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No matter what else you might have to say about the year 2011, you can’t deny that it’s been a time of incredible changes in the SEO world. So to recap everything that’s happened this year, we’re bringing you the top SEO posts of 2011:
Probably the biggest change to hit the SEO world this year was the implementation of the Google Panda algorithm change. Plenty of great articles were written on what this update means and how to recover from any assessed penalties, so be sure to check out the following sites:
What Is Google Panda?
- Quick Sprout – Absolutely Everything You Need to Know About the Google Panda Update
- Sistrix – Google Farmer Update: Quest for Quality
- Search Engine Land – Number Crunchers: Who Lost in Google’s Panda Algorithm Update?
- SEOMoz – Google Algorithm Change History – 2011
Google Panda Update History
- Search Engine Roundtable – Google Panda 1.0 (February 24th)
- Search Engine Roundtable – Google Panda 2.0 (April 11th)
- Search Engine Land – Google Panda 2.1 (May 9th)
- Search Engine Land – Google Panda 2.2 (June 18th)
- Search Engine Roundtable – Google Panda 2.3 (July 22nd)
- Search Engine Land – Google Panda 2.4 (August 2011)
- Search Engine Roundtable – Google Panda 2.5 (September 28th)
- Search Engine Roundtable – Google Panda 2.5.1 (October 9th)
- Search Engine Roundtable – Google Panda 2.5.2 (October 13th)
- Search Engine Roundtable – Google Panda 2.5.3 (October 19th)
Succeeding in a Post-Google Panda World
- SEOMoz – Beating Google’s Panda Update – 5 Deadly Content Sins
- Six Revisions – Creating Websites Optimized for Google’s Panda Algorithm
- SEOMoz – How Google’s Panda Update Changed SEO Best Practices Forever
- Business Insider – How Google Panda Will Create Jobs in News and Publishing
- Search Engine Land – 5 New Tactics for SEO Post-Panda
This year, Google made major strides in its efforts to compete with Facebook and provide the best possible search results by customizing the SERPs to its users’ preferences. Here’s how it happened:
The Launch of the Google +1 Button
The launch of the Google +1 button surprised many SEO experts, as the full strategy behind Google’s search and content integrations wasn’t yet completely clear.
- Search Engine Land – It’s Here: Google +1 Button for Websites
- Huffington Post – Google +1 Button Explained: What Happens When You Click It
- Search Engine Journal – Does the Google +1 Button Signal the End of “Don’t Be Evil”?
- Search Engine Watch – Google +1 Button Loses Search Visibility
The Google+ Social Networking Site
Although it has yet to steal a significant amount of market share from Facebook in the competitive social networking space, Google+ offers a number of unique tools and features that could make it a contender in the future.
- Official Google Blog – Introducing the Google+ Project
- TechCrunch – Google+ Project
- Mashable – Google Launches Google+ to Battle Facebook
- Forbes – 10 Things CMOs Need to Know About Google+
With personalized search results replacing traditional SEO rankings in many Google SERPs, webmasters are well advised to focus on building their social networks and developing viral, sharable content.
- SEOMoz – Social Annotations in Search: Now Your Social Network = Rankings
- NY Times – How Useful is Google’s Personalized Search?
- Leo Dimilo – Personalized Search and the Future
- Kikolani – How Personalized Search Should Affect Blogging Strategies for Ranking
- Common Sense Marketing – 5 Things You Need to Know About Personalized Search
- SEOptimise – The Pros and Cons of Personalized Search
New Metrics in SEO
Across the search engines, major shifts have been taking place in terms of the factors that lead to high rankings. No longer is it enough for webmasters to optimize their title tags, fill out their meta descriptions and include target keywords at a specific density. These traditional SEO markers are on their way out – and the following new metrics are in!
Probably the biggest change to SEO metrics in the past year has been the increased importance of social media signals as a ranking factor.
- Quick Sprout – How to Create a Jaw Dropping Social Media Strategy in 5 Steps
- SEOMoz – The Social Media Marketer’s SEO Checklist
- Search Engine Watch – Top 13 Social Media Ranking Factors for SEO
- Search Engine Journal – How SEO and Social Media Add Up to Online Marketing Success
- Mashable – How Social Media Affects Content Relevance in Search
- Social Media Examiner – Social Media and Search Engine Optimization: Why They Work Together
- Search Engine Land – It’s Not “He Said, She Said” Over Google Rankings & Facebook Shares
- SEOMoz – A Tweet’s Effect on Rankings – An Unexpected Case Study
Although site speed isn’t a new ranking factor, its importance is growing, which makes it a relevant area of opportunity for most webmasters.
- Distilled – Site Speed for Dummies Part 1 – Why Bother…?
- Distilled – Site Speed for Dummies Part 2 – How to Do It
- SEOMoz – Take Advantage of Google’s Site Speed Algorithm
- Google Analytics – Measure Page Load Time with Site Speed Analytics Report
- WebProNews – Google Analytics Site Speed Metrics Expanded
Bounce Rate, CTR and other Metrics
Smart webmasters are shifting their attention off of keyword density and other traditional SEO metrics and taking a look at bounce rate, CTR and other current indications of site quality.
- Bruce Clay – Meaningful SEO Metrics: Going Behind the Numbers
- Single Grain – The New SEO Metrics You Need to Know About
- SEO Theory – SEO Metrics You Must Track and Report
- Search Engine Watch – Maximizing Your CTR for SEO in Organic Results
- Inc. – How to Reduce Your Website’s Bounce Rate
- Traffic Generation Café – Bounce Rate: 16 Ways to Make Your Blog Sticky
Recently, content “freshness” has grown hugely in importance, making it a vital consideration for brands, blogs, content sites and more.
- Official Google Blog – Giving You Fresher, More Recent Search Results
- Huffington Post – Google’s Freshness Update: New SEO Opportunities
- SEOMoz – Freshness Factor: 10 Illustrations on How Fresh Content Can Influence Rankings
- TechCrunch – The Winners and Losers of Google’s Freshness Update Revealed
- SEOptimise – Google Freshness Update – What it Means for Your Brand
- Search Engine Land – Brands & News Sites Among Winners from Google’s Freshness Algo Update
The Panda update was all about rewarding content quality and weeding junk sites out of the SERPs. Here’s how to improve the quality of the content on your site to take advantage of this new metric:
- Search Engine Land – Why Quality Content is the Only Sustainable SEO Strategy
- Google Webmaster Blog – More Guidance on Building High Quality Sites
- Single Grain – How the Search Engines Could Quantify Quality
- Search Engine People – The 5 Point Checklist to Quality Content
- SEODesk – Why Quality Content is So Essential to SEO
- Openview Partners – Why Quality SEO Equals Quality Content (and Visa Versa)
Surprisingly, SEO has shifted in focus to favor defined brands, meaning that high rankings can no longer be achieved by keyword optimization alone.
- Kaiser the Sage – Branding in SEO – The Big Shift in Online Marketing
- Brafton – Expert Tips on Brand Marketing to Boost SEO
- SEODesk – Branding or SEO?
- Adrants – SEO is for Tail Chasers; Brand Awareness is for Pack Leaders
- Search News Central – Dealing with Brands in SEO
The Future of SEO
Although there’s no way to know for sure which factors will impact SEO most in the coming years, we can make a few extrapolations based on what we’ve seen so far. The following articles highlight the changes we’ve seen to SEO over the past year and make predictions about what will be big in 2012:
- SEOMoz – 2011 Search Engine Ranking Factors Survey
- Quick Sprout – SEO Trends You Can’t Ignore if You Want High Rankings
- David Wood – Google Panda Updates and the Future of SEO
- Small Box – The Future of SEO
- SEOptimise – 30 Web Trends for 2012