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What I’d Like To See In 2013

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This isn’t a 2013 prediction post.  This is “what I’d like to see in 2013.”

  • I’d like to see more people spending time on the value of their content.  For all the research we gain digging into a link prospect, I’d like to see the same effort put into the writing.  Use some of the same nuggets you discover.  That will lead to more niche, more detailed, and more “search” writing.  We don’t need big content pieces if they’re just pixels on a screen; we need to get better at answering long-tail queries.  The BMRs are dead, the cheap content houses are less valuable to us, and “write good content and they will come” is challenged.  Marketers aren’t always great media producers, just like they’re not all salespeople or business managers.  We’re asking what the new definition of SEO is, and it seems obvious that smart writing is a necessity.  Sometimes our content isn’t needed to explode into a confetti bang; instead, it should just sit in the library waiting to be checked out.  That’s OK.  If Google is the Dewey Decimal System, we don’t have to keep trying to push the content up people’s nose.
  • I’d like to see more from Google.  They’re testing so many products, from entity search to snippets. They’re slow to really improve these products.  I’d like to see them use social signals in a smarter way and and finally consider the authority of the producer.  I’d like to see them improve with citations, both linked and unlinked.  That makes so much sense.  The gameable +1 doesn’t, nor does the previously heavy reliance on PageRank.  But I want to also see them improve their own latent semantic indexing-like methods.  What I think we’re getting today is the hump in the middle – I’d like to see them scoop the mids and rely on the fringe, harder to quantify content and signals.  Plus, that will take the reliance of Google+.  
  • I’d like to see Google honestly level the playing field despite brand equity.  There’s a thousand conspiracy theories on why big brands rank so well.  Perception is reality – if they want to win the hearts of smaller markets, and soften the hard stares, make the right changes this time.  Again, scoop the mids, but let us know they have a point of view on equality.
  • I am 100% in favor of more hand editors, more manual reviews, and more human judging.  I’m not saying Google should be Mahalo or Wikipedia, but when Google started they had some hand editors to make sure the results were sensible.  That went south.  There may be a thin line between sensibility and bias, but 2012 has shown me that human intervention really was a good thing.  Especially when it comes to picking up the litter in the algorithm.  Though I still see some competitors who are still ranking on spam, and have somehow gotten through the Panda/Penguin nets, it’s finally something I think Google might catch.  In 2011 I had no faith in their ability to trap spam.
  • I’d like to see some more details in the strategies and tactics, and more case studies from the industry material we produce.  2012 was a year full of bland posts and presentations, an observation I recall making to my peers many times more this year than any year before.  The events have been great, but the takeaways, not so much.  That certainly doesn’t go for everyone.
  • Less solo acts, more collaboration.  
  • And as always, I’d like to see SEOs start turning their technical chops to UX and design related optimizations.  When I do an audit for a client, I can’t help but notice my checklist dropped.  We focused on improving crawlability, but that need has lessened.  From Google reading PDF files, to their abilities with JS, and a much more fueled spider, just focusing on “removing obstacles” isn’t going to do the same thing for your rankings as it used to.  It just isn’t.  This comes from a real place of experience, as I had to unclog spider jams on tons of big, horribly developed ecommerce signs.  Now, the clogs are being unclogged by spiders.  The smart SEO starts to focus on conversions over just a clean crawl or traffic, or they’re going to start to offer to limited a value.  Is CRO and usability part of SEO?  Sure – why not?  Many have been suggesting it for over 6 years or so, but how many of us are actually dedicating time to learn this?  I’d like to see 2013 be the time more SEOs become marketers concerned with the full path and completion of the product or goal.

I’d love to know what you’re hopeful for.

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    The comments are do-follow. However, any comments that use keyword anchor text as the name will be removed.

    1. Jenn McKenzie
      December 9, 2012

      Well done Bill, this is incredibly thoughtful. I couldn’t agree more with the concept of adding CRO to an SEOs toolbelt.


    2. Mad Dog
      December 14, 2012

      Great post, some good points here. I agree with the idea of hand editors and human judging of websites relevance, sometimes all it takes if a brief look at the search results to see a few spammy and irreverent results that need to be penalized.

      But the man hours required for checking millions of search results would be insane and probably impossible. Google did introduce a “remove from result” button or something like that one the results page. Maybe this type of quick public “report spam” could be used…?


      • Bill Sebald
        December 14, 2012

        Scalability would be a huge issue for sure. They’re tackling it, since they do have hand editors.


    3. Inbound Journals
      December 21, 2012

      Great read, thanks for this thoughtful post. Yes, definitely more details in the strategies and tactics, and more case studies from the industry materials. I want to see more proof of what works.