Well, it’s a New Year, and with a New Year comes new observations. The search engine marketing / inbound marketing industry has been a-buzz with predictions for the upcoming year and findings from year-long studies. Rather than give you a bunch of research-style statistical mumbo jumbo that you’re not really looking for right now, we’re going to boil down the big “theories” in their simplest forms. That being said, it’s important to note that we’re basing this post on conjectures of either ourselves or other industry experts. Do not take these at face value. Instead, do your due diligence, take what we have to say (or what we’re repeating from other experts), and draw your own educated conclusions. We’ll also give you a few actionable takeaways that you can start implementing right now.
Social Will Have More Of An Impact On SEO
Many studies have shown that Google is certainly taking social stats into account when coming up with their search results. However, most of the data that these theories were extrapolated from were citing the correlation between Google+ and search results. Google is going to continue to push Google+ down our throats, whether we think it’s “failing” or not. A major Google push is occurring, and they want you to ‘sign in and search’. This gives them all the user data they need to keep in the search engine game, but it’s a detriment to inbound marketers. We’ll touch on that in a bit. Suffice it to say, Google+ is going to be around for a little while, and social factors are going to be an integral part of determining search engine results…though what weight it will have in the algorithm is still up for determination. We’d probably be safe to assume that Google+ activity will weigh more heavily in the Google search engine than Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn or other social media platform activity. We say this simply because Google will have open access to more data for their own product, as opposed to other social media properties that they have no stake in.
While we understand the logic behind using social factors to determine relevance for search results, it does seem to put certain businesses in a pinch if they don’t have a particular business type or size. If you don’t have a businesses that consists primarily of consumer-based products that are easily “socialized”, like Red Bull or Hollister, how can you get people to interact socially? What if you are a sprocket manufacturer? Not exactly the most social material, wouldn’t you say? Now, any SEO expert will give you the canned answer that you “have to get creative”…but you are obviously at a stark disadvantage in the social game and it will require more work on your end to get your social clout going. Let’s say the search engines are being fair and comparing apples to apples (in other words, sprocket manufacturers to sprocket manufacturers)…then that’s okay, and the playing field is leveled…but we can’t be certain that’s the truth without further research.
On the upside, it’s great to know that social factors will start to play a role in our results. A good percentage of people say they find out about hot news items while on Facebook. Most people will “share” items that they think are cool or are of value. Anything that’s shared, tweeted, or “+1″d often must be worth looking into!
Whether you want to believe in Google+ (or other social media outlets), and whether or not you believe these findings are correct, you’ll want to become more engaged across the big social networks. It won’t do any harm if the theory doesn’t pan out, you’ll connect with your fan base, you’ll potentially connect with new customers, and if the theory DOES end up being fact, you’ll be ahead of the game.
Links Will Be Scrutinized More
When we all figured out that links were “where it’s at”, we all jumped! We’re all still feeling the pangs of link frenzy when we receive those annoying and unsolicited “let’s exchange links” emails from sites that have no Domain Authority or PageRank, and are nothing but content farms. Let’s face it…it’s easy to “game” links. You can pay for them, you can exchange links with bad websites, you can build up a lot of temporary links, or you can submit your site to every directory under the sun. Now, we’re not saying those are things you SHOULD be doing. We’re simply saying those are ways that people attempt to “game” the system.
We’ve all seen the results of this gaming too. How annoying is it when someone throws up a crappy one page website or a two-page template site overnight, milks out tons of links, happens to have a phrase match domain for your target keyword, and they rank over all your hard work! Well, we believe that will no longer be the case. The search engines are going to start putting a stop to the link gaming by placing more emphasis on link weighting. For example, if site A has no domain authority, PageRank, domain age, or valuable content, and they’re linking to you, it’s going to give you less clout than it may have before. The search engines will also start blackballing certain domains for link farming, and links will have a little less weight in the overall algorithm.
We L-O-V-E this theory. Let’s continue to level the playing field, and stop gaming the system. It gives legitimate SEO’s a bad name, and it makes the entire industry look like the enemy in the search engines’ eyes. Ranking higher in the SERPs should be based on quality, period. If you provide the most relevant content for that keyword search, you shoot up to the top. If people are sharing your content in regards to a certain topic, you shoot up to the top. If you take pride in your website and continually update your content, you shoot up to the top. Sounds almost too simple, right?
Start building quality link relationships. If you were gaming the system before, there’s not much you can do about it now unless you either 1) ask the linking site to take down your link or 2) wait for the bad links to fall off the radar. Research the sites you are considering a linking relationship with, and see if they have legitimate value. Five sites with more value will be better than 200 sites with little to no value.
It All Circles Back To Trust
That’s right, folks! Why do we use search engines in the first place? Because we trust the results we’re going to get. It’s all the search engines have going for them! If they don’t have your trust, they have nothing. Thus, the coveted and heavily hidden, “TrustRank“. It’s the secret report card for your site. TrustRank is basically an analysis of a few seed pages within your site to determine whether your site is being linked to from other trustworthy sites. The higher the TrustRank the better…though at this point, you’ll never know what your TrustRank is. It’s being hidden from you, and probably for good reason…so you can’t game it by asking sites with high TrustRank to link to your site. Basically, it’s weeding out spam sites that would otherwise rank higher in the SERPs based on undeserved high domain authority/PageRank.
Well, this one’s easy….it sounds good to us!
If you want to have an upper-hand in the SEO game, you’ve got to start focusing on all three areas: social, link building, and trust. While “trust” can be a little harder to work on, since you don’t know what sites are trusted, you can assume that large authority sites have more trust. For example, CNN, DMOZ, The New York Times, or other authority sites in your niche will have a higher TrustRank than a link farm that offers no value and was thrown up overnight. Start establishing relationships with authority sites, and you should be building up “trust” in no time.
E.B.B. Interactive is an Atlanta SEO company that provides complete SEO solutions, web design, and web development to small, medium, and corporate businesses throughout the United States.
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