2013 SEO: Year In Review

Even though Advanced Web Solutions, in Elmira, Ontario, specializes in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for local companies in the communities of Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge & Guelph, the world of SEO is so much larger than this small area in Ontario.  Here is a quick snapshot of just a few of the changes that occurred in regards to SEO in 2013.

The Panda and Penguin updates continued to be updated and tweaked.  They were so often and we simple tweaks of previous updates, Google stopped the official announcement of when they did them.

Links/Backlinks have been a mainstay of SEO almost since the inception of the World Wide Web.  Due to the heavy reliance of search engines on these as points of reference for trust, they are having a difficult time removing their importance/relevance completely from their search algorithms.  Their solution is to officially warn us that links are ever-decreasing in value and telling us directly that they want you to build quality websites and not focus on links.  That isn’t to say link building is dead –but as a cheap and easy way to prop up poor SEO, it is.

Another change in what search engines rely upon for signals of trust, Guest Posting, Advertorials and over-Optimized Anchor Text have all been ‘flagged’ as aspects of SEO that they will be fighting to minimize their effectiveness.  These techniques aren’t true Black Hat SEO, but they certainly go against the spirit in-which they were created.

Google is promoting more diverse Search Engine Results Pages (SERP) by having less ‘domain clusters’.  In order to have more opportunities for divergent results from different URLs, they are limiting the ability to ‘take over’ a large portion of a SERP by one domain.

Google is putting more emphasis on Webmaster Tools in letting website owners be warned of potential issues as it regards to searchability & backlinks.  Google is also starting to warn users about potential hacking of a website within a query and also making this known to the owner via WM Tools.

Google moves towards making all searches ‘secure search’ – except for Ad clicks.  This started back in October 2011 and Google has announced plans to make this far more widespread.  Currently even when you aren’t logged into your Google account, Chrome and newer Firefox & Safari browsers are preventing the capture of the search data.  Google hasn’t said exactly why they are doing this (except with the ‘privacy’ excuse).  You will still be able to get the top 2000 queries via WM tools though (which throws the privacy argument out the window).

Conversational Search introduced to Google.  Google, both the mobile app and desktop versions, will now accept spoken queries in a conversational style.  It will also understand follow up questions are related to first search (#1 How old is Wayne Gretzky? #2 Who is he married to? #3 How old is she?).  Unfortunately conversational style queries are not working properly for typed queries yet.

Hummingbird.  This is an all-new engine/algorithm for Google that was launched Sept 26 of this past year.  Although it is still utilizing aspects that worked from the previous one, it was built to provide a much better semantic search results as well as improving conversational search.  This allows for more keywords to be targeted through the better understanding of the nature of a specific query.

Any finally, Alta Vista ceased to exist as of July 2013.  It was the Google before there was even a Google.  At the time its indexing ability was 10 times its nearest competitor but its various owners had no idea what they really had and therefore it eventually became a bit part of Yahoo and now its operations have been ended completely.  I’m sure that if Alta Vista knew what Google would become (15 years old this past year – 45000 employees, $290 Billion market cap, $56.6 Billion in revenue in the past 4 quarters) it surely would have made the effort to grow it.  Opportunity lost.

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