13 SEO Predictions for 2013

With 2013 already well underway, it’s time to make some bold (and some not-so-bold) predictions for the year in search!

1)      A new competitor emerges.
With Google at about 70% of the search market, big G is the dominant monster.  But that won’t always be the case, and with so many smart minds in a free market, it’s more likely that Google’s share drop closer to 50% than bump up to 90%, right?  I’m not saying google won’t be the leader in 2013, but some search engine is going to emerge to cause rumblings in Mountain View.  Remember, Yahoo and Altavista used to be powerful presences too, so the mighty have fallen before.  In 2013, a new real competitor will emerge that will take the market by storm, like Google did in the early 2000’s.  Will it be DuckDuckGo?  Will it be Facebook?  Will it be some company we’ve never heard of before?  We’ll have to wait and see.

2)      Bing will stop screaming that it’s better than Google.
You have to admit, it’s starting to get pretty annoying.  Every quarter there seems to be a new campaign from Bing begging people to try it – or telling people about how Google is giving them less than stellar results.  The bottom line is that search engine users don’t really care about all the noise as long as they get the results they’re looking for.  In 2013, Bing will come to this realization.  It will stop shouting about how much better or more ethical they are than Google – and start focusing on actually becoming better than Google.

3)      Yahoo will get its own algorithm again.
Yahoo hasn’t had its own search algorithm since August 2010 when Bing started powering Yahoo results.  28 months and counting without an algorithm is pretty pathetic for a once powerful search engine.  With the stock price going down the tubes, in 2012 Yahoo decided to steal Marissa Mayer away from Google.  A real viable search engine can’t be too far behind right?  Which leads to my next prediction…

4)      Marissa Mayer will become a household name.
The new CEO of Yahoo will bring it back to relevance (but not quite prominence) and will be appropriately applauded for it.  You’ll see her on many business and tech magazine covers.

5)      More Google updates are on the way.
Not exactly a wild prediction here.  2012 was a crazy year with Google updates.  Pandas, Penguins, Exact Match, and Page Layout were the bigger names, but there were hundreds of shifts and tweaks overall.   There were winners and losers with each update, but overall, site owners who didn’t adhere to best practices for Architecture, Backlinks, and Content were hit pretty hard.  Don’t exhale yet because there’s more on the way.  My guess is the next one is called the Porcupine (starts with “P” and it’s black and white, just like Panda and Penguin).  Is your house in order and ready for the Porcupine update?

6)      Google takes a step back, becomes a search engine again.
Google grew rapidly because it was easy to use and provided great results.  Now, we’re a long long way away from the 10 blue links with results that you could count on to be relevant.  What’s changed that?  Some have accused Google of having a brand bias.  Some have accused Google of trying to crowd out the real results with pay-per-click and shopping results.  If and when users start to get annoyed with this, they’ll move on to other search engines.  And Google will have to refocus and get back to what they do best – being a search engine.

7)      Google finally figures out local.
You were warned before.  With the shift from Google Places to Google Plus Local, it was easy to predict that there would be bugs and you might get a little frustrated.  I never imagined it would be this maddening.  From taking forever to approve images to multiple (non-existent) locations to “We do not support this location”, Google local needs to get it together.  I could go on for hours, but Mike Blumenthal has already ranted like no one else can about the subject.  Read what he said.  I concur.

8)      You (and your mom) will know what Google Authorship is.
You’ve been wondering why some faces show up with some websites and some don’t.  Like why does Carson Thorn’s picture show up in the screenshot below when searching for “carson thorn cpa”?

carson thorn cpa authorship

Well, that’s Google Authorship, and it basically connects his Google Plus account with the website, identifying him as the author.  You’ll start to see that more and more in 2013.

9)      Link farms will start to fade away.
The very essence of “web-trash”, link farms have become ineffective at best and hurtful at worst.  Link farm site owners will stop getting the money they need to maintain the site, so sites will start to come down.

10)   Comment spam will start to fade away.
Please please please let this prediction come true!  You know you can’t stand seeing all of the non-sensical comments on your blog, no matter what comment spam blocker you’re using.  Just like the prediction above, comment spam links are considered web-trash.  If they’re not nearly as effective, they’ll stop happening.  Unfortunately I feel less confident about this prediction than others on this list because comments technically come from fresh content sources, which are the kinds of links you want.  So maybe instead of comment spam fading away, we’ll see more sophisticated (and genuine) comments.

11)   You’ll still get solicited by less-than-reputable SEO companies – but much less.
As a site owner, you probably get at least 3-5 emails a week from SEO companies who promise the world but have no idea what they’re talking about – and the email isn’t personalized to your business in any way.  I especially love the emails that mention MSN as one of the major search engines (they probably should have updated that email template to say Bing back in 2009).  Anyway, just like the two predictions above with link farming and comment spam fading, that means less companies will be selling those links, which means less ineffective SEO companies, and less email clutter!

12)   Link building (the right way) will be more valuable than ever.
Links are a major part of Google’s algorithm and always will be.  To rank, you need those votes to your site from other sources on the web.  When some types of links are causing problems rather than improving rankings (see predictions 9 & 10), those links that do help (ie fresh unique content links) will become more and more valuable.

13)   SEO tools to audit your SEO firm will become commonplace.
With many SEO companies (even legit ones) practicing what I like to call “SEO Voodoo” (you know, where they don’t tell you what they’re doing, you just hope it works), site owners will start to audit what their SEO firms are doing.  Whether that’s checking rankings or checking on-page issues, marketing managers and site owners will need to see exactly what the SEO firm is doing.

So those are my predictions for 2013.  What do you think will happen?

About Jason Gillikin

After graduating from UNC, Jason has been in the SEO industry since 2005 and with TDM since 2007. As Director of Sales, Jason helps the sales reps with everything from prospecting new clients to account management, including proposal development, creating a unique successful campaign for each client, and identifying additional marketing opportunities. When he's not working, Jason enjoys spending time with his wife and daughter, running marathons, and rooting for the Tar Heels.