How SEO Has Changed Since 2007
When researching one of our latest articles we came across a blog post proclaiming the death of SEO that was more than a decade old. Contrary to these sentiments, on the cusp of 2017, search engine optimisation is still as important as it always has been.
Search engines are the jumping off point for over 80% of B2B queries, so it is crucial that your business has great visibility on the first page of Google. In many ways people’s search behaviour hasn’t changed much over the past 10 years. They still use similar keywords and give preference to the top three Google search results. Your number of clicks drops off rapidly as soon as you slip off the front page, so securing and maintaining a front-page position is still the Holy Grail of SEO strategy.
Search engine optimisation, on the other hand, along with the search engines themselves, have changed radically over the years. The following are just a few of the important areas where SEO has evolved.
We’ve compared the state of SEO with how we remember it in 2007, as this marks a convenient 10 year window. Some of us at JDR have been doing SEO since the company was started in 2004, and have noticed even more sweeping changes in the ensuing years.
Semantic Search & Clever Search Engines
The purpose of SEO is to manipulate Google’s search algorithms into giving your web page prominence in its search results. In 2007 this would be done by optimising a web page for a group of four or five keywords, which would need to be used in precise order in the page’s title, meta text, content and headings.
This was when Google’s search algorithms were still fairly basic. Developments in advanced artificial intelligence in the past decade have made the search engine a lot more intuitive. Keyword bombing is therefore less important than it was, as it is common for pages to rank for many different keywords organically. The important factor is content optimisation, using a number of interconnected, natural keywords.
Contextual use of keywords is recognised by Google and rewarded accordingly. High quality content also gives your website visitors a better user experience – which is the most important factor at the end of the day.
Mobile Optimisation For Mobile Users
2007 saw the birth of the smart phone era with the first-generation iPhone. However, at the time all websites were optimised to be viewed on desktop and laptop computers. Website files could therefore afford to be relatively large, as they could rely on the superior processing capacity of computers to load them in a reasonable time.
At the end of 2016, the balance has tipped. More people use their mobile devices to access the Internet than they do their computers. Loading speed is therefore an extremely important factor in SEO. Websites with optimised images, mobile friendly variants and clean code achieve better search results and a higher number of clicks.
Local SEO For Local People
Successive versions of Google’s search algorithms show a preoccupation with relevant content. In the early days of the Internet, a keyword would bring up links from all over the world. This made it easy for ‘black hat’ SEO companies to get spam links into the Google FrontPage by including keywords in the website URL or company name.
Priority is now given to local results, with a ‘three pack‘ of local businesses given at the head of each result page. This gives an incentive for SEO professionals to drop their reliance on link directories and fake locations and concentrate on genuine, interesting local content.
Links: Quality Beats Quantity
In the old days, back links were a numbers game. The more inbound links your website had, the better Google liked it, no matter where they were from. It wasn’t fussy. This unfortunately saw the proliferation of huge ‘link farms’; monstrous directories providing tens of thousands of links to various sites. People tried to cram in links wherever they could, in hidden text, keyword heavy anchor text and even by purchasing links from spam directories.
In 2016, quality beats quantity. The important thing now is not the number of links, but their quality and relevance to your business. A combination of blogging and social media marketing can quickly generate quality back links through shares and content proliferation.
In 2007, social media and search engines existed in different worlds, as Facebook and Twitter content was not listed by Google. Now it is. Social media marketing and search engine optimisation therefore work hand-in-hand to create relevant content and broadcast it effectively in front of the target audience.
Perhaps the biggest way that SEO has changed is that it no longer operates in a vacuum. You used to find companies that provided SEO as their only service. This doesn’t happen anymore. SEO is now rightly seen as one part of a broader approach to online marketing that includes social media, digital apps, email marketing and paid advertising.
Get in touch with one of our marketing specialists to find out more about SEO, and how having the right content can boost your visibility on the Google top page.