The landscape of search engine optimization has evolved and changed dramatically since the dawn of the internet. Google emerged as the leading search engine and has maintained the lead into 2013. Since 80% of all searches online are done on the Google search engine, their search algorithm determines which websites offer the most value to their users. Their goal is to provide the most high quality search experience for their users. For webmasters and search engine optimization specialists, the game is clear.
If a webmaster wants their site to show up on the top ten search results on Google for a specific keyword, he or she must give Google what it wants in terms of content and website optimization. Webmasters and optimizers must prepare and plan for SEO changes to come in 2013.
The Google Algorithm
The Google bot is basically a search script created by Google that crawls the internet. As a site is crawled by the Google bot, it acquires and discerns information about the websites it crawls. Google’s algorithm is a list of criteria by which they decide which website will rank and be shown on the first page of Google for any specific keyword. In the early days of Google it was relatively easy to rank on the first page for most any keyword. One simply had to create or scrape any relative content on their website and then link to the content from many other websites. Google gave a vote of authority and trust to websites that were linked to by other websites.
It didn’t take long for folks to try to game the system by implementing a variety of questionable methods to gain backlinks for websites including link networks, link farms, linking from spam blogs and a few other methods that involved creating artificial web properties for the sake of getting backlinks.
The gaming of Google worked for a relatively short time before their engineers got hip to the schemes and scams. The folks at Google are very intelligent and an upgrade and evolution of their algorithm was inevitable in order to weed out the SEO scammers.
Panda and Penguin: Redefining SEO
There are two major aspects of SEO. The first is called “on page” optimization and it basically deals with factors that are found on a website that are important for ranking on Google. For example, Google is looking for really good unique and relevant content. Also, your site must have a fast loading time and it must contain other media such as images and videos to further improve the viewers’ experience.
In February of 2011, Google released what is called the Panda update to their algorithm. This update was designed to look for low quality websites and lower their search result placement or take them out of the index altogether. In the eyes of Google’s Panda update, low quality sites include sites with scraped or spun content that is not unique as well as an over use of keyword density, too many ads, and the over optimization of meta tags. This update has been revised over 20 times since its release. Google’s quality control is here to stay.
The Penguin update on the other hand has to do with “off page” optimization factors which entails linking. All SEO experts understand the importance of linking to achieve rankings, but Google has upped their game with this update. In a nutshell, the Penguin update de-ranks websites that have un-natural linking profiles, or links from low quality or spammy web properties. Google wants to make sure that the growth of incoming links to any site is natural and not artificially created. A site’s link profile has to be varied and organic. Any sign that the links gained are being created to manipulate the algorithm and the site will be buried in the 100th page of the search results or worst, it may be de-indexed from Google altogether. Many experts believe the days of building links for SEO are at an end and that social signals are the new indicators of quality sites.
The Rise of Social Media Online and SEO Tips for 2013
Aside from quality content, Google is looking for sites that have a strong social presence in their niche. For example, a high quality article from a health site that gets a lot of shares on places like Facebook, Zinzz, Twitter or Google+ will rise in the search results pages quickly because it is establishing itself as an authority on its particular niche. Also, bookmarking as well as commenting activity are social signals that the Google bot is also taking into account when rating a website.
For 2013 SEO experts must focus more on syndicating on the major social media sites to create a buzz about their message. Link profiles as well as link anchor text must also be very diverse in the new SEO. When optimizing a site, SEO specialists will have to focus more on topics and less on keywords, as keyword density becomes less important and synonyms gain greater importance. Also, the idea of authorship and creating authority are aspects that Google will be looking for in 2013.
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This is a guest post by Ludwing Hernandez. If you want chat with ludwing and share information follow him @LudwingNY.