Panda and Penguin updates took the online world by storm this past year. Google penalized websites that offered no added value to readers. Duplicated and weak content were abolished and eradicated.
Using analytics and high-quality metrics, Google also got rid of spam blogs containing stuffed keyword fields. The focus has shifted to articles with solid, unique content, whether it's video, text, or a static image.
So, if you're a blogger or a promoter of online content, be aware of the changes and proceed accordingly.
What might Google come up with in 2013? Let's find out.
1. Google author rank markup will be crucial.
Google+ has launched the rel="author" markup which enables you to link all the articles you've published. When this snippet of code is added to your blog or other content, your headshot in your Google+ profile will appear alongside the search results. This makes your authority more visible to the public.
Jon Payne, president and founder of Ephricon Web Marketing, explains that Google is looking at trusted links coming from a given author/source. Instead of page rank, author rank will matter more to search engines in the latter half of 2013. So starting now, you should claim authorship of all your online content using this markup.
2. Google will devalue guest posting.
Guest posting works by publishing posts in other blogs, capturing the attention of readers in the same niche, and connecting them to your own content/site. This year, Penguin and Panda reconfigured the algorithmic weights of guest posts.
There are various spam guest posts online. Google has lost its taste for guest posting, seeing these "post exchanges" only as manipulating search results. On the other hand, if you've been submitting unique posts of good quality, you should not be affected.
Be careful linking to sinister guest posts. If a post involves duplicate content and cloaked content such as stuffed and unrelated keywords, you could end up in trouble.
3. Social media sharing will affect results pages.
Google may rely more heavily on social networks to rank content. Closer to home is Google+, through which readers say whether a page or online content is helpful. Posts with more social sharing points (+1's) get ranked higher.
However, there is also rampant manipulation in online sharing. Consider Facebook "likes" and recommendations, as well as Twitter retweets and favorites. There are online services that sell these endorsements, but Google now can track such incidents.
4. Search results can be highly personalized.
Google works to provide relevant search results. What better way to do so than producing personalized search results? Google identifies the user's location and search activities. For instance, location-based search results from Google will prioritize pages from your country or region.
There's a problem, though: Optimizing your meta tags and description with keywords relevant to your business may only be effective locally. (Google can determine your location by your IP address.) If you are targeting clients around the world, specifying businesses in those countries might actually sink your SEO ranking.
5. Technical parameters such as page titles and descriptions will matter more.
The CEO of CompeteLeap, Ryan Draving, says articles containing poor grammar will not register as a hit. Obtusely written titles and descriptions of pages and posts will also be useless. Google ferrets out websites that simply advertise brands without engaging users. Draving adds that Google expects to see your legitimate brand or company name included in the majority of your blog links.
Many of these predictions are based on trends of Google updates in recent months. Keeping up with Google changes in SEO algorithms is challenging, but these forward-looking guidelines should help.
Celina Conner holds a marketing diploma from Martin College Australia
. Follow her on Twitter @connercelina. A version of this article first appeared on Business2Community.com.