In the ever-changing world of SEO, Internet marketing companies must stay on the forefront of coming trends. This past year brought major changes to the ways we perform search engine optimization. With the changes to Google’s algorithm, strategies that successfully ranked client sites high on Google SERPs became obsolete with Google’s Panda and Penguin updates.  Some practices are now even considered “black-hat SEO.” All SEO companies have been required to step up and refine the way they promote their client sites by adopting best practices as defined by Google for search engine optimization.

Even though Google does not officially release information about the algorithm, the company has stated the ultimate goals of the changes. Google seeks to provide reliable, quality results for search users. Providing search users with quality content requires that the algorithms identify, index and prioritize sites with high quality content and other factors deemed important by the search engine giant. After all, Google is king and other search engines tend to follow the lead of the Big Boys.

SEO companies have been consumed with developing new techniques to enhance the quality and appeal of their client sites. Sometimes, SEO professionals may believe that their attempts are similar to shooting at a moving target. However, many SEO authorities are in agreement that certain best practices are essential for successful search engine optimization. Moreover, these best practice will likely preserve client site rankings should Google implement additional updates in 2013.

After conversations with several SEO professionals, a list of 5 tips for implementing competitive SEO in 2013 was compiled. The 5 tips include:

1.) Provide Unique, Quality Content

One of the most important trends for SEO in 2013 is the importance of original, quality content. Google places more emphasis on quality, information-rich, value-added content than ever before. In previous years, SEO used content as a way to dispense keywords. However, SEO pros must now be much more reserved in their use of keywords in content. Too many keywords is viewed by Google as keyword stuffing, and is frowned upon. Keyword stuffing will cost page rank for the site you are attempting to promote. Use keywords, but use them sparingly.

Instead of focusing on content as a keyword delivery mechanism, view content as a way to deliver value to users. Blog posts, articles, videos and other information that does not necessarily promote the brand, but instead provides users who may be interested in the brand with valued information, are of greater value than plugs for a product. Longer content pieces are preferred over shorter ones. For example, a 700 word piece is weighted more heavily than a 400 word piece.

2.) Capitalize on Social Media Marketing and Networking

In the coming year, Google will likely weight client sites’ social media interaction more heavily. As clients develop a social media presence, links to their products and services are shared among social media users. Google algorithms now use social media sharing, “likes” and mentions as a small percentage of the page rank formula. Expect that more weight will be given to sites that successfully market their brand using social media platforms.

Ensure that clients have a presence on Facebook and Twitter. These two platforms are the premiere social media marketing sites. Businesses without a presence on Twitter and Facebook will not capitalize on the marketing potential or the boost in Google page ranking. Additionally, their brand may be perceived as “not current or relevant.” Google + and Pinterest are quickly gaining in popularity, as well. Successful social media marketing involves developing relationships rather than blatantly promoting the brand. If clients manage their own social media presence, ensure that they understand how to best use social media platforms to maximize effective marketing efforts for their brand.

3.) Link with Care

One of the main targets of the Google updates in 2012 was irrelevant backlinks. SEO marketers who purchased backlinks or backlinked with irrelevant sites saw their clients’ sites dramatically lose in ranking. This is because one Google’s goals with the updates was to purify the SERPs of manipulation and provide users with relevant, organic search results. Backlinks are still important in future SEO practices. However, SEO pros must remember to backlink with care. Links to sites that are relevant to the client site are very beneficial in ranking. Remember, the goal of Google is to provide users with natural, organic and useful results.

4.) Provide a Variety of Multi-media

Providing users with a variety of multi-media will keep them engaged on the site longer. Users appreciate having choices in how they obtain their information. For example, an HVAC site may have a blog post about why a programmable thermostat should be installed to conserve energy and provide more control over comfort in the home. The same site may consider a video that demonstrates to the homeowner how to install the programmable thermostat.

However, there are additional benefits to varied multi-media on a site One added benefit is that, for every piece of multi-media, an Alt tag and descriptive text should be defined. Google uses these descriptors in the newer algorithms and when relevant, descriptors or used, the site’s page rank gets a boost.

5.) Ensure Mobile Access

With the growth in popularity of mobile devices over the past few years, experts predict that, very soon, more users will access websites from their mobiles than from desktops. As more and more users access sites from their tablets and smartphones, each client site should be designed to be responsive, or should direct mobile users to a mobile site. If the client site does not display well on a mobile browser, the site will inevitably lose valuable users. Ensure that client sites provide for mobile access.

SEO now and in the future need not be a challenging effort. You can practice SEO that is in accordance with the standards of the major search engines. Simply implementing best practices that are in line with the goals of Google will make sure that your client sites do not suffer if and when Google makes future updates to the algorithm.