The Evolution of SEO

Posted by Shane Niederklein on Dec 28, 2018 8:33:00 AM

We’ve been watching SEO grow up for a long time now. We marveled at its birth in the late 90's and were there for those awkward and painful years in the early 2000's. Today, we marvel at how SEO has truly come into its own. A lot has changed over the years, and if you’re still treating SEO like it’s 1999, boy do we have some SEO tips for you. Let’s step back through the wormhole to take a look at what it meant for how to do SEO then, versus now. Hopefully, your SEO practices fall into the latter category. 

How To Do SEO: THEN 

Keywords and Keyword Stuffing

Back in the days of slap bracelets and stirrup pants, SEO was in its raw stages of infancy. Search engine methods of ranking keywords were still unsophisticated, as were the practices surrounding them. Users would typically choose one to five keywords and begin their dirty work. One common practice was keyword stuffing, which refers to literally stuffing your content full of the keywords users knew would rank well for SEO. They did this at the sacrifice of organic content that read easily to users because they knew search engines weren’t ranking for quality (like today) so much as quantity.

An even more sinister practice consisted of putting white text on a white background, known as “content-cloaking.” This allowed web writers to stuff the page with phrases or words that either wouldn’t make sense to readers, or that shouldn’t have been there in the first place. Writers could put the same keyword over and over again on the page, or even the names of their competitors to dip into their SEO rankings and possibly steal a little traffic.

Spammy Link Building

Spammy link building was another way to boost your rankings in the wild west that was early SEO. Today Google knows a good link from a bad link, but not so much in the beginning. Web writers could pay other websites to link to their site. Google was only calculating how often this happened, as opposed to the quality of the site linking back to your own.

Search engines were also apt to boost your rankings if you had a good deal of outbound links on your own site. Again, Google wasn’t tapping the quality of those links, but more so the quantity. Lots of links told a raw SEO algorithm that you were in the know and involved in your niche. Nevermind if a link on your webpage about sales and marketing took your user to a page not found.

How To Do SEO: Now

Writing for Consumers

SEO has come a long way since its seedy beginnings. With time has come a more sophisticated approach to SEO and its application, largely in part thanks to Google’s ever-evolving standards. Today’s SEO is all about quality. Google wants to know if the content you’re providing your users is helpful, knowledgeable and relevant. Lots of factors inform Google of this (traffic from social media, credible links to your page, number of shares, etc.), versus outdated elements like keyword stuffing and content-cloaking. In fact, these more outdated methods not only fail to help you, but they can also really hurt you, too. Google won’t hesitate to knock your site down a few pegs if it determines you’re carrying out spammy SEO tactics. Instead, today’s SEO rankings are based on what you bring to the user and what their experience on your site is like. And as we are all users at one point or another, this is a good thing for everyone.

Topic Clusters

The measure of how to do SEO well is constantly changing to keep up with new algorithms, consumer behavior, or general updates. One of the latest ways to stay on top of these changes is the idea of topic clusters. Let’s think of them in terms of blog content. Instead of coming up with your list of relevant keywords and constantly posting about each one, you come up with a “topic.” Think of your topic as the umbrella under which all your related content will take shelter. Say your topic is “Health and Fitness.” This is your pillar from which all your other content will stem. Your pillar page will contain a broad overview of your topic and link to the many relevant pages surrounding this topic. Each time you link to a page, that page will simultaneously link back to your pillar page, preferably with the same term each time. Now let’s say you do this ten times, each time with a different idea relating back to your main topic of Health and Fitness. This creates a web-like effect for your SEO rankings. When one page gets a boost, they all do.

Which of the SEO phases seem to fit your SEO practices? Is your website stuck in the “Then,” or is it living and breathing in the “Now?” Take a minute to reflect on how you’ve been doing SEO and if these tips are something you may need to implement. Don’t know where to start? Never fear, that’s why we’re here! Give us a call today to see how we can help you bring your SEO into the Now.  

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