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Top 5 Changes to Search Engine Optimization in 2012

We’re only halfway through 2012 and already there have been major changes in the SEO industry. Algorithms are changing, focus is shifting to new objectives and goalposts are being raised higher. Your SEO company depends on careful strategies that drive conversions and attract organic results from your content. Here are five of the most significant changes to SEO you absolutely must pay attention to.

Google’s “Penguin” Update

“Penguin,” Google’s latest major algorithm update, launched at the end of April 2012, and hammered many websites and blogs with lower search rankings. As part of Google’s new “semantic search” system, Penguin was designed to cull sites that overloaded their content with keywords and link spam.
Many sites are being forced to revamp their content after taking a major hit from Penguin, as it specifically targeted many popular, effective SEO strategies used today. The forced changes certainly can’t be all that bad, as professionals have had to adapt to similar hits from last year’s Panda update.
See how founder Matt Moog repaired his rankings after Panda, and maybe you can take inspiration for your own fixes, in case you need to build yourself back up after Penguin.

Google Venice

Released at the end of February 2012, Venice was largely a minor update that flew under most SEO professionals’ radars along with other major updates. It added functionality within Google searches that hones in on specific location, by Country, Region, State or City.

Since listing an address for your business’s physical location is already standard material on any professional website, there were no major changes to SEO strategies from this update. The results, however, are powerful: Google now ranks organic results for locally-owned small businesses as high as larger national listings when searching for a business. Ensuring your business is verified on Google Places is now more important than ever, and having a “local” SEO plan is now a value-adding necessity.

Google Plus Search Integration

January of 2012 was an exciting time for Google Plus, Google’s competing service to the social giant Facebook. Reviews of the service were starting to come in and engineers were already working to improve the service. Not surprisingly, Google began integrating Google Plus profiles into search algorithms soon after, and Google Plus for Business allowed companies to insert themselves into specialized “friends-only” results by hopping on-board with the service.

Not only are companies ranking for their on-site SEO now, they rank for Google Plus SEO as well. Keyword-relevant discussions will trigger Google Plus results for businesses and friends, allowing SEO strategies to work double-time and break businesses into a new, lucrative space. Opting in to Google Plus services is exceptionally useful for authors, now that their next update is set to launch soon:

AuthorRank Will Soon Factor Into PageRank

Google is getting ready to add AuthorRank tools to SEO content generators’ toolkits. Every time you post an article to the internet, you can insert a simple “rel=author” tag in your site code that refers back to your Google+ profile. When web searchers find that they’ve written something useful, Google rewards you with an increased AuthorRank that carries across content and across publishing outlets.

This new markup is encouragement for web content creators to actively build their AuthorRank and use Google Plus in the process. AuthorRank will soon be weighed in alongside PageRank, and a high AuthorRank can potentially mean a big difference. Your useful content could show up at the top in rankings for a hot term, or if your content is widely deemed value-less, you may hurt your reputation with Google crawlers. AuthorRank seems like a gamble and it will be interesting to see how much weight Google gives it in the years to come.

Too Much Google? More Options Are Coming

SEO industry professionals will often agree that hinging your practices entirely on Google’s every whim is no way to do good business. There are other search choices that are nothing to scoff at: Microsoft Bing has steadily gained market share since October 2011, and even with Yahoo! on the ropes, their collaboration with Bing will continue for years to come.
Facebook’s recent IPO raises high hopes for the company, and many speculators believe they may strengthen their integration with Bing at the very least, and at the most, develop their own social search engine. Facebook’s potential to emerge as a major player in the organic search market is serious enough that Google’s own Larry Page sees the companies as rivals.

These important developments in the SEO industry are changing the way SEO companies do business, and though it may not be simple, it is possible for these changes to work to your business’s benefit.

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