How Has SEO Changed Through the Years?

We live in a world that is continually changing, adapting and evolving. SEO included. It’s been a journey. The expansive world of SEO is ever-changing and us digitals have had to move with it.

In the Beginning

Despite SEO still being a mystery to many, it is no new thing. Some may argue it has been around since the very beginning of the internet. On August 16th 1991, the worlds first website was born. It was launched by Tim Berners-Lee, and it is still alive today. 

As many more websites followed, there was an ever-present need for structure and reachability. Arise search engines – Yahoo launched in 1994 and Google launched in 1997. Their purpose was to display, organise and optimise website information available for users.

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In these early stages, rules didn’t really exist. Think keyword stuffing, spammy linking and overdone tagging. Anything to reach the top of search results. Black hat SEO techniques went under the radar and website owners could pretty much do anything they wanted in order to rank. 

Over time, search engine leaders realised the opportunities available and adapted themselves to implement the guidelines and regulations that define the Internet we all use today. 

Content – A Constant 

Content has been a key to success in SEO throughout time. Before, the more content you could get the better. Stuff it with keywords and you probably had an even better chance. Until the big 2011 Google update (in the form of a Panda). 

Since then, the content on websites has very much been about quality over quantity. Sure, you still need enough content to give users the information they need, but only if that is what it does. To rise through the ranks now, the content has to be balanced with substance and value. Search engines are very clever at sifting through content that has purpose versus content that has been designed purely for ranking. 

White Hat For the Win

Black hat SEO. A phrase all search engine marketers should strive to avoid. Practice spammy link building now and you could very well be penalized for it. In times of old, this was a major technique to optimise website authority. But no more! 

Today, natural link attraction is the way to catch the attention of search engine crawlers. You have to earn it. Valuable and genuine link building through trusted techniques such as guesting posting and news article features will be the recipe you need to succeed (that rhymed). 

Support Local

Thanks to the modern-day digital world and the rise of mobile search, local terms have become much more prominent across keyword rankings. This fact was especially boosted in 2014 with yet another animal, the Pigeon update. This algorithm change meant that more relevant and accurate local search results were linked with traditional ranking methods. 

Although ranking locally can prove to be competitive and sometimes difficult, there is a wide choice of method that can be used to get your website foot in the search engine door: 

  • Google My Business optimisation
  • Keyword optimisation
  • High authority directories 
  • Consistent NAP listings
  • Schema
  • Reviews

Mobile Madness

Today if your website isn’t optimised for mobile or doesn’t have a responsive design, you’re losing out. Since the infamous and game-changing emerging of the iPhone in 2007, mobile internet use has exploded. Over the past decade (plus) the prioritisation of website optimisation has shifted well and truly from desktop to mobile. 

Look at your website data and you will most likely find that the majority of your website users are browsing on their mobile devices. With mobile-first indexing being ever more apparent, Google now nearly always uses your mobile website first for indexing and ranking, making it even more important to be ready and optimised. 

The Modern-Day

It’s not just fashion that has come a long since the 90s, search engines and SEO have also evolved almost beyond recognition. It’s been a rollercoaster journey – new search engines, countless algorithm updates, SEO tools, publications and updated methods. The list goes on. We have listed just a few of the ways that SEO has changed, but there has been much more and we don’t doubt that this will continue through the years to come.

Whatever happens, the fact remains that SEO will always be a vital part of websites and their success. To find out more and gain access to expert SEO insight, get in touch with our amazing Birmingham SEO team today.