Google's Q3 2012 Search Changes: What You Need to Know

2012 has been a big year for online marketing. While trends like inbound marketing are on the rise, Facebook's less than stellar IPO has cast doubts over the effectiveness of targeted display ads. Only time will tell if Facebook can find a way to have the type of impact on online advertising that Google did with AdWords.

Speaking of Google, even though their stock has seen a big increase over the course of 2012, they're not sitting back and resting on their laurels. Instead, they've continued to make some very big changes to their search algorithm. Since they've announced so many different changes, there's a good chance that you've missed out on hearing about a few. Luckily, we've compiled everything you need to know about Google's key changes over the last three months:

Panda Still on the Prowl

While it's now an industry standard to name any major algorithm update that Google makes, most receive a flurry of attention, and are then forgotten about after a few months. However, Google's Panda update has been in the spotlight for over a year and a half. The good news for website owners is one of Google's latest Panda updates truly seemed to be a minor one, so your site shouldn't have experienced any negative effects from this change. However, Google made a larger Panda update at the end of September. But where things get even more tricky is that may not even be the root cause of a recent change in your search engine traffic.

Exact Match Domains

At almost the same time as their latest Panda update, Google also rolled out a new change that targets exact match domains. While their stated intention was to knock down spammy sites that were only ranking because they had keywords in their domain name, there have been lots of reports of new sites dropping out of the top 100 results. What's interesting is that even though many of these sites' owners reported having solid social media traction, that still didn't prevent their sites from getting hit in the crossfire.

Meta Tags are Back (Sort Of)

For the last five or so years, reputable SEOs have been fighting an uphill battle to educate their clients about the fact that meta keyword tags aren't going to magically rocket a site's rankings to page one of Google. However, just a few weeks ago, Google threw a wrench into things by bringing back a form of meta tags. They announced that sites and blogs that have content published through Google news can now use a news_keywords metatag to help ensure that the Google News' crawlers are able to correctly identify and classify content. The goal of this change is to help publishers get the traffic they want without feeling the need to cram their headlines full of keywords.

About The Author

Brian Waraksa

Brian Waraksa, founder of Raxa Design in Houston, Texas has been in marketing and small business branding since 2002. He writes the Raxa Design blog on issues affecting small business marketing and corporate brands.

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