Digital Insights

2013 SEO Recap: Changes and Updates


Published: December 24, 2013

In 2013, businesses and Internet marketers became aware that the landscape of search marketing was changing. Not only is SEO changing rapidly, but it’s becoming more “human” in a way, as well. Since 2013 was all about making search engine optimization techniques that place the power in the hands of the consumer, and return more relevant results, the main changes that took place (and will continue to take place) had to do with ensuring that SEO caters more towards people and less towards computers.

Keywords Are Changing

It’s well known that keywords like “dog trainers Los Angeles” are littered across web content because it has long been understood that these keywords cater to people searching for dog training services in Los Angeles. But as web copy writers can attest, finding a natural way to include “dog trainers Los Angeles” in text is really difficult. The reason for that is that people simply don’t talk that way, and, as such, they don’t search that way, either. SEO is catching up to this, and algorithms are now more likely to return “dog trainers in Los Angeles”, which reads much more naturally, than they are the fragmented location keywords of the past.

Voice Search

The keyword shift above is due in part to the way people naturally speak and communicate. But the reason this is becoming so important now is because voice search is available on just about every device, and just about everyone uses it. In the past, people were more prone to shorten their searches because it simply took too long to type out complete sentences or phrases. But now that voice search enables someone to quickly say “find dog groomers in Chicago”, search algorithms now have to crawl for full phrases. Voice search also plays a part in other aspects of search, as well, although the main effect is on keyword structure.

Mobile Matters

Another reason for the algorithmic changes of 2013 is the dramatic rise in mobile search and mobile device usage. While mobile devices have been available for some time, people are now starting to use their mobile devices more and more for searches. This means a couple of things: first, it means that searches need to be geared towards users on mobile, including having more options for local results, and understanding voice search, as mentioned above; secondly, it means that every website has to have a mobile optimized version, which dramatically changes search engine optimization for some website owners, as now two versions of the website must be enabled and kept up. While this is usually more labor-intensive up front, when setting up the mobile site for the first time, updates must be made to both sites – desktop and mobile – and must cater to the way in which mobile users search, shop, and purchase.

Keywords, voice search, and mobile search are the three main areas in which fairly dramatic changes were seen in 2013 in the area of search optimization. Going forward, it is estimated that search engines will begin to cater more towards natural speech and become “humanized”. This change has been ongoing for quite some time, as the keyword stuffed pages of yesteryear that catered mainly to robotic algorithms are dead, and as algorithm creators begin to understand how people search, what they’re looking for, and how to denote preferences in individual users. Relevancy is still king, followed closely by engagement. On-site media, link building, social media involvement, and content marketing are going to be the big ticket SEO items in 2014, building on 2013’s trends, which may actually be beneficial to users and website owners alike.