a better judge of authority than links pointing to a page. On the flip side though, is it a good way to judge relevancy?
We are already witnessing the emergence of social signals to determine rankings; however I think this will be a lot more relevant for the big guys. Brands that are fighting for ultra-competitive keywords will utilise social as every little will helps in the race to a podium ranking. 2013 will see slightly more emphasis put on social, but it is still way too early to see how this will dramatically affect SERPs.
It’s all about the context
Leading on from Author Rank, high quality engaging content is becoming ever more important and it is absolutely essential to get it right. Great content should be based on solid research, thorough understanding of your audience and consistent relevancy in your niche.
Needless to say, the context in which your content exists is becoming more and more important. As Google’s synonym and relevancy algorithms become ever more sophisticated, the days of key word anchor text stuffing are numbered. I see a shift towards content that offers real value with completely natural mentions of your brand or product, with the key words within the content showing Google what the link should be ranking for.
Attempting to guest post on a site completely unrelated to your industry is not only becoming more difficult as webmasters become wise to SEO tactics, it is actually becoming less valuable as Google algorithms are getting better at judging the context of the content.
Quality, quality, quality!
So SEO and content are moving closer together, and this can mean only one thing for the quality of the copy; it has to get better. I think 2013 will be the year when we see really poor quality content hosted on poor quality blogs will land you in hot water with Google. This will worry a lot of agencies and clients, as the barriers to entry are getting higher.
On the other hand I see this as a great opportunity to embrace a new way of increasing brand awareness online, as with higher quality content, comes higher quality link targets. Don’t be surprised to see more cases of traditional print media and magazines to begin accepting specialist content from brands for their online resources.
Is that it?
The beauty of SEO is that no one actually knows what is going to happen in 2013, as always, we can closely monitor the signals coming from Matt Cutts and his team and make assumptions, but we will never truly know what is coming next. I think the shift to higher quality content is fantastic news as Search Laboratory has a team encompassing of a wide range of disciplines including of Journalism, PR and English Literature. Not only that, but we offer specialist multilingual search marketing to businesses looking to expand overseas, ensuring your content is in context all over the globe.
Get in touch today to talk about your SEO and content strategy, and ensure you make 2013 the year your content does the talking on behalf of your brand.