Our Looking into the Crystal Ball of 2013 Predications Post

It's hard to believe it is the middle of December and a whole year has blown by.  To say 2012 was an interesting year would be an understatement, one thing is for sure, it was never dull!

Some of the SEOBook Moderators and I want to share what we feel will be hot (or not) in 2013, we have a diverse mixture of topics, opinions and practical marketing tactics for you to consider.  First up is our fearless leader Aaron Wall!

Aaron Wall

Aaron Wall Drawing.

Google Verticals

I believe we'll see additional Google verticals launched (soon) and they'll be added to the organic search listings.  My guess is that (now that the advisor ad units are below AdWords) we can expect to see Google seriously step into education & insurance next year. I also expect them to vastly expand their automotive category in 2013.

SEO's Move On

Tired by the pace of change & instability in the search ecosystem (along with the "2 books of guidelines" approach of enforcement in the search ecosystem), many people who are known as SEOs will move on in 2013. Many of these will be via acquisitions, and many more will be due to people simply hanging it up & moving on.

Rebranding Away From SEO

A company in the SEO niche that has long been known as an SEO company will rebrand away from the term SEO. After that happens, that will lead to a further polarization of public discourse (where most anything that is effective and profitable gets branded as being spam), only further fueling #2.

Geordie Carswell from Clearly Canadian (err, we mean here)

Geordie Carswell Drawing.


Regarding Adwords, Google will aggressively dial up Quality Scores on keywords that have languished in activity due to low-QS but haven't yet been deleted by advertisers. They seem to have given Quality Scores a bump across the board in Q4, bringing in unexpected increases in traffic and cost to advertisers who weren't aware 'dormant' keywords were even still in their accounts. It's a fantastic revenue generator almost on-demand for Google if the quarterly numbers aren't looking good.

Peter DaVanzo (aka Kiwi)

Peter da Vanzo Drawing.

Building Brand

More focus on building brands i.e. the people behind the site, their story, their history.

This is to encourage higher levels of engagement, leading to increased loyalty. Making the most of the traffic we already have

Eric Covino  (aka vanillacoke)

Vanilla Coke Drawing.

SEO Diversifies

I think the industry will continue to become more divisive as more people either get out or go more underground and those that continue to remain overly-public will continue to invent language to serve their own commercial purposes while chastising those who do not fall in line; labeling these folks as spammers and bad for the industry in desperate attempts at differentiation so they can continue to try and sell to brands and the lower part of the consumer pyramid (read: mindless sheep)

There will be exceptions where the company will do and probably continue to do really well, but largely those who try and move from being pure SEO agencies to full service [insert new term here] ad-type agencies will fail at delivering real value to their clients. These people will resort to more outing and public spam report filings despite their amusing posts on how they are "different" and "clean". I believe this will spawn a return of enterprise-level SEO services to competent SEO's and SEO firms but not to the "point, link, report ranking agencies". I believe the latter will die a faster death in 2013. Technical proficiency in SEO will become more and more valuable as well, especially if enterprise-level SEO returns as I think it will.

SEO Pricing Structures Will Change

A fractured search landscape where data is harder to come by (not provided, rank checking issues, mobile disruption) in addition to frequent algo shifts and confusion with local rankings will make low-cost SEO much harder to justify and measure, especially in the local area. These issues, coupled with the rising cost of doing business online, will make low to even moderate budget SEO (really low 4 figures or high 3 figures per month) difficult to provide effectively and profitably over a sustained period of time.

The closing window will stay somewhat wide for those that stay around and can afford to take down the margins a bit on some projects. This would be a result of a fairy sizable exodus from the industry as a whole (the self-SEO crowd, for lack of a better term)

Debra Mastaler from Alliance Link

Debra Mastaler Drawing.

Mobile Applications (apps) and Content for Them

Doesn't it seem like everyone has been talking about the mobile explosion for years now?  I'm jumping on that bandwagon but from a slightly different angle.

If your product lends itself to having an app, I'd urge you to get one started, even if it's a basic program or you have to partner with someone to make it happen.  Recent statistics show there are one billion smart phone users and five billion mobile phone users in the world; being seen on mobile devices is no longer a novelty when those kinds of numbers are involved.  So how do you get your content in front of mobile users? 

For Android fans, you can turn your best content into an Android App by using tools like AppsGeyser.  Their simple three step process allows you to create apps by using content you've already written or showcasing a widget you have in service. If you have evergreen content or a popular widget a lot of people download, create an app to keep them one click away and receiving fresh streams of content from your site.

If you're in a space already filled with apps or can't create one, consider creating unique content to go with what is out there.   For example, novelist Robin Sloan created an iPhone app for “tappable” content.  To move the story along, you tap the screen to the next page.  It is a super simple concept that has exploded over the Internet.   (For more tappable story examples visit here)  creating this kind of content sets you apart from your competitors and provides you with a fresh news angle to pitch the media.

If you do create an app, add it to popular download sites like iTunes but make it exclusively available on your website first. 

(Tip:  Search on “content for iPad” for ideas on creating unique content for tablets and then use the suggestions above to promote them)


OK, more impressive stats to start this section: 

“In general, we know that 800 million people around the world use YouTube each month, a stat that I'm sure we're going to see increase to a billion soon.  And nearly all 100 of AdAge's top 100 advertisers have run ad campaigns on YouTube and Google Display Network–98 in fact.”

There is the word “billion” again!  But there's more and it comes appropriately, right after my pitch for mobile apps:

…”mobile access, which gets over 600 million views a day, tripled in 2011.”

They are talking about access to YouTube here, that's an astonishing number of views per day.  Add to it video results have a tendency to:

  • be shown in the first fold of the organic search results (so annoying)
  • help make a site “sticky”
  • are easily passed around social media sites “like” Facebook

Three sound reasons why you should be involved in making and promoting video in 2013.  Since video works well on smartphones, I'd focus equal resources on creating, optimizing and promoting video and written content in 2013. Check out what top brands are doing on YouTube for promotion ideas, where they're pimping their vids and how.   (And an app to play them on, see above) J

Content Partnerships and Variety is a Search Spice

I think everyone will agree using “content” is the tactic du jour when it comes to attracting links and traffic.  I expect the trend to continue and with good reason, online news outlets, magazines and topical blogs are as eager to run good content as webmasters are to place it.   Finding good outlets will be key, when you do, consider developing a “content partnership" with a set number of sites and negotiate to place more than written content.

What is a content partnership?  In a nutshell it's an exclusive commitment you have to provide content to a set number of sites.  You find a handful of authoritative sites to write for and negotiate the amount and type of content you want to submit. They in turn, get a steady stream of well-produced content and build a solid editorial team.  Win-win!

In a perfect world it's best to be the only one writing on a topic but we all know perfection is hard to achieve.  In that case, zero in on what you want to write about and approach an outlet with a narrow focus.  For example, instead of saying "I'll write all your baby food articles", say, "I'll provide articles, podcasts and videos on natural and organic baby food".  You are much more likely to get what you want if you agree to create content on a specific subject rather than a broad or general topic.

Authentic networking will be key in the future, lock down your sources early and take advantage of the popularity boost you'll receive associating with highly visible, authority sites in your niche.  Use a variety of content methods, the public doesn't live on written content alone.  Video, news and images dominate universal search results; create this type of content so you improve your chances of being seen especially if brands dominate your sector. (So annoying!)

Will Spencer from Tech FAQ

Panda Update Drawing.

The Value of Links

With Google penalizing obviously generated links instead of simply ignoring them, the value of less-obviously generated links will continue to rise. This will result in higher prices for paid links and an improved return on investment for those links. It will also bring link trading back in vogue, particularly with three-way linking.

We'll be paying more (or charging more) for links than ever before. With most links being discounted or penalized, it will require fewer links to rank -- but those links will have to be acquired at higher prices.

Anita Campbell from Small Business Trends

Anita Campbell Drawing.

Website Design Goes Pinterest

We are seeing more websites and blogs designed and displayed a la Pinterest. Content appears in visual boxes with limited text. With that comes a lot more of the infinite scroll – the page that never ends. The new Mashable design is an example. It is hard to tell whether this is a short term fad or a long term trend – but when you have an infinite scrolling page the footer often goes. So all those footer links – well, many may go away.

Social Media Gets the Blender Effect

Social media aggregators are popping up like mushrooms. Tools like Rebelmouse, Scoop.it, Paper.li and a dozen more grab Facebook posts, tweets, retweets and/or blog posts, and mix them all together in a visually appealing presentation that you can embed on your own domain. Some of these tools are not so hot for SEO (all the content is in javascript and/or iframes) or they duplicate a page that resides on the tool's own site, and search agencies will have to get good at sorting them out and explaining the pros and cons to clients who say “I want one!”

The Line Between Content and Advertising Further Blurs:

The CPM rates of banner ads continue to drop, and the standard banner ad sizes are less appealing except as AdWords. The hot types of advertising today are:

  • Rich media such as ads that slide out or down when you slide over or large videos that begin to play, and larger sizes that take up a lot of space on the page (even Google this year introduced the 300 x 600 “half-page” size ad);
  • “Native ads” which are ads that sites like Twitter and Facebook sell such as sponsored tweets and sponsored posts – leading to the further commercialization of social media;
  • Sponsored content, such as sponsored blog posts and sponsored content features on news sites.

There are different schools of thought around sponsored content, and publishers and agencies need to understand the differences and figure out where they want to play. The natural tendency of many SEO professionals is to think of sponsored content purely as link building. But in my experience, sponsors can have many goals and they may have nothing to do with link building. For many sponsors, their goals are branding, product launch exposure, co-citation/co-reference, thought leadership, sales lead generation, general PR, and/or building positive social media sentiment.

Depending on the sponsor's goals, sponsored content covers a wide range. It can range from run-of-the-mill link buying and selling, to various levels of guest blog posting ("spun" junk to high quality well-researched articles), to custom-written content pieces such as articles, eBooks and webinars that are clearly labeled as sponsored, designed to build thought leadership, reach out to new audiences, and to associate the sponsor's name with certain topics.

Marketing agencies will want to sort out the client's objectives, and also educate clients on the broader benefits to be had from sponsored content.

Now you know our thoughts for 2013, what are yours? 

On behalf of everyone here at SEOBook, we wish you a joyous holiday season and much success in 2013!

Debra Mastaler is an experienced link building & publicity expert who has trained clients for over a decade at Alliance-Link. She is the link building moderator of our SEO Community & can be found on Twitter @DebraMastaler.

Published: December 13, 2012 by debramastaler in


December 14, 2012 - 4:01am

Debra, For a long time mobile was talked about, but it wasn't until 2012 that it started impacting traffic numbers on our sites to a meaningful degree. We have mobile apps but they are dweezy -- now we are looking at improving the design. And not fast enough ....

December 14, 2012 - 11:53am

Firstly great article and it will be interesting how many predictions will come through.

You asked for predictions?

As I said in the Title above, I think Content marketing or to be more specific guest blogging will be some how hamstrung in 2013. Google will either devalue links within content and authorship boxes or force publishers to put no follow on those links.

Guest blogging is basically all that small whitehat seo's and bloggers have left, the rest of the arsenal has been neutralized. The big guys still have client out-reach etc etc. When you are just starting those things tend not to be open to you. Even press releases have been knocked on the head somewhat and judging by what happened last week, will be even more devalued.

There are still plenty of options available if you want to go down a more "creative route" but these methods are grey and burgeoning on black hat methods and that is the fine line small/starup type blogs/sites have to walk.

December 14, 2012 - 2:38pm

@Anita, I hear you, look forward to seeing the new one :)

Someone tweeted this at me last night: " @debramastaler good predictions, although I'd reconsider making an app just b/c there are lots of mobile users. especially if its B2B." Interesting viewpoint but I disagree obviously. If you're familiar with the Rule of Seven and read the (countless) reports being generated saying people look on their phones but still go online to buy you'll know why. Being in the B2B sector is no different, you should still strive to be the authority source in your industry and can offer apps that work to that end. If you go to Apple Developer and check out the apps section devoted to B2B you'll see how, or take into consideration why Google bought AdMob and again, you'll see why this might be a great idea after all.

One last thought: Like a lot of people when I hear the word "app" I immediately think of smartphone. Think "tablet" here as well, take a look at the sale of tablet reports (link below) and consider how easy it is to buy from a tablet ...... :) http://techcrunch.com/2012/12/03/mary-meekers-year-end-trends-report-mob...

@SEOEnquirer Thanks, the Mods here are a diverse group and while we all have the same goal, how we go about things can be vastly different so it's fun to hear what everyone thinks.

Not that you asked but let me tell you what I think about guest blogging in the future ;) ;)

I saw this comment a couple weeks ago and it pretty much sums up what I think: "It is a simple rule of any market, the more information created, the more the value is reduced"

That seems to be the case with guest blogging IMO and why I strongly suggest people develop contracts or agreements with partner sites to be a feature blogger/writer. If they don't, a lot of blogs will become little more than article directories on a WP platform and we know how the engines respond to the article directories these days.

Exclusivity online is the same as off, it comes at a premium and it sets you apart. It's best to find a handful of well known vehicles you can align yourself with and work together to gain the authority you both desire.

Regarding what you said here: "a more "creative route" but these methods are grey and burgeoning on black hat methods"

Can you tell me what you mean by "creative route"? My first reaction was to disagree but then I thought, I better ask what that means first!

December 15, 2012 - 4:37pm

People will wake up to the fact that google is a global taxing authority, that they have turned the "internet" into a pay to play proposition.

Search related industry mouthpieces (liars) such as webmaster world, Danny Sullivan, Webpronews and others who perpetuate myths about google will be outed as enemies of the webmaster and scorned, chided and relegated to laughingstock status.

A hard hitting revolt targeting google revenues (adwords) will emerge in an attempt to pin back google. Adwords, google shopping and other revenue sources will come under attack via boycotts, blackouts, organized pause campaigns, a war of sorts on google will breakout as google continues to fail at establishing itself as the internet. Freedom bells will begin to ring.

Yandex, Baidu and others who already operate at scale will move into the English speaking markets, offering much lower visibility costs.

Honest legitimate webmasters and those leaders who function with integrity will begin to take the web back.

December 16, 2012 - 7:10am

...that it is fair to call people liars for consistently supporting a company. And your list there isn't even companies or entities that always support Google. WebmasterWorld has a load of people involved with it & many of them are critical of some of Google's moves. Some of the harshest Google criticisms I have ever read were on WW. WebProNews has covered some of our stories on Google stuff & so has Search Engine Land.

I think there is an idealism to make things better & "like they were in the past" ... but Tim Wu wrote a book called The Master Switch which has highlighted how communication medium after communication medium have been dominated by big business interests. We had it great for a while, but Google is now just another large monolithic corporation that supports other large monolithic corporations.

If Google does fall it won't likely be driven by small independent webmasters banding together, but rather due to Google so overstepping bounds with monetizing the crap out of the search results that searchers leave them for greener pastures. And the problem with organized advertiser boycotts is that there will still be arbitragers who participate & then funnel that traffic through other ad networks. And while people have their campaigns paused the remaining advertisers see far greater profit margins.

I don't see Baidu having any chance of success in the US or Europe (due to cultural issues). Yandex may well compete in the US, but they would likely need a separate brand to really compete (which is perhaps reflected in their investment into Blekko).

December 16, 2012 - 7:50pm

Will Google ever figure out a way to include retweets, tweets, mentions , etc. into its algorithim? With G+ staying stagnant at best I'm curious if they'll figure out a way to legitimize high value tweets into search results. Any thoughts? Thanks!

December 17, 2012 - 11:11am

...want to put serious weight on a centralized 3rd party signal UNLESS they also owned that 3rd party. Once they own that 3rd party, they are certainly willing to put weight on it. Look at how well YouTube ranks in Google & how Google counts YouTube ad views as organic views in their video ranking algorithms.

December 17, 2012 - 11:40am

I totally agree with most of you and I also think that in 2013 link building strategies will be totally revolutionized: I hope that concrete branding strategies will be (really) more useful than just the usual comment spam.

December 25, 2012 - 12:14pm

Many small businesses find it impossible to compete for Google local results. The cost of owning and maintaining a website is just too expensive. So in some areas what we will see is like a small local portal. Someone in a small town will establish a website for the town. It will have the Little League schedule, other local content items, and the plumbers will have a page, electricians will each have their own page in all the small business people will have one or two pages on this mayberry.org The cost will be shared, Google will give a good rankings because it has many local links, and has content that is changing and relevant to the community. So the cost of this website will be spread, over a number of people. Does this sound like the old Yellow Pages? In larger cities this will be a regional portal. Northern suburbs, Western suburbs, inner-city, these type of geographical portals will make it possible for small business to compete.

Remember who it was that predicted this.

December 26, 2012 - 4:49am

...local offline portals can also saturate their offline marketplace too & drive loads of usage data.

As the media creates more and more content about people faking reviews on Yelp or Amazon or other larger sites there will certainly be more weight by some put back on these localized sites.

The tricky part for local businesses is that as some of these local portals become more influential they will ratchet up costs & become every bit as expensive as Google is.

January 16, 2013 - 7:10pm

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I wrote for spanish people in my blog about the crystal ball. The article is http://seo-posicionamiento-web.com/el-estudio-de-mercado-y-el-posicionam... in it I talk about the importance of the market research, and your information it's totaly complementary to it. I will share it with my followers.

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