FEATURE: Prioritize Your Strategy with the 'SEO Factors and Trends Midyear 2013 Report'
Behind the scenes, there were more than 500 changes to the Google algorithm last year.
Right in front of our faces, search results pages have morphed into a uniquely personal array of pictures, maps and direct answers.
In optimizing a business’s search presence, SEOs have had to account for a constantly increasing number of search features. SEOs are enriching results with rich snippets and competing with the Knowledge Graph. We are adapting sites for searchers’ mobile habits and cleaning up link profiles. And we’re trying to stay up with confusing and competing Google+ Local and Google Places. There’s much to do and much to stay informed of.
Where is your SEO strategy going to take you for the remainder of the year? Bruce Clay, Inc. has released its annual report on the state of the SEO industry. The search engine ranking and display factors identified within can be matched to your own site’s assets and information strengths. From here you can prioritize the tactics that make up your SEO strategy.
Identified factors, trends and recommended actions in this 20-page report cover:
(Not provided) keyword data: As more and more keyword data is being obscured in Google Analytics, SEOs must turn to different metrics and data sources to benchmark SEO efforts and progress. We explain what and where those sources are.
Local results and Google+ Local: Google has not yet merged and solidified its various local business profile offerings. This is one of the most unclear and question-ridden areas of SEO today. We outline the most current local search profile recommendations as of this date.
Responsive design for mobile search: Google is pushing businesses to optimize their sites’ mobile experience. Think with Google, a data-driven resource of articles and tools, has downloadable reports of mobile usage by country. One fact it shares: 83% of U.S. smartphone users use their smartphones in stores. What are you doing to help your consumers on the go?
Linking penalties: No rotten links — yeah, we get it. But that Penguin rocked the SEO scene like never before. One powerful excerpt from the report comes in Bruce’s words of introduction: “More people are aware of the standards of good SEO today, but they know them because Google walked up and hit them in the side of the head with a baseball bat.”
Knowledge Graph: Search competition was tough before Google elbowed its way in on the traffic. Google wins when users don’t have to leave its site; Knowledge Graph delivers answers to user queries right in the SERP. Our report guides SEOs to develop content that can’t be usurped by a seductive Knowledge Graph carousel.
Social media reports in Google Analytics: Attribution! Hallelujah! The persistent problem of tracking conversions through social media was greatly alleviated when Google Analytics introduced social reports about a year ago. Set up your conversions and see the impact of social on those goals.
Updates to rich snippets: You work to get results on a targeted SERP. Getting your result to standout and get a click-through is the real win. Rich snippets are the additional information on a result like ratings, author photos and event listings. Structured data is your friend and Google’s Data Highlighter has made it easier than ever to get rich snippets in your results. In the report we help you hop to it.
This era of SEO has been characterized by rapid change and advancing complexity. No two searchers’ results for the same query are the same. Search history and personalization impact results and influence the queries that follow. Needed is a deep understanding of your searchers in the form of well defined personas and an intimate knowledge of your audience's needs, mapped to your site’s conversion funnel.
Another characteristic of the new SEO era is that content has never been so important. Bruce told me as we researched this report that half of the prospective clients he speaks to have a penalty problem. Another half come on board with content services in their contracts. Content demands and penalty problems are linked. With quick SEO wins wiped out, informative, engaging, shareable and useful content is what’s left. Of course, those are what worked all along.
In our 2011 report, the introduction said:
“To improve or maintain search engine rankings requires a constant focus on the search engines and changes to their algorithms, and then adjusting your search engine optimization (SEO) strategy to take these changes into account.”
This statement could be printed again today without much scrutiny, but it does read a little off from the priorities we think SEOs should be setting. The objectionable issue is the allusion to algorithm chasing. Algorithm chasing in the past year and half has led to high penalties for tactics like linking schemes and content farming. This has led to a collective mind shift in the industry, and appropriately so. How many years has Matt Cutts offered the same advice? “Don’t do what’s right for search engines; do what’s right for your users.”