Lessons From 2012: The Year SEO Changed Forever


I started doing SEO in the mid 90’s when ranking well meant just repeating the same word more than your competitor. Yes, at the age of 14 I was busy writing HTML on the weekends and trying to convince companies that they needed a website. Yes, back then big companies didn’t think the web was going to “take off” but even still myself and a business partner convinced giants like Coldwell Banker that a web presence made sense.

Back then Netscape was the browser of choice and modem speeds were doubling every year, life was good. Doing SEO in the 90’s wasn’t very involved, the bare basics worked and without tons of competition a little work could go a long way.

Despite building websites in the 90’s I didn’t have the foresight to buy any domains. If I ever build a time machine this is what I would probably go back and change. However without a time machine I’ll just continue down the road I’m going, how SEO has changed forever.

As Google came-onto the scene and SEO became more mainstream the name of the game was backlinks, and lots of them. Quality didn’t matter as much, just lots of links with the right anchor text. Forums and link directories because incredibly popular as backlink sources, link farms were born, and early Internet gold miners enjoyed a new fortune.

Then in 2011 Google decided to started to really turn the SEO crank and in 2012 it went all the way to what is now a new world of SEO. For anyone that hasn’t come to terms with it yet, all those zillions of backlinks you’ve collected or paid for over the year could actually hurt you more than they’re helping you. The link directory that used to propel you above-the-fold on Google isn’t working any more. Heck, maybe even a couple of your sites have been de-listed.

The world changed for many people in 2012, however those that emerged strong in 2013 shared a common thread – quality content. The old Internet adage “Content is King” has been changed, now it is only “Quality Content” that is king. Content in general could be a bad thing if it’s low quality.

In the end this also means that thinking of SEO as a series of steps no longer makes sense. SEO is no longer the practice of techniques that when combined together allow you to rank better. Instead SEO now really means creating cool things online that other people recognize as cool and talk about. It’s not just backlinks, it’s Twitter mentions, Facebook buzz, and everything else from the social media universe.

It really is a lot more like the world we all want to live in. Rather than doing a Google search and finding a bunch of thin made-for-AdSense sites, now reliable sources are showing up more and more. Let’s face it, this has been a long time coming. So throw out all the old SEO books you’ve read and get ready to ignore 95% of what you read online, many SEO articles are incredibly out-of-date.

The web of 2013 has new rules. Ranking well isn’t about creating a tome of content, it’s about making a connection with people and creating something that people come back to again and again. No, you don’t have to launch the next Twitter, but you do have to think outside of the box and do something meaningful. Content may have been king but now I think we can all see that creative engaging content and innovation reign supreme.

I find people deal with change in two different ways, they either resist or accept it. For those who accept it they then have to go a step further and adapt to the change, these are the people who end up ahead in the end. Those who resist change keep doing things the same way, wondering every year why things aren’t working out.

(Photo Credit)

{ 3 comments… add one }

  • joe January 4, 2013, 5:35 pm

    Hi Morgan!
    I study a bit of SEO and SEM latter more interesting, the Seo Google Adwords is the slogan will be the first, if you pay the highest bid to be first, but I think much with this, It pays to be first and pay imagine 10 dollars for each click on a three-month campaign, be profitable this system is very profit for Google, but for brands and businesses do not believe that is good return on investment – ROI.
    There are other methods of strategy as Google does not have project and business plan. To present briefly in my new blog soon.

  • Uzoma January 4, 2013, 7:34 pm


    I agree with most of your premises, however, I vehemently disagree with your conclusions. The internet is no place to “obey”, or “adapt”, or be docile, no matter who is in charge today. It is a place to innovate. You said it yourself, Netscape was the king of browsers in the 90’s, but are not today. In my opinion, Google is winging it. They are making it up as they go along, sometimes on the seat of their pants.

    As it stands today, they are the whole game in town. Do you seriously believe they can hold on to all that? I don’t think any singular entity can. The internet is larger than Google. While they remain the fairest company as far as domainer income today, their activities is woefully inadequate for the future I envision myself, not to talk of others way smarter than you and I.

    So, please remove “obey”, “adapt”, from your lexicon!

    Innovate! Dream! Dare!! Domain!!!

  • Jon January 6, 2013, 6:19 am

    Thanks for sharing your insights Morgan, indeed since the Penguin update of april 2012 it seems the world of search has changed, hopefully for the better.

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