Content – The New Driver for SEO

A repost from iGen Media Web Design & Development.

Google provides billions of its users with the most useful and relevant information available on the web. With the growing number of websites competing for consumer attention, it is important to make sure that your website has the right components to help enhance its visibility on search results of search engines.

Search engines, such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing, rank websites based on how relevant the websites are through a well-hidden algorithm unique for each search engine. Google, the most dominant search engine, regularly changes its ranking algorithm for web pages. These changes are aimed at ensuring that users get the best possible search results.

The “Panda algorithm change” is one of the most recent improvements to Google’s ranking scheme. It is designed to assess millions of websites, and increasing the ranking of high-quality sites while reducing the ranking of low-quality sites on search results. As a result, factors such as PageRank, in which web pages are ranked based on the number of links to it, have been downgraded dramatically, while content-related factors have been bumped up in terms of importance.

But how does one ensure high-quality content?

High-quality website content is created through a combination of different techniques:

  • Always provide relevant, up-to-date, and information-rich content. Strive to provide users with new and original information.

  • Consider the keywords to use on your website, based on search terms that search engine users will more likely use in for a particular subject.

  • Produce a website layout that allows easy navigation of content, and help users quickly identify what the website can do for them.

  • Add video content to your webpage. This will provide users with a better and unique experience to using your website.

  • Show authorship to increase credibility. This is also an effective way to stand out from other related websites.

  • Add blog posts. Active blogging can increase the size of your website and generate new rankings.

Quality content also helps in establishing relationship with users. It can drive people to share content that is of value to them with other people. Poor quality content could immediately turn away potential users who visit the website. At the same time, another benefit of quality content is that it automatically works to build ‘natural’ links or inbound links that site owners did not intentionally create.

Creating blogs, which was mentioned as the last technique, also provide more benefits than meets the eye. If done effectively, blogs bring in new ranking possibilities as the website increases in size, which in turn can also improve traffic to a website. Combine this with blog promotion through social networking sites, and this can increase a website’s visibility even more. It is also important to note that social media shares are a consideration in Google rankings.

Facts and figures show the benefit of creating blogs go beyond rankings. According to Brafton, a News and Content Marketing company, ‘52% of consumers say blogs have impacted purchase decisions, 57% of marketers have acquired new customers via blog, while 42% of consumers look to articles and blogs for information about potential purchases’.

Great content produces a cycle of endless benefits – it generates the traffic a website needs, brings in a higher chance of content sharing through social networking sites and other social media channels, and increases the chance of people linking their website to it, continuing the process of greater traffic and visibility for the website.

Essentially, to have a long-term SEO benefit, one must focus on content. Although incoming links are helpful in increasing visibility of a website, it is more important to create a relationship with users and provide content that will make them stay, use, and share the website. Finally, with the rise of social media, where the possibility of content sharing is greater, having relevant, useful, and high-quality content can be the difference between success and failure in the digital world.

Do you think SEO is good for your business? Then start building content. Talk to us and we will help you catapult your business to the top.

Contact iGenMedia

Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions or concerns you may have regarding this information or our services. We would like to hear from you and would welcome the opportunity to discuss your business specific needs. Please visit our website at iGenMedia.com or call our offices at 630 930 0900.

Posted in SEO

An Event Apart Chicago 2013

A repost from An Event Apart.

An Event Apart Chicago is an intensely educational learning session for passionate practitioners of standards-based web design. If you care about code as well as content, usability as well as design, An Event Apart is the conference you’ve been waiting for. Join us for twelve great speakers and sessions, plus an optional day-long workshop on multi-device web design.

  • Location

    AEA Chicago will be held at the Westin Chicago River North, which has arranged special room rates for An Event Apart attendees.

  • Registration

    General on-site registration for badge pick-up takes place on the afternoon before the first day, and throughout the event.

  • Amenities

    Leave the brown bag at home! Breakfast, a hot lunch and snacks on both days, access to all parties, and a bag of swag are all included with your conference registration.

Monday, August 26

  1. 9:00am-10:00am

    The Ten Commandments of Web Design

    Jeffrey Zeldman, Author, Designing With Web Standards, 3rd Ed.

    Thou shalt ship. Thou shalt iterate. Love thy reader as thyself. Like their biblical predecessors, the ten commandments of modern web design can inspire us to be and do better. Learn to think noncanonically about responsive layouts, to avoid bearing false visual witness, to keep the content holy, and more.

  2. 10:15am-11:15am

    Strong Layout Systems

    Eric Meyer, Author, CSS: The Definitive Guide

    CSS has been the web’s core presentation language for at least a decade, and yet it has always lacked the one thing you would instinctively expect a presentation language to possess: a strong layout system. In its absence, we latched onto floats as would a drowning man and then proceeded to pile on hack after hack after hack. There’s no denying the strategy was effective, but now that era is drawing to a close. With the recent work of the CSS Working Group and multiple vendors, strong layouts are coming to a browser near you; in fact, depending on your specific situation, they may already be here. We’ll explore the fast-emerging CSS enhancements that will one day allow us to sneer at floats the way we sneer at tables today.

  3. 11:30am-12:30pm

    The Nimble Process: Think Before You Design

    Jason Santa Maria, Founder & Principal, Mighty

    Design processes vary from person to person, but there is always room to improve and evolve the way we work. We have many tools to help us achieve polished designs earlier than ever now, but many times knowing which tool or method to choose when can influence the strength of our ideas. Is analog better that digital? At what point do you start working in a browser instead of Photoshop? Learn how getting ideas out quickly through prototyping, sketching, and iteration can help you work and test more quickly, while also working smarter.

  4. 12:30pm-2:00pm

    Lunch 

  5. 2:00pm-3:00pm

    It’s a Write/Read (Mobile) Web

    Luke Wroblewski, CEO & Co-Founder of Input Factory Inc.

    On the surface, content is king online. But digging deeper into the underbelly of the web reveals a complex ecosystem of communication and contribution that shapes the web and how we interact with it. What lessons can we learn from the web’s inner workings as we move to a mobile-driven, multi-device internet? Luke will not only lift the covers on where we need to focus our efforts but share lots of practical advice on how as well.

  6. 3:15pm-4:15pm

    Big Data UX

    Aarron Walter, Director of User Experience, MailChimp

    Big data is helping many companies become smarter. Now it’s empowering UX practitioners to see patterns in mountains of data that would otherwise be underused or overlooked. Customer feedback, trends in support issues, analytics, usability test notes, customer interview transcripts, tweets, blog comments and more can be connected and searched to find serious flaws in designs and inform the next iteration. Research has always been a core part of the UX workflow, but after a study ends, the wisdom gained often slips into obscurity and is never seen again. Aarron will teach you how to centralize all research data and stream new sources into the pool so you can learn more about your audience and make smarter design decisions.

  7. 4:30pm-5:30pm

    The Map & The Territory

    Ethan Marcotte, Author, Responsive Web Design

    When we create for the web, we participate in a kind of public art. We code, we design, we build for an audience, shaping digital experiences that provide a service, or that create joy, or that simply connect readers with words written half a world away. But in this session we’ll revisit what we’ve learned about responsive design, and ensure our content, not just our design, is readily accessible to them wherever and whenever they are. In doing so, we’ll look at some ways in which our audience reshapes the way we think about our medium, and see where they might be leading us—and the web—next.

  8. 7:00pm-???

    Opening Night Party

    Sponsored by: (mt) Media Temple

    Media Temple’s opening night parties for An Event Apart are legendary. Join the speakers and hundreds of fellow attendees for great conversation, lively debate, loud music, hot snacks, and a seemingly endless stream of grown-up beverages.

Tuesday, August 27

  1. 9:00am-10:00am

    The Long Web

    Jeremy Keith, Maker Of Websites

    The pace of change in our industry is relentless. New frameworks, processes, and technologies are popping up daily. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, you are not alone. Let’s take a step back and look at the over-arching trajectory of web design. Instead of focussing all our attention on the real-time web, let’s see which design principles and development approaches have stood the test of the time. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it, but those who can learn from the past will create a future-friendly web.

  2. 10:15am-11:15am

    Delightful Details

    Adrian Holovaty, Co-creator, Django

    As famed Chicago architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe liked to say, “God is in the details.” Thoughtful handling of UI details—from frequently used features of your site to corner cases—is a lovely way to delight your users and practice true web craftsmanship. Learn from dozens of UI examples from a variety of contexts and explore how and why they work. You’ll come away with specific techniques you can use in your own work, along with inspiration to sweat the small stuff.

  3. 11:30am-12:30pm

    The Post-PSD Era

    Brad Frost, Mobile Web Strategist and Front End Designer

    For years, we’ve shown printed-out mockups to the powers that be and confidently proclaimed, “Here’s what your website will look like!” But in this multi-device age, it’s literally impossible to articulate every environment, resolution, user preference, and circumstance in a static environment like Photoshop. The web landscape has changed, and our design process needs to evolve with it. In this tip-packed session, Brad will dive into how adaptive web design is changing every aspect of the design process, why rigid waterfall processes must die, what Post-PSD Era deliverables look like, and how true collaboration is more important than ever.

  4. 12:30pm-2:00pm

    Lunch 

  5. 2:00pm-3:00pm

    The Mobile Content Mandate

    Karen McGrane, Author, Content Strategy for Mobile

    You don’t get to decide which device people use to access your content: they do. By 2015, more people will access the internet via mobile devices than on traditional computers; in the US today, nearly one-third of people who browse the internet on their mobile phone say that’s the only way they go online. It’s time to stop avoiding the issue by saying “no one will ever want to do that on mobile;” chances are, someone already wants to. In this session, Karen will discuss why you need to deliver content wherever your customer wants to consume it, and explain how to get started with your mobile content strategy—defining what you want to publish, what the relationship should be between your mobile and desktop site, and how your editorial workflow and content management tools need to evolve.

  6. 3:15pm-4:15pm

    Content/Communication

    Kristina Halvorson, Author, Content Strategy for the Web

    As web professionals, our jobs require more cross-team collaboration than ever, and that means it’s getting tougher to delineate our disciplines. When was the last time you did “just” design, content, or code? It’s no longer an option to only care about what’s on your plate. Drawing from her experience as a “content therapist,” Kristina will share insights about how curiosity, empathy, and shared ambition will help us all build a better web.

  7. 4:30pm-5:30pm

    It’s a Great Time To Be a UX Designer

    Jared Spool, Founder, User Interface Engineering

    After years of wishing we’d be recognized and appreciated for the value we bring, we designers are now highly sought after. The demand for great design has never been higher! Yet, while we’re presented with more opportunities than ever, we also face increased challenges. Mobile design requires us to rethink how we design for screens and interaction. Agile methodology forces us to critically reevaluate best processes and techniques. Learn how we can deliver world-changing designs while our own world is dramatically shifting under our feet.

Wednesday, August 28

  1. 9:00am-4:00pm

    The Web Everywhere: Multi-Device Web Design

    Luke Wroblewski, CEO & Co-Founder of Input Factory Inc.

    The web no longer starts and ends on our desktop and laptop computers. Today, the tremendous growth of mobile devices is turning more and more people into multi-device and, as a result, cross-device users. Designing for this reality requires new ways of thinking and building for the web.

    Join Luke Wroblewski, author of Mobile First (A Book Apart, 2012), for an up-to-the-minute, in-depth look at today’s multi-device ecosystem. Learn how mobile provides a foundation for this new reality, how to build on this foundation to reach an ever-increasing set of devices, and where the web will take us next.

    Packed with all-new material, this is an absolutely essential workshop for anyone designing digital experiences in today’s rapidly changing multi-device environment.

    This full-day workshop follows An Event Apart Chicago and runs 9:00am-4:00pm on Wednesday, August 28. You can register online and save over $100 when you sign up for both An Event Apart and the workshop.

    Note: The workshop is not a hands-on learning session; 300 or more people typically attend.

The Venue

Westin Chicago River North320 N. Dearborn AvenueChicago, IL 60610

The Westin Chicago River North has arranged special room rates for An Event Apart attendees: just $249/night plus free internet for the duration of your stay. Call (312) 744-1900 and request the “An Event Apart special rate.” Limited rooms are available at this rate, so don’t delay.

The Westin Chicago River North offers refined accommodations and magnificent views of the Chicago River that will leave you feeling rested and recharged. The hotel is nestled in the heart of the business and theatre districts, trendy restaurants, and art galleries. Guests enjoy scenic views and an ideal location just steps from Michigan Avenue and Millennium Park. This AAA Four Diamond Award winning hotel is a completely smoke-free environment and offers delicious restaurants and a gym. Best of all, it’s the site of the conference. You can walk out of your room and into the show!

Google Will Soon Launch Google Web Designer, A Free HTML5 Development Tool For Creating Web Apps, Sites And Ads

A repost from Tech Crunch.

Google will soon launch Google Web Designer, an HTML5 development tool for “creative professionals.” The service, Google says, will launch within “the coming months” and is meant to “empower creative professionals to create cutting-edge advertising as well as engaging web content like sites and applications – for free.”

The company shared this news in a sidenote in a blog post about its DoubleClick advertising platform this morning. We reached out to Google to find out more about this project and a company spokesperson told me that Web Designer will indeed be a stand-alone product that’ll be aimed at creative agencies and designers.

This description obviously doesn’t give us much to go on, but Google notes that the tool will be integrated with DoubleClick Studio and AdMob. Google is clearly going after the “native” ads market, as well (think online brand experiences and sponsored stories), so the connection between Web Designer and DoubleClick makes sense. But it sounds like this tool will be quite a bit more capable and will go quite a bit beyond ads, though Google told me that it’s focus will be on creative advertising creatives.

Google’s only service for creating websites right now is Google Sites, which allows you to easily create basic sites and wikis from pre-built templates. That product has lingered without any meaningful updates for a while now, so maybe Web Designer will be a more sophisticated replacement for Sites’ editor. UpdateJust to clarify: Web Designer is clearly not meant to be a website building service for now, but it’s easy to envision Google using at least parts of this product in some of its other apps, too.

It’ll be interesting to see how competitive Web Designer will be with tools like Squarespace, Weebly or Wix’s HTML5 website builder. When it comes to native formats for ads, the standard is now something more akin to the New York Time’s Snow Fall than just a basic site, so Google will have to step up its game if it wants to make it easy for marketers to create these kind of experiences.

 

Google Penguin 2013: How to Evolve Link Building into Real SEO

A repost from Search Engine Watch.

Google has just rolled out Penguin 2.0, a large algorithmic update promising to go “deeper” than the 2012 Penguin release, which put a hurting on websites with number of manipulative links in their profile.

This prospect creates fear for many small businesses who depend on search engine optimization (SEO) for their livelihoods. But there is also a sense of confusion as the line often shifts and the message from Google contradictory.

Sorting out Panda, Penguin, and Manual Actions

Google’s Panda update is a different release than Penguin. Panda is geared toward duplicative, thin, or spun content on websites.

Google’s Distinguished Engineer Matt Cutts recently stated that Google is actually pulling back on Panda because of too many false positives. This is good for news aggregators and other sites that reuse content appropriately and have been hit hard by the Panda filter.

Penguin is much harder to understand, focusing on backlink patterns, anchor text, and manipulative linking tactics that provide little value to end users. To make matters worse, Google likes to take large manual actions just prior to major algorithm updates. In 2012 we saw the removal of BuildMyRank from the index just prior to Penguin.

Earlier this year we saw major manual action taken against advertorials. Last week Google announced the removal of thousands of link selling websites and we are hearing of a manual spam penalty against Sprint this week.

The proximity of these manual actions with major algorithmic updates is brilliant PR as it associates them together in our memories, discussions and debates – but they are very different things.

Is SEO Enough?

As small business owners move through the here we go again feelings to actually decide what to do in response to Penguin 2013, sorting out the truth is paramount. Google is clearly beating the familiar drum with the same core messages:

  1. Build a great website.
  2. Make awesome content with high end-user value.
  3. Visitors will magically appear.

But the reality is that visitors don’t magically come, at least on any reasonable scale, without organized promotional activities. Many excellent websites have died a slow death due to lack of promotion. And this is where the contradictions emerge in SEO, which has demonstrated extremely high ROI compared to other marketing channels.

Long Live Online Marketing

While discussed many times, webmasters still struggle with shifting their link building activities to real SEO strategy. They fail to see that SEO in 2013 is now integral to online marketing and no longer a standalone activity.

Whereas SEO used to be about tuning a website for optimal consumption by spiders, today’s SEO is about earning recognition, social spread, and backlinks through excellent content marketing. This means SEO is now ongoing, integrated, and strategic – whereas it used to be one-time, isolated, and technical.

Real SEO

Real SEO is the prescription for those who fear Penguin 2013. Here are practical activities that need to be done every month to achieve real SEO:

  • Continually Identify Audience Demand: Your SEO won’t be successful if it isn’t useful. To serve a need, webmasters must understand what the audience is seeking. Keyword research, as always, is critical. While doing keyword research don’t over-emphasize head terms or money keywords. Focusing on long-tail keywords renders more immediate results, increases the breadth of a website (remember Panda), and builds authority that will ultimately help the head term.
  • Content marketing: In my opinion, content marketing is the new link building. Earn recognition, social spread, and backlinks by giving away valuable information for free. Excellent content has high audience value and points readers to other resources via cocitation. Video is an excellent form of content marketing that is still under-utilized by small businesses. And newsjacking is an emerging form of content marketing that specifically targets hot news topics for viral spread.
  • Work on brand: There is increasing evidence that branded mentions are an important legitimacy signal to Google. Promoting the brand has traditional marketing benefits and also now helps SEO. But be careful not to turn SEO content marketing into an endorsement, as this crosses the line. Find traditional marketing tactics, such as press releases, to drive branding while announcing news-worthy events.
  • Syndicate: The “build it and they will come” philosophy doesn’t work on an Internet with more than 500 million active domain names. This is why even excellent content needs to be promoted. Email marketing, social media, community engagement in forums, and guest blog posting are efficient mechanisms for spreading the word about engaging content. Interviews, PPC ads, and local event sponsorship will also get your name and content noticed. Any activity that broadcasts your message, your brand, and builds real community discussion will ultimately support SEO, and should be considered part of the SEO process.

Conclusions

The arrival of Penguin 2013 has many small business owners scared and confused. But SEO remains one of the best online marketing channels.

Real SEO is the path forward for those who wish to make a long-term investment in online marketing. Forward-looking webmasters can prepare their sites for Penguin 2014, 2015, and beyond with well-researched, end-user focused content marketing that provides strong audience value.

Using modern syndication tactics, they can broadcast their message, gain audience mind-share and earn recognition. By spreading valuable content, small business can build their brands and earn bulletproof backlinks.

Posted in SEO

Colour trends in web design for 2013

A repost from Creative Bloq.

You could say that 2013 is a renaissance year when it comes to colour trends on the web. We’re seeing a revival of the basic colour palette, but with a twist.

Pantone Color Institute kicked things off by naming emerald green as its official 2013 colour. Fashion, interior design, graphic design and other industries followed suit by using the basic colour wheel as inspiration for 2013 colour trends.

Here I’ll look at five of the biggest colour trends in web design. You don’t have to follow them, but it’s important to know what they are…

01. Bright hues inspired by nature

Onehub has taken Pantone’s lead with great use of emerald green

Known as a rejuvenation colour, basic green provides a sense of clarity to websites. Add the Pantone-promoted emerald green twist and it brings another dimension and liveliness to the design.

As seen above, cloud-based file sharing service Onehub has made good use of emerald green, which pairs nicely with other basic colours, making the white and black sections pop.

The gradient tones of emerald green also make viewing easy on the eyes and prevent eye fatigue. Similar web designs are using other bright nature colours, including blue and yellow.

02. Dark colour tones with a touch of edginess

Twelve Restaurant & Lounge Bar’s website colour scheme screams contemporary

Typically, dark colours are reserved as accent colours in web design because it’s tough to read something on a dark background. But in 2013, dark colours like black, dark brown, dark grey and dark blue are being used front and centre to draw attention to the content. While darker colours are often used to evoke luxury or sophistication, this 2013 website colour trend adds a bit of edginess using various design techniques.

Twelve Restaurant & Lounge Bar, shown above, uses the angled juxtaposition of the background image to establish an edgy vibe, while the neon colours in the image in the forefront enhances the look by pairing bright colours with a dark colour over a dark background. The technique sounds like it goes against all the rules of web design, yet it works in setting a hip and edgy tone for the website.

03. Bright pastels paired with grey hues

PayPal’s website pairs a greyscale background with soft pastels

Web designers are giving basic grey a facelift in 2013, adding a twist of pastel to make websites more interesting and inviting to read. Greys accented with bright pastel colours provide great contrast and give a modern, practical look to a site.

In PayPal’s web design, for example, the greyscale background paired with soft pastels is used to draw attention to key elements and establishes a hierarchy between the design and content. A darker, contrasting grey is used for the main site navigation.

04. Monochromatic colours and tones

Zag Studio uses a different singular colour in each panel of its home page slideshow

Keeping it simple is a major part of the 2013 renaissance of web design colour trends. The website design industry is redefining minimalism by choosing one single colour as its design focus. The monochromatic trend creatively uses various shades, tints and tones of one single colour to create an intriguing web design.

Zag Studio, a leading expert in Microsoft development technologies,
uses a different singular colour in each panel of its homepage slideshow and uses lighter or darker tones of the colour to accent text and other design elements. The monochromatic design brings a clean, vibrant and airy feel to the site.

05. Simplistic colour blocking

Mostlyserious uses geometric shapes as its colour blocking design to categorize sections of the website

Although website designers have been using the blocking content technique for many years, 2013 has seen the method carried through to block colour designs. The key is clean and simple usage so as not to create a dizzying array of colour schemes. The blocks can be any shape and any element, from images to shapes to text floating in a solid colour background.

On their homepage (shown above), interactive app creators Mostlyserious use geometric shapes as its colour blocking design to categorize sections of their website and encourage interaction among each blocked element.

SEO in 2013: 7 Surprisingly Simple Factors That Will Take The Lead

A repost from Search Engine Journal.

This time of year is suitable for retrospection. We’re able to take a good look at how things played out in 2012, and get an idea of the trends and patterns that are most likely to dominate the coming year.

2012 was rough for SEO experts due to radical changes in Google’s algorithms, including many updates to Panda, as well as the the introduction of Penguin. While content quality and inbound links continue to play major roles in organic rankings, let’s take a look at the other factors that will govern SEO in 2013.

2012: The Year of Pandas and Penguins, Creating Value, and the Emergence of Guest Posting

Before we dive into predictions for SEO next year, let’s recap the major patterns of 2012.

  • Though originally released in 2011, Google’s Panda algorithm went through multiple updates that kicked many low-quality websites out of the SERPs; tens of thousands of websites were affected.
  • Google released its Penguin algorithm in April 2012, which changed the face of the industry, forcing many SEOs to adapt their tactics and strategies. Many companies that had engaged in Penguin-unfriendly SEO tactics were dropped from the search results due to Penguin, and companies that continued to engage in these tactics saw their rankings disappear, often without any warning.
  • Google got much smarter, to the extent that it appears to be able to distinguish between content that adds real value and content that has been posted solely for SEO purposes. “Value” became an important subconscious factor — one that will dictate how Google perceives websites.
  • Guest blogging emerged to become a very popular method of building credible links.Tactics and methods for acquiring guest blog links surfaced across the industry.
  • Negative SEO became a hot topic of debate, to the extent that Google responded by launching the Disavow Link tool, which empowers webmasters to specify backlinks that should be discarded or discounted by Google when it evaluates links to their website.
  • Of the exploited SEO methods that were ousted and devalued, anchor text over-use was the most prominent. Remnants of websites that used “paid links” were kicked out too.

2013: The 7 Factors That Will Determine Your Survival in SEO

If it were up to me, I’d simply focus on creating value for the reader — because ultimately, that should be the goal of any website. However, increasing competition may require you to employ strategic practices in a pragmatic approach to assist your rise to the top of the SERPs. Here are the tactics and strategies that will dominate the SEO landscape in 2013.

1. Quality of Content

Ultimately, it all comes down to the quality and value of the content on your website. Google has been very explicit this year about good-quality content, and we expect this trend to carry over into next year in full force. By content quality, the metrics are:

  • uniqueness of the content/topic
  • resourcefulness and information richness (i.e., no thin content)

2. Content Marketing

Content marketing is being touted as the next big thing. Experts have called it the new SEO. To an extent, this is true. As a general rule, content marketing attracts backlinks, and adds value for the user/reader. It is more challenging, because you have to generate more content of high quality, circulate it, and make sure your content gets published widely with ample social signals to generate substantial SEO value.

Since Google takes valuable content seriously, a solid content marketing strategy will be the key to climbing to the next level in SEO.

3. AuthorRank

AuthorRank has emerged as a vital metric in deciding SERPs, although studies about its value are still ongoing. One thing that we can be sure of in 2013 is that AuthorRank will add credibility and value to your website, and it will be vitally important for every webmaster.

4. Social Signals

After much debate and discussion, social signals have largely been accepted as valid ranking factors. In the next year (and probably in the years to follow), social signals will play a growing role. Shares, retweets, mentions, and perhaps most importantly, +1s are trophies every webmaster should be amassing.

5. Mobile/Responsive Design

Although this does not directly influence the ranking of a page, it will play a role in your fortunes. Google was one of the first companies to become aware of this trend in web browsing due to the growing presence of tablets and smartphones. Responsive design may not be an explicit SEO factor, but in terms of usability, it is likely to be a highly influential element to consider in 2013.

6. Localization

Google’s growing preference for local websites and information has become evident in many searches. It’s safe to assume 2013 we’ll witness an increase in this preference. Websites that apply local SEO will enjoy higher rankings and visibility. This includes map data, listings, citations, and reviews on local information sites.

7. Media

Images and videos have become staples on the Internet. We’ve consistently seen that relevant results that include videos get ranked higher than text-only content. The further emergence of media content is an important development you can expect next year. It’s becoming essential to add relevant non-textual media to text content, because this adds value and makes the content more resourceful.

The above are some of the major trends or patterns that I believe will play a key role in SEO for 2013. What other factors do you think may influence SEO?

Posted in SEO

Keep an Eye on These Web Design Trends in 2013

A repost from Mashable.

As we roll into 2013, our world of web design and development is changing more rapidly than ever before.

For web creators everywhere, living and working on the bleeding edge of design innovation is as exciting as ever.

To kick off the new year, now seems like a good time to highlight the important trends and developments in the world of design and dev during 2013. Without further ado, here’s what you need to know about web design for the year to come.

The Craft

Let’s start with trends in the way we will create websites.

Responsive Design: It’s Not Just For Handhelds Anymore

Responsive Design

Responsive web design has been around for several years now, but it really came alive in 2012, and we’ve seen more widespread adoption of this adaptive, fluid approach to designing web layouts.

Since you’re on the site, you may have noticed that Mashable recently launched a major website redesign, which takes full advantage of responsive design. Several other popular news media companies, including TIME and USA Today, are also taking advantage of the feature, which helps to neatly distribute content across a wide variety of devices, from desktop computer to smartphone and everything in beween.

It’s not just news outlets that have taken a responsive approach. In the ever-popular WordPress market, nearly all newly released themes come fully mobile-optimized, bearing the mark “responsive” on their download pages.

In 2013, it’s obvious that we’ll continue to see responsive web design flourish. It won’t only be about folding down the design from desktop to tablet to handheld. We will also need to plan for how websites will expand upward, adapting to larger and different types of displays.

Whether or not Apple actually releases a TV set in 2013, you can bet large-screen web browsing will become a more popular activity in the living room and corporate boardroom, on the digital menuboard in the local cafe and elsewhere. Websites must be ready when they’re called upon in these large-format scenerios.

And don’t forget about advancements to web-enabled dashboards in cars. We’ve heard about the possibility of Siri coming to an automobile near you, as well as Windows 8 embedded in cars. Websites and apps may soon need to be optimized for these formats, too.

Make Way For the Retina Display

Retina Display

You must be living under a rock if you haven’t heard of “retina display” over the past couple of years. Apple coined the term for the latest generation of displays that boast up to four times the pixel density of non-retina displays.

For web developers, retina displays cause issues with some image-heavy websites, where some images can appear “grainy.”

To address this problem, web designers and developers everywhere snapped into action and served up a variety of solutions. These include retina.js, along with HTML/CSS and pixel query solutions, as detailed in the article “Towards a Retina Web.”

Twitter Bootstrap Is the Definitive Framework

Twitter Bootstrap

There have been all sorts of frameworks for web creation, with varying degrees of popularity over the years. But no framework ever gained as much traction as Twitter Bootstrap has over last year or two.

Twitter Bootstrap began as a barebones set of UI elements to help speed up the process of creating web applications. It’s no longer just for creating a UI for your next Rails app, however, as Bootstrap has since grown into a full-fledged web-creation framework, complete with responsive layouts, interactive JavaScript plugins, customizable components and more.

Now websites of all shapes and sizes are using Twitter Bootstrap to create beautiful, responsive layouts and experiences. See the Built With Bootstrap gallery to browse examples.

In 2013, Twitter Bootstrap will continue to spread and gain widespread useage among web creators of all types. There are already quite a few resources springing up to support those creating with Twitter Bootstrap.

Some of those resources include:

  • Customizable Components for Twitter Bootstrap
  • Boottheme – A Twitter Bootstrap Theme Generator
  • Bootstrap Components for Fireworks
  • Shoestrap, One of Many Twitter Bootstrap WordPress Themes
  • An Exhaustive List of More Than 235 Twitter Bootstrap Resources

The Traffic

We can’t talk about web trends without covering the thing that makes web go: traffic.

Google Changes Spur the Rise of Content Marketing

In 2012, there were a few major shakeups to the Google search algorhythm, known as the Penguin and Panda updates. In a nutshell, these changes caused a major crackdown on the borderline “gray-hat” tactics that SEOs have relied on for years to rank websites on the front page of Google.

Google

That basically means low-quality link building tactics and other ploys for rapidly propelling a website’s rank are being penalized within the algorithm. What is the message Google is trying to convey?

Quality content matters.

“Content is king” has been the guiding principal of bloggers for years. But in 2013 and beyond, it’s not only a guideline; it’s essential for a website’s or business’ survival on the web.

This has led to a renewed focus on content marketing from businesses of all shapes and sizes. Businesses can no longer rely on quick, on-page optimization of their websites. In order to build rank in Google and build trust with customers, one must produce valuable, useful, helpful and share-worthy content that exudes expertise.

Every business that wants to stay relevant on the web needs to invest in content marketing — including blogging, podcasting, e-book writing, email marketing.

The Industry

The state of doing business and making a living as a web designer seems to be undergoing a shift toward freelance.

The Freelance Economy

As the world slowly begins to recover from the financial crisis of the past few years, one thing has become very clear: The way we work is changing forever.

Freelancing used to be relevant only on the fringes of the global workforce. The combination of easy remote collaboration technologies (Skype, Google+, GoToMeeting, etc.) and the need for companies to do more with less has changed the nature of freelancing. More and more people are moving from full-time employment at a company to a solo career as a freelancer.

In few, if any, industries is this shift more prevalent than in web design and development.

During 2013, even more designers and developers will take the leap and go freelance. What does this mean for our craft?

We’ll see more interest in becoming multi-disciplinary in our trade. While I personally don’t recommend trying to do everything yourself, I do think it’s important have a solid understanding of a few key areas of website design.

For example, graphic designers must have a foundation in HTML and CSS. They must also have a grasp for web copywriting (I personally prefer to write copy and design a layout simultaneously). Developers, you need to know the basics of layout, user experience and design in order to work effectively. This mixing and matching of disciplines will continue in 2013 and beyond.

Web Design and Development Education

This is the one area I’m most excited about for the years ahead.

For too long, higher education programs failed to provide a solid foundation for the professional web design career field. All of the coursework seemed to be five or more years behind the industry.

Today, we’re seeing new ways for newbies and experienced professionals alike to rapidly advance their skills and gear up for professional-level work as web designers.

Treehouse

Treehouse is one of these online training services. It aims is to teach anyone how to become a professional web designer or app developer. It offers high quality video courses, complete with projects, challenges and game mechanics to advance through the ranks at your own pace.

The Starter League is another web design training program, but it uses a different model. Students must go through an in-person, 10-week session at the company’s headquarters in Chicago to learn web development, HTML/CSS, user experience design and visual design.

Starter League

What do you think? Where do you see web design and development going in 2013? Share with us in the comments.