2012 was a big year in SEO. Google applied a new update – Penguin – as well as continually improving last year’s Panda update, causing many changes to the search results.
Google’s aim was as it always is: deliver the most appropriate and high quality sites to the end user carrying out the search. The updates to Google’s algorithm are a testament to this, as they continue to block out the black hat style of online marketing and reward those sites that work hard to achieve and stick to Google’s guidelines.
Here’s a more detailed look at how SEO has changed over the past year:
The more natural your links look, the better
The over-optimization targeting Penguin update was issued out to find and hurt sites that had been obviously SEO’d. Amongst other things, this meant that sites which had hundreds of links to a select few pages, all of which from the same or similar anchor text, felt a blow to their rankings.
More diverse keywords and anchor text is now much more important. Branded and partial match anchor text should be used more often, along with the traditional and very natural looking “click here” types of phrases.
The same can be said about where the links are coming from. Just simple text links alone aren’t as effective at boosting a sites ranking anymore; whereas links from a more diverse background, such as infographics and videos, have much more of an impact.
Guest blogging is still an important tactic for getting links in SEO, as well as helping boost your reputation, reach and relationships around the web too. It’s a great way of getting noticed by the people reading the posts and building up an authoritative image for yourself, as well as link profile. Guest blogging content should be unique and high of quality, and should go on equally as high quality sites.
And it’s not just about links back to your site
Your keywords should still appear on your webpage, but only so Google gets an idea what that page is about. The more often and less natural the keyword appears, the more likely Google will apply the over optimization penalty too it.
The user experience is ever more important in a site’s ranking, unlike it used to be. A page with long load times and clearly written-for-SEO content isn’t likely to rank – Google is much more focused on sites that offer something to the reader.
Title tags are no longer the place to spam keywords; again it shouldn’t be as SEO focused.
Ironically – it really does come down to your page ranking better the less focused it is on forced SEO and the more it’s useful and relevant to actual humans.
What might happen in 2013?
Honestly, there’s no way of knowing. It’s most likely that Google will continue pushing out updates that enforce their guidelines and steer people away from black hat techniques, but as for what else happens we’ll have to wait and see.
This post was written by Ben Frisby, an Online Marketing Executive at Boom Online Marketing.