SEO: Then & Now – Oh What a Difference a Few Years Can Make!

seo2kWith Panda, Penguin and all the other updates coming out of Google regularly, SEO has transformed over the years. What worked a few years ago, doesn’t work today as Google and the other search engines are constantly making improvements to provide internet users with an improved experience. If you were to look at a webpage optimized for use around the mid 1990s and compare it to a similar site optimized today, it would be easy to see the difference. Even though the SEO methods used back then were not wrong at the time, they would be deemed outdated if used today wherein they’d have very little, if any effect on a page’s rankings.

Let’s take a look at old school SEO and the SEO used today so we can see the differences, shall we?

SEO of Yesteryear: Focus Was On Keyword Stuffing & Gathering Links (and Lots of Them)

The SEO mindset several years ago was focused on both singular keywords and singular pages. Everybody involved in search engine optimization was busy carrying out various techniques like keyword stuffing and over-emphasizing meta keywords. And, it was thought back then that the quantity of links a page had was far more important that the quality of the links obtained.

For many years, people were fervently stuffing keywords into as many places as possible on pages, in their meta data, text body and in titles. It didn’t matter where you looked back then, you’d find keywords crammed in all over the place. Why was this being done? Because it was thought that the more times the keyword was used, the better the chances the content had of being seen which would result in higher rankings in search engine ranking pages (SERPs).

Linkbuilding Past and Present

As far as linkbuilding is concerned, years ago it was extremely important to get as many links as possible pointing to a webpage. The mantra everyone mumbled was “the more links, the better” without any concern whatsoever about link quality. People kept themselves very busy selling, buying and trading links and this went on and on day in and day out. This attention to gathering links led to the development of link farms. It also resulted in many webmaster and internet marketing forums dedicating whole sections of their online communities to link buying and selling. It was indeed a mad, mad time as people just couldn’t collect enough links no matter how poor the quality of those links were. And you’d better believe that many of the links people were swapping, buying and selling were of horrible, pitiful quality! In fact, they were the types of links SEO people today would shudder and lose sleep over they were just that bad!

Today, linkbuilding is still important but the links one has pointing to their site must be non-spammy in nature and relevant.  Now instead of quantity, the focus is definitely on quality as Google places high value on sites that have authoritative, quality links pointing to them that come from trustworthy sources.

Old School Content Creation – Everybody Was Writing for Google and Yahoo

Back in the day, people were creating content specifically for the search engines with little or no regard to quality or relevance. Of course, there were many very reputable and upstanding sites that did create great content focused on searchers’ needs that was of very high quality  and relevant – and those were the sites that reigned supreme online. But for lots and lots of other sites, the train of thought was that the search engines were so hungry for content that they were gobbling it up without caring if that content was good or not or relevant to the user or even the page it was being placed on.

If you’ve never seen older websites that featured this type of content, consider yourself lucky because it wasn’t a pretty picture. There were so many sites out there that were filled with rubbish as the content did nothing to meet the needs of users. If the content did have any relevance it didn’t matter because the quality was usually so poor nobody in their right mind would spend their time trying to read and make sense of it all.

Modern SEO – All About Keyword Intent and the Searcher’s Needs

Modern SEO focuses on keyword intent and the search user’s needs. As the search engines advanced and became more sophisticated, they began favoring long-tailed keywords and keyword phrases. In other words, instead of focusing on using just one single keyword or two-worded keywords like ‘shoes’ or ‘women’s shoes’ businesses started to use longer keywords and keyword phrases like those used by online searchers looking for particular types of women’s shoes. Today, when an online searcher uses a phrase like ‘women’s outdoor shoes for hiking’, the first search results they’ll receive would be shoe stores selling those exact types of shoes because the person doing SEO for those stores targeted those phrases or something similar to it.

New SEO is Very Much Focused on Great Content that Shines

Nowadays, SEO is all about creating content to provide true, real value to the audience. Google and the other search engines value outstanding content that’s relevant, interesting, unique and informative. For those people who are still producing crappy content (and yes, there are many who still do), the search spiders crawling the web simply ignore those sites as today bad content is a big no-no. In other words, when low quality, irrelevant content is put on a page, the search engines will simply ignore that page wherein the page is never found by online searchers.

User experience is what’s important today when it comes to creating content. Google knows and so do we all, that nobody wants to sit down at their computer, type in a query and receive a ton of garbage as their search results. What people want when searching online are answers to the questions they have and solutions to the problems they’re experiencing. That’s exactly why the search engines are rewarding websites with good content by placing them higher in the search results and penalizing sites that don’t focus on creating content that meets the needs of searchers.

To conclude, the biggest thing to change in the world of SEO over the past several years is content marketing or the creation and promotion of content for marketing one’s business. Long gone are the days where you could build a few thousand non-relevant links and rank a webpage. These days it’s important to follow the guidelines as they roll out with each new algorithm update coming out of Google. In the end, what the search giant wants is for all of us to make the web a better place.