2012 whichever which way, was a massive year – with our experts unanimously suggesting that Penguin was the biggest game changer during last year. There is no doubting the impact it had, to the point where one may argue that we saw the rise of the content marketing sector as an almost direct consequence thereof. That rise is expected to continue through 2013 – but we asked our experts what their thoughts were – in terms of what was going to be big in 2013 – with quite a wide range of answers
2) Many people have suggested 2013 is going to be the year of content marketing – and many other things besides. If you had a crystal ball – what do you think will the the 3 biggest things to happen in search this year
Bas Van Den Beld – State of Search: The 3 big things that will happen in 2013:
Oh dear, predictions, that never goes right. Let’s just say that I think that in 2013 we should look at these three important things, which I believe more companies will focus on:
More integration of marketing channels: Step away from a channel driven strategy (aka, we’re doing ‘search’ or ‘social’) and more towards a complete integration of channels. It’s about the target audience and you do what is necessary for them and then look at the channels you can use best for that, not the other way around.
Focus on influentials, those who are influencing others, not just celebrities but also the people around the target audience. Those who help us make our decisions, whether or not we want to or not.
More emphasis on quality: if Penguin and Panda have told us anything it is time to stop doing the ‘bad stuff’. Because it will not benefit you in the long run. Like Lance Armstrong and all the cyclists, it is time to come clean and start over and now do it properly. “Cheating” won’t work anymore so agencies now have to focus on quality: not the quick wins, but the long term strategies are becoming more important.
Aleyda Solis – Seer Interactive:
- Mobile: Much more. Mobile in 2012 just started the much expected explosion and in 2013 will become much more important in search hand in hand with Local, Social and Apps.
- Structured Data: 2012 was a year when Google advanced a lot with their Semantic Search efforts: The Knowledge Graph, extending and refining rich snippets, including the Structured Data Dashboard in Google Webmaster Tools, the authorship markup, the new Structured Data Testing Tool, the Data Highlighter Tool to make it easier to implement this. I see a trend of investment and advancement that also correlates with the need of additional, more consistent signals to generate relevant results.
- #RCS: Encompassing a more holistic and consistent approach to build popularity through links, citations, references, mentions, etc. that is scalable and will endure any type of search update since is not focused on short-term tactics (that sometimes are focused on gaming the system) but to improve a site / brand visibility by leveraging content, product features, online community, etc.
Kevin Gibbons – BlueGlass: I thought content marketing was 2012
Assuming it was (as was mobile, which was often overlooked last year despite huge growth figures) – my 3 predictions would be:
- Google Authorship – Google+ has collected so much data that Google now doesn’t just have an index of all content, but they can now connect it with their authors too. That is very powerful to their algorithm and allows Google to finally take Agent Rank where they wanted to back when the patent it was filed in August 2011. This means Google wants to rank content based on not just what it’s about or where it’s from – but who wrote it. The next thing I expect to follow, is the increased impact of topical author relevancy – in a similar way to weighting the relevancy of links.
- Agile & Integrated Marketing – I wrote about this recently, as agile is a term I expect to hear a lot more of in 2013. The brands which are slow to move are finally finding that they’re losing out. That means that search strategies are needing to be much more lean and adaptable. So I think we’ll see a lot of teams really looking at the bigger picture as an overall digital strategy, as opposed to individually operating in silos.
- Brand signals – Google is really starting to connect offline marketing strategies with online. We’ve seen a high correlation in clients who have experienced an increase in brand queries and then seen an uplift in non-branded organic search. Brand queries are a clear signal towards overall reputation/popularity, so it makes sense that Google would measure this. My prediction is that this will only increase in terms of impact – and that we’ll see more joined up marketing campaigns targeting “Google us…” queries as a call-to-actions.
Alex Moss – 3 Door Digital: Oh dear – really? Content marketing is a new thing? If so then we must be way ahead of the game
But seriously – I personally thought 2012 was a big year for content marketing – or more specifically creative content marketing. The boom of infographics last year was massive and even paved way for more interactive infographics (see these two James Bond related ones from BBC and Evans Halshaw) http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-20026367 and http://www.evanshalshaw.com/bondcars/
My crystal ball tells me that the 3 biggest things will be the standardisation of responsive design, CRO based on the responsive design (I haven’t witnessed much) and the rise of established authors becoming more powerful for KPI’s other than content generation.
Pete Handley – The Media Flow: 2013 could be the year for:
- Mobile. Every year is the new year for mobile right?
More seriously, I’d like to see this as being a year where SEO’s embrace things that enhance their search engine listings (using schema and authorship markup more) and Google continue to offer more ways to do this (like the recent Webmaster Tools updates with the Data Highlighter).
- Google will almost certainly obfuscate data from search further and we’ll continue to look at other ways to make up for the gaps that are now missing. (Not provided) is not going away and is growing fast in all the sites that I track via Google Analytics.
We’ll come to ‘rely’ more on what is sometimes shaky data from the search queries in Webmaster Tools and look to find new ways to plug the gaps.
After what has happened with some tool providers over the last few months, I think it could be a difficult year for some tool providers that use scrap based rank check data, particularly if they also use Google API data.
- Google are almost certainly going to crack down on an overused link building technique such as guest posting or infographics, which will affect lots of SEOs but probably those that aren’t doing it particularly skilfully.
There will probably be a continued squeeze on link profiles with clear ‘manipulative’ pattern, as there are still countless examples of these sorts of profiles doing well in many niches. For link building, I think this is going to be another year for brand focus and the use of real quality content.
Andy Betts : Many small SEO independent companies will struggle or re-brand services to content led agencies – those that survive will focus on quality, integrated content to add value across multiple functions. We will see mergers and acquisitions (small) between SEO and Social and content marketing agencies and SEO toolsets will have to expand there offerings to keep pace with change and with Google.
Big data and search will become the focus for Enterprise business and ‘pyscholgy of search and content’ will become more evident in best practice guides and articles (especially with regard to content and ‘inbound’ channels).
Finally Google + adoption will rise this year – due to Google changes and shift to content and authorship and issues with other social networks
Peter Young – Mediacom: I think this year could be an interesting one, particularly if the early signs are anything to go by.
1) Finally some competition – Obviously I do have hindsight with the first aspect of this question with the fact Facebook have already made some indicative forays into search territory, but given some of the early signals coming out of Bing, I actually think there are a couple of things coming – particularly from a PPC perspective that could finally give the oft maligned Bing product a real foot up. Further to that the Facebook relationship can only be good for Bing in the long run – however whether we really see this bring some benefit this year is possibly a little too early.
2) Structured Data – We have seen structured data become more and more widespread over the last couple of years – and more and more integrated into the Google framework (from Google+ to its wider impact on localisation). I can’t help feeling this is only going to become more intrinsic to Google’s modus operandi moving forward – as they look to web owners and webmasters to provide it with the information it needs, quickly and effectively. I think one only has to look at how Google has evolved it has often looked at defined structured data for signals (titles, descriptions and keyword tags in the old days) – and that should suggest that that mantra will only continue to evolve as we move through 2013
3) Attribution and Secondary KPI’s. I honestly believe this is something SEO’s are going to have to face up to sooner rather than later. Old school KPI’s such as rankings and keyword based traffic reports are on borrowed time – and as Google get better at personalisation and as Google and the browsers get more strict on ‘privacy’ I think we are going to find our access to accurate, definable data squeezed and squeezed. I am personally of the opinion there are a couple too many ostriches out there – burying their heads in the sand – and this is something as an industry we are going to have to look at sooner rather than later – as marketing managers look to us to define what is – and isnt success in an increasingly muddy pool.
Our experts have had their say but what do you guys think is going to be big in 2013?