2012 saw plenty of changes in the SEO industry. The search algorithms have changed, the SERP results have changed, and how SEO professionals operate is changing.
While the search landscape has grown and matured, it presents several challenges as well as opportunities to take enterprise SEO to a new level in 2013.
The growth and importance of enterprise SEO, and the fusion of search, site, and social fueled by advancement and integration of technology brings opportunity to scale our search and integrated marketed efforts.
What do actual brands and customers see as key areas of focus in 2013? To find out, last month, BrightEdge (disclosure: I’m the founder and CEO there) reached out to 4,000 brand customers in 99 countries and 44 languages as part of the 2013 Global Enterprise SEO Survey.
Marketers from every industry – including retail, technology, financial services, eCommerce and hospitality – shared their priorities for 2013. What follows are some of the key key findings and further analysis and takeaways.
1. Global SEO & Ranking is a Key Priority
- Over two-thirds of marketers surveyed state that global ranking is going to be important in 2013.
- 27% of marketers surveyed state that global ranking is going to be much more important in 2013.
- 48.7% of marketers recognize the importance of optimizing for Baidu in China.
This reflects the growth of global search as customers look to dominate international growing markets and rankings.
Enterprise SEO marketers see tremendous value in global SEO. For many, global SEO targeting higher rank in global engines is a top priority since it is a gateway to increase leads, conversions and revenue.
Global SEO also boosts marketing ROI by providing a greater return on marketing investments. In addition, it also allows marketers to maintain brand consistency online and globally while accommodating local differences. A global, connected approach to SEO marketing addresses these needs.
Other important factors on global SEO to consider for 2013 are:
- Discovering keywords relevant to global audiences such as utilizing Bing in France.
- Discovering competition for keywords relevant to local audiences.
2. Local & Blended Search are of Massive Importance in 2013 Compared to 2012
- 41% of marketers state that optimizing for local search is more important.
- 36% of marketers state that optimizing for local search is much more important.
- 71% of marketers also stated that it will be more important to adjust their SEO metrics to SERP changes such as pages within Google’s 7 results.
To address the local nature of today’s SERPs in 2013, marketers need to optimize their web presence, and vary SEO strategies by location. To drive SEO performance in local search markets, marketers will seek more insight into rank performance by geography.
- 41% of marketers state that measuring blended rank will be more important in 2013.
- 28% of marketers stated that it will be much more important.
Since August, Google has been serving for some keywords, SERPs with 7 organic listings, instead of the usual 10 listings. In 2013, as Google rewards quality and relevancy, there are many opportunities to rank across multiple search types, and in multiple formats to dominate the new Google SERP results across image, video, places, news and social media results.
3. A Page-Based Approach to SEO is Very Important Going Into 2013
- 33% of marketers state that a page based approach to SEO is going to be much more important in 2013.
- 42% of marketers state that it is going to be more important.
In 2013, taking a page-based approach (as opposed to just a keyword driven approach) is going to be an important factor in your SEO strategy. Marketers often struggle to identify all the areas for enhancement across numerous pages with varied page structure, code, internal backlinks, text length and writing styles, and are left with a time consuming, burdensome and ineffective process.
Having a 360-degree analysis of all factors affecting rank of a page for all targeted keywords and then optimizing these factors is part of a winning 2013 strategy. Ensuring you have balanced on-page and off-page strategy is key to success
- 74.5% of marketers also stated that utilizing SEO technology to provide these balanced recommendations is more important in 2013 than it was in 2012.
4. Content Creation & Management, and Enterprise-Level CMS Integration Takes Center Stage in 2013
- 80% of marketers will focus more on content creation and management.
- Over 50% of these will focus much more on content creation and management.
- 67% of marketers view blogger outreach and article creation as of most value.
- 78% of marketers view social media engagement as of most value.
Taking a planned, detailed, and holistic approach to content across all digital media channels is very important to SEO success in 2013. Producing, managing, and sharing content is going to be a key priority for search marketers.
- 23% of marketers also stated that embedded SEO capabilities in their CMS will matter much more in 2013.
- 43% of marketers also stated that embedded SEO capabilities in their CMS will matter more in 2013.
- 31% of marketers also stated that social sharing of quality content will be much more important as a means to improve rank.
- 49% of marketers also viewed this as more important in 2013.
5. Being Panda & Penguin Proof is an Essential Part of Content Strategy in 2013
- 36% of marketers stated that flagging Panda violations is much more important in 2013 compared to 2012.
- 38% of marketers stated it would be much more important.
Panda updates in 2012 have driven a change and focus in marketing strategies and hence the shift to content production (#4) as part of the SEO process. Producing quality content and engaging via social media is vital in order to boost your SEO strategy in 2013. Also, SEO technologies need to identify thin content, duplicate content, and bad practices such as keyword stuffing.
- Over 50% of marketers state that analyzing internal links for every page in their domain is more/much more important in 2013 than in 2012.
- 36% of marketers stated much more.
- 30% of marketers state that utilizing SEO technology to automatically flag Penguin violations and provide compliance recommendations is much more important in 2013.
- 40% of marketers stated it would be more important in 2013.
SEO technology in 2013 will play a vital role in helping marketers identify violations and provide recommendations on anchor text stuffing, low quality links and having too many links from the same source.
6. Understanding Social Media Trends is Important to Drive Social Sharing in 2013
- 68% of marketers place more importance on identifying topics trending in social media in order to drive social sharing for pages relevant to these topics and improve rank.
- 86% of marketers state that Facebook represents a top priority in 2013.
Not only does social positively influence SEO, it also drives traffic. Listening to the Twitter “firehose” of data and seeking the keywords and pages optimized for search drives great impact in social media.
Conversely, leaning on social and measuring its influence on search is going to become more and more important during the course of 2013.
Integrating your search and social efforts brings better brand visibility and higher conversion rates. Understanding the correlation between social sharing of your pages and rank for these pages should form part of your 2013 future proof planning. Optimizing for Facebook and Graph Search should also be a key part of social SEO strategy.
7. Optimizing for Mobile & Tablets Will be Very Important in 2013
- 52% of marketers stated that optimizing their sites for mobile is going to be much more important in 2013 compared to 2012.
- 36% of marketers stated it would be more important.
Mobile is an important factor in search, and this will play a much bigger role in the 2013. Computers are no longer encased in desktop or laptop coverings and search does not happen only on 1024×768 screens.
We have not only seen a rise in smartphone activity in 2012, but also significant activity in tablet computing. As tablets become more popular among consumers, more companies are redirecting their dollars to explore new opportunities in tablet marketing. With tablet computers, there will be different conversion metrics, different keywords to optimize for, and other considerations in 2013.
8. Focusing on the Business of SEO is Vital to Project Returns
- Over 80% of marketers realize that projecting return on revenue and conversions is of greater importance.
The most dynamic SEO marketers want to understand the business value of SEO projects to assess the ultimate impact of SEO on their business.
Quantifying the value of SEO in 2013 allows them to make a business case to executives for investments while allowing them to focus on opportunities that promise the maximum results such as revenue and cost savings.
9. Integrity & Security of Data is of Key Importance in 2013
- Over 70% of marketers state that data integrity and enterprise security is going to be more important in 2012 than in 2013.
Data integrity encompasses accuracy, trust worthiness of data sources and uninterrupted availability of SEO analytics. In 2013, we’re going to hear a lot more about big data and enterprise eearch.
The integration and blending of search, social, local, mobile and all forms of user data means that you need to ensure your marketing technologies are built for scale. This includes having the ability to track billions of keywords and pages, large volumes of location-specific data and social signals.
10. SEO Will Have Much More Attention From the CMO in 2013
- 46% of marketers state that the SEO function will have a greater strategic importance at C-level in their organization.
- 19% of marketers state that it will be of much more strategic important.
- Over 70% of marketers also stated that they will look to integrate marketing data across channels and measure cross-channel ROI, compared to 2012.
Ranking on top of search engine results takes a concerted and collective effort. SEO success requires teamwork and alignment between people with different goals and agendas, such as: SEO managers, web developers, content writers, category owners, press relations, marketing executives and more.
The convergence of SEO, social media and content marketing will mean that CMO’s in 2013 will take much more notice of measurable SEO practices and integrated marketing practices.
In order to future-proof your enterprise SEO efforts in 2013, it is vital to understand and turn 2012 challenges into 2013 opportunities. As marketers look to integrate the search, social and digital marketing efforts the importance of forecasting, measuring, and optimizing sites and content plays a much bigger role in organizations across multiple disciplines.