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5 Ways SEO Has Changed Over the Last Decade

How SEO Has Changed

Ask any digital marketing expert and they’ll lament how drastically search engine optimization (SEO) changed over the last 10 years. In its early stages, SEO was as simple as accruing a plethora of backlinks and stuffing keywords to manipulate business’s search rank. Google quickly put an end to these black-hat SEO practices and still continues to evolve its search algorithm. High-quality content and strong links are still the keys to SEO, but how else has it changed in the last decade?

With new technological changes comes new behavior in the way we buy, discover and consume content. The experts at Premiere Creative can best explain the key changes in SEO for how you should now approach SEO.

1) Mobile Prioritization

Did you know mobile traffic exceeded desktop traffic in 2014? Over the last decade, we’ve seen a continual shift from desktop to mobile. Currently, Google is working to emphasize the importance of optimizing websites for mobile users.

But how exactly does this relate to SEO? The rise of mobile devices has also changed the way marketers construct SEO strategies. Although it is not required, optimizing your website for mobile is extremely common. So much so that Google is working to enforce a mobile-friendly update.

Local mobile searches will likely exceed desktop searches for the first time so search engines are adjusting. Google updated its algorithm to penalize sites that generate errors for mobile users.

2) The Downfall of Keywords

Keywords used to be a pillar in which search engines would break down and index page content. Basically, back in the day, if your page did not contain a specific keyword, your website would not appear in search results for that keyword. Past SEO practice had webmasters stuffing their pages with keywords in order to increase their page rank; whether hiding them with invisible text or within the website’s code. Search engines quickly changed their algorithm to change the way keywords work with one another.

On August 26, 2013, Google quietly rolled a completely new algorithm for indexing and ranking all web sites and pages. Under the codename, “Hummingbird,” this algorithm analyzed the user’s intent behind a keyword query – or rather a semantic search. With more artificial intelligence, search engines could now understand the relationship between all individual words in a keyword query. The digital world was completely unaware of this total change until Google finally announced it in September 2013.

How were SEO specialists expected to recover from this algorithm? Semantic searches attempt to improve the accuracy of a search by deciphering the contextual meaning of terms used. Thus, when writing content, today marketers create more in-depth content that answers typical questions asked starting with: who, what, why, when, where, and how. Furthermore, using long-tailed keyword phrases that answer questions is exactly what Google wants when they crawl websites. Thus, you will receive a boost in Google’s SERPs.

3) The Rise of Quality Content

As keyword emphasis deteriorates, brands are shifting their efforts to producing high-quality content. Google emphasizes high quality and useful content that satisfies your target audience to ultimately frequent your site and share it with others. In recent years, Google updated its search algorithm to reward sites that offer useful, unique and informative content. Sites with poorly written content with grammar errors and misspellings generally get bumped down the rank, as these types of mistakes indicate a lack of authority. Similarly, sites that feature duplicate content from other sites are de-ranked and de-indexed.

In addition, sites that deliberately inserted keywords multiple times in web pages that were out of context to make the page rank higher than it deserves. However, the algorithm also boosted sites that had great content, went in-depth on their articles, had fewer ads and had no duplicate content. Search engines consider these websites more relevant and authoritative, thereby showing up higher in SERPs.

Good quality content comes from knowing your audience. Reach out to your clients and followers to facilitate relationships. This is very important as it can encourage them to share your brand information. This creates more connections for you. Producing high-quality content will help keep you at the top of search engine results.

4) The End of Link Schemes

The way links count towards your search rank has also changed. When a site links to your website this is a signal to both humans and search engines that your site has relevant and authoritative information that can help them. You get more visitors and search engine crawlers through links to your site. The more relevant and authoritative sites link to you, the more Google will view your website as authoritative. But people used to employ devious link schemes to get their websites to rank higher on search engines by deliberately manipulating backlinks. These tactics included link directories and buying backlinks. Backlinks are tricky because only the links from sites that are topically relevant to your site’s content, matter. In fact, links from sites that are completely unrelated unfortunately cause your site to drop in rankings, or even banned or de-indexed.

On April 24, 2012, Google rolled out a new algorithmic penalty aimed at penalizing, banning or de-listing sites that deployed shady link building tactics. Furthermore, link-building practices that were once “white hat” on April 23, 2013, were now considered “black hat” tactics. Today, the only way to earn rank is through natural link attraction and link building with guest posts.

5) The Proliferation of Social Media

Today, social media greatly affects SEO, as social media allows you to widely distribute your content. Google operates to serve users with the content that best fits their search needs. In order to promote a company or brand in Google’s image, social media can be a valuable tool to use. The reputation your company or brand establishes on social media leads to trusting users who can enjoy your valuable content, and promote your website. Thus, you will earn higher rankings based on the traffic and value of your content. The rise of social media can do wonders for your SEO if you use it to your advantage.

Understanding SEO

Mastering SEO can make your company or brand more successful and ultimately improve your search appearance. Knowing where SEO stands today can help your company ascend to the top of Google’s SERPs. Let the digital experts at Premiere Creative help you become a stronger company by perfecting your SEO. Get started by contacting Premiere Creative today and giving us a call at (973) 346-8100!