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How to Make 2013 YOUR Year for Search Engine Optimization

Well, we made it to 2013. The Mayan apocalypse was a dud and we managed to keep the 2012 election from turning into the next American Revolution. Time to stop digging the bomb shelters, close down the prayer vigils and get back to PPC marketing, search engine optimization and attracting loads of traffic, leads and new sales.

If only it were that easy right?

If you’re anything like the rest of us, you need to get to Google page one if you want any prayer of attracting floods of organic traffic to your site using search engine optimization. But ascending to the summit of “Mount Google” is no easy task. You’ve got competitors pushing their way up and you’ve got Google’s menagerie of Pandas and Penguins up there rolling snowballs down on your head.

And what does Google have cooking for 2013?

Thirteen is supposed to be the unlucky number, so maybe this is the year for the “Abominable Snowman Update.” Maybe the “Tasmanian Devil Update” will whip through cyberspace like a raving tornado, ripping websites from their positions in the search rankings and tearing the dreams of hundreds of online marketers asunder.

Regardless of what monsters Google plans on unleashing this year, one thing is sure…

By the end of 2013, some websites will sit at the top of the search results while others will sink into the cesspool of junk sites, never to emerge again. And every time one site falls from a slot on Google page one, another site gets rewarded with that spot.

That’s a mathematical certainty my friends, I’ve never seen a “reserved” spot in the Google search results. Sites don’t just get brushed carelessly off of page one, they get replaced. This is going to happen in 2013 just as it has happened every year. It’s simply a matter of whether YOUR website will be rewarded or reprimanded.

Since I’m guessing you want to be farther up Mount Google than you are right now, I’d like to shed light on some iron clad SEO strategies that you can use to climb to the top in 2013. Who knows, maybe you can roll some snowballs down on your competitors while you’re at it….

SEO 2013 Tip #1: Author Rank Is Here to Stay, Are You?

I could an entire 5,000 word article on why this “Author Rank” SEO phenomenon is more than just a flash in the pan. But I’ll spare you the verbosity and give you the undeniable facts on why you need to take Author Rank seriously starting yesterday:

1.       FACT: The online marketplace is jammed with questionable information, consumers are sick of it. They don’t want to waste time pawing through junk articles to find out what’s trustworthy and what’s not.

2.       FACT: author anonymity might help marketers, but it hurts consumers. It makes it impossible to separate genuine experts from self-proclaimed experts. It makes it hard, if not impossible, to make smart buying decisions…and that makes ANYONE uncomfortable.

3.       FACT: the quickest, easiest and most trustworthy way to verify the credibility of an article, a blog or a social media post is to check the source…to check the author.

4.       FACT: author rank solves all three of the above problems, that’s why Google is doing it.

5.       FACT: Google’s goal is to solve credibility problems by providing credible content, they’ve found a way to make that happen and you better believe they’ll stick with it.  

I dare anyone to challenge these facts with a reasonable argument on why Author Rank is going to flop as Google’s new credibility plumb line. Maybe this makes some marketers uncomfortable, but that’s too bad. As professional business people, we need to follow where the consumer’s needs lead us.

Right now, consumers need credible information. As more and more of your competitors start to build their online credibility using author rank, consumers will come to expect high author rank as the norm for filtering out credible content writers.

So if they even find your content in 2013 and beyond, they’re unlikely to believe a word of it if they have no idea whether it came from an expert or from some freelance writer working for $5 an article to write about topics they’re not even getting paid enough to do thorough research on.

Bottom line, set up your author account on Google +, link it to your blog and start publishing at least one well-written, insightful and entertaining blog or article a week. If you don’t have time, hire someone great to do this for you. Make sure it’s someone you feel 100% about hiring to write YOUR content. If you aren’t writing your own content or you don’t have someone like this working for you, expect to be buried by the competitors who do.

SEO 2013 Tip #2: Back linking Isn’t Dead, But Your Current Back linking Strategy Could Be

Is back linking still effective for SEO in 2013?

It all depends on what you’re doing. It’s always depended on that. The only difference today is that there are stricter penalties for the people who don’t do back linking right. Sure, some marketers slipped by with junk back link building strategies for quite a while. But they also got hit a lot harder during the Penguin update because they’d spent more time building up junk links.

If we’re honest with ourselves, there are only a few back linking strategies that stand a chance of surviving the future Google updates:

1.Creating link bait.

2.High value directory submissions (Yahoo, Dmoz etc)

3.Guest post writing (on quality blogs only).

4.Social sharing (on authority sites).

As for profile link building, automated blog commenting, high volume social bookmarking and directory submission, kiss them goodbye. 2013 is not the year to stop doing those, 2008 was. The question isn’t whether back linking is dead. The question is whether you’re killing your website’s credibility by trying to build up as many links as you can, assuming that the more links you have the higher your site will rank.

Sorry, that’s a dead SEO strategy these days…has been for a while.

Take that $100 you’re spending on getting thousands of junk links a month built and reinvest it into a strategy that will get you even two or three quality links. MSI can help, our phone number is on this website. But for goodness sake, stop doing all those things that stopped working a long time ago. The companies who advise those strategies are usually the same people who sell you those junk linking services.

Bottom line, SEO in 2013 will have zero tolerance for mediocrity in the realm of link building. If you’re treating back link building like a numbers game, stop. If you’re still outsourcing your back link building to overseas SEO firms, stop. If you’re blasting your site onto hundreds of directories that no one has ever heard of before, stop.

Junk back link building is like building a time bomb right under your business, starting the counter and watching it tick away in denial about what’s going to happen when the clock hits zero.

On the other hand, if you’re not investing time and money into creating link bait, start. If you’re not consistently working on getting guest blogging opportunities on authority sites, start. If you’re not building up your social presence so that those social shares which you’re posting attract real traffic to your website, start.

Stop spinning your wheels with things that will sabotage your long term success in 2013. If you want to build a profitable online business, you want to stop doing what doesn’t work and start doing what does work.  If you’re still unclear on this, either call MSI now or type in your primary keywords and check out what your top three competitors are doing and do your best to duplicate their approach.

SEO 2013 Tip #3: SEO Get Your Bounce Rate Down & Your Click Through Rate Up

Bounce rates have been a factor in SEO for several years now and with every single update, they’ve become more and more important. That ought to tell you where to focus your energy. If your bounce rate is higher than 80%, stop worrying about off page SEO and publishing more content and get obsessed with figuring out why people are leaving your website right after landing on it.

Go to your analytics account and look at your “visitor stream.” You want to look at which pages your customers are going to immediately after they land on your home page. This will tell you what information they want to see first. If they go directly to your portfolio page, that’s the page you need to give the most attention to.

You might want to consider putting links to your portfolio in a more conspicuous place on your home page. You’ll also want to look at your portfolio and see if you can improve it by making your samples more relevant. If your visitors are going directly from your home page to your “about us” page, go to that page and see if you can find out how you can get them to stick around longer.

Is your about us page giving them the information they’re really after?

Does it include specific credentials that demonstrate who you are and why your visitors should trust you as an expert?

Do you have credible reviews for each of your team members to demonstrate your good track record?

Is your about us page making you look big and credible or small and “fly by night?”

Are you being completely transparent with your visitors and making it easy for them to connect with you?

These are all questions that your visitors are asking when they click on your about us page. If you don’t answer them quickly and clearly, you’ll have a high bounce rate and your site won’t rank well in the search results.  

Site load speed is also important when it comes to optimizing your bounce rate and many marketers slow down their load speed with features that don’t do a damn thing to help them get more customers.

For example, does your website have fancy flash features or video and audio features that slow down the load time? If so, exchange the flash presentations for static images; take the audio and video off of auto play. If these features play an important part of your sales and lead capturing strategy, have your webmaster program them to start playing after the page had loaded.

Have your designer check the size of your graphic files and have them export your styling features to an external CSS file (they’ll know what you’re talking about when you ask them to do this).

Have your web programmer export any java scripts to external files. See if they can rework your PHP coding to make it more “object oriented” and to reduce code bloat (again, they’ll know what you’re talking about).

There are dozens of ways to speed up your site, and while some of them only make a minor difference, they can add up over time. Not to mention that when it comes to site load time and the average attention span of the typical web visitor, milliseconds can make the difference between a visit that lasts several minutes and a visit that ends in one or two seconds.

But the MOST important factor contributing to your bounce rate and click through rate is relevancy. Are you giving your visitors exactly what they expect when they land on your site? If you’re missing the target by even the slightest bit on this, you can expect a high bounce rate. One thing to check is your meta description and how it displays in the search results in comparison to what displays when they click on your page.

How many times have you seen something that looks interesting in the search results, only to click on it and NOT find what you expected? How fast did you bolt away from the site? I’m guessing pretty quick.

Your visitors will do the same, so it’s important to be 100% relevant by having rock solid, unmistakable continuity between your meta data and your page content.

SEO 2013 Tip #4: SEO is STILL About Content

If you’re still struggling with SEO, there’s a 99% chance the problem is with your content. These days, you need to be either providing amazing content OR you’re helping your visitors connect with other people. If you’re not doing one of those two things, sorry, but you’ve got nothing to offer. Bad content has never been good for SEO, but in 2013 and the years to come, it’s going to be harmful, so it’s time to get serious about this.

Here’s a quality checklist you’ll want to put your website content through right now:

1.       Is it laser targeted & relevant to your search terms?

2.       Does it get right down to business in telling your visitor how you can meet their present need?

3.       Is it well-written and easy to understand?

4.       Is it entertaining and engaging?

5.       Is it well-researched and glowing with expertise?

6.       Is it promoting the author as an authority instead of using a generic author?

7.       Are you publishing on a consistent basis?

8.       (Most important) are you getting positive responses from visitors?

If you have doubts on ANY of these, take action! Don’t wait until the next Google update puts YOU under the microscope and stamps a “Bad Content” seals right on your  forehead. Remember that there’s no way you can go wrong by investing more time, money or energy into providing your readers with great content. 

I mean just imagine going to the Google webmaster guidelines and seeing this:

“Google has decided that websites which consistently publish well-written, insightful and entertaining content will find themselves in opposition with the Google webmaster guidelines.”

A snowball has a better chance of surviving in an incinerator than that has of ^ happening. You can go wrong with your back linking, article spinning, mass blog commenting or junk directory submission or social bookmarking to sites that get no traffic.

But you can NEVER go wrong by investing your time and/or money into consistently publish well-written, insightful and entertaining content. If you don’t yet have a rock solid, dependable content writer who you can trust to get your website on the map again, call MSI right now. If you’d done that 12 months ago, your site might be sitting on Google page one right now.

But it’s better late than never, and every day you delay in tightening up your content marketing strategy is another day lost.

SEO 2013 Tip #5: SEO is STILL a Tortoise and a Hair Race

Are you in a big hurry to get to the top of Google page one?

Of course, we all are. Just don’t let that urgency get the best of you in 2013, or ever. SEO still is, and always will be, a marathon. The sprinters are the ones who lose. They let their internal sense of urgency override their self-control and they start taking shortcuts. But in SEO, a shortcut is the quickest path to the bottom of the search engine results…down there with all the other spammy muck that no one EVER sees or wants to see.

 I still believe that two of the best SEO practices are brutal honest and Zen-like patience. The brutal honesty part is looking at your content, your site structure and your back linking strategy and asking what YOU would do if you were Google.

Would you risk your reputation by putting YOUR site on page one and proclaiming to your BILLIONs of users that it was the most authoritative site for that topic? If you’re honest with yourself in answering this question, you’ll discover exactly why your site isn’t’ ranking higher than it is. Again, take action. Find the weak links in your marketing chain and strengthen them.

Then, it’s time for the Zen-like patience…the waiting game, the part we ALL hate. But remember that getting to the top of SEO is like running and winning a marathon. If you think you’re going to hop up off the couch after spending the past 5 years eating junk food and watching reality shows and still trounce the runners who have been training for years, you’re wrong.

It’s the same thing with SEO. THOUSANDS, possible even millions of other marketers are scrambling to reach that top page of Google. To get there in today’s competitive marketplace, you have to be the best of the best of the best…and that takes work.

And just imagine, if just one year ago today you’d made a “no matter what” commitment to take your SEO slow and to commit to a process that’s trustworthy and consistent, you’d probably be getting two or three times the traffic as you are today.

So where do you want to be next year?

Reading another article like this, struggling to find the “magic option” to skyrocket your site to the top of the SERPS?

Or, do you want to be getting two, three or four times the traffic as you area today?

If I’ve learned anything about SEO over the past 15 years, I’ve learned that patience and persistence does pay off. But being in a great big hurry is a wide and broad road to Google penalties and anemic profits.

Finally, remember that once you become an authority and stick with the principles that got you there, your rankings become100% secure, regardless of what Google does with their algorithm. How many authority websites got permanently sunk by ANY of the past Google updates? If you can find one, please post it below this blog and tell me why you believe it’s an authority website.

That’s all I’ve got for now, but I’m betting you’ve got some work to do. Here are the facts again about what’s going to work in 2013 ….

SEO 2013 Tip #1: Author Rank Is Here to Stay, Are You?

SEO 2013 Tip #2: Back linking Isn’t Dead, But Your Current Back linking Strategy Could Be

SEO 2013 Tip #3: SEO Get Your Bounce Rate Down & Your Click Through Rate Up

SEO 2013 Tip #4: SEO is STILL About Content

SEO 2013 Tip #5: SEO is STILL a Tortoise and a Hair Race

Do you see anything you can’t start doing RIGHT NOW?

I don’t, but you can certainly keep doing what you’re doing…just don’t’ expect different results.  It’s up to you to decide to STOP tracing trends, gimmicks and rumors and aligning your marketing with the principles that drive the online marketplace.

Make it a great year.

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