If there is one word that can be used to describe the digital world – it is dynamic. This dynamism and fluidity can be seen in almost all aspects of the online world including:
- Marketing strategies.
- Website design and so on.
If you were to look at SEO or search engine optimization, you will have to agree that this field has gone through immense changes as well.
What is SEO all about?
If there is one thing that has not changed then it is the end goal of SEO – pushing your website into better visibility in search engine results. This becomes a sustained exercise simply because search engines such as Google change their algorithms to include or exclude websites from their search lists.
For instance, Google has brought out updates such as the following:
- Hummingbird to name just a few.
It is rather interesting to delve into the changes that have beset the world of search engine optimization.
Once there were links
There was a time when links on your website were perhaps the only thing needed to catapult it into prominence. In fact, website owners or web masters could simply buy such links and indeed emails from such link-sellers were rampant.
Then Google thought this is not going to cut it and instead was born the reciprocal link system. So while this was still all about links you had to have links that were mutual – basically meant that you had to have a hyperlink within your website to point to the other site and vice versa. Then came back links which still are pretty relevant but have changed in nature from ‘purchased’ to ‘created’.
The keyword rule
People search with a few important keywords and if a website had those keywords then Google would automatically identify those websites as those with good content. Now, it would have worked well except for the fact that web masters then created websites and content:
- With keywords stuffed in – even when they did not make perfect sense.
- Using keywords in meta data.
- Stuffing keywords in footer and so on.
This probably brought about the biggest change that thrives even now and that is the focus on quality content rather than keyword stuffing.
Indeed, this can be said to be the biggest thread running through all changes in search engine optimization. Today, content has become so important that people base their entire online marketing strategy on this one aspect. If you were to look at the major updates from Google – Hummingbird, Penguin and Panda – they were all about focusing on content. They also went to the extent of punishing websites with bad content and relegated them or even removed them completely from search engine lists.
If you were to look at the Panda update in 2011 that is when you will notice the most significant changes in the content landscape. The era of keyword stuffing and even spammy content was truly over.
This was never a big deal until recently. The 2014 Pigeon update saw Google giving a lot of importance to websites that were well-optimized and this made them stronger in local search results.
Of course this development has been boosted also because a greater number of people use mobile devices to access search engines and local search made more sense. Whether it is the local carousel or the listing of local businesses – websites have to pay attention to this if they want to do well in local search results.
Just a year ago, Google revealed that the number of people accessing Google search through mobile was way more than the number of people accessing Google search on their desktops. So this simply means that Google is likely to be kinder to websites that are optimized for mobile content too. The need to optimize for mobile therefore has become essential for better search engine results.
What about search pages itself?
SERP or search engine results pages have also changed massively. There are so many new inclusions that you are sure to find a lot of information extremely helpful and useful. The latest change is that Google will now show a maximum of 4 ads just above the organic search results. The rash of text ads to the right of the results has gone. This has perhaps benefitted PPC marketers the most.
There is also social media and while this is not the same as search engine optimization, it is a close companion. The rise of social media simply means that marketers must carve out a social media marketing strategy to go hand in glove with search engine optimization.
Finally, it is also relevant to remember that while the concept of keyword stuffing is truly over, it still serves as a placeholder for marketing strategy and that today semantic search is the name of the game.
This article is published by MuchGames.com