10 SEO Tips for 2013 and Beyond

SEO, short for Search Engine Optimization, refers to optimizing websites and blogs for maximum search engine visibility, better rankings and maximizing revenue. Traditionally, SEO used to refer strictly to elements that affected a website’s natural or organic search results, although with the passage of time, I feel the domain of SEO has become much more all-inclusive.

SEO has a close relationship with how search engines work, and what criteria search engines use to determine the ranking of websites. Recent times, especially the last couple of years or so, have been sensational and quite nerve-wracking, to say the least, for people associated with search engines one way or the other!

Google has continued to dominate the search engine market, generating almost 60% of all organic traffic on the web. Understandably, knowing how Google works has had a big bearing on SEO in general (thanks in no small part to Google’s algorithm updates known as the Panda and Penguin), and it has become very important for SEO’s and SEM’s to understand how to rank well on Google search results (SERP).

Here is a list of things everyone even remotely affiliated with search engine optimization or search engine marketing will need to know (and do) in 2013:

1. Stop abusing guest posting: Guest posting is and has been an integral part of search engine optimization since a while now. As you may know, guest blogging is a great mechanism for generating backlinks, getting exposure, and getting fresh content. But recently, many bloggers have started to abuse guest blogging, and therefore unsurprisingly, Google has swiftly moved in to clamp down on this abuse. According to Matt Cutts, who heads Google’s Webspam team, Google will be penalizing spammy guest blogging. In simple terms, guest blogging is still a great, safe way of getting backlinks and traffic, however it is essential to stick to some ground-rules or best-practices specified by Cutts, such as putting relevant content, putting high-quality un-spun content, not spamming a post with links, and not putting low-quality, spammy posts on your blog. In short, guest blogging is good as long as it benefits the readers of your blog.

2. Creating of great content is still as important as ever! Content was, is and will remain the king, there’s no two ways about it. When you write, keep your readers and their wants in mind, it should be your first priority. How can your readers benefit from your blog/website? What does your blog offer that others don’t? Why would someone come to your blog and not go to the million-and-one other similar blogs out there?

3. Going mobile has become the need of the hour: Simply put, if you’re not mobile, you don’t exist as far as almost one-tenth of the world is concerned! Indeed, cellular and mobile internet traffic has been on a constant rise, and accounts for almost 10.5% of total web traffic now. Let’s not forget that this number of rising rapidly (35% rise in 2012, as compared to 2011!), and it is predicted that mobile traffic will surpass desktop traffic within as little as the next couple of years! Understandably, then you need to optimize your website or blog for traffic coming from smartphones and tablet PCs. Many WordPress themes, for instance, now come with mobile-friendly version of their full-themes, and WordPress also has many free plugins that allow you to accomplish this.

4. Use alternate anchor text: diversify your internal and external anchor text, in order to avoid getting flagged by search engines. A website that uses the same anchor text repeatedly, for instance, will most likely be flagged as a spammy website by search engines. This didn’t used to be so significant before, but Use different anchor text for all internal and external links, for instance use different versions of keywords, name of the company/website, descriptive text and generic text (like click here) as anchor text.

5. Diversify your link-building profile: Backlinks are the lifeline of any website or blog, and it would be safe to say that more than 90% of all SEO campaigns are geared towards building backlinks. Try to vary and diversify your link-building strategies. Don’t focus on getting links just from a single source, diversify. For instance you could look into getting backlinks from guest posts, blog comments, social media, social bookmarking website, other blogs in your niche, and so on and so forth. Getting backlinks from a single source could send the wrong message to search engines, and as a consequence, your website might be categorized as low-quality by the likes of Google.

6. Jump on the video bandwagon: From a link-building and SEO point-of-view, this is relatively unexplored/uncharted territory, at least in my opinion. You might be surprised to discover that Youtube is the second-largest search engine in the world in terms of sheer search volume, only behind the giant that is Google. There is quite obviously, massive potential for SEOs to get better rankings through videos, and build backlinks on the likes of YouTube, Dailymotion and Vimeo. A single video hosted on anyone of these video-hosting websites could bring in a lot of referral traffic for you!

7. Enhance your social media presence: Social media is here to stay, and it’s popularity will only increase with the passage of time, as more and more people create Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google Plus profiles for themselves and their businesses. There’s absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t be working on enhancing and improving your social media presence, in order to strengthen your foothold on these mediums and get more exposure and generate leads and inbound traffic through these mediums. Best of all, creating a simple page on Facebook is free, and takes a few minutes, and could down the road prove to be an invaluable asset for you in terms of bringing in traffic

8. Don’t underestimate the importance of good keyword research: Good keyword research will help you increase the organic traffic coming into your blog, and will allow you get targeted traffic to your blog – the best kind of traffic. Ranking well for keywords that are relevant to you is essential, as it will help people find you on search engines. But how will you know what keywords are relevant and valuable to you, and what keywords you should be ranking for? Well, through keyword research of course. There are a lot of great keyword research tools present out there, Market Samurai being one. However if you’re looking for something free, you might want to check Google AdWords Keyword Tool, and excellent, if not quite-as-accurate keyword research tool. Such tools will allow you to look up keywords relevant to your business and website (most of which you should try ranking for), as well as look at their search volume and competitiveness. Also keep in mind that (a) you should also look into relevant key-phrases and long-tailed keywords relevant to you, and (b) look at new keywords to rank for – 20% of Google search terms have either never been used before, or have not been searched for six months, so there is massive potential to rank for relatively unexplored keywords before your competition does!

9. Make good use of analytics: Especially Google Analytics, which is the Bible of doing well on the internet! Google Analytics really is a truly amazing tool, a marketer’s delight! It gives you extremely in-depth and detailed statistics and information about your website. Use this marketing intelligence to your advantage. Keep an eye out on how different aspects of your website are performing, where your website needs to be fine-tuned and where (if at all) it needs an overhaul. There are a lot of things that you can look at in Google Analytics, such as your traffic sources, conversion rate, AdSense performance and CTR, and whatnot. Best of all, Analytics is free! There are a lot of other analytics suites available out there as well, which can be used alongside Google Analytics. A good one that I use on all my websites is Clicky.

10. Use Google Authorship to your advantage: And finally, put Google Authorship to good use. Google Authorship is actually one of those cool-looking rich-snippets that shows up in the search results. These are linked to your Google Plus account, and show the author’s mug along with the search result. These rich snippets gained a lot of popularity in 2012, and for good reason: according to studies, having the author’s picture appear beside the search result improves the result’s CTR, and improves its credibility and authenticity in the visitor’s eyes. For more information on how to set up your authorship rich snippet and display your picture in the search results alongside your website, check these links: link 1, link 2. Use it, as it will improve your CTR considerably and allow you to get more organic traffic to your blog.