2012 Search Marketing Year in Review

2012 was an eventful year in search marketing — we laughed, we cried (some of us more than others when Penguin hit). But we made it. And we even survived an apocalypse. Each month here at Bruce Clay, Inc., we bring to you an industry newsletter that dives into the issues that matter to marketers  (Did you know that? Have you signed up?). Looking back on newsletter editions in 2012, we can see some of the events that shaped the year in search marketing. The following is a culmination of some of our most popular reading in the SEO Newsletter this year, starting with some big Google-focused events.

Google Algorithm Issues 2012

Woman Pruning a Tree
Did you have to take up link pruning as a new hobby after Google’s Penguin hit?
In April 2012, Google made some big changes to its algorithm, and sites with if-y link practices were hit the hardest. That sent site owners into a tailspin — many not knowing how to recover from the penalties and loss of rankings. Bruce Clay, Inc. knew that cleaning up a site’s link profile, including “pruning” the inbound links was the way to help sites get back on the right path. In this step-by-step guide to link pruning back in May 2012, we showed you how to understand your link profile, identify the links you should be removing and how to handle removal requests. Since the article was written, Google gave webmasters some help getting rid of links as a last resort with the Link Disavow tool.

Related Topics – The Google Saga Continues

Back in April, Bruce Clay weighed in on the whole Google over-optimization issue (more on that to the right), including:

  • What to watch out for when evaluating the long-term security of your SEO strategy.
  • Possible technologies Google is using to detect over-optimization.
  • Potential motivation for Google’s reinvigorated offense, including the future face of search results.
Warning Symbol
It was a lively time for search back towards the beginning of 2012. Google Webmaster Tools was sending warning messages left and right to webmasters. Matt Cutts *mentioned” something about an algo update to target aggressive SEO at SXSW in February. And what happened next was a panic over what many were calling an “over-optimization penalty.” In this article by  Bruce Clay Australia, we looked at over-optimization and unnatural linking.
Woman Standing Next to ChalkboardIs your site worthy of rankings? This is the question many site owners and marketers ask every day — especially in the light of Google’s crackdown in 2012. In this article on algorithm-proof SEO, we explored an approach to SEO that can help you avoid disastrous consequences of algorithm updates and keep your site healthy. Letter Grade Drawn on a ChalkboardIt’s been known for some time that Google has a method for rating the quality of a site, but just how they do it has been somewhat of a mystery. Enter Google’s leaked quality rating manual for its human raters. The good news? It confirms what many marketers already suspected about what Google believes is quality.


Data and Tools in 2012

Caveman with a White Board
Did you practice “caveman analytics” in 2012? We learned tips from author and speaker Matt Bailey on how to get the most from the data available.
What were people talking about in the way of data and tools to help add context to our decisions in search marketing in 2012? Here we look at some of our more popular reads on reporting, including the launch of Google’s social reports in analytics; an interview with author and speaker Matt Bailey on context in data and asking the right questions; and how to mine data for SEO with BCI’s SEOToolSet.

Typewriter Report

Earlier in the year, Google released social reporting in its analytics tool. In this article, we explored how to find and read social reports.

Laptop and Magnifying Glass
Do you know how to get the most out of your data? This article about our SEOToolSet aimed to help marketers understand data that’s available for wiser decisions within SEO strategy.


Ecommerce, Mobile and Social

In 2012, Google’s Search Plus Your World (and the rise of Google Plus) was all the buzz. People wondered once again if it “killed SEO” (the running joke amongst search marketers who’ve heard this question one too many times). There was also a continued emphasis on the need for responsive design for mobile as Google announced official guidelines for mobile optimization. And an evergreen topic that’s always interesting to readers: how site navigation and information architecture work together to create a great ecommerce and shopping experience. These are just some of the more popular articles on the topics of mobile, social and ecommerce in 2012.

Baby and Cell Phone
Back in June, Google announced guidelines for optimizing mobile-ready sites. Bruce Clay Australia dives into this topic.

Magnet with Money
What’s the best way to design navigation for ecommerce sites? Bruce Clay India looked into sites that hit the mark.

Mouse Icon Over a Button with a Questions Mark
What is Google’s “Search, plus Your World”? And how does Google+ factor into it? In this article, we explored how the new search functionality works.


SEO Factors and Trends Report

Bruce Clay Australia put out a report at the head of the new year that talked trends over 2011 and predictions for SEO and other search marketing disciplines in 2012. You can download the report to see what transpired over 2011, and how different or the same it was to this year. And check out some highlights below …

Search Engine Optimization on a Chalkboard

Just some of the highlights from the report on search marketing in 2011 included:

  • A smarter Web, tailoring content to individual users.
  • The rise of Google+ and big changes to Facebook.
  • The continued importance of White Hat SEO.

2012 predictions included a focus on the user:

  • Serve them awesome content regularly.
  • Increase the number of touch points with them by integrating with social platforms.
  • Spend time creating advanced, cross-platform user-engagement strategies.
  • Allow them access to your information wherever they are through mobile sites and apps.
  • Make their lives easier by facilitating their access to your information, products and services.
  • Reinforce your local presence and geo-location services.

Hope you enjoyed this 2012 recap of search marketing hot topics. See you in 2013 for another lively year. My prediction? There won’t ever be a dull moment.

And if you’re interested in Bruce Clay’s predictions for the state of search, stay tuned for the January edition of the SEO Newsletter, set to hit mid-January.

Jessica Lee is the founder and chief creative for bizbuzzcontent Inc., a marketing boutique that focuses on digital content strategy and professional writing services for businesses.

See Jessica's author page for links to connect on social media.

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