In the late 1990s and at the turn of the millennium, the internet was starting to become an increasingly important commodity for businesses and organizations throughout Clifton Park, New York.
And with Google being the world’s go-to search engine, webmasters believed that being ranked as high as possible in search engine results pages (SERPs) was imperative.
Original SEO Tactics
In order to achieve this, webmasters would perform a range of different SEO tactics:
- Paid links
- Stuffing pages with keywords
- Link farming
- Hidden text
- Duplicate content
- Blog comment spam
These methods were done with only the search engine robots in mind.
For example, a piece of content that had been overly optimized with keywords would be near enough unreadable for a human.
However, as these search engine robots weren’t as sophisticated as they are today, these tactics succeeded in boosting rankings; as far as webmasters saw it, if it boosted rankings, who cared about the end user?
However, the SEO industry has changed.
Google’s robots have become more sophisticated. These kinds of tactics no longer work and, if you were to try them, your site would end up being penalized, something which could hamper future chances of good organic search performance.
Modern SEO Tactics
Today, SEO is all about the human; your end user.
Webmasters should optimize their website and its content in a way that will help its visitors and potential customers. Examples of effective SEO tactics include:
- Producing quality content
- Using structural semantic markup
- Carefully crafted and accurate title and meta tags
- Thorough keyword research
- High quality inbound links
- Social Marketing
- Good user experience
Through brand outreach, connecting with your customers and visitors with great content and a solid social media strategy, you can begin to build a strong reputation for your brand and increase the relationship between its ‘fans.’
For example, a consumer is much more likely to purchase from your eCommerce site if they enjoy reading and sharing your high quality content than a rival site that doesn’t do this as well.
The theory that ‘SEO is dead’ often gets floated around in digital circles. The truth is that it isn’t.
As the industry has evolved and sites like Google have enhanced their algorithms, so have the practices. In short, SEO has evolved into something else.
The commercial objectives of a business should now be much more aligned with the objectives of Google and the sites that it ranks highly.
How Search Engines Make Money (Why It Matters)
There are two kinds of search results.
Organic results are “natural” results. Based on a series of complex algorithms, sites like Google will try and ensure that the sites that appear in the SERPs are those best placed to answer your query.
Paid results – PPC ads are placed by advertisers (or third party advertising networks) and displayed according to a formula that includes how much the advertiser is willing to pay, how relevant the ad is to the keyword and the quality of the landing page.
When searchers click on these ads, this is how search engines make their money. And, of course, the search engine with the most users will command a higher fee for ads.
Search engines are always working to ensure that the sites appearing organically are the most relevant. This is the only way they can make their search engine better than others.
Once a user feels that a particular site isn’t giving them the information they require, they’ll simply switch search engines. This will reduce the search engine’s user base, which means fewer searches to serve ads against…and lower rates for the PPC ads.
Search Engine Algorithms for SEO
All of the major search engines roll out updates to ensure that their organic results are of the highest quality. For example, Google typically makes between 500 and 600 algorithm changes each year.
The majority of these updates are fairly minor, just small feature improvements or minor tweaks to how Google ranks a site. For Google, there are two recent and ongoing updates that, when they first launched, had a significant impact on the SEO industry:
Panda: this aims to completely remove or lower the rank of low-quality sites, ad-heavy pages and thin content. You’re probably safe from the impact of Panda if you publish high quality, original content that people want to read and share.
Penguin: this looks for link spam and devalues it. There is minimum risk to your site from Penguin if you publish high quality, original content that reputable sites want to link to.
This means that you should not engage in any ‘spammy’ linking practices, such as buying links, spamming comment posts with links, paid advertorials, submitting un-newsworthy press releases and so on.
Hummingbird: again, the search engines are tightly focused on providing the best experience for the searcher so that they can become (or remain) the engine of choice.
Indeed, to mark Google’s 15th birthday in October 2013, the organization announced details of its Hummingbird algorithm, an update which helps users with more conversational/natural language as opposed to a list of keywords.
Hummingbird is designed to provide answers to long tail searches in a more intuitive way than previous Google algorithms.
Users have come to expect more from Google; they want more accurate results for more specific queries.
Hummingbird should help with this demand, as well as with the increase in voice activated searches from mobile devices that may incorporate language and phrases that ‘chattier.’
By doing this, search engines will help grow their traffic numbers, which eventually will mean that bidding for ads will become more competitive.