Google Algorithm

2012 Year in Review: Important Shifts in Google SEO

The year 2012 has brought about many updates in Google’s SEO. Early 2012 saw the release of Google’s Panda algorithm, which seriously affected the way SEO works. New practices implemented with the release of Panda meant that the way SEO is used has had to change. Here’s an overview of the most influencial changes:


Duplicate Content

One of the adjustments that has had the biggest impact is that Google is now far more strict about duplicate content. Sites showing exact matches of strings of words are now penalized in search results. This has caused web masters to be more concerned with unique content in order for it to rank higher in search results.

In addition to this, Google is now cracking down hard on sites that have high ratios of advertisements to content, or sites that are shallow on content in general. The result of all this is that it is more important than ever that sites have substantial, well-written and unique content.

Answer-Based Search Response

Another change that has had a big effect is the new answer-based search response. In the past, it was common for SEO strategists to use a question to bring traffic. This means that when someone searched a question, a certain site would pop up which would then require you to visit the site to get the answer to your question. Google’s new practice is to have robots search trusted information sites to gain answers to questions, meaning that when a question is searched the answer will immediately come up as a result without having to visit any page other than Google itself to get an answer.

This makes the SEO strategy of baiting users with a question and promised answer if they visit a site completely redundant. It also means that SEO will now rely more heavily on carefully chosen keywords rather than the promise of information.

Visitor Actions

A third big shift in Google’s practices is that it is no longer enough to get a one-stop visit from a page viewer. In the past, search rankings were based purely on the number of visitors per page. Now, other factors are taken into consideration. These include:

  • Did the visitor click once, and then close your page?
  • Did the visitor complete a purchase?
  • Did the visitor revisit your page?

All of these now affect your rankings. This means that it is not enough to simply get a visitor to your page, you must now keep them there, and if possible, make them buy something. This means that good quality page content is of more importance than ever.

Whilst these changes may be beneficial to users by offering  higher quality, better written, and more informative content, for SEO it means a lot more work. Getting well written content is one thing; SEO experts must now aggressively analyse and track trends in order to optimize a site, keep up with news, analyse the effectiveness of keywords, and constantly update information onsite. One can no longer afford to build a website and leave it to stagnate; high search engine ranking is no longer a guarantee that your site will still be there tomorrow. Panda has changed the face of SEO and now having a good SEO strategist is more important than ever.