SEO Buzzwords to Watch for in 2013

With a new year, come the newest brands of snake oil from the digital marketing industry. Like a game of telephone, the info always starts out with good intentions, but after it goes through various interpretations and iterations, it ends up as misinformation and hornswaggle that will likely do more harm than good.

The BUZZWORD: Content curation

Basically, the idea of collecting content: links, videos, images, and articles specific to a topic or theme.

The idea of curating content, as a brand, is going to be big this year – so look for lots of marketing types to start espousing the importance of “curating content”, or “being a curator in your industry/community”.

Why it’s snake oil

In and of itself, content curation is great. Sites like Reddit, news sites like Huffington Post and social sites like Facebook and Google+ are all great at content curation in a big way.

But there’s no real value in small-scale content curation. I don’t want my local plumber to try and list everything to do with plumbing, or become a curator of local content, and I suspect most people are the same.

What you should do instead

Spend less time gathering all the world’s content and more time creating content that’s directly helpful to your visitors.

The BUZZWORD: Semantic markup

The possibilities with rich snippets are exciting, offering lots of new possibilities to entice clickthroughs from SERPs. The big SEO firms are talking about it at length, so it’s only a matter of time before everyone else feels they have to start offering it to stay competitive.

Why it’s snake oil

The conversation will eventually become distorted until the bottom-feeders of the SEO & web industry start suggesting that semantic markup is a ranking signal. Businesses will use semantic markup poorly on their pages, or try extending markup to manipulate content that should never have been marked up in the first place.

What you should do instead

Use semantic markup properly. Go to the Schema page and look at the markup examples. When you develop new content for your users, utilize semantic markup where appropriate to create a better user experience.

The BUZZWORD: Optimize for mobile search

There are more mobile phones on the market sold in the last 12 months than there are desktop computers worldwide. Mobile browsing is poised to overtake desktop browsing by 2014, or so say the conversation on every tech and marketing blog from here to everywhere.

Why it’s snake oil

While it’s true that mobile is revolutionizing the way we interact, mobile search as a percentage of overall search traffic is still quite low, hovering around 11%-15% on a good day (that’s around the same as Yahoo!). The pressure to “go mobile” is real, but the opportunity isn’t.

What you should do instead

DO start a discussion in your organization about mobile. DO look at your stats (if you don’t have any, get some) and get some real data on your percentage of mobile visitors. DO make sure you’re on Yelp and Google Places. Just don’t rush into a mobile site because someone told you you’re “missing out”. You’re really not.

BUZZ = Bait

What people report in blogs and elsewhere isn’t always true anecdotally, more often – this sort of hyperbolic content is posted to illicit a response, like links or social mentions. Trust your own analytics and site performance. Move forward with caution, take your time and make sure you get it right.

Sean Enns

Sean Enns is a marketing professional who started in marketing and sales in 1997. In 2004, he began his career in search engine optimization and corporate communications.

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