New SEO Signals For 2013!

2013 SEO Signals

Right now, i see a lot of stuff in the SERPs that does not make sense. It makes me scratch my head.

Like often i see pages with dominant links being beaten by pages with less dominant links.

One explanation is that Google is broken.

Another would be:

Google Is Split Testing SERPS

They are rewarding sites that “perform well” and punishing sites that don’t perform well. Metrics they are using are: Time on site, bounce rate, click through rate, return visitors, brand metrics etc. Basically, they are actively measuring how well a page performs vs the other pages on the first page of the SERPSs. It’s why you can get strong pages outranked by weaker pages, it’s also why a lot of stuff doesn’t “seem to make sense”. Suggestion: Build brands, build sites that people like, get people to spend longer on your pages, get high CTR (Authorship, rich snippets, copywriting titles).

Traffic Is A Ranking Signal

I am starting to believe from the stuff i have seen with my own site, that traffic is a ranking signal. I have found that various pages that i funnel traffic to on my site have started ranking higher, simply because there is more traffic going to these pages than other pages on my site.

It could be a coincidence, it could not be. I have certain pages on my sites ranking for somewhat competitive keywords simply because they have a lot of traffic that flows through my site landing on them (And consequently the visitors using them, are enjoying these pages).

This may sound a bit advanced. But this 100% makes sense to me and explains a lot of anomalies i see in the search results. Because a lot of the stuff i feel “doesn’t deserve to be ranked” based on links and other measurable signals, probably has a lot of traffic going to that page overall.

Anyway, this is a bit out there and just my opinion, albeit incredibly well informed opinion.

Google Is Devaluing SPAM Links

I am pretty sure they are using a lot of the data from the disavow tool to find new link networks and deinxeding them or mass nofollowing the links. What does this mean? It means blog networks work, they will always work, but it also means that Google will continue to deindex and devalue. It also means that if you can create your own sustainable networks (For example, your own PR sites, your own web 2.0 blog network etc), then you can seperate yourself from this. Consequently, this also increases the value of getting links from legit looking sites, or just plain legit sites.

The Rise Of Social Links

If you aren’t doing any social stuff you need to start. I’m currently testing a tool which gets me automatic twitter and Facebook signals. I am starting to see results from this (Been testing it without using links).

Are the signals as strong as links?

No. That being said, if you can get these signals in mass, why would you not? I also think they are less susceptible to devaluation compared to links. I have also found these signals to be more temporary than links. Although, depending on the links you get, links can be temporary signals and then lose value too.

If i was Google i would not be using Facebook and Twitter signals as a large ranking factor. Quite simply because they are external and Google doesnt have 100% control over them. Also sites ranking with a lot of social signals could largely be correlation and not causation.

Having said all of that though, i still want to get social signals and i want to future proof my website.

Authorship Is Becoming VERY Important

You need authorship. You need to building up these profiles and participating on G+. This is future proofing your site. Authorship increases CTR as well, so always good. I am convinced they are looking at authors using signals like: Content rating (Quality of content as the algorithm thinks?), post frequency, author rank (Followers on G+), engagement of pages from that author (Maybe bounce, social signals, time on site etc.. all these COULD be tracked).

The Big Picture

The important thing you need to take from this is that in 2013 and beyond you need a HOLISTIC approach. Meaning, you have to understand all the things that Google are looking for.

You have to hand it to Google though, because the way they are setting up things, they are actually starting to reward sites that perform well.

That being said, what performs well according to an algorithm might be different to the picture of what humans think performs well. Users might like 100 words + a video more than 1500 words. On top of this, pages with a low amount of content + links to other pages, might actually provide good signals (For example high page views, users click around a lot etc.. which is definitely a strong engagement signal). Anyway, that’s something to think about. But in short. 3000 word essays from at PHD level writing, may not be what the audience actually wants.

On top of this, you don’t have to think about everything in terms of ticking boxes. Its not like you get a certain amount of links and the links box is ticked, or certain amount of social signals and user metrics. SEO is ongoing and its always possible to perform better.

Spoon Feeding You

Basically though, what you need to do is make sure you perform well on all of the following:

  • Links: High PR sites, contextual links, lots of root domains. Massive diversity: You need contextual links in posts, articles, wikis, forum sigs, forum posts etc, web 2.0’s. You need social bookmarks, forum profiles, blog comments, blogrolls, footer links, directory links, video links (Youtube). An all encompassing SEO strategy kicks ass in all of these categories. You need natural keyword variation too. You need consistent link velocity. You need links from niche relevant sites. You need links with image anchors.
  • Social signals: Facebook shares, Facebook likes, Twitter signals, re-tweets, G+. Real traffic coming from social networks. Google + authorship, G+ brand activity, Plus ones.
  • Brand signals: URL typins in chrome, repeat visitors, brand searches in Google. Referral traffic from other sites.
  • User signals: High CTR from serps, high time on site, low bounce rate, low bounce back to serp, return visitors, real social shares.

How To Game All Of These

In short, you need to build awesome sites. Don’t get me wrong, i can make a web 2.0 or Youtube video and spam the fuck out of it. It will rank for up to a year. I have sites ranking right now that are just pure spam links pointing at a Youtube video or Blogspot site.

That being said, these will tank eventually. Some stick, some have gone over the last 12 months. I am finishing with this strategy.

Because i am in a very competitive vertical (Gambling), i cannot really go for high quality organic links. Like i can’t get a link from the huffington post or something like that. That being said i can buy expired sites that have these links :)

My strategy is this:

  • Links: Buy high PR domains with good links, re-purpose and build my own network. Build my own web 2.0 network (I use rankwyz for this), then build spam links to this to act as a buffer between my money site and the spam. I use blog networks and 2.0’s. I use SENuke. I use tiers. I buy high PR blog posts on relevant sites. I use some secret sauce (An Xrumer mod that allows me to get contextual links no one else can get, or very few). Basically, i just get all the links, pretty much it :)
  • Social Signals: Enable facebook comments. Run a competition giving away free stuff (They must Facebook like my site, retweet, +1), also susbcribe to a service that gives me automated Facebook and Twitter signals.
  • Brand Signals: Pretty much making a good site that people want to return to. Building a big email list from lightbox pop (and bringing them back to my site by frequent emails out to my list).
  • User signals: Make my site visually appealing. Good navigation. Enticing sidebar links. Lots of internal links to other pages on my site. Related posts. Videos increase time on site. Images help (Plain text = boring). Bounce rate on my Gambling site right now is a site wide 40%, and 4+ minutes on site. From search traffic my site wide bounce rate is 28%. Basically though, i have a passion for building nice things. I like building assets, or resources. I love tweaking my sites to make them perform better with visitors. This kind of passion allows me to create sites that are cultivated with love. My visitors can see that and they just flat out enjoy the experience.

That’s pretty much most of the stuff i am doing at the moment, i am sure i forgot a bit of stuff, so i might update it again when something comes to mind.

Comments + discussion always welcome. I don’t really make any money with this site, so feedback definitely entices me to share more :)

Have a great day folks!

12 Responses to “New SEO Signals For 2013!”
  1. MIchael

    How do they measure time on site and all those engagement stats if you are not running GA on your site?

    • Andy

      I started running GA on my sites that perform very well, i want to spoon feed them this information.

      But in short: They have super cookies that can track everything, whether youre using IE, firefox or chrome.

      Obviously if you are running Chrome they can track all this. Same with GA. They can also get bounce back to serp data easily without anything.

      Google is an information machine. They have all this data. If you think they cant, or don’t use this data you are naive. They may or may not be lying when they say they don’t use data from X service. But they have this data, of course they do. Google has more data on everything than anyone else. So if they dont use X source, they use another. You would be naive if they put out these free services like Analytics and Chrome for the good of mankind. They want the data.

      They are definitely using some form of metrics and traffic data in the rankings. The question is what, but the answer doesnt really matter. You go about supplying them all these metrics in the same way. That is by providing sites that perform very well with users.

      Also FWIW, if you don’t agree with this stuff, it doesnt matter, a lot of this stuff is good for business. Increasing the time your visitor spends on your site is good for obvious reasons. Making your site more clickable and browsable is also very good etc.

  2. dc_publius

    Great summary and the path that I decided to pursue as well.

    The biggest problem I have is creating quality content that resonates with people. I guess one you find a good freelancer for a good price you’re set, but I’m still trying and testing people.

    • Andy

      Definitely.

      I take a bit of a hollistic approach to content too. For my stuff, the content doesn’t have to be long. So i get the writer to add rouughly 300-600 words. They do some research and add the content.

      I make the pages “sexy” by adding cool stuff like images sliders, youtube videos, tabs etc.

      A lot of the themes from theme forest now have shortcodes for stuff like this and make it super easy.

      I also have related posts at the bottom, where they will see related deals and promotions for the most part, related to the page they are on. Which encourages browsing.

      The ironic thing is, its easy for me to grab images/make screenshots, steal a commercial from Youtube or something like that. It increases all of the metrics and i rank just fine. Im sure i have better metrics than all my competitors who are doing longer more boring content.

  3. Mike Buyco

    Hello Andy,

    Pretty good post. So right now the major social signals are Facebook, Tweeter and Google Plus. What do you suggest for getting google plus automatically? I’m not so sure about using fiverr for that. Also what about pinterest? Do they help? They are also good social signals I think.

    Warm regards,
    Mike

    • Andy

      Hey Mike, i can’t really reveal the service i am currently using. Mainly because i am not 100% sure how effective it is yet.

      I haven’t really used Pinterest yet and haven’t gone hardcore in to gaming G+ yet.

      Personally id be a lot more worried about gaming G+ than any of the others. Mainly because they have access to a lot more data.

      Sorry i couldn’t be more help.

  4. chaits

    I say use google’s properties as follows:
    G+ – Have seen this affect my ranking to some extent if not all
    Google Maps
    Blogspot/Blogger – Definately helps boost or catalyze the boost
    YouTube – Amazing marketing and ranking strategy
    Google Groups/Forum Participation
    Google Plus for Authorship – Newly introduced and has become an important ranking factor instantly.

    Make optimal use of these and you are good to go.

  5. Svetto

    The Big G is watching us! I believe that it can see all the data about our sites without using GA.

    By the way here’s a great free site where you can get social signals – youlikehits. It’s not fully automated, but you can get anything – youtube views, likes, facebook likes, g+1, tweets, twitter followers, retweets etc.

    P.S. I’m not an affiliate or something, I’m just using it and I’m having good results.

  6. Kyle

    Hey Andy,

    You’ve got an excellent site going here. It’s nice to see someone cutting out all the BS and talking about what actually works. I honestly can’t even read most posts on SEOmoz anymore…way too much fluff, you know? It’s refreshing to read your posts. I’m big on testing and like your style there too.

    I’m curious about something I haven’t seen you address so far:

    For the high PR domains you’re buying for your private blog network, do you build anchored spam links to those posts/domains? Or do you just rely on the existing juice of the links already pointing at those domains? If you build spam links to them, do you vary your anchor text enough to avoid tripping a filter and devaluing your high PR links in some way?

    Just basically curious about whether you have a second tier on the high PR domains you buy. So it would be: spam > hi PR aged domains > money site? or just high PR > money site?

    Keep up the good work and writing…like I said, you’ve really got a realistic and refreshing take going on here!

    -Kyle

    • Andy

      Very good question man.

      Here is what i am doing:

      – I buy the domains based off the PR and other metrics (DA/PA/linking roots.. high trust sites linking like BBC, Huffington etc).
      – I then add them to my network and post readable spun content to the sites automatically.
      – I then fire pretty much all of my ammo at these sites. This is normally a couple of tiers so, basically stuff like:

      Tier 1

      – Blog networks
      – SEnuke links
      – Web 2.0 blog networks

      Tier 2

      – Public Xrumer profiles.

      Tier 3

      – Indexing tools.

      I already have the infrastructure, IE all the tools, memberships to blog networks, all the spun readable content for link building. So in total i can build several thousand “high pr” tier 1 links within a few hours, then blast the hell out of that with Xrumer profiles. Then use indexing tools to get the XR profiles counted.

      The scary thing about this is, ive started seeing my private blog network sites with spun content outranking my money sites. Kinda hilarious really to have XYZ restaurant ranking for a casino term, over my DA57 money site. The tend to pump up there and drop for some reason, probably due to poor user metrics or low CTR maybe, who knows.. But im sure the links they send at my money site are valuable.

      Anyway, I also use automated social signals now, but thats to my main site, not my private network.

      That’s what im doing right now. Income is creeping up now with my gambling affiliate sites. I think the “infrastructure” im building will allow me to take over any niche i want within gambling and thats the long term plan. Earnings are good and im plowing so much back in to the business. Imagine it wont be long before 20k, 30k hurdles etc.

      Fun and exciting times :)

  7. Drew

    Do you download certain lists for Scrapebox or Xrumer?

    :)

    • Andy

      I’ve given up using scrapebox now, its spammed to death. All the auto approve links have 500-5000 comments on them, plus they are nofollow. There is little value in these links even if its secondary tiers for link building.

      I’m doing a lot of Xrumer stuff and stuff that requires custom mods and coding.

      I can’t do this myself, i am hiring people to do it for me. But yeah, there is lots of value in being able to do things other people can’t. There is little value in getting spammed to death links, that’s for sure. Like most things in life, you get out what you put in.

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