By Adithya Murali

6 Ways SEO Will Change in 2013

By Adithya Murali

Considering the shifts in SEO survival, 2012 has been quite an eventful year. There have been several important updates that have changed the search scene altogether.

A massive crackdown on spam sites through the EMD updates was not the only scathing step taken by Google. Google updates its algorithm over 500 times a year in order to weed out low quality sites from the top positions. Google will never stop its relentless run to make search results more relevant.

Search engine optimization, as it stands today, is no longer child’s play. It has become quite challenging and innovative strategies are required to attain better rankings.

So what is the outlook for SEO in 2013? The answer to this question is still vague, as people are not sure about the updates that are to occur in 2013. Fierce arguments are still raging regarding the Google updates that may take place. While some believe that the future lies in content marketing, others believe that social media presence will be the key. Others continue to resort to blackhat SEO methods that may land them on Google’s hitlist.

Based on what I hear people saying and see people doing, and my understanding of the proposed Google updates that may take place, here is a list of major changes in SEO you can expect to occur in 2013.

Author Rank

How Google handles Author Rank will be the biggest search factor in 2013. It may turn the entire internet marketing world upside down.

Google will assign each blogger an Author Rank based on various parameters such as niche authority and domain expertise. This Rank will be given a major role in ranking the content authored by that author. Simply speaking, the higher the rank and reputation of the author, the higher are the chances of their content ranking well in search engines. Also, an author’s published content will be directly linked to their Google+ profile, thereby drawing Google+ into SEO calculations. So, with the mooted Author Rank update, performance of a site will depend more upon the reputation and niche expertise of the content’s author in social networks.

Equivalency Score Algorithm

Another major update that is expected to take place in 2013 is the Google Equivalency Score Algorithm (ESA). ESA is expected to work in the same way as Google Adword’s Quality Score where each keyword is given a point score based on several factors. The quality score of the keywords is then used along with the bid amount of the advertiser and the ads are ranked accordingly. ESA, if operationalized, will have a huge impact on online businesses. It will effectively cut down the monopoly of some websites on number one rankings and will create a more level playing field for all businesses. One effect of this is that Google may display the same results for a search query in different orders each time the results appear on screen.

Link Disavow Tool

The Link Disavow Tool was created to collect data on the backlink structure of sites. Chances are that Google will use this tool in 2013 to create an algorithm using the links that have already been submitted to them. The tool will be used to improve reporting of spam sites and poor quality backlinks. Consequently, blog posts and forum posts can no longer be used to create backlinks.

Social media presence

SEO in 2013 will be heavily influenced by the numerous social networks and the development and utilisation of an effective social media presence. Site owners and technicians have to carve a niche out for themselves in social media if they want their sites to do well in search rankings. Sharing of content on social networks like Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, Pinterest, Delicious, LinkedIn, MySpace and Google+ will be of the utmost importance. Social media popularity will, in a way, decide the fate of a site as far as Google is concerned.

The reason Google gives such importance to the social media presence of a site is yet to be definitively ascertained. But there are many theories out there regarding this. Social media presence is proof that the traffic finds the content of a site useful. However, many say that Google will do this to give its staggering Google+ a boost. Many believe that in the days to come, Google+ might just emerge as the most important social network for webmasters.

Digital marketing

Digital marketing will also play a big role in 2013. Digital marketing will slowly include the entire spectrum of online marketing from market-purposed content creation, through pay-per-click strategies, to use of social media. Because of certain expected Google updates, this will get a big boost and chances are that more and more brands will come into the digital marketing field in time.

No Fundamental Changes in SEO

Having started by explaining how SEO will fundamentally change in 2013, let me close by saying that the foundation of SEO is going to remain the same. Whether web owners and professionals like it or not, content will continue as the king online. High quality, well-written, expertly displayed, functionally useful content will still hold the key to ranking well for target search terms. Any site needs to have compelling and unique content that has good readability and provides a rich user experience. Half the search battle is won if a website follows this cardinal rule, and that will only become more true in 2013 and beyond.

Currently accepted link building practices such as viral article submission and automated link posting won’t work any more, as the basis for them affecting search results is revealed as artifical. Google began the tough scrutiny of backlinks in 2012, and this will continue in 2013.

While we must wait to see just how Google and other search giants implement their strategies for 2013, it can be taken for granted that their efforts to keep search results organically honest, relevant and useful to consumer will have an impact on the industry that has developed around search engine optimization. Whether the effects of that are good or bad, for consumers and the industry, remains to be seen.

What about you? Are you ready for 2013? Do you foresee other ways in which search will change next year and beyond?

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  • What are the sources on this? Perhaps a backlink to some Google Blog post? Using what I’ve just learned here, Adithya’s author rank is likely to drop just a little today.

    • Adithya Murali

      The sources are many. Google never actually details all that they do. They just give hints. Author Rank isn’t here yet, so no worries! But why do you think so?

      • Maybe you can just post a couple of these many sources, don’t you? Just to endorse your statements.

    • Plenty of analysts have commented on these developments and potential developments (Search Engine Watch, Search Engine Journal, SEOmoz). They’re easy to find. Adithya is making his own predictions, based on his own interpretation of public information. Whether he is right or not remains to be seen. I predict his Author Rank will continue to rise.

    • Each and every SEO person, only share their assumptions based on the field they are involved in. As far as Google shies away from disclosing their algo updates, and why they occur, or when it occurs, No one is authorized to make firm statements. The author also shares his forecast. Why do u blindly think that what occurs in SEL or SEOMoz are trustworthy while the others are fake? You too can post what you think, who compels you to read content of others?

  • sir, can u teach me some good seo tips please…

    • Adithya Murali

      just go through the site, Rajan. You can learn a lot if you just read through SitePoint.

  • I always see SEO presented as if all websites are created equally, but they are NOT. And many articles seem to think that Googles attempts to weed out low quality sites is a bad thing. In my opinion, the best way to improve a websites rank is to provide the best possible quality content with the fewest possible ads. Too many SEO articles seem to be targeted towards those who are looking to create a website and monitize it by selling ads instead of really saying how an actual business should approach their corporate websites.

    My focus is on the small, local business. They want their website to be found when local people are searching for their business, either by name or description (lawn service). Their content most likely will not go viral. Having a social media presence will allow them to announce daily deals and upcoming events, but their website should focus on providing as much information about their business including location as possible to aid in the search results.

  • Great article… I wrote a similar one here but discussed a few other topics: http://www.8waysin8days.com/8-ways-the-new-seo-changes-how-we-search-online/

    I have yet to use the disavow tool although I need to for several sites. I will be interested to see the results after I “remove” some low quality backlinks.

    I definitely think authorship combined with social media signals is going to greatly impact SEO in 2013. Quality is king and hopefully Google will continue rewarding those sites who create unique, high-quality content.

    Everything you mentioned is right-on and I will be interested to see what the upcoming algorithms have in store.

  • Perfect article, seems legit

  • Now Google become active, rely on quality work. All Seo guys should be focused on quality work rather then quantity work. As you mention blog posting and forum posting no longer work.

  • The rules of search have changed. In fact, they change on a daily basis. But never so dramatically has rank been uprooted since the explosion of social media. Social media sites, especially the power houses of Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, have become backlink central for affecting organic search results.

  • Thank you for a good article. This summary is useful. And content is still king!

  • Hi Adithya,

    Content will always be the king , not just for the year of 2013 because content is something which do anything with the words you form in your excellent quality content that lets the users to take help, guidance, service . And one main why you have written for that will give them solution . . ! rest of tips awesome.
    For SEO we here just need to work SMARTER
    – to create useful content
    – to create links that worthy to your website
    – to be relevant with your niche.
    Ram Babu

  • Man

    Good – the thinking ahead point is appreciated and needs to be developed further.

  • Interesting points you have in this article. Some of them are the same as I predict in my article about SEO in 2013, but there are also some new aspects you write about, e.g. ESA and link disavow tool. You can find my expectations to SEO in 2013 below:


  • Absolutely spot on information by Adithya, it is rare to come across understanding at this level.

    “High quality, well-written, expertly displayed, functionally useful content will still hold the key to ranking well for target search terms”

    This is it, this is search engine optimization.

  • It always comes down to the same thing. Write your own content, make it informative, interesting and genuine. There’s always a new hat to wear but the fundamentals are/should be always the same.

  • itfidds

    Is Google the only search engine (that counts)??!?!?

  • I think we won’t see big changes in the way SEO has to approach its goals, at the end if you stick on good practices that worked before that won’t hurt you in 2013. Great content (engaging, useful, etc), good link building done in the right way, social media presence for branding and as tool for sharing content and to establish a more direct conversation with customers, etc. The only change I hope to see is a harder “iron hand” from search engines on sites that use black techniques to rank well, and in that sense I think we’re on the right path.

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