One of our primary service offerings is Search Engine Optimization and during the course of 2012 we were incredibly busy due to a number of amazing updates rolled out by Google. In fact, in the past 10 years, it’s quite clear that 2012 saw the most changes implemented by Google and this left many webmasters scrambling.
The most notable changes for 2012 were as follows:
- Penguin Update – Google’s Penguin algorithm update focused on links. Webmasters who had bought links or acquired low quality links were being heavily penalized and losing rank in the search engines. Google followed this with the announcement of their disavow tool, which allows webmasters to “block” external low quality links, thus allowing them to clean up their link profile and then request a search engine reinclusion in order to start ranking again. This update has not, in our opinion, hit everyone just yet, so if you have bought links or are acquiring links from low quality sources, we highly recommend you stop immediately.
- Panda Update – Although Google’s Panda algorithm update was rolled out during 2011, many updates to the algorithm were rolled out in 2012. The focus of Panda was to decrease authority and credibility of websites that contain poor content, have low quality links pointing to them or lack sound technical SEO foundations.
- EMDs – Exact Match Domains started being penalized and brands were (are) being forced to no longer register keyword specific domains. In other words, a domain such as www.seoservices.co.za might be penalized as the registrant may in fact not be a registered entity with the name of SEO Services.
Here are two useful reads:
The most important thing to take away from 2012 is that Google is smart and very few black and grey-hat tactics are going to work. A sound technical foundation, a natural link profile and great content continue to drive high quality optimized websites, which reap the benefits of targeted traffic.
2013 is going to be an interesting year, here are some bits of advice from us:
- As Google evolves, it will become harder to rank by using quick fixes and the most important thing will be diversity – launch SEO campaigns, manage your social media effectively, write excellent copy and provide useful information to your readers.
- Rankings are no longer a Key Performance Indicator, but rather just a consequence of good SEO (Phrased by Trond Lynbø). Focusing on the bottom line (sales/leads) is more important than where a website ranks for a specific keyword or phrase.
- The implementation of schema and usage of authorship will assist in growing trust and authority with Google.
- A fast loading site with a strongly optimized foundation will be crucial.
- Spend time on Google+, it may not be big now, but Google will continue to push it and it will become more and more important for building trust.
- Do not forget mobile!
We also predict that people will start to realise that SEO alone is not enough and that a well-rounded Inbound Marketing strategy will become increasingly important in order to compete.