Rick Middleton

2012 – the year Google changed SEO forever

2012 has been massive for Search Engine Optimisation, in terms of what it now means to be an SEO consultant, how an SEO specialist approaches it and the future of the the field within Internet Marketing.


How Google evolved in 2012

In 2012 Google vowed to stop the spammers (the black hat SEO’s) from manipulating its search results meaning only the hard-working ethical SEO consultants were able to rank well. It was a huge year not only changing the way it works but also the look and the addition of new features.

Google+ and Authorship


Google Plus started to become important to SEO’s everywhere, Although still to this day not really having a large effect on social media users themselves, it gives websites the ability to rank their website through branding, with the ability to be able to connect your website to Google plus and prove you are the author, with the rising popularity of social media people are more likely to trust the website when theres a face to put to it.

The other thing Google did was to allow the author to show up in the SERP, which can be a huge benefit as it highlights your site amongst others to increase click through rates.

Customisation, Personalisation and Varied search results

Google in 2012 moved for more personalised results, showing pages the user has previously visited, gaining knowledge from their social media profiles, what they have purchased, very much like they have always their ads.

They also very much changed the way their search engine works, making it much like a Wikipedia resource of information. Now when you search for a question, you are instantly greeted with an answer rather than a website or if you search for a film, you get the cast, the information straight on the page.


The above is an example of the SERP for Taken, showing the complete details, cast and related searches.

Another thing Google did was to trim down the results, including more video, news and local results but showing only 7 results per page in some cases. Since most of the click through rates usually only come from the first page this effected many websites worldwide.

The Penguin Update

emperor-penguin-ice-plummagThe biggest change in SEO came in April 24, 2012 when Google unleashed its webspam update which they dubbed Penguin which impacted an estimated 3.1% of English search queries.

Websites that over optimised were punished, links from low quality sites were effected meaning SEO’s all over the world that simply submitted their sites to low quality directories were sent from the first page to the tenth page almost overnight.

Over optimised anchor text in links was also noticed and was followed shortly by an unnatural links warning in July 19, 2012 picking up on low quality links including unrelated blog comments and link farms.

Along with the penguin update, various panda updates were also rolled out to keep away web spammers from ranking, overall the 2012 updates helped to make SEO not about words on a page but about useful and relative content from a good source.

Exact Match Domains

Before 2012 sites could rank quite easily by just having keyword within their domain – people would just set-up domain names such as web-design-{location}.co.uk to rank easily, Google picked up on this and understood that these websites are not necessarily the most useful ones and released an update in September 2012 that penalised sites with exact match domains that had little or no useful content or relativeness.

On December 13th 2012 SEO Moz’s own Dr. Pete claimed their was also a drop on Partical match domain names, These updates effected many domain registers claiming that the demand for keyword rich domain names had dropped dramatically, the sale of many of these old domain names, things like how-to-get-{keyword}-{keyword}.com being sold on digital point for next to nothing what they were once worth.


Forget the term ‘keywords‘, Google doesn’t just look for how many times you’ve used the same word but whether or not your content is written naturally with further insights and references into what the content is related to, If we look at the power of Wikipedia arguably one of the most useful and well ranked websites on the internet today you see hundreds of references and related material relating to the subject, this is what Google likes its users to see, the answer to everything they are searching for and not just the word they are searching for!

The future of Search Engine Optimisation

Content is becoming key in bringing in business to your website, if the content on your website is useful, your website will rank and people will share it. Provide something unique and you are the place people go to with the question they need answering and in turn making your business more successful both within Google’s search results and outside of it, Happy New Year from Specialist SEO!

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