2012 was all about cleaning up, improving quality and moving on from the old school ways.
Updates came in one after the other, bringing a lot of clarity to the SEO community. Some metrics that were “possibly” affecting search, were now confirmed, some myths dispelled and many new, now confirmed.
It was also probably an year, where Google made its best communication efforts with the webmaster community.
SEO Updates in 2012
2012 saw a flurry of activities in search starting with about 30 significant algo updates that spilled over from December.
Algo Updates 1.
- Image search quality factors and landing page relevancy updates.
– Sitelinks improved in relevancy with focus on localized data.
– Soft 404 Response codes – This update ensured that Google picked up the right response from websites that didn’t have a proper 404 code in place.
– Regional search results – Google significantly improved its way of picking up pages specific to regions from regional domains (other than dot coms).
– Rich snippets and Micro data were now starting to show up on high quality sites. (Offical help forum)
Google personal results were introduced in January 2012. How much of it is a success, we do not know. My hunch is that they’ll stay, they should, as I find them very useful.
Page Layout Algorithm update happened in January as well by which websites with an over doze of ads or invaluable content above the fold, now faced chances of penalization.
Algo Updates 2.
With over 17 updates, Google emphasized on quality with freshness of content, faster load times and a bunch of other factors.
Integrated local search data to organic results with the Venice update (along with another 40 minor and major updates). This update was more like a social data + local data addition to increase relevancy on local search results.
What happens in a Google search quality meeting? Google uploaded a “never before” video of one of their search team meetings. You can see Amit Singhal and others in action here.
Google 3.4 Panda update rolled out via a Tweet.
Algo Updates 3.
Another list of algo updates, around 50 this time, was published in March 2012. These were predominantly focused on search query handling and data refreshes. Google Official Blog.
Google Penguin Update rolled out on April 2012 – This was a major update intended to take down all the “spammy” websites with over-optimization and focus more on quality. This was the first time SEOs started to unwind on SEO.
Algo Updates 4.
Another list of algo updates (52 in total) were rolled out (at different times) and posted for webmasters attention on Google official blog.
Google Introduces Knowledge Graph – In a major step towards providing a better searching experience, Google introduced Knowledge Graph. The Knowledge Graph enables you to search for things, people or places that Google knows about—landmarks, celebrities, cities, sports teams, buildings, geographical features, movies, celestial objects, works of art and more—and instantly get information that’s relevant to your query. This is a critical first step towards building the next generation of search, which taps into the collective intelligence of the web and understands the world a bit more like people do.
Algo Updates 5.
39 More search updates were published in May 2012.
Exact Domain Match penalties – Google announced via a Tweet that now it treated domains with exact domain matched differently than before.
Algo Updates 6.
65 More search updates were rolled out in October.
Disavow tool – Google introduced a tool within the Google Webmasters tool that would enable webmasters to tell Google about backlinks they didn’t own. This came as a huge help for folks that suffered from bad link building or links spams.
Penalties for copyright violations – Google also started to take strict action on websites with repeat copyright violation notices.
Google Panda updates - There have been several minor and major updates on Google Panda algo updates all through 2012.