The Evolution of SEO

We are constantly reading about how SEO is no longer what it used to be and it’s no longer good enough just to bombard a site with SEO keywords and be done with it. But, in reality as long as you never strayed too far from the basics, you’ll probably not have had to change your actual approach a whole lot. 10 years ago SEO operatives were looking at:

  • Title Tags
  • Meta Descriptions
  • Meta Keyword tags
  • H Headings
  • Internal links
  • External Links
  • Content
  • Alt tags

The only things on the list that are no longer applicable 10 years on, are the Meta Keyword tags. It is, however, clear that the parameters in which these tools are implemented have shifted. In the past it was a lot about worshipping those (earlier and simpler) algorithms and boosting ranking with a side helping of excessive linking. The fact that search engines have revamped their algorithms to shift the focus onto the endgame of the user and ever further from the convenient grasp of the SEO programmer, has meant the approach, if not the toolset has had to evolve.

SEO has ceased to be a bludgeoning crusade to make your client the number one in a list for a designated set of search criteria and instead has taken an evolutionary step into a more diverse biome where fertile ideas and the sharing of information are your greatest survival tools. Content and authority have become absolutely crucial in providing successful SEO planning. Content in the 2010s has become measurable for its utility, relevance and informative value – in other words it is judged by its usefulness to the end user. By analysing and parsing consumer insights, in conjunction with social media strategy it is possible to clearly identify audiences and align content to their interests, keeping the business goal firmly in mind.

As SEO strategies continue to evolve it is also clear that our idea of ‘ranking’ is also on shifting terrain. The SERP number one ‘tag’ was until recently the holy grail of the SE world, but perhaps it is worth noting that the idea of ‘ranking’ has to a massive extent been usurped by the idea of ‘visibility.’ By visibility we mean occupying and owning as much non-paid virtual real estate online on search engine results pages as is humanly possible. This can be in the form of image carousels, info-grams and answer boxes. We are also focused more and more on audiences beyond the SERP realm and across myriad devices, platforms and social media outlets. The endgame is giving people the opportunity to connect with your content and achieve satisfaction for their goals from your content wherever and whenever they require it. In simple terms, breadth and the physical ramifications of mobile visibility are vital. Mobile visibility has become enormous and consumers are ever shifting away from computer use to access online material on their mobile devices. If there has been one key evolutionary change in SEO it’s the shift towards the vital nature of mobile optimization. That and the realization that content has to be provided for the people and not the algorithm, because at the end of the day the functionality and nature of these algorithms will shift along with consumer behaviour and demands and so it stands to reason that focusing on algorithms is short-termist and will be a costly mistake to fix going forward.

It is, however worth going full circle and looking at the fundamentals, which without the outdated practice of following algorithms still remain the objective.

“The practice of SEO is fundamentally about improving your visibility within search engines, organically.” An old definition, whose sentiment still rings true.

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