When it comes to SEO, you might say 2013 was the Year of Putting the User First.
Virtually all of the search-related changes and updates this year were, at their core, based on trying to make the experience better for (and more helpful to) the user. It was all about providing better results for those who were doing the searching. While that of course was great news for users, it meant lots of challenges for marketers, IT staff and others who had to scramble to keep up, making sure their content and websites adjusted to the changes quickly.
Jim Yu at Search Engine Land reviewed the major search events that happened this year in SEO Changed Forever in 2013.
Google algorithm updates. Panda and Penguin both saw updates aimed at avoiding spam and rewarding high-quality content and links, thereby outsmarting sites that tried to bulk up on fluff just to boost their ratings. Then there was the Hummingbird update, which happened quietly without as much fanfare and with a goal that was a little tougher to grasp: a focus on conversational search and the contextual meaning behind search terms. The bottom line of all of this: content—and it has to be good quality content—was more important than ever.
Secure search. At the same time the Hummingbird update was rolling in, Google was making the transition to completely secure search, creating a huge challenge to marketers who no longer had access to that all-important keyword data. This forced marketers to think of new strategies (or rely on the analytics that were still available from Google Webmaster Tools) in order to figure out what their audience wanted.
The importance of social signals. In the wake of Facebook Graph Search early in the year, there’s a growing trend toward social signals playing a bigger role in search rankings. This would include things like Twitter engagement and social networking pages.
Mobile takes over. In what probably wasn’t much of a surprise, mobile search became a top priority for marketers, as an increasingly large segment of the population relies upon mobile devices to access the internet.
As evident just by these few highlights, this was a year of nonstop action and constant changes in the world of SEO, and that was both exciting and challenging for marketers. We can hardly wait to see what 2014 brings!
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