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Anthony Kenny, SEO Strategy Manager

The author

Anthony Kenny

SEO Strategy Manager

Unless you are new to SEO or have been hiding under a rock for the past year, we don't need to say that 2012 has been a somewhat eventful year for SEO. With more than enough algorithm changes, updates and tweaks to keep SEOs and digital marketers busy for a lifetime, let alone a year, it has been very challenging to say the least and many would be looking forward to waving goodbye to 2012. The question is, however, will 2013 be just as manic? Well, we have put together our predictions, so see what you think…

Unless you are new to SEO or have been hiding under a rock for the past year, we don't need to say that 2012 has been a somewhat eventful year for SEO.

With more than enough algorithm changes, updates and tweaks to keep SEOs and digital marketers busy for a lifetime, let alone a year, it has been very challenging to say the least and many would be looking forward to waving goodbye to 2012.

The question is, however, will 2013 be just as manic? Well, we have put together our predictions, so see what you think…

1 Mobile Really Will Be Big in 2013 (No Really, It Will Be…Serious)

Predictions on mobile being the "big thing" of the year have been part SEO predictions for years now, so much so that it's becoming a bit of an inside joke. However, each year when everyone expects mobile to come charging out of the blocks it never seems to happen.

Well, 2013 will surely be 'the' year for mobile and this will be due to one thing and one thing only: 4G. The UK have been equipped with the most advanced smartphones money can buy for some time however there was always that one niggling thing that has held mobile back and this has been  the poor internet speeds offered by 3G.

With 4G boasting speeds that in cases are faster than some Wi-Fi connections, this surely means that 2013 will be the beginning of the mobile revolution.

2 Author Rank The New Page Rank

Google Authorship mark-up or rel=”author” allows you as an author to link up all the articles you have published. In 2013, it is likely that Google will begin to look at trusted links coming from the same author source. This will most likely create a new link signal which some people are already dubbing "Author Rank" and the highest value links will be from authors who are perceived as the most trusted.

This will certainly have an impact on guest blogging and means that more so than ever content should be placed at the forefront of all digital marketing efforts.

3 More Understanding About The Disavow Tool

The disavow tool is still fresh out the box,meaning that there is still a limited understanding about it other than those lucky enough to be on the initial beta test. We expect that in 2013 an inevitable greater understanding will be garnished and this will come in a mix of both positive and negative case studies.

Further from this, we'd expect Google to spend most of 2013 crunching data and unearthing a black-list of sites that may well feed into Penguin (or a new algorithm update) that will devalue certain links even more.

4 Co-Citation Becomes The New Anchor Text

Okay, this one is stolen from SEOmoz on a recent Whiteboard Friday.  To succinctly summarise, co-citation refers to the content that is contained around a link and this will (arguably might already) be a strong indicator to Google on what your site is about in favour of including keywords in the anchor text.

As we know from the Penguin update it is important to vary anchor text to seriously minimise the amount of keyword specific anchor text links in your profile as these will do more harm than good.

So in 2013, we expect anchor text will be even less effective with the main source of relevance against your site being attributed through Google assessing the content surrounding your link.

5 SEO & Digital Marketing Becomes Even More Blurred

The days of SEO being the task of a small minority who have been banished to a dark corner of the office are long gone.

Now, with an increasingly more mainstream awareness of SEO coupled with numerous algorithm updates gaining more widespread attention (it's hard not to pay attention when they have happened so frequently) means that what was once an afterthought is now the very much at the forefront of digital marketing strategy.

This means SEO will be a touch point into so many different disciplines. We predict that 2013 will see SEO become even more sought after but at the same time there will be a growing understanding of what is required meaning cowboy agencies will slowly become a thing of the past.

6 Google Pay To Play Shopping Results Will Affect Organic CTR

With Google's new pay-to-play Shopping search vertical stated for launch in the UK on 13 February 2013, you can expect that paid ads will push organic listings down even further and yes that does mean more woe for the little guy.

With this new pay-to-play model, Google are confident that their Shopping results will be much improved from the free version as people will be more likely to incorporate more accurate product descriptions and Google have already put in place more optimisation levers (e.g. 360 degree image views).

However this will certainly come at the expense of above the fold organic listings which will have a massive impact on organic click-through rates. Those that haven't previously partaken in Google paid advertising might just have their hand forced.

7 Even Less Organic Results On Page One

Following on from the previous prediction, it is very possible that 2013 will see the traditional ten organic listings become a thing of the past. This is nothing new as 2012 has seen this happen time and time again for different search queries.

However, with more of the SERPs being taken over by advertising space and more blended results entering the fold, it is not unlikely that those familiar ten blue links will be reduced. What does this mean? Well, add in prediction number six and you can quickly see that being ranked in the top three positions has never been more important.

8 Continued Roll Outs Of Panda & Penguin

Perhaps a bit of obvious this one, but in 2013 you can expect even more Panda & Penguin updates. Over 2012 these updates happened so frequently that by the end of the year most people were too exhausted to muster any real emotion other than to sigh. 

However, a new year will certainly not mean a stop to it. We also predict that 2013 will see the most major Penguin update since it was first launched in April. This has been teased for some time and it could be argued that findings from the disavow tool are used as part of this - and you thought 2012 was a bumpy ride!

9 Not Provided Continues Its Ascent

In 2011,Google announced that keyword referral data would no longer be available for search queries made by users who are signed in to Google (see our post back in October 2011) instead any data fell into the proverbial (not provided) bucket. In 2012 Firefox 14 followed suit and then iOS6 not long after.

Well, in 2013 this is only going to get worse. Consider the fact that Chrome is fast becoming the most popular browser in the UK and Android & iOS are dominating the smartphone market, you can bet your house that not provided's continual growth will continue to the point that towards the end of 2013 it is very likely that over half of keyword referral data will be not provided for the majority of industries.

10 Rich Snippets & The Changing SERPs

2012 saw some big advances in structured mark-up for rich snippets. This year Google announced that schemas from the GoodRelations project have now been added into Schema.org which increases the number of Schema.org classes and properties available for e-commerce websites.

To recap, Schema.org was launched in 2011 as a joint alliance between Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo to provide a common foundation of support for a set of microdata types. This microdata (or structured mark-up) can be used to provide sematic meaning to the content on your site which allows the search engines to extract and display this in the search results listings (e.g. reviews, prices, addresses).

On the 12th December Google announced a nifty new tool that makes it easy for site owners to mark-up their pages with structure data. With Google adding more schema classes and making it easier for webmasters to add them to their site, this opens up wider opportunity for its use and so you can be sure that more and more sites are going to be using the mark-up, meaning we could be seeing some very different search results in 2013.

11 Personalised Search Gets More Personal

Personalised search results have always been important to Google and naturally so, as they want to show users content that is relevant to them which helps maintain a great search experience.

In 2012, we saw some big strides made into personalised results with the launch of Venice and further incorporation of Google+ into the SERPs. 2013 will be no different. With more users signing up to Google and using mobile devices the results seen by one person will continue to differ to the next.

 

So, be prepared for more challenges ahead.