Was 2012 The Year That SEO Changed Forever?

Is there any question that SEO has changed significantly over the last year?  Just take a look at what some of the industry leaders have to say.


In the end this also means that thinking of SEO as a series of steps no longer makes sense. SEO is no longer the practice of techniques that when combined together allow you to rank better. Instead SEO now really means creating cool things online that other people recognize as cool and talk about. It’s not just backlinks, it’s Twitter mentions, Facebook buzz, and everything else from the social media universe.

– Morgan Linton, Lessons from 2012: The Year SEO Changed Forever


To say SEO has “changed a lot” would be the understatement of the decade.

– Hubspot, 17 Myths You Should Leave Behind in 2013


People did anything they could to source inbound links and were rewarded with high rankings. However, this is no longer the case. It’s 2012 and search engines are quite sophisticated. Link building, along with a host of other old SEO techniques, no longer cut the mustard, and as a result, those of us in the SEO community have had to change.

– SEOMoz, How To Do SEO in 2013


Yesterday, search relevance was about quantity of message. Build a good website, build enough links to it, and you could easily deliver wins. But today, search relevance is about clarity of message. It’s about having the right message, on the right channel, at the right time. It’s about creating a world where products and services sell themselves.

– SlingshotSEO, Horses and Bayonets: Has the Nature of SEO Changed?


Like it or not, SEO has changed and its future relies upon a complex relationship with content marketing, social media, and collaborative technology.

– SearchEngineWatch, Future of SEO Change, Convergence, Collaboration


In early 2012, Google has gone a step further.

This time, they have changed the way they treat backlinks to a website in terms of their ability to rank.  This new update seems to have 2 separate aspects:

1.  Google seems to have penalized websites that went overboard with automated linking.  For example, website owners that used automated tools to create 100′s or 1000′s of spammy blog comment links have now seen their rankings dropped significantly.  Similarly, website owners that participated in automated linking networks to build a high volume of links per month have also seen rankings drop significantly.  This was a good thing.  But…

2.  Google also seems to have put a filter in place that actually penalizes website pages based on the anchor text of the backlinks to that page.  In other words, using the previous “blue widgets” example, if a large percentage of the backlinks to a website page about “blue widgets” had the link anchor text “blue widgets”, that page may no longer rank as highly.

In my opinion, Google has failed in this most recent update

Shawn Nafziger, Google Changes the SEO Game


Seo hasn’t “died”, but it has certainly changed dramatically. For one instance, back links now need to be earned, rather than created. That is one of the main rules now, covering the links that come back to the websites you are promoting. Links that carried a lot of value, for example article links, are now only really useful for adding a little bit of diversity to your link profile, the same with generic press releases that do not offer anything more than 400 words of empty writing.

For a long time the SEO world (in many, rather than in all cases) lazily adding masses of links to clients sites, many of which were empty and built just for the fact they would be a back link, was THE strategy. Finally in 2012 Google played the swan song for sites optimized so (or was it a Penguin song?). Sites disappeared from page 1 of Google quicker than a bowling ball dropped in the backyard swimming pool. Tears were shed, cries of unfairness echoed around the online marketing world. Much as I may have sympathy, I can’t help feeling that we should all have seen this coming. It is not as if the search engine gods at Google hadn’t explained to us all year after year, what they expected from those practicing SEO, and how to keep on the right side of search relevance, when promoting theirs or their clients sites.

Search Engine Journal, Is P.C.P the New SEO?


What do you think?  Was your site affected by the algorithm changes this last year?




Leave a Comment