It’s fair to say that pretty much nobody was prepared for the sheer relentless changes that Google introduced in 2012. They really did slap a few people about with their “Panda” and “Penguin” updates making whole parts of the SEO landscape pointless. So what do we think they’ll do in 2013?
I’d imagine more of the same, something like this…Good SEO is Good SEO. End of story.
You have to ask yourself the question – why does Google change its algorithm so much? Well it’s probably because of things like this:
Remember the days when you used to get things through the post promising lots of money without you having to lift a finger? When you enquired it turned out you had to send a pound to a bunch of people who would then send you a pound back or something. Didn’t work did it? Yet the same psychology is at work here with people offering crazy deals to “Force your site to the top of Google without you lifting a finger!“ etc.
But what do they do?
Well very often services that advertise like this are merely creating a gazillion back-links using the latests and greatest crazy method that’s currently doing the rounds and sometimes, just sometimes, they work. It’s true – you buy a service like this and every now and then your rankings increase and you feel the world is a nicer place. But then Google finds out about it and BLAM – your site drops again.
Let’s go back to Panda, the update that really hurt a lot of people. This sought out something called ‘blog networks’. A blog network is just what it says on the tin, a whole network of blog sites (sometimes many tens of thousands) that are controlled by an organisation. All of these blogs have content on them and sometimes they’re ranked quite well in Google.
Anyway, what they then did was sell space on their site to website owners. Essentially, for a monthly fee they let you have a link from their network to your site and because links are still very important to ranking, your ranks would increase.
Google doesn’t like this because they’re paid-for and Google specifically says that’s a bad thing. So Panda slapped ’em, wiping out all benefit from networks it found that did this.
How does this affect us?
Well really, it shouldn’t. If you’re just doing good SEO by publicising your site, syndicating content and being generally a nice person by sharing information, you probably won’t be affected by anything Google does. If, however, you decide you want to rank really quickly and decide to take up an offer of “wealth without work” then you may well be affected because Google is constantly trying to level the playing field.
They’re not after the good guys, they’re after the bad guys. They’re after those who are really just trying to make a quick buck from the Internet in return for poor value.
2013 and the future
So really, nothing’s going to change in that everything is going to change and continue changing. There are no rules to this, it’s just a matter of keeping on top of your publicity. If new channels appear (such as Pinterest) then you need to consider using it. These new channels aren’t going to be the silver bullet that saves your business, but just part of the general marketing mix.
So 2013 is going to be the same as every other year – more publicity = more customers and better ranking. Just stay away from the “get rich quick” schemes and you’ll probably be OK.