6 WAYS SEO HAS CHANGED OVER THE YEARS
Search engine optimisation has been around for as long as there have been search engines to optimise. With the rise of Google, what started out as just a bit of fun has turned into a multi-million pound industry, with companies globally hoping to manipulate the search results. Although SEO is still based on the same premise of increasing the visibility of your website, many things have changed in the way that this is achieved over the years. Here’s just six of the bigger changes:
There was a time when stuffing your content with keywords, and adding hundreds of meta-tags (relevant or not) was the preferred method of pushing your website to the top.
Fortunately, Google took the focus away from this low-quality tactic by altering its algorithm. By disregarding meta tags as big ranking factors, SEOs were forced to follow a much more researched and considered approach, leading to more relevant results for users.
It also stopped SEOs trying to squeeze as many exact-match keywords into content as they could. With Google’s increased intelligence this is no longer a technique that will work.
As keyword usage changed, so too did content creation. In the past, it was about churning out content that had a particular keyword density of exact-match keywords.
To combat this, Google started targeting content that was designed for users and that had value for them, with their Panda update. Keywords are still important to use, but now it’s crucial that any use of the keyword(s) is natural and doesn’t reduce the quality of the content.
We’ve also previously written about how keywords themselves are becoming less and less important, whereas fulfilling user intent is what will drive SEO in the future.
#3 LINK BUILDING
Having links pointing to your website has always been important and still is. But link building methods have changed – demonstrated by the increasing number of Google penalties being handed out for some of the less ethical methods.
Bulk-link buying, spammy directories and link networks were all techniques used to get a large number of links pointing towards a website. Google began hitting sites with penalties for link building tactics they deemed as unfair. Amongst the targets here have been some very high profile penalties, including Interflorabeing totally removed from the search results for a short time.
As we all know, the range of mobile devices available is ever-increasing and the amount people are using them to search and browse on is also increasing. Previously desktop was the only device that anyone thought about and all sites were designed with this in mind.
With the increased use of mobiles and tablets, Google has tried to improve the user experience again with their ‘Mobilegeddon’ update. This gave a boost to websites that had mobile friendly pages in the mobile search results. This boost led many companies to make their sites mobile friendly and, therefore, improved the user experience.
#5 SOCIAL SIGNALS
When Google began, the number of social networks and their popularity was relatively small. In the mid-2000s, sites such as LinkedIn, Myspace and Facebook started to take off, and this was a whole new area for SEOs to think about. There was much debate about whether social signals had any impact on SEO, and Google themselves have claimed there isn’t.
Whatever Google tell you though, SEOs still need to start thinking about social – not only because it is a strong traffic driver, but also because future algorithm changes are bound to incorporate it more and more.
In the early days of Google Analytics, it was possible to see what keywords were driving traffic towards your site and these allowed marketers to analyse their strategies. In 2011, this changed as Google stopped presenting this data to marketers and site owners. This changed the way SEOs looked at data. Instead of focusing solely on keywords, content and audience became more prominent in strategy and analysis.
It’s clear that over time, Google has increasingly shifting the focus of SEO to fulfilling user intent and away from areas that allow for spamming. The goal will always be to increase visibility and traffic to websites but SEO methods are sure to keep changing as time (and Google) goes on.