The end of the year is coming, and with it the time of looking back at what happened in 2013 and start trying to guess what 2014 will offer.
Usually this translates into boring lists and weird previews that really don’t understand the real meaning of the events of past.
But if someone like Dr Pete presents his on preview, well… I trust them, because very few persons have such a constant and attentive view of the changes Google commits daily to its own SERPs.
His blog post The Future of SERPs: A Glimpse at Google 2014, therefore should be one of those posts to save for future reference.
The value of someone like Pete Meyers is something rare, because I don’t know many people, who will embark in crazy projects like the Mega-SERP one, that Paul Gailey intelligently converted in an interactive “infographic” using a tool like ThingLink.
Surely many of the “Google in 2014” previews posts will talk about Google Now (but how many have seen this Google Now Complete List, that – for sure – should be updated almost weekly though) and about Hummingbird (but how many of them will have had read my post about it on Moz, and the ones I cited there?).
I will sure talk about them in my own “Search in 2014” post (I won’t resist from writing it!), but my methodology is always based over a deep and time-consuming documentation, which is especially needed for topics like Hummingbird, Semantic SEO, Entity recognition and all the facets of what Google is about, noone of which is simple by nature.
For that reason I paid special attention to these posts:
Concept-Based Web Search by Bill Slawski, which starts from narrating the missing opportunity Microsoft/Bing had with the Probase Knowledge Base project, for then focusing into the idea of Concept-Based Search that was presented in the white papers of Probase and how it is very similar to how Hummingbird works. Word Association (or Coupling, as Google defines them) and concepts/attributes/entities/keywords sorting are the first step to a better identification of the search intent and, therefore, for the delivery of better SERPs.
The greatest importance of Entities is then confirmed in this other post by Bill, How Google Finds “Known For” Terms for Entities, which reminds me of the concept of Prop-Words (proprietary words, aka the words – like Searchlove, Mozcon… – that Brands creates) and the importance of well shaping the relations between a Brand and the people/things/concepts the Brand itself want to be related to.
Is this patent showing the science behind branded keywords? Maybe.
The world of patents, even if we must always remember that a patent filed now maybe will be active only in an unknown future (or maybe never), is interesting because it offers glimpses of how Search, in our case, may be in the next months.
It’s for that reason that patents matter, not for finding secret formulas.
For instance, the fact that Google holds a patent for posting automated responses on Social Networks may sound a not-so-interesting one, but it reflects the high grade of personalization (and intrusiveness) that Google is reaching in the aim of offering us the Star Trek Computer Larry and Page dream every day about.
Another example is this patent recently filed by Apple, which purpose is to automatically organize browsing histories into categories semantically and heuristically determined.
That Apple, whose browser Safari is used daily by millions people through iPhone and iPad, want to understand better how its users are surfing the web have surely interesting perspectives, for instance better ad targeting or better personalization in how apps in the store will be presented to each users or, which could be meant also as a reaction to Google Voice Search, to power Siri suggestions.
For sure it shows how Apple is starting moving again… and I can’t stop thinking that this patent must have some relation with the very recent acquisition of Topsy by Apple itself.
What about Semantic SEO? Some people tend to reduce it to Structured Data, but it is something much more complex that just applying well Schema.org.
Also because that myopic vision of more complex things leads to some of the most under-talked cyclical SERPS’ cleaning Google commits: the rich snippets spam one.
SEO and the complexity of Search Marketing
The few links I shared here above should serve to make understand how SEO is now different from what it is described by supposed experts, and how far is the decline of SEO as Internet Marketing discipline.
Businesses owners should take this bigger complexity into account when they allocate their budget to Organic Search Marketing. Or they should read this post by Edmund Pelgen, which describes very well the nature of all the costs that conform the price of SEO.
Said that, it is also true that us SEOs must still work more and better in marketing ourselves, a giant task somehow, because how businesses – especially small ones – perceive us is still quite negative.
SEO… a “monster with thousand faces”, like the Medusa.
Here some posts (and decks) that will surely help you in your daily life.
The first one is by Michael Cottam, who tries to answer in plain English to a classic question: how to diagnose a traffic drop?.
For some of you the post may sound for newbie, but – let me ask you – how many times we lost precious time because we overlooked some of the basics?
The deck that Alan Bleiweiss presented at Pubcon Vegas 2013 surely digs more deeply into the same topic. Maybe not the sexiest deck of late, but I don’t mind the lack of sexiness when the information shared is of such high level.
Another technical SEO deck presented last month is this one – Welcome to Big Site SEO – that Adam Audette presented in the last SEER Interactive Search Church event.
It is made of 100 slides of what SEO should be and, especially, how it should be done.
Adam obviously touches the infamous (Not Provided) issue. But, after more than a year that we are dealing with it, I now tend to have the same reaction Mike King has: I don’t care.
Mike explains very well the reasons why he doesn’t care about the (Not Provided) in this deck:
The fact that keywords were just a proxy (albeit awesome) between the site and the users, but they weren’t assuring the conversion despite of the traffic they may cause, is a great thought.
If we center our focus and efforts on conversions, then keywords loose great part of their primitive SEO function, and become just one of the factors/tools SEOs must take into consideration, being exact and precise audience targeting the most important job to do in order to obtain the organic traffic that will really convert.
This change in the focus of SEO explains also the increased importance CRO and User Experience have now in our discipline. A post like this quick guide to customer journey mapping by BigDoor, then, is one of those post we should not forget to read.
For you who are more into link building (and link cleaning) I propose three posts that stood out in these last weeks.
The first one is the Moz Whiteboard Friday by Russ Hudgens, who brilliantly explains how to do link reclamation, the second is this very detailed how to speed up backlink analysis post by Matt Fielding, and the third is this deck Wil Reynolds presented at Searchlove London, which presents “legal” ways of buying links:
Talking about “paid links”, I suggest you to read this interesting case history described by Danny Ashton on Econsultancy: How many links does ¢1,318.72 get using Zemanta? If you have not read it already, I strongly suggest you to do it.
I usually don’t share posts or news about tools, but in this Super Search Update edition I have to. First of all because if we us lSEOs love something, that is tools; secondly because there were some very cool tools shared on Twitter during these last weeks.
For instance, did you know that possibly the best Local Search tool, the Local Citation Finder by Whitespark, had a very healthy refresh? Now you know it, and if you are into Local SEO, its new algorithm will surprise you positively.
Instead, if you are into Social Media (or you are an SEO that use a lot Social Media as a promoting channel), then this deck by Jen Lopez of Moz is not to be missed.
The tools she cites in only 34 slides will be able to occupy one day just trying them.
Another great tool for using better Twitter for influencers discovery and outreach platform is Little Bird. You must request access to try it, but it seems having the potential for becoming a very used and talk about tool.
If Social Media, Facebook specifically, is you main personal branding channel, then a tool like the one offered by Wolfram Alpha for performing personal social analytics will be useful. This post by Luigi Centenaro explains well how to use it and why to use it.
Dear readers, to prize your braveness for having reached the end of this long long post, here two last links, which nothing have to do with SEO or Social or whatever related to Internet Marketing disciplines, even though they could be classified as “Great Content”.
The graph here above is the results of visualizing 40,000 student code submissions to the Machine Learning course on Coursera. Here you can see how it was produced.
Another great big data visualization project is Sightmap.com.
When Google wants to do things right, it is pretty damn good at it… and that’s why we still love it.