2012 SEO Industry Review

Personalized Search Goes Hand-in-Hand with Social Media Integrations.

Google has made great strides this year to give the user a greater, more personalized, and much more relevant search experience. The “January 30-Pack” and “Search + Your World” updates revealed an agressive shift towards personalized search, which involves the integration of Google+ services into searchers’ daily routines in order to get them the best possible personalized search results.
Personalized search options.

For the search purist, Google has given the option to turn off personalized search right on the search result page itself, so you can see results either or both ways with just a click.

 

Backlink Profiles Are Under Much Stricter Scrutiny.

Updates to the Google Penguin algorithm have shown that those of us who *may or may not* have paid for a bunch of bulk directory submissions for easy link juice are not practicing real marketing. As a result, Google has decided to penalize websites whose backlink profiles contain a significant portion of low quality and/or unrelated links, which is the opposite of what anyone spamming links actually wants.

 

Local Search Results Show Up in More Searches

Local ResultsGoogle has pushed Local Search Results to the forefront of their efforts in organic search. Using users’ locations via IP Addresses when searching from a computer, or mobile location data for smartphone searchers, Google is providing a much more user-centric service by auto-assuming on many searches that the user is looking for something local. For example, why would it make sense for Google to display a search result for a coffee shop in Seattle when the user searches for “coffee shop” while in Houston, Texas? It wouldn’t. It makes much more sense to display a map with local listings of coffee shops within a few miles of that user’s location, so that the user can go get a cup of coffee.

 

Exact Match Domains Ousted

Ok, so maybe they’re not ousted, but they have definitely been devalued. This update seems like an inevitable update for fairness; as time goes on, the number of available exact match domains for high traffic keywords will shrink, and people buying and selling these domains as real estate will increase. I am glad that this update has occurred, if for no other reason than to officially tell people to stop worrying about the little tricks and just do a good job marketing your website. Long before this update, for example, the people at camelcamelcamel.com were able to rank #1 for “amazon price tracking” with a domain that seems more suited for Egyptian adventure guides or a discount cigarette retailer.

 

Ads Above the Fold

above the foldAnother update for which I am strongly in favor. This update to the Page Layout algorithm targets websites with too many banner ads and PPC ads above the fold, which is the space visible on most users’ screens when they first land on a website, before they scroll down. This update is essentially Google telling everyone that ads are generally not what people come to quality websites for, and as such, websites should not place importance on ads by having an excessive amount above the fold. For me, any ads above the fold is too many.

 

Overall…

I feel this year was a great year for Google and a great year for internet marketing as a whole. Google IS a company looking to make money, but their focus on making websites adhere to natural and user-friendly rules and guidelines makes me feel a whole lot better about the internet. I see great things coming in 2013, where hopefully, more and more companies will practice less ‘gaming’ Google and practice more actual marketing. It’s great to be aware of Google’s guidelines for producing and promoting quality guidelines, but looking for ways to expose flaws in their algorithms is fairly futile. They have HOW MANY PhD’s working for them? And how much money do they have to fund research and data analysis? Give up the game and get to real marketing, and we’ll all have a happy 2013.