How SEO Strategy Has Changed Over TimeSeptember 9, 2021
Many areas of our world will change a whole lot over a decade or more, and the realm of SEO and online marketing is a great example here. Those who were a part of this industry 10 or more years ago may remember it as something of a “wild west,” as many within it would say – the SEO landscape was far less regulated and included a number of different methods that aren’t suitable today, whether for ethical or practical reasons, but today has rounded into a robust, purposeful field that drives the success of many businesses.
At SEO Werkz, we’re here to help with a comprehensive range of private label SEO services, from local optimization to reputation management, retargeting, conversion rate optimization and numerous other areas. We’ve been in the SEO field for years, and we’ve seen the important changes that have driven the industry to the point it’s at today. What are some of the most important ways SEO has evolved over time, and how do these evolutions impact your business and SEO needs? Here’s a primer.
Importance of Content
The phrase “content is king” is regularly uttered within the SEO realm, and with good reason. From blog content to on-site and off-site content, there are several formats that require attention here, including not just good writing but also images, audiovisuals and proper implementation. Content is a top driver of site visibility and good rankings, a fact that will not change anytime soon.
However, a decade or so ago, things were very different in this area. Practices like keyword-stuffing (more on this in a bit) and others were used in ways that made the content realm feel much more like a system to be gamed than anything else.
In 2011, though, a major update known as the “Panda” update hit the SEO world. The Panda update was a major change to Google’s search ranking algorithm, lowering rankings for sites with poor-quality content created by keyword-stuffing and other similar tactics. Gimmicks that worked prior to 2011 were no longer options, replaced by a need for legitimate, quality content.
Another area that’s changed in numerous ways over the last 10 years or so is local SEO, which is vital for many small and large businesses alike. Google has made several small changes to this realm over time, including layout updates like the local carousel or the three-pack layout most SEO experts are familiar with.
However, the single largest event in this area came in 2014 and was known as the “Pigeon” update. This update involved the incorporation of what we now know as traditional web ranking signals into their algorithm, including boosting site visibility for sites with search terms of high authority. This made local searches both more common and more powerful, and gave a major leg up to the businesses that had optimized their sites for local features.
No More Linking Schemes
We mentioned the “wild west” theme in the early SEO world above, and one of the areas where this designation was most visible was within what were called linking schemes. There were numerous such tactics out there, including things like link wheels, black-hat links, pain liners and other forms of spam-based linking.
Once again, a series of small updates followed by a major change – the 2012 “Penguin” update – Google stamped out this behavior in the late 200s and early 2010s. Penalties began appearing for entities using these strategies, and today the only kinds of linking that are allowed are natural linking and guest posts that improve authority.
Keyword Stuffing is Dead
We mentioned keyword stuffing above; it refers to the practice of loading keywords into meta tags, content or anchor text to gain unfair rankings advantages, and was a tactic used by some in the early days of SEO. However, Google quickly realized the problem and stamped this out with the Panda update – to the point where not only is keyword stuffing dead, but keywords themselves have changed significantly. While they still matter, they’re much more important for meanings and concepts rather than single words or phrases.
Changes to SERPs
SERPs, or search engine results pages, have also undergone numerous changes over the years. Most of these are small updates made for minute reasons, though there have also been a few larger changes as well. But if you look back at a screenshot of a SERP from 2009 compared to today, you might be taken aback at just how different it is.
First introduced in 2012, the knowledge graph is an excellent tool for answering questions added by users in a small search box. Responses are only given when a simple query is made, and will even sometimes be present atop organic results for the easiest question-and-answer searches. For optimizers, this means it’s important to consider “answerable” keywords and micro-formatting, ensuring you know which queries are likely to end up on the knowledge graph compared to which will show organic results featuring your pages.
Finally, one of the largest changes in the SEO realm has been the rise of mobile optimization. Starting with the release of the iPhone in 2007 and growing with each passing year since, mobile has become the driving force in many SEO efforts. Back in 2015, it surpassed desktop queries as the most common form of search run on Google. For SEO pros and optimizers everywhere, this means that ensuring both apps and mobile webpage capabilities receive plenty of focus and effort.