2013-seo-predictions

2012 was a very busy and turbulent year for us SEOs. There has been some major algorithm updates which involved black-and-white animals, updates to the layout of the SERPs and many more which has affected what we do on a daily basis in some way. A few weeks back, I managed to get in touch with some of the (IMHO) best people in the industry and sent out a list of questions asking them a few questions about the past, present and the future. Before we end 2012 with a BANG, let’s see what some of Australia’s top SEO’s predict for 2013. I hope this post can help shed the light of what to expect in the new year.

Update 17/12/12 – Post updated to include contributions by Matthew Forzan, Paul Warren and myself.
Update 18/12/12 – Post updated to include contribution by Mark Baartse

Dan Petrovic

Dan Petrovic

“I predict series of search algorithm improvements and am optimistic that webmasters will slowly turn away from tricks and shortcuts to secure their rankings.”

 

1. Can you briefly introduce yourself and your involvement in the SEO space?

I run a company called Dejan SEO and have been involved in the industry since 2001. My approach to SEO is empirical and data driven, with a splash of creativity.

2. What is your definition of SEO?

SEO is a marketing discipline which combines both strategic and practical activities aimed at improving website’s exposure to relevant audience in organic search engine results.

3. In your opinion, what has been the most radical SEO change in 2012?

The most significant change we’ve seen in the last 12 months was that Google’s search quality algorithm actually started making a difference in how people implement SEO. More webmasters are discouraged to take shortcuts and are now focusing on long-term solutions.

4. How have these changes affected the way you practice SEO?

We’re trying to change the industry. This has been a slow and painful process which included reinforcing best practices internally and externally through prospect and client education. The problem we’re facing today is that when people come to us for advice, they’re already ‘educated’ by other ‘experts’ and have pre-conceived ideas of what SEO is and what the main deliverables are. This is often in conflict with Google’s own guidelines and business owners are not aware of the risks associated.

5. What are your TOP 5 SEO predictions for 2013?

  1. Nothing that dramatic will happen suddenly. I predict series of search algorithm improvements and am optimistic that webmasters will slowly turn away from tricks and shortcuts to secure their rankings.
  2. I’d like to think that Google Glass will have an impact on how we think about mobile computing and the web, but I feel this may not happen until 2014 or later.
  3. TITLE tag will continue to hold as a strong signal and I don’t see it go away any time soon. It’s a logical place to clarify what your page is about and search engines expect you to do that.
  4. Anchor text links will still be very valuable. Other factors may come in as additional layers and we may feel that anchor text is being less valuable, but this will be just a side-effect as other algorithmic additions compete in the same space. Also keep in mind that any anchor text tampering in order to game search engines is a risky activity.
  5. Guest blogging will be link building band wagon of 2013. I predict more and more automation and less and less quality and curation. Soon we’ll see paid and sponsored guest posts organised on a mass scale.

6. How can people get in touch with you?

Twitter: https://twitter.com/dejanseo
G+: https://plus.google.com/111588754935244257268/posts
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/seoguy
Blog: http://dejanseo.com.au/blog/

 

David Iwanow

David Iwanow

“Google will increase the weight of Google+ Authorship”

 

 

 

1. Can you briefly introduce yourself and your involvement in the SEO space?

I’ve been involved officially in SEO since back in 2007 and used to run my own search agency, but these days I can be found working as a SEO Manager with Amnesia Razorfish in their Melbourne Office.  My other involvement is I help run the SEO Meetup group which meets once a month in Brisbane, Sydney & Melbourne with close to 1,000 members Australia wide.

2. What is your definition of SEO?

SEO is about getting better quality traffic to your website which helps ensure your campaign generate a higher ROI than any other form of marketing. SEO is not black arts, mystical or a secret it’s down to hard work and investment in time and resources. SEO is so much more than just changing page titles, submitting an XML Sitemap and monitoring Google Webmaster Tools.

3. In your opinion, what has been the most radical SEO change in 2012?

Google’s aggressive push of its products such as Google Hotel Finder into the results has reduced the long term viability of aggregators and increased the competition around core “hotel” terms. Another slow moving curve ball has been the expansion of Google+ via Knowledge graph and author rank, this has only just started to dawn on people how much extra effort is needed to succeed.

4. How have these changes affected the way you practice SEO?

You need to be thinking beyond dependence on just Google Organic traffic and how you can leverage social channels to drive more branded searches so if you are not ranking #1 for “Melbourne Hotels” it’s not the end of the world.  The flow on effect means the importance on social profiles has greatly increased beyond just Twitter/Facebook to encompass Google+ but also Pinterest and Instagram as you need to diversify your reach to follow your audience.  SEO is now longer able to survive in its own little silo, it’s now a central part to digital marketing strategy.

5. What are your TOP 5 SEO predictions for 2013?

  1. Google Insurance & Auto Platform will launch in Australia
  2. Google will increase the weight of Google+ Authorship
  3. Google will expand its paid ecommerce real estate on the SERPs
  4. Google will roll out Panda/Penguin algorithm faster and tougher
  5. Google SERPs will flux constantly so tracking keyword rankings will be harder

6. How can people get in touch with you?

Twitter: http://twitter.com/thelostagency
G+: https://plus.google.com/114246814151335572510
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/iwanow
Blog: http://lostpr.es

Mike Hudson

Mike Hudson

“Greater focus on semantic structures. Schema.org markup is already being heavily rewarded by greater prominance in the SERPs”

 

1. Can you briefly introduce yourself and your involvement in the SEO space?

Hi I’m Mike Hudson, currently the SEO Director for FirstClick Consulting – Australia’s largest independent search marketing agency. My previous work included a 4 year stint at REA Group, operator of realestate.com.au amongst other real estate related websites around the world. I’ve published a guide on SEO by SitePoint, spoken at SMX on site speed and work with some of the largest websites in Australia. My background is in web development and web design since the beginning of the century.

2. What is your definition of SEO?

I define SEO as the practice of coding, positioning and marketing of a website to increase it’s visibility and prominance in search engines. Hopefully that’s not too different to what everyone else thinks.

3. In your opinion, what has been the most radical SEO change in 2012?

Penguin. Which is great – I’ve never been a “link builder” and have always advocated the creation of content that supports a USP – Unique Selling Proposition – unique being the key. Today we talk about linkable assets, which actually requires your websites to have something “link worthy”. Linking for linking’s sake has always left a bitter taste in my mouth.

4. How have these changes affected the way you practice SEO?

It hasn’t really – it’s just made the conversation with clients easier – focusing on quality over quantity (a premise I’ve so strongly believed in I named my consulting website after it – www.qnq.com.au)

5. What are your TOP 5 SEO predictions for 2013?

  1. The divergence of SEO into WPO – Website Performance Optimization – the current catch-phrase for optimising a site’s front/back-end performance. WPO can be expanded to include performance in search results, performance in site speed, performance in conversion rates and performance in user experience – all the things that today’s SEO already touches on.
  2. Greater focus on semantic structures - Schema.org markup is already being heavily rewarded by greater prominance in the SERPs. Google’s recent visual layout change is dedicated to supporting its expansion of Knowledge Graph. I see the interreationship between content elements just as important as between web-pages.
  3. Enterprise websites still struggling with the basics of SEO. The larger the site, the bigger and simpler the problems they seem to have. Legacy CMS’s and developers stuck in 2008 are going to continue to provide a serviceable market for a while.
  4. Wider adoption of the One Web (http://www.w3.org/TR/mobile-bp/#OneWeb ) philosophy. After years of struggling with m.dot domains, web-apps, mobile apps and so on, both Bing and Google have finally rallied around the responsive/adaptive way to be device agnostic. Maybe this is just me hanging on to the dim hope.
  5. “Not Provided” will reach a tipping-point where keyword reporting becomes almost impossible, even with SEM data and GWT reporting. This obfuscation is commercially unsustainable and I predict a method to either hack the blocked insights or work around them (probably provided by the search engines themselves).

6. How can people get in touch with you?

Twitter: @seriocomic
G+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/112265485154073344687/
LinkedIn:  http://au.linkedin.com/in/mjhudson
Blog: www.seriocomic.com , www.qnq.com.au, www.sitespeed.com.au

Jon Hyne

Jon Hyne

“Mobile web usage is about to overtake desktop, we can expect mobile search to do the same. “

 

 

1. Can you briefly introduce yourself and your involvement in the SEO space?

I lead the Web Search team at REA Group and my team implements the Search strategies (SEO & SEM) for Australia’s number one property and commercial property sites, realestate.com.au and realcommercial.com.au.

2. What is your definition of SEO?

For me, SEO is simply search engine marketing that doesn’t involve buying ads or paying for search traffic. So fundamentally that is achieving organic rankings to capture search engine traffic, via on-page and off-page optimisation techniques.

3. In your opinion, what has been the most radical SEO change in 2012?

The most radical change this year has been Google’s attitude to search quality and the aggressive changes to their algorithm. They have directly tackled some of the main pillars of SEO, the traditional elements that were predictable in how they impacted rankings (backlink profiles, content, EMDs etc) and shaken them up with multiple substantial algo updates.  If you’ve been doing SEO in 2012 you will have either directly experienced or witnessed the impacts of at least one of these updates.

4. How have these changes affected the way you practice SEO?

It has reinforced the importance of daily research, the need to stay on top of Search industry changes even more closely, the need to test SEO theories and concepts before putting them into practice, and to monitor the results after implementing them to see what works.

For the last few years one of the benefits of doing SEO in Australia has been that updates and changes were rolled out first in the US, and then 6-12 months later on Google Australia. That buffer time has decreased dramatically this year and no longer allows us to be complacent in following industry changes or planning for how SEO updates will impact our work & businesses.

5. What are your TOP 5 SEO predictions for 2013?

  1. Google+ will shift our Social focus – In Australia we’ll see Google+ start to get some serious traction as Google pushes it more into the SERPs. The branding and ranking benefits will be obvious and Search Marketers will shift their Social focus from chasing likes and tweets, to hunting down +1’s.
  2. The SERPs will shrink – It’s already happening and will continue more locally next year. Google will embed more of their own products into the SERPs and the real estate available to organic search results will shrink further. Add in a bigger map, paid shopping spots, financial product comparison tools, hotel & flight finders and more traditional ad spots (now with more ad extensions!), and SEOs will be competing for a much smaller piece of the organic pie. Number of organic results on page one in a year from now? …Maybe six.
  3. Offsite efforts will be replaced by content creation – Matt Cutts and the Google webspam team were just getting started in 2012, and next year the algorithm updates will continue to roll out.  SEOs will avoid risky activities link link-building and instead spend more time and effort on creating quality content and promoting it with social activity.  Sound familiar? If this is already part of your strategy, then you’re well placed for 2013.
  4. Mobile will be the biggest threat to SEO – Mobile web usage is about to overtake desktop, we can expect mobile search to do the same. With that will come a whole new set of challenges for SEO, it’s a threat but also an opportunity.  Mobile Search adds complexities like device type, location, social connections and a greater emphasis on intent based searches. Add to that the practical challenges of less room (fewer results per screen load, shorter titles) and SEOs need to put some serious thought into what their mobile search strategy is for next year.
  5. SEO will be harder, and more important than ever – There will be another dozen “SEO is dead” blog posts next year…before Easter. But as the changes to what used to work become more frequent and the impacts hit harder (along with the shrinking SERPs) SEO will only get more difficult and more competitive. That means the sites and companies that really extract value from search traffic will be calling on SEO even more than before. SEO’s better be agile, fit and ready to step-up and bring it in 2013.

6. How can people get in touch with you?

Twitter: @jonhyne
G+: https://plus.google.com/117620693547121761227
LinkedIn: http://au.linkedin.com/in/jonhyne

 

Andre Weyher

Andre Weyher

“Links will be measured by other metrics, including DA, AR and most importantly RELEVANCE of the linking page to the linked page.”

 

 

1. Can you briefly introduce yourself and your involvement in the SEO space?

With pleasure! I’m a relative new face in the industry as until recently I’ve been hidden away in the Search Quality team in Google. I’ve been with Google for over 4 years and during my work I was mostly responsible for fighting webspam on the European markets. I was especially focussed on content quality and backlink profile, a topic that I’ve noticed is very hot recently. Having to deal with the huge amount of cases in my work gave me a good understanding of what is and what isn’t allowed in the eyes of the spam team.

I moved to Sydney quite recently and founded my own startup. It’s called http://netcomber.com and it’s a tool that uncovers hidden relationships between websites. Something that the large search engines are very good at as well!

Apart from this I also do strategic SEO consulting on an ad-hoc basis.

2. What is your definition of SEO?

My personal definition might differ a bit from what some other people consider it to be. Apart from the obvious definition that it’s a process that people use to make their site rank as good as possible, my personal opinion is that SEO should cover much more than linkbuilding. It starts with first and foremost thinking about what it is that your online presence has to offer Google’s users. Many people start from the wrong end, they position a site without actually having a clear definition of what it is they are pushing. So it should cover everything from business definition, to making sure your site is coherent with Google guidelines, writing compelling content and most of all, making it easily available and sharable with your (pre-defined) audience.

3. In your opinion, what has been the most radical SEO change in 2012?

I’m sure that most SEOs would agree on this.. 2012 has been an incredibly impactful year for the business. The updates that Google made to it’s search algorithms gave webmasters a very clear message, anything that indicates manipulation of rankings above your site’s natural value, is considered as bad quality and is in principle open for penalty from the spam team. Now this was always the case but 2012 was the year in which this became much more official than before. Both the Panda and Penguin updates have automated the process that used to be manual. So most of the things that spam reviewers would have penalised by hand, will now be held back in the search results automatically. I personally believe that this is a good thing as it will surely get rid of some of the bad apples in the SEO industry, quality and value will again be more important than simple technical tricks or manipulation.

4. How have these changes affected the way you practice SEO?

I think these changes should have an effect on everyone who used to view SEO as something that can be done at scale or automatically (like link buying schemes). When assessing an SEO task I would now be much more critical of the value that a website really has to offer. If you want people to write and link to you, you cant just be another online shop or service that replicates already existing ideas, this is just not enough to create a real buzz around and stimulate real, organic linking and media exposure. A few years back, any website could do a good job on SEO relatively quickly by just applying straightforward techniques, this has changed. SEO should be part of your online strategy before you even launch your site. Is it good enough to create some attention? Compare it to old fashioned media like a newspaper. Anyone can pay for an advertisement, but in order for a journalist to actually write an unsponsored article about you, that requires something worth writing about. SEO is not dead, it’s just changing. As an SEO you need to become a bit more strict with who you take on board as a client.

5. What are your TOP 5 SEO predictions for 2013?

  1. Relationship based linkbuilding – The most important thing that I think will happen (it’s already starting) is that people will stop looking at linkbuilding as a technical process and start looking at it as relationship management. Getting a link from a related website is still a very valuable thing but this cannot be obtained by pure mechanical linkbuying. It requires being active in your vertical, building relationships with other webmasters and bloggers. The value of 1 good link will rise dramatically as the value of bad links is zero.
  2. Social metrics – This is also an element that is currently on the rise and will only become more important in the future. It’s no secret anymore that Google+ has an impact on your ranking in organic. It might seem obvious but it’s surprising to see how many people are not leveraging their potential on the big social platforms. It’s the best way to make people aware of your site and Google certainly takes positive social signals into account when calculating your rank.
  3. The rise of “other” link metrics – Now that we know that Google doesn’t care about quantity and to a certain extent, PageRank. Links will be measured by other metrics, including DA, AR and most importantly RELEVANCE of the linking page to the linked page. Rand Fishkin already mentioned the value of co-citation and it’s my personal opinion that this will become very hot in the times to come.
  4. Broadening of the SEO field – I think SEO is in need of revamp and a broadening of tasks to a much higher input in the entire business process, I think that the recent updates will force webmasters to think about SEO in a much broader sense than it’s being used until now. The majority of people seem to think that SEO mainly consists of 2 elements; some kind of a technical trick that is used to rank higher and linkbuilding. This might have been the case is some scenarios but my prediction is that in-house SEO managers will take on a much broader role within an organisation, ranging from value proposition, website design, public relations, UX to development, social and even programming for the more savvy ones.
  5. Industry clean-up – This one might make me a bit unpopular but I will mention it nonetheless. I predict that the recent changes will bring about a real filtering out of the SEOs and agencies who do not realize these changes and keep relying on old techniques. Google is making sure that everything that is done at scale and represents no real value, will not be effective. And yet, a lot of agencies still rely on this old way of thinking and choose to invest money is some kind of an automated system for scalability. In my opinion these agencies will find out that it’s not working and their clients will notice as well.

6. How can people get in touch with you?

All of the below or via andre@netcomber.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/NetComber
G+: https://plus.google.com/104545944834720028802
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/andre-weyher/4/524/859
Blog: http://netcomber.com/blog

 

James Norquay

James Norquay

“High quality content and the sharing of that content will even be more important in 2013″

 

 

1. Can you briefly introduce yourself and your involvement in the SEO space?

My name is James Norquay I work in Columbus Search/ Aegis Media, current position is Enterprise SEO & Social Manager, we are Australia’s largest Search Company for PPC by spend, we deal more with enterprise level clients and some mid to high tier businesses.

Involvement in the SEO space for around 7 years I used to run my own websites and have worked in numerous large Australian companies transforming their online marketing/SEO. I also do blogging weekly about search on http://jamesnorquay.com been active on Twitter, industry search blogs, speaking at conferences and also running my own search events.

2. What is your definition of SEO?

SEO is the process of driving relevant traffic to your website.

Relevant traffic can be driven by using the following methods:

  • On-site technical work to make your site more accessible to search engines.
  • Off-site work such as link building to leverage off site partners and also monitoring your competition movements.
  • Off-site work such as working on your 3rd party social properties to correctly leverage them to drive traffic.

You can talk about the definition of SEO all day, the above is really a brief view of what SEO can be attributed too; I even have a 100 slide presentation on “what is SEO” =)

3. In your opinion, what has been the most radical SEO change in 2012?

Most radical change in 2012 was probably the penguin update on April 24th which targeted many SEO companies who had been using less than favourable link tactics. I think it had a huge impact on the search industry and has transformed the way companies do link building and SEO on a daily basis. 2012 was a year for many changes, Google really hit anyone doing low quality SEO quite hard which has in turn changed the game, SEOmoz does the best review of all the changes here: http://www.seomoz.org/google-algorithm-change

As a direct result of the Penguin update you saw websites lose traffic such as the following WPMU (not a client of mine) who had implemented footer links on a site point of view on Word Press themes with similar anchor text distribution (see below image of the extent of traffic loss Google Penguin can attribute) It was an example of how radical the penguin update can be to a website:

wpmu

Read more of the above case study (above) here:

http://www.seomoz.org/blog/how-wpmuorg-recovered-from-the-penguin-update

4. How have these changes affected the way you practice SEO?

I feel the changes around penguin have made clients more aware of link building and what is involved with link building. Clients have gone from wanting larger numbers of links on a monthly basis to preferring a small number of high authority links on a monthly basis.

As we deal with more enterprise level clients our clients saw no real impact from Penguin. I did how ever see some impact on some affiliate website I have run for many years, I think Penguin hit SMB’s in a somewhat hard fashion but I think it has made every one pick up their game.

5. What are your TOP 5 SEO predictions for 2013?

  1. Google+ will start appearing in more search results – Currently in US results I see some really great traction from Google+ posts in results, sure many “Australian Social Media Gurus” write off Google+ as a waste of time but from my opinion it is 100% worth being included in your search and social strategy.
  2. Social Media metrics will have even a further influence on search behaviours – Tweets and Google+ 1s will even be more important, also direct on page shares from high authority social media websites will come more into play.
  3. Backlinks will still be useful if they are high quality and relevant – I would not write off high quality backlinks all together, they will still come into play from a relevance and high authority point.
  4. High quality content and the sharing of that content will even be more important in 2013; I feel people will adapt more HTML5 styled infographics an example can be found from SEER Interactive here: http://rcs.seerinteractive.com/money/ .
  5. Here is a presentation I did this year with some further ideas of changes to look out for:

 

6. How can people get in touch with you?

Twitter: http://twitter.com/connections8
G+:  https://plus.google.com/104627466131988547008
LinkedIn: http://au.linkedin.com/in/norquay
Blog: http://jamesnorquay.com/

 

Woj Kwasi

Woj Kwasi

“If your site renders poorly on a mobile device then you will be left by the wayside.”

 

 

1. Can you briefly introduce yourself and your involvement in the SEO space?

I’m the owner & director of Kwasi Studios, a digital marketing company servicing clients across Australia, and we specialise in inbound marketing & content strategies. SEO is one of the core areas of inbound we focus on and where we started but soon discovered the need to encompass all the elements of inbound (free traffic channels) in our offering to clients to maximise their yield. I’ve been in the web industry for almost 15 years now & am very passionate about all things online with a keen eye on industry trends.

2. What is your definition of SEO?

SEO is all about getting your website found via search engines in their organic results. We maximise the website’s visibility by:

  • increasing the number of links between pages and making them get crawled more often by robots / search engine crawlers (internally & externally)
  • making each page technically sound by setting up an architecture compliant to world-recognised standards
  • making each page contextually relevant by focusing on keywords that get searched for

I also, like Gianluca Fiorelli’s expression “Search Experience Optimisation” which encompasses humans too shifting focus away from solely at search engines. This is crucial because search engines also look at human factors such as user engagement these days to determine whether or not they are ranked well.

SEO is a fundamental piece of the inbound marketing pie (or one of the landmarks in Inbound Marketing Town ).

3. In your opinion, what has been the most radical SEO change in 2012?

The black & white animal Google algo updates targeting “spammy” sites that are in breach of Google’s guidelines & making an example of these sites in an effort to influence a general behavioural change in how SEO’s done.

4. How have these changes affected the way you practice SEO?

They haven’t. I’ve always experimented with various tactics & techniques and have sites of my own that I tamper with. In essence, I wouldn’t practice SEO on a client or live site in a commercial niche… instead I’d practice it on one of my own and only use techniques that are safe. I’m all for keeping the index clean & just including businesses that do RCS.

5. What are your TOP 5 SEO predictions for 2013?

  1. More talks about Mobile – if your site renders poorly on a mobile device then you will be left by the wayside. If your competitor has developed a mobile app to make the consumer’s life easier, you will be left behind. Mobile & tablet usage will continue to grow so business must consider mobile versions seriously.
  2. Local SEO & Social – these will merge more and more together as we get tracked more – big brother is getting bigger!
  3. User experience – metrics around UI/UX will become more important not only for site owners but also for any 3rd party scripts that get installed on your site. Imagine if just by having a Facebook “Like” button on your site, Facebook was able to provide stats based on user behaviour if they were logged into Facebook at the time of access. Also multi-touch attribution across multiple devices will increase in popularity.
  4. Content marketing & content strategy – more creative types of content will become popular outside of the standard 2D blog with image & video – I’d like to see content becoming more dynamic based on user choices, user navigation etc
  5. Combining inbound marketing channels – don’t just rely on SEO in 2013 – get creative & combine channels

6. How can people get in touch with you?

Twitter: https://twitter.com/WojKwasi
G+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/116267713950771347618
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/wojkwasi
Blog: http://www.kwasistudios.com

 

Jim Stewart

Jim Stewart

“I think we’ll see bigger changes to how Google calculates the value of a link”

 

 

1. Can you briefly introduce yourself and your involvement in the SEO space?

I’ve been working in the Internet industry since 1995. Began SEO a few of my own sites in 2002, began doing it for others in 2004.

2. What is your definition of SEO?

Good cataloging. I think of the Google bot as a librarian. If you hand a librarian a document with lots of duplicate pages, titles, inconsistent headings and poor quality content chances are they’ll toss it in the bin. Whilst Google says you don’t need to worry about your keywords, it’s quite clear that you do which is why they have “content keywords” in webmaster tools. Taking the librarian analogy again, if you keyword stuff your content it will obviously be low quality reading, however if you use your keywords to clearly signpost what the content is about, then the librarian will understand broadly what each page in your document is about. The test we always do at Stew Art Media is, “If Google was my search engine, would I want this page in the results for keyword X”

3. In your opinion, what has been the most radical SEO change in 2012?

Quality updates. It’s the first year I’ve seen at least 3 significant jumps across all our clients sites for all their keywords on a single day. Most of these have related to Panda. Usually it’s because sites with low quality content have dropped and ours have moved above them. Penguin was significant on Anzac day but I think we’ll see far more radical changes next year in back linking.

4. How have these changes affected the way you practice SEO?

Not much at all really. As we take the approach of been diligent and fastidious on our client “documents” and how they measure up against the competition, these changes have not really affected how we do SEO. The only thing we are now more conscious of is looking at a clients previous SEO before they joined us to see what sort of “spam baggage” they maybe carrying. We find this a lot with site owners who have gone down the DIY path.

5. What are your TOP 5 SEO predictions for 2013?

  1. I think we’ll see bigger changes to how Google calculates the value of a link.
  2. Definitely seeing authorship and publisher quality come into play.
  3. A simple backlink study of some of the most competitive SERPS shows that buying backlinks is alive and well and working.
  4. Authorship & Publisher value allow Google to add a metric of real people against the granting of a link and if you try to game, you’ll most likely lose all your Google access.
  5. A big push to get sites to be mobile friendly and see that reflected in mobile SERPS

6. How can people get in touch with you?

Twitter: @jimboot
G+: jim.stewartmedia.biz
LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/jimboot
Blog: stewartmedia.biz/blog
Youtube: youtube.com/jimboot

 

Tom Johns

Tom Johns

“Panda will be rolled into the algorithm itself, instead of periodic updates”

 

 

1. Can you briefly introduce yourself and your involvement in the SEO space?

Tom Johns, I’m from a more technical background but now spend most my days and nights working on SEO and other forms of Digital Marketing. I used to be agency side, but have enjoyed the shift to client side about 18 months ago.

2. What is your definition of SEO?

I do hate this question, but I think it’s answered by asking yourself: What will a user search, will they see my result, why will they click my result, and how will the page they land on be relevant and drive them forward. Getting the ideal outcome to each of those questions includes all the other bits from keyword research to google suggest to link building to landing page optimisation and about the thousand other components. The industry isn’t as standalone as people like to think, and more and more the overlap increases with paid search, conversion optimisation and advertising. All SEO aside, the best keyword to have someone searching is your brandname!

3. In your opinion, what has been the most radical SEO change in 2012?

This is such a tough question. I don’t think Penguin itself was huge (it was definitely big), but coupled with the rise of negative SEO, the big change of the year was that for the first time many people started caring about bad backlinks as much as good backlinks. For the first time, many in the industry were more concerned with removing links, than they were building them.

4. How have these changes affected the way you practice SEO?

I don’t feel like what I do has been massively changed. The same rules still apply now as 12 months ago: good quality links work but great content works better, and helps solve the links problem naturally. You definitely have to be continually reading, learning, experimenting and testing. If you learn just by reading a few popular blogs, you’re never going to get a step ahead.

5. What are your TOP 5 SEO predictions for 2013?

  1. I feel “Not Provided” is going in one of two directions and 2013 is the year it’s going to happen. Google will either start providing the data again (perhaps only to https sites, causing a massive internet wide shift to secure sites), or they’re going to turn SSL search on by default for all users and all keyword data will be gone. Added with the recent Adwords API crackdown, the future may have a lot less data for the SEO Industry.
  2. Panda will be rolled into the algorithm itself, instead of periodic updates
  3. Continued mass development of 3rd party crawlers. Majestic and Ahrefs appear to be in an arms race for the best features and index, and we’re all winners.
  4. Google will continue to make Adwords units bigger, and move into many more verticals with their own aggregation products (Like Flights, Hotels, Credit Cards etc).
  5. Mobile and tablet search volume will start to overtake desktop traffic in some verticals

6. How can people get in touch with you?

Twitter: @johnsee
LinkedInhttp://au.linkedin.com/in/tomjohnsau
Blog: www.craawler.com

 

Alex Asigno

Alex Asigno

“Lexical co-occurrence will become more important than anchor text”

 

 

1. Can you briefly introduce yourself and your involvement in the SEO space?

I can remember when Google was called Backrub, but I really got involved with SEO about 12 years ago, it was a completely different story to what us marketers do today. My first SEO projects revolved around AltaVista, hey who can remember that?

It was incredibly easy to game Google in the early days, hidden text and cloaking, most of the time that was enough to get you on the first page. Looking back I’m amazed it took the search engines so long to catch up.

I’m pleased to say that this isn’t so evident anymore and search marketers are about truly trying to help brands increase their authority both online and offline.

I’m now working at Match Media where I established the search department a little over a year ago, before that I was Head of Search at Switched on Media.

2. What is your definition of SEO?

I suppose in its most simple form, SEO is just increasing the quantity and quality of relevant traffic to a website. But over the last 5 or 6 years an SEOs experience has taken a significant shift to becoming a broader marketer with analytics and user experience being critical to everything we do.

3. In your opinion, what has been the most radical SEO change in 2012?

Apart from all the obvious Panda, Penguin, EMD, page layout and the link network crackdown. Google’s Knowledge Graph and carousel has been the greatest change to Google, they’ve never made such a significant change to their highly prized and tested layout.  So far this really has been a great feature for users.

What frustrates me the most though is Google’s flawed algorithm for choosing where it gets the data from. Some sites which are scraped for their images are the exact same sites which Google’s recent updates are trying to get rid of. AND hey if your company logo is wrong, obviously the only way to fix it is to have a verified Google+ page which Google will use for their Knowledge Graph data.

4. How have these changes affected the way you practice SEO?

Google’s algorithm is getting far too sophisticated for any ways to game, all our SEO effort should be focused on long term methods of increasing influence and engagement of the brand. By sticking to this no update should need to make you change your strategy.

5. What are your TOP 5 SEO predictions for 2013?

  1. Google+ will be even more aggressively pushed by Google
  2. Naturally greater importance of author rank within the SERPs
  3. Even more Panda and Penguin rollouts
  4. Lexical co-occurrence will become more important than anchor text
  5. Better uptake from Google of schema.org structured data

Apart from all the typical updates and obvious pushing of Google+, I really hope that Google make a significant investment in cleaning up their spam. The Australian SERPs are way behind the US and UK, check out ‘life insurance’.

6. How can people get in touch with you?

Twitter: @alexasigno
G+: What’s this?
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/alexasigno

 

Matthew Forzan

Matthew Forzan

“Authorship and “AuthorRank” will ramp up and change the game again completely”

 

 

1. Can you briefly introduce yourself and your involvement in the SEO space?

I started building websites back in 99 when I was 12 years old and have loved everything internet ever since. My first experience with SEO (not that I’d ever heard of the term at the time or knew what it was) was in high school where I had a website with resources/guides on many popular PC games at the time (StarCraft, Metal Gear Solid, Diablo anyone?). I threw up a hit counter on each of my pages and did my best to increase the number it displayed! Google Analytics wasn’t around yet and even AwStats was quite new so it only seemed natural to use the hit counter as a unit of website success/measurement. I tried to learn what people would be searching for to find my resources by asking my friends and then made sure each of my pages had meta titles, descriptions and keywords. I had no knowledge of SEO at the time; I was just following HTML guidelines that I’d learnt in my studies! This tactic got me a few thousand hits a day and as you can imagine, was quite pleased with myself.

Studying website design and development 6 years later I began freelancing and had a few clients under my belt. My clients were happy with what we worked together on but wanted more enquiries. The strategies I used back in high school weren’t as effective as they used to be and thus began my hunt for my SEO knowledge and experience.

I decided to get my hands dirty and try to get into an agency and started with E-Web Marketing mid-2008 as an entry-level SEO “programmer” where I was responsible for the strategy/implementation for a range of clients. I am now the Director of SEO and focus more of my efforts on research, development and speaking/educating at seminars etc. wherever I can.

2. What is your definition of SEO?

In its simplest form, I’d define SEO as the improvement of the visibility of a website in search engines like Google with the objective of increasing the below key metrics in this order:

  1. keyword rankings
  2. website traffic
  3. conversions (sales, leads etc.)

These days however, it is much more than that as things like UX/design, social media, email   becomes even more important than it used to be and cannot be ignored. More on that on a post I wrote here.

3. In your opinion, what has been the most radical SEO change in 2012?

2012 saw Google take more of an aggressive attitude towards giving the users better results by improving their search quality algorithms with regards to both on-page (Panda) and off-page (Penguin) tactics. Those who weren’t playing fair were kicked off the playground making it fairer for many others. As always, the algorithm isn’t perfect and I still often see very suspect websites doing quite well but am sure with future updates we’ll see the results improve even further and websites like this start to disappear completely. This is a good change as whilst links (good links!) are still important and highly valued its forced a lot of online marketers to focus more on creating great content that is “link-worthy” rather than focusing on links themselves. This makes a better web for everybody.

In conjunction with these efforts, Google also began to become more transparent (somewhat…) with what they’re working on by providing us with a list of changes each month on their official Inside Search blog. Whilst many have complained that Google doesn’t really reveal anything and these posts are more of a tease, they are often quite useful and give good indication of where the algorithm is headed.

This year also saw the increase of “not provided” data in many campaigns which has forced many to change the way they analyse their data. Whilst it may be contradictive of the company’s core values, we have had to learn to accept it and look at other ways of analysing our data, specifically turning “not provided” into something useful and actionable.

4. How have these changes affected the way you practice SEO?

This year we’ve put education as a high priority to make sure our clients understand how everything works, what we need to do and why as well as what we need from them. Clients that previously had the expectation that SEO was a “utility” like water or electricity needed to be educated in order for them to understand the true value of what they were paying for.

The changes I mentioned above have also forced us to work more on “inbound marketing” with our client’s campaigns rather than just silo in on SEO/relying on Google for traffic. There are countless ways to drive traffic and engage users and we’re working with our clients to maximise those opportunities.

5. What are your TOP 5 SEO predictions for 2013?

  1. Authorship and “AuthorRank” will ramp up and change the game again completely. Those with more “cred” and thought leadership will be able to rank better for longer tail, topic-based query.
  2. Link value will change and will have a less-significant impact on rankings. Yep, big call I know
  3. Inbound marketing will become more than just a term coined by those in the industries. Agencies will need to shift their mindsets and focus towards looking at holistic online marketing or perish.
  4. Semantics will be weighted more heavily in the algorithm as it becomes easier for search engines to understand content. Those that are on board and have correct mark-up will be rewarded.
  5. Mobile usage will continue to increase and overtake desktop usage.This will present a new set of challenges for search marketing: is your site mobile friendly? Do all your elements fit on the screen? Does your website service the user’s location? Googles motto of “mobile first” is also an indicator of the future and I’m confident that Mobile will eventually play a significant part in the algorithms.

6. How can people get in touch with you?

Twitter: http://twitter.com/MatthewForzan
G+: http://gplus.to/MatthewForzan
LinkedIn: http://linkedin.com/in/matthewforzan

 

Mark Baartse

Mark Baartse

“We’ve seen rich snippets growing in their dominance in the SERPs. I predict this will grow and, in parallel with this, the growth of structured content”

 

1. Can you briefly introduce yourself and your involvement in the SEO space?

I’m Mark Baartse, Consulting Director at First. With my team, we focus on driving high quality traffic and conversions to our clients from a variety of sources including search, mostly with enterprise companies. I’m also good at eating cake. My background is pretty diverse, having worked as a programmer, marketer, IA and more. SEO is a fun space because it brings together so many disciplines.

2. What is your definition of SEO?

It’s the process of getting your job done in between deleting emails for SEO services from Indian agencies. Still, those guaranteed #1 rankings do sound pretty tempting…

3. In your opinion, what has been the most radical SEO change in 2012?

Over the last 5 years or so, poor quality SEO tactics have gone from being fairly effective to mildly effective. Finally in 2012, we’ve reached a tipping point where poor SEO tactics can actually send you backwards, mostly thanks to Penguin. That’s pretty exciting.

Google’s pay to play approach to shopping, and continued focus on pushing organic down and focussing more on paid results is concerning. Organic is being squashed and I wonder if there’s a point where users are going to get frustrated and look elsewhere. I wonder if greed will be their undoing.

4. How have these changes affected the way you practice SEO?

It hasn’t changed things radically. We’ve long had a focus on quality content, both onsite and offsite, and that has only strengthened this year. That’s in part because it’s slowly becoming easier to engage clients with high quality content. Our in house copywriting team have never been busier!

5. What are your TOP 5 SEO predictions for 2013?

  1. We’ve seen rich snippets growing in their dominance in the SERPs. I predict this will grow and, in parallel with this, the growth of structured content. It’s not going to be a radical penguin like change, but more an increased focus and we’ll see it popping up in areas and in ways we don’t expect. The downside is as we give more information to Google, they use it to populate the search results so people don’t go through to our sites any more. By doing this we are giving a lot of control over the user experience to Google. I wonder how many user journey projects look at the layout of the SERPs?
  2. Keyword not provided will continue its relentless growth. In a similar vein, but more under the radar as it’s less obvious, multi-device attribution will become a bigger problem. More vendors will start hocking solutions to both these problems, with great sales pitches, but none of them will be very good in practice.
  3. While the dodgy agencies have never been a great bet, 5 years ago paying money for a few title tags and 100 directory submissions still did boost your traffic a bit. I think we’ve finally reached the point where those tactics just don’t work, and there’ll be an exodus of small business clients. Some dodgy SEO firms start to go out of business. I hope this is true anyway. This won’t have much of an impact on the enterprise SEO space.
  4. Google will continue to place more emphasis on Google+ in various ways, some obvious and some maybe we can’t predict. Google+ will continue to be largely ignored by the masses and tumble weeds will continue to roll.
  5. Google’s already deep understanding of web content will grow, and we’ll start to see citations, context, and relevance becoming increasingly important.

6. How can people get in touch with you?

Website: http://www.first.com.au
LinkedIn: http://au.linkedin.com/in/markbaa/

 

Paul Warren

Paul Warren

“I think Yahoo! could actually be a force to be reckoned with once again, in either 2013 or possibly 2014″

 

 

1. Can you briefly introduce yourself and your involvement in the SEO space?

Hi, I’m Paul. Founder & CEO of Warcom & Insiteful. I’ve been fiddling with SEO since early 2005 when I first started out implementing various strategies for not only Warcom, but various clients under our sister company Insiteful. I don’t claim to be amazing at it, but I know enough get me by and get the results I need.

2. What is your definition of SEO?

I consider SEO the basic practice of structuring websites in such a way that make it easier for search engines to find relevant content based on consumer search. And in turn, when consumers eventually land on your desired landing pages, they find the answers they’re looking for.

Don’t just drive traffic, for the sake of driving traffic”.

To paraphrase: Don’t drive people through your door, if they are not going to buy from you, and equally, don’t optimise for keywords and phrases, if you’re unable to help people searching for those phrases.

3. In your opinion, what has been the most radical SEO change in 2012?

With the aggressive roll out of Google Shopping and continued emphasis being placed on plastering Adsense ads everywhere over the last few months; organic results are getting pushed further and further down the indexes, which is greatly affecting our organic SEO listings.

SEM agencies should be concerned as to what’s going to occur next year as Google continue to further monetise their indexes.

4. How have these changes affected the way you practice SEO?

We’re spending much more time and money on PPC strategies, than we are on SEO strategies. Content will always be king (as they say) but sometimes it just makes more sense to pay for ‘quick wins’ and that’s where we use pay per click campaigns.

5. What are your TOP 5 SEO predictions for 2013?

  1. PPC campaigns will greatly affect your organic SEO rankings. What I mean by this is; if you want to rank for certain terms; throw some money on Adwords campaigns for those terms. I think you’ll find it will make a difference. Google using Adwords doesn’t help rankings, but I think otherwise.
  2. Google+ will be where we all go to search, as opposed to directly searching via google.com. The reason behind this is simple; it’s an easy method of make a massive dent in Twitter & Facebook’s marketing share. So whether you like it or not; everyone better get busy with Google+.
  3. I think Yahoo! could actually be a force to be reckoned with once again, in either 2013 or possibly 2014. Marrisa Mayer is an extremely intelligent women, and already doing some fantastic things at Yahoo! So watch this space. I’d suggest all SEO’s keep an eye how they’re ranking on Yahoo!.
  4. Images will play a much bigger part in SEO than ever before, especially with the blazing fast speeds that Google can now do onsite, image phrase detection. So make sure you have those keywords and phrases structured nicely on your site banners!
  5. My top tip for 2013: Google are going to continue to drive us even crazier in 2013, than 2012.

6. How can people get in touch with you?

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/paulwarren
G+: https://plus.google.com/100429357726862022135/posts
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=9843176
Blog: http://www.paulwarren.com.au

 

Jason Mun

Jason Mun

“As Google pushes for more relevancy, personalisation and localised content – tracking and monitoring of SEO efforts will be much harder in 2013″

 

1. Can you briefly introduce yourself and your involvement in the SEO space?

Jason is my name and SEO is my game, currently unemployed working on starting up something of my own. I fell in love with SEO in my first job as a front-end developer, onboarding websites on to CMS’s. I have been involved in SEO in some way shape or form for the last 7 years and most recently left my job as a SEO Manager working on some of the biggest brands in Australia.

2. What is your definition of SEO?

SEO for me is the process of ensuring that the website is free of errors and barriers that might be affecting the experience for users and search engines. Creating content that is helpful for users and benefit search engines at the same time. The ultimate goal for SEO is not only to drive traffic but to drive conversions/sales. SEO should never be working in silo but in sync with other marketing channels (both online & offline) to have maximum impact and benefit.

3. In your opinion, what has been the most radical SEO change in 2012?

Three things for me, Panda, Penguin and Google+ has brought a breath of fresh air to the industry IMHO. These updates have levelled the playing field, which helps some of the smaller guys who have been investing time in ticking all the right boxes gain some visibility. Panda and Penguin have done a good job in changing the industry and has definitely made an impact to how agencies and clients approach SEO (there are still muppets here in AU that give the industry a bad name, that is a story for another day). The next big thing for me is Authorship and Google+, I am loving the fact that Google are spending time and money and rolling out cool features on G+ and rewarding authors for great content.

4. How have these changes affected the way you practice SEO?

Nothing has changed, none of my clients were affected by any black and white animals (thankfully!). My mantra is still the same, “put in the hard work and you will be rewarded”, shortcuts in SEO is never sustainable. The wide publicity of Panda and Penguin has definitely changed the mindset of some of the clients I worked with, it made them understand the true value of investing in content marketing and other inbound channels. It also went from “Hey, how many link can you build for me this month?” to “Hey, do you think this piece of content will be good enough to attract links?”. Changes in 2012 has reassured me that refining the art of content marketing and creating stories worthy of sharing will be the way of the future.

5. What are your TOP 5 SEO predictions for 2013?

  1. Google will continue to rollout more black and white animals to clean up the index. I think they are working on something big for the new year, there has been lots of fluctuations in the last couple of weeks in the SERPs in the lead up to Christmas. Reducing spam and less savoury SEO tactics will always be in their interest/agenda. Just do a search on google.com.au for “credit cards” and look at the link profile of the first 10 results, you will know what I mean. Spam is alive and well in AU!
  2. More features and rollouts to Google+ – They have invested a lot of time and resources in G+ and will continue to do so to make it work and increase engagement. I predict that Google will start rolling out “authorship” for brands and publishers, it is a natural thing to do. Brands that are pumping out good content should be recognised and rewarded for it.
  3. Higher adoption of Schemas – For years now we have heard Google promoting and encouraging structured web. I have seen this working extremely well in the US SERPs but not in AU, it doesn’t seem to be triggering rich snippets as often as it should be. I am certainly going to be pushing my clients to get schemas incorporated on their websites.
  4. Guest blogging and infographics will BOOM – 2012 was all about the link clean up, 2013 will be the year of content marketing. The general public will start to see the benefits of guest blogging and infographic campaigns that worked well in 2012 and start replicating those strategies. I predict an influx of spam around these areas, just look at Visual.ly now and you will notice some really BAD infographics. Local AU bloggers are starting to realise the benefits of offering guest blogging and will start charging $$$ to have content posted on their website. This is evident from a recent outreach campaign I ran for a client, even Paddy Moogan confirmed this in his post on An Outreach Experiment for Paid Links in the Travel Industry.
  5. More sneaky updates from Google to make SEO’s lives harder – I am referring to the ever increasing (not provided) as well as personalisation. As Google pushes for more relevancy, personalisation and localised content, just look at all the product videos that are here -tracking and monitoring of SEO efforts will be much harder in 2013. Heck, getting proper data easily to help with analysis is already tough with the recent crackdown on the use Adwords API. We are going to have to find creative ways of justifying and measuring what we do in 2013.

6. How can people get in touch with you?

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jasonmun
G+: https://plus.google.com/110294128730059915083
LinkedIn: http://au.linkedin.com/pub/dir/Jason/Mun
Blog: You are already here =)

 

Massive Thanks

Wowzers, this is probably the longest post I have ever put together. I would like to thank all the contributors for taking the time to answering the questions and providing their predictions for 2013. There seems to be some commonality in some of the responses.

I am still waiting on a couple more responses and will be adding to this post if and when I do receive them.

If you have a prediction that you would like to share, feel free to leave it in the comments box below.