The Times They Are a Changin’ (Pt. 2)

Following on from the previous post, we’re now moving into more sophisticated SEO territory. Below is the history of how Google started to really mould the future of online search as we know it today, to create a more aware SEO community.

2007/2008 – Moving into the future

The year the world welcomed its saviour Barrack Obama to the stage, 2008 saw Google introduce their Suggest tool. This change provided a list of drop down suggestions when users began to enter their search queries, and set up a simpler, more personal way to search.

Other important updates from this period include:

Universal Search: This update integrated other mediums such as images, videos, news articles, and local results, effectively ending the traditional top 10 SERPs, making achieving top 10 rankings more difficult and elusive.

The reign of Social Media and Google Places begins: 2009/2010

After a decade of catching SEOs off guard, Google began a new frontier of algorithm updates. It was clear by now that online search was the way of the future, so making it a fairer playing ground for all was imperative. It also saw the integration of social media streams and local Google Places listings.

Real-Time Search: As social media crept its way into our lives, Google’s update integrated Twitter feeds, Google News, newly indexed content and a number of other sources into a real-time feed on some SERPs, giving users a far more personalised and rapid response result.

Google Places: While an already existing component of Google Maps, the new Google Places revitalised the Local Business Center and combined Places more closely with local search results, impacting on the ability to advertise to locally based searches specifically.

Enter The Pandguin: 2011/2012’s Panda and Penguin updates

The year SEOs were really first hit hard by penalties, 2011 saw the introduction of the now infamous Panda update. This algorithm update was the SEO equivalent of the H-bomb: it ended the war between SEOs and search engines, and asserted dominance of the ‘no-funny business’ attitudes of the search engine regulators.

Panda: The biggest and hardest hitting update to date, the Panda affected up to 12% of search results sending SEOs into a complete panic. Panda came down hard on everything content related it seemed, including vague content, content spam, mass produced content, duplicate content, sites with high ad-to-content ratios, and a number of other content quality issues.

Sites hit by Panda were penalised and basically obliterated from the online world.

Google+: In a bid to overtake the resilient Facebook dominance in social media, Google launched Google+, a social media platform integrated with your search.

Venice: Aggressively localising organic search results, this update closely integrated local search data in the SERPs, giving local search a stronghold on SEO’s organic results.

Moving forward to 2012, after multiple Panda updates, is the year SEO’s will remember for the attack of the Penguin, this update was far more severe than any Danny DeVito character.

Penguin: This algorithm targeted various spam factors including yet again keyword stuffing other on-page no-no’s. It is reported to have impacted an estimated 3.1% of English queries.

Exact-Match Domain Update: This algorithm change saw a large-scale devaluation of EMDs, actively reducing their presence on any SERP. It is said this update impacted.6% of all queries.

2013 and beyond

With ongoing Panda and Penguin updates targeting spammy content, unauthorised link profiles, exact match domains and other on-page SEO, Google’s control of what is a fair SERP is tightening around SEO.

So far this year we’ve seen updates such as the Phantom, which significantly impacted rankings and traffic to a high volume of sites, as well as multiple Penguin and Panda releases which targets the core algorithm of Google’s crawlers.

So, what have we learned? Google controls everything, basically. You can try and try to weave your way around algorithms, however in the end, they’ll get you and they’ll slap you with a penalty. And they’ll slap you hard! While this may seem like a witch hunt, we have to remember, Google is implementing these intricate changes not to try and deter SEOs, but to try and provide the best and most relevant results to its users, that’s right, the searchers.

While we SEOs are concerned about getting ourselves or our clients ranked higher with more traffic flow, we sometimes forget that the whole point of SEO is to provide the best results for end users to choose from that directly relates to their search.

Google is not out to get us, it is out to get us to be more mindful of users, not just our ranking reports. Using a Search Engine Optimisation service that respect Google’s guidelines means that you can flourish where competitors might be penalised.

To learn more about how ROI can help you with adapting and aligning your online strategy with some of the changes mentioned in this article with our local search SEO services, social media optimisation and more.

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