This is the last in the series of “SEO Predictions” from those who I met when I was in Europe in June 2012. Elena lives in Florence and writes about many places to visit in the city and surrounding area on her site Io amo Firenze. The site means “I love Florence” and visitors will too once they visit this city in the heart of the Tuscan countryside. I asked the web marketing consultant about what she thought would happen to SEO this year.
Looking back at 2012, what has been the major change in SEO that you have experienced?
Well, it’s quite easy to answer, the arrival of Google Penguin has modified our SEO life a lot. Everything changed after the 24th of April last year.
How were you affected by these updates?
Fortunately my customers’ websites were not affected, but those of of collegues and friends were and their websites vanished from the SERPs! It’s amazing… websites that were dominating the SERPs since the 1990s, are now ranking on the 5th or 6th page or lower! And nobody knows how to escape from this kind of penalty (disawov tool, for the moment, seems not to be working so well).
What will be the biggest changes in SEO in 2013?
The problem for SEO is how to get valuable links. I agree that content is king, but for competitive sectors (eg. travel), it’s not easy to get visibility, especially if you are not the first mover and you are facing with the OLTA giants.
People will have to consider new methods to earn links. Maybe it will be the revenge of blogs? (I hope so!!).
Apart for that, AuthorRank may be seen as a strong signal of one future trend: who’s behind a web site is important both for users and search engines. Will the SEO reputation have an influence on ranking? Let’s see..
What do you think will happen with Facebook/Instagram and Pinterest in 2013?
I think more and more companies will put their efforts to use images to gain visibility and to spread your brand around. It seems a faster way. It has also the advantage of creating great engagment with users.
And for many traditional firms it’s easier to understand this strategy instead of SEO stuff. But I think it takes a lot to transform likes & pins in links!!!
How important do you think social signals will be in 2013?
A lot. Google cannot avoid to give importance to people preferences: users spend a lot of time on Social Networks publishing fresh content, commenting and sharing useful links. It would be anacronistic not to evaluate this factor.
Has “content marketing” been the buzz word in the Italian search market as it we have seen in the UK?
Unfortunately not. Only the smartest SEOs have understood the importance of content. In Italy there are still many SEO who think that “tricks” and black hat are the correct approach. Not meaning to talk badly of web agencies but they still think it’s a matter of keyword stuffing!!!
What has been the “buzz word” for 2012 in the Italian search market and what will it be in 2013?
For small companies probably the SOLOMO (SOcial LOcal MObile) strategy is the answer. The merge of Google Places and Google Plus has activated a small revolution. Moreover in Italy in the last 2 years there has been an explosion in the sales of smartphones and tablets: everybody is enjoying maps, posting and sharing on Social Media through their mobile devices.
In some fields we can register more than 20% of website visits coming from mobile.
Will it now be easier to show the value of SEO/Social?
Social ROI is very difficult to calculate and demonstrate, but Italian companies are quite open to experiment on social network sites. They somehow they understand its value and potential more than seo.
Will you be going to any search events this year? Will there be more search events in Italy?
Oh yes. As every year I will attend Madri Web Marketing Experience and Be-wizard: probably the main 2 search events in Italy.
I have seen the upcoming of many other local conferences and events, but few of them are of a high livel, they often are profiled on a basic target. The mass still ignore what SEO is and the important role it plays in online marketing.