The world of SEO is a bit like the fashion scene: Trends that enjoyed massive popularity a few years ago often seem hopelessly outdated by today’s standards. Continuously evolving search engine algorithms drive the frantic pace of change on the SEO landscape; in addition to its well-publicized Panda and Penguin updates, Google is said to tweak its algorithm 500 to 600 times each year. SEO tactics that previously earned your website a top spot in the search results might get you slapped with a Google penalty today. Let’s take a look at some of the biggest changes that rocked the SEO world over the years and see how search has grown and matured into a powerful marketing tool.
A Changing Approach To Keywords:
In the early days of SEO, most optimization techniques focused on singular keywords. Back then, search engines weren’t able to decipher longer, more conversational queries, so users would use individual keywords either alone or in combination, to tell the search engine what they were looking for. Times have changed, and search engines have evolved to successfully manage long-tail keywords and conversational queries that resemble actual questions. When developing a set of keywords and keyword phrases, businesses need to focus on the intent behind the keyword: What are users actually looking for and how are they going to ask for it?
Keyword research continues to require a degree of trial and error in order to succeed; fortunately, many tools exist to allow companies to track the performance of their individual keywords. Using a SEO automation platform in conjunctions with experienced companies that can assist such as PosiRank, businesses can monitor their positions for targeted keywords across all the major search engines and make changes as needed.
Tighter Standards For Content:
It’s no longer possible to fill a website with meaningless, keyword-stuffed filler content and expect to show up in the search results. This low-quality content was designed to be seen by search engines; it was never written with human readers in mind. Today’s set of SEO best practices demands a higher level of quality for content. Search engines like Google know that users are looking for an answer to a question when they perform a search, and they want to provide users with the most relevant and helpful information possible. In order to hit the top of the search results for your chosen keywords, you need to provide valuable, informative content for your readers.
Not only do you want people to read your content, but you also want them to link to it, comment on it and share it with their social networks. Social signals like comments and shares have become significant factors in determining search results ranking, so it’s important to keep visitors interested and coming back for more of your content.
The New Rules For Link Building:
There was a time when backlinks could be bought by the thousand; during that earlier era of SEO, practices like this actually worked and could boost your ranking for certain keywords. Today, purchasing volumes of backlinks for a keyword is guaranteed to send your site plummeting in the rankings for that keyword. Article directories, another mainstay of the early SEO game, have also come under closer scrutiny by the search engines. Appearing in these directories is unlikely to help your ranking today; in fact, it may even hurt your chances of hitting the top of the search results.
To succeed under the current set of best practices, you need to earn your links the old-fashioned way. You don’t even need any SEO tactics to earn links in this organic fashion: All you need is engaging, valuable content that other sites want to share. To build up a quality link profile more quickly, it can be helpful to reach out to reputable sites in your niche and ask them for a backlink; asking people in your professional or personal networks can also result in a few more links for your profile.
It’s clear that the days of keyword stuffing, shoddy link building and junk content are long gone. Today’s SEO best practices hold websites and marketers up to higher standards: Search engines are determined to provide a top-notch user experience for each and every query, and this commitment is reflected in today’s approaches toward keywords, content and link building. If you’re still using some antiquated SEO techniques on your company’s website, it’s time to make a few changes. Adhering to the current best practices for SEO can make a big difference in your company’s visibility and help boost your bottom line.