If you follow SEO at all you know that headlines screaming, “SEO is Dead!,” have been around about as long as search engines have been around. The funny thing about 2013, however, is that this may have been the year when those headlines carry a nugget or two of truth in them.

We know that SEO isn’t really going away forever, but over the past 12 months the big-brains at Google have made it clear; they won’t tolerate black, or even grey, hat SEO hijinks. anymore.

For starters, Google doubled down on their content Jihad with a flurry of Panda and Penguin updates. While these updates weren’t quite as severe as most SEOs anticipated, they definitely reinforced the new rules of content and link building.

Just in case anyone thought Google wasn’t serious about spammy links, the Mountain View Monster threw down a crippling penalty on Rap Genius. The huge lyric site used paid links to build SERP dominance in hundreds of keywords and paid a dear price for going black hat.

Google exiled the once red hot site to the gulag of search results where they’re lucky to turn up on page six on any search.

Though the Rap Genius is putting on an optimistic face for the press, their chances of returning to page one are practically non-existent. Google’s Rap Genius takedown is a message that’s about as subtle as a horse head in the bed and SEOs are taking it seriously.

Where Has All the Keyword Gone?

Whether by accident or design, Google’s new secure search has changed the face of SEO in a big way.

Secure search has always been billed as an end-user protection that keeps search data as confidential as possible. The side effect secure search is that it puts reams of valuable keyword data out of the reach of SEOs.

In its early days, secure search wasn’t used all that much so it didn’t have much impact on SEO. Lately, Google has pushing it on end-users who aren’t logged on to Gmail or other Google services and the result is a lot less keyword data for SEOs.

Looking at 2014

Affiliates and web publishers who are looking to stay in Google’s good graces in 2014 should expect to play by Google’s rules. That means plenty of good, relevant content; along with lots of social interaction; and no funny business.





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