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Google’s “Panda” and “Penguin” algorithm updates were named after black and white animals. While there is nothing backing up the prediction, industry analysts suspect Google will continue the trend of using the name of a black and white animal for Google’s next algorithm change. To this end, I hereby dub the inevitable upcoming update “Google Orca”.

In 2012, SEO became Messy-O as the internet became littered with Google’s Panda and Penguin droppings, causing all kinds of site owners to slip and slide as they tried to regain traction after being kicked out of the rankings literally overnight. Some gained a foothold, while others slid and fell off the edge of the internet and disappeared into oblivion, never to be heard from again. Soon after, Google’s “Exact Match Domain” algorithm update was thrown into the mix, causing SEO practitioners to jump around like dancing chickens in a fair trying not to get burned on the algorithmic hotplate hidden beneath the search giant’s visible surface. Aiming to clean up search results for their visitors, Google went at the problem areas with precision surgery, cutting away the useless fat clogging the arteries of relevant search results. Once the Panda, Penguin and EMD updates rolled over those who had gamed the system (and a few innocent bystanders), 2012 came to a close with what many saw as promise for 2013.

However, soon there were people suggesting a new major Google algorithm change was looming on the horizon for 2013. Targeting social media cues, this Google update will possibly factor social media mentions and shares into their decision on how to rank a site. If people are talking about your business in the social-sphere, then your brand and product must be worth paying attention to, and Google will boost a site accordingly. While this type of change is ripe for abuse, there seems to be no immediate concern. Of course, be prepared, what works today with helping ranking may be considered a no-no in the future, as companies catch on and hire out people to create accounts to talk about their brand and products.  For now, creating a social marketing plan and original content is the ranking wave to ride in 2013. Get to the front of the line or risk being pulled under and lost in the tide.

2012 saw many site’s rankings chewed up by Google’s updates and left behind as Panda and Penguin droppings. Google’s Exact Match Domain (EMD) update followed and obliterated rankings in the SERPs for sites of dubious relevance and intent. For those site owners, it is time to dust off, scrape your shoes clean and set a clear a path for 2013. With 20/20 hindsight transparency, Google offers plenty of possibilities and opportunities for webmasters willing to follow the rules of fair play. Google continues to make every attempt to level the playing field for all online retailers, big or small, local or national, to give every business the same chance of succeeding online. One can only speculate what Google has planned for 2013 but it is sure to be an exciting year to be online!

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