Here we are, it’s December already. And looking back over the last twelve months, much has changed. Let’s face it, SEO as we know it has taken a major shift. Some might say for the better (and I agree). Some think otherwise. However one fact remains: the events of 2012 have forever altered the way we think about SEO.
While there have an abundance of noteworthy events and changes in the landscape throughout the year, we’ve put together the following noteworthy list of updates, events and ideas that rocked the SEO world in 2012. Enjoy!
Google Penguin Algorithm Update
It seems only fitting we start off the list with what is likely the biggest story of the year in SEO, the Penguin update. It’s safe to say that this “webspam” update to the algorithm is the key contributing factor to a major shift in the way we conduct SEO in the future. While many sites were negatively affected by the algorithm update, for the first time it seems the SEO community as a whole is finally headed in the right direction: creating amazing sites, with amazing content and promoting our work online in a manner worthy of user and search engine alike.
The Death of Link “Building”
Let’s face it, the days of scraping software, spammy blog commenting, blog networks and “article marketing” software are long behind us. While some might say these black hat-ish methods still hold some klout, there is a great amount of evidence that will support site owners steering clear of these methods. Rand Fishkin of SEOmoz would rather us think about backlink analysis as “link earning” as opposed to “building” methods of old, and I agree.
The Rise of Relationship Building
While link building in the classic sense may be dead, a new wave of relationship building methodology has arrived to fill that void. I know, I know, actually building a real online reputation within a community, earning the trust of others, interacting with actual influencers…all seems crazy right? Let’s face it, we’ve all known in the back of our minds that this is how we should conduct ourselves online, especially when promoting a brand anyway right? It’s a shame it took us this long to take action.
Search Engine-Webmaster Communication & Transparency
Along with the recent bombardment of algorithm updates, link warning and the likes, both Google and Bing have made a large effort this year to provide more data and feedback concerning sites and their reputation. Both have revamped their webmaster tool programs, as well as providing more feedback to users. In all, I think this is a win for both sides. By becoming more transparent about what the engines are looking for, site owners have a better idea on how to improve their sites, and the internet becomes a better place all at the same time.
Google Link Dissavow Tool
Piggy backing on the last item, it’s important to mention the Google link disavow tool. And to be fair, Bing was in fact the first to roll out such a tool, however with Google commanding the lion’s share of all search traffic, Google’s tool was undoubtedly more coveted. Personally, I believe the jury is still out on the implications of using such a tool.
Phoenix Rising: Bing’s New Tools
One thing that may have gone unnoticed in the whirlwind that was 2012, is the newly revamped Bing Webmaster Tools. With a former SEO at the helm of its development, the new toolset is chock full of awesome resources for SEOs and webmasters alike, including an updated (albeit “lighter”) version of everyones old favorite tool, Yahoo Site Explorer.
Guest Blogging Takes Center Stage
By far the biggest trend in link building this year has been guest blogging, and it’s not even close. And no, I’m not talking about those god awful “blog networks”. I’m talking about quality content sharing. This year has brought on the emergence of many excellent guest blogging communities as well, including MyGuestBlog and BloggerLinkUp, among others.
This may very well be the biggest change happening to SEO ever. Already the implications of Google Authorship are huge for content marketing, and with the infamous “Author Rank” update looming ahead in 2013, SEOs are preparing. More emphasis than ever is being put on social sharing, community and reputation and less (for once) on keywords and links.
Infographics, Infographics, Infographics
While I’ve heard this term so many times this year it’s made me sick of it, we can’t ignore the fact that “infographic marketing” has taken the SEO and digital marketing world by storm. When done right, these things are truly awesome, however as a long term link building strategy, I see this trend as more of a fad than a staple going forward into 2013 and beyond. Only time will tell.
The Reemergence of Broken Link Building
While this technique is a true classic of the SEO world, in recent years it has lost some of its luster. Why you might ask? Because it actually requires work. However, with the emergence of Google’s band of fuzzy critters, it is making a comeback, and this year we are seeing some truly creative ways of using broken link building to not only build links, but build great relationships online, all while making the web a cleaner place to be.
Data Driven Decision Making
Along with becoming a generally more ethical community this year as a whole, I think we as SEOs are becoming smarter with our decision making. Data analysis tools are becoming better and better as time goes, and the community is using this to our advantage. While in the past, SEOs may have been known as shoot from the hip, gut call kind of marketers, a shift to a more analytical, data crunching persona has occured.
So there we have it, a look back at 2012 and the effects it’s had on the SEO community. If I have left out anything you feel might be important, leave a comment below and let’s discuss it!
I for one am eagerly awaiting what 2013 will have in store, and believe the future is bright for digital marketing as a whole. Cheers.