What Google Did to SEO in 2012
The past year marked a huge shift for many search engine optimization strategies in terms of how Google has adapted its algorithms and revamped its search engine experience. With several hundred updates performed each year by Google in regards to how it indexes and promotes content, the past twelve months have affected in some way or form every webmaster on the planet in how his or her website is being received by visitors. For those who are curious about all the changes we have seen but have not kept up with every major change, this article will provide a snapshot of those shifts.
April Penguin Release
When a recent Panda update left many webmasters concerned about being over-penalized as a result of those changes, Google released a tweaked system that ultimately became known as Penguin. With its primary goal being to address issues of spam, the update focused on keyword stuffing and pinging backlinks unnecessarily in an attempt to further clean up the experience of searchers. Statistics gathered from Google suggest that this change affected around 3 percent of all search results.
This addition to Google Search has left many webmasters feeling “used” and marginalized. In events where people search for individuals, places or specific events, the Knowledge Graph will appear alongside search results and aggregate information about that particular query. Many have said that this action has led to a large reduction in their web traffic with the primary reason being that those looking for a specific detail about a person or place will be much less likely to go to a website if it is displayed directly in the search results.
Much like Google previously did earlier in 2012, an unusually large amount of emails were sent to millions of webmasters notifying them that there may be unnatural links appearing on their websites. This initially worried some webmasters who were not aware of any existing problems with pinging backlinks, but it later turned out that many of those receiving the emails actually had no problems with their websites. Nevertheless, a decent number of individuals were impacted by having links on their sites that appeared to be suspicious.
In August, Google made the announcement that any sites found violating DMCA regulations would be penalized. We later found out that the primary enforcement mechanism was through the victim of the copyright infringement filing a DMCA takedown request via Google. This demonstrated a renewed commitment by Google to ensure that copyright infringement is dealt with and made irrelevant in its search model.
Major Fall Panda Updates
A large Panda update rolled out in late September that ended up affecting around two percent of search results. With this overlapping the EMD update, many webmasters saw an immediate drop in traffic and are still responding to the changes. Approximately one and a half months later, Google released its next Panda update that affected an additional one percent of search results, creating new problems for many and exacerbating an already destabilized SEO experience for other webmasters who were trying to recover from the previous update.