The One Constant in Search is Change
Those of us within the Internet marketing and more precisely, the SEO community, have seen many significant Google updates implemented for its search algorithm, particularly in 2012. These algorithm changes affected many websites and online businesses, some with traumatic outcomes.
The following awesome infographic from e2m Solutions highlights 27 significant Google Search Algorithm changes that took place in 2012.
Infographic by E2MSolutions.com, Most Important Google Search Algorithm Updates in 2012
Google Search, Plus Your World
Perhaps the largest Google update in terms of impact to the broadest range of Google search results was dubbed Google Search, Plus Your World. This Google search update is designed to personalize the search results for Google+ users who also search through Google Search. In these cases, the search results are personalized based on a Google search users Google+ Circles ( or in layman’s terms, connections).
As some of you may recall, Google+ was launched in 2011 to provide Google with social graph information through their own social network. This was particularly necessary when access to the Facebook social graphs by Google was discontinued.
Another critical driver for Google starting Google+ was the loss of real-time Twitter data that was no longer available to Google in the summer of 2011. On the other hand, Microsoft Bing was using Facebook and Twitter user data to personalize Bing search results with data that Google no longer had access to.
In response to this competitive disadvantage, Google’s strategic plan was to launch their own social network, Google+ with the stated goal of enhancing the Google search results and relevancy through offering personalization.
Why smart Internet marketers should care about Google+
Another key influence of Google+ on the Google search results is a factor called authorship. The concept of authorship is the Google algorithm’s assessment of how authoritative an individual is relative to a particular topic, based on, among other things, who they’re connected to on Google+.
Since Google will obtain social signals from Google+ to not only personalize the Google search results, but also to determine the authority of a given web page based on the author and their connections on Google+.
Panda and Penguin Dominate Google Algorithm Updates in 2012
In a world with such frequent Google algorithm updates, the two most significant ongoing updates have been dubbed Panda and Penguin. It’s interesting that Google would select such innocuous animals to represent what the industry views to be such high impact updates.
The Google Panda Algorithm Update
The focus of the Google Panda update, which was introduced on January 18, 2012, was the result of a Google programmer of having found a way to update the Google search algorithm to be able to efficiently and effectively identify low quality web pages and move those pages further down in the search results, with the ultimate goal to surface the highest quality content at or near the top.
Of course many Internet marketers cried foul and complained stating that Google was once again favoring established brands over smaller businesses. I think that those critics have to be careful to validate cause-and-effect versus observing a correlation.
The Google Penguin Algorithm Update
The Google Penguin update, which was implemented beginning April 24, 2012, is focused primarily on low-quality links and penalizing sites for over optimization. Penguin would look for things like keyword stuffing and exact match keywords as anchor text. The Penguin update affected over 3% of English language search queries. Compare this to Panda 3.4, a major Google update that preceded Penguin, which affected roughly 1.6% of English-speaking queries on Google.
The Key Take Away for Internet Marketers
Google dominates in the English-speaking search engine market by a large margin with roughly 2/3 of the market, a position that Google has held for several years. Those who use Google Search consistently do so because presumably Google Search provides the highest quality search results with the least amount of effort.
All of Google updates outlined in the above embedded infographic are result of the never-ending Google quest to provide users with highest quality content to maintain their dominant market share in both organic and paid search markets.
For online marketers, the message is simple. In order for Google to rank your webpages higher in the search results, it’s necessary to publish content (information, text, images, video and more) that is unique, in demand and fills an information void that exists online.
Providing content in this context will maximize the likelihood that Google will treat your web pages favorably in the search results. From a pure marketing, branding and corporate identity perspective, it is strongly advisable to provide the highest quality information that adds value to your audience, which is comprised of prospects and customers, regardless of what Google does.
Quality content goes a long way towards building a strong brand and reinforcing a positive brand image. Maybe that’s why Google favors established brands?;-) Now fasten your seatbelts as 2013 promises to be a year filled with more Google Search Algorithm changes, where change is the only constant in search we can count on.