Ten Years of SEO

Where would we be without SEO? SEO is crucial and constantly evolving to keep up with new demands for information by ever-thirsty web users, which makes it an interesting subject to focus on… Especially as we are celebrating the dawn of Rawww ten years ago, which ties in nicely with the evolution of SEO and the last ten years in particular. So, what does the future look like for SEO and what developments can we expect in the years ahead?

But first, let’s go back to 1991 when the World Wide Web was launched and SEO was in its infancy. Usability and optimisation was so simple back then; results were sorted according to keywords found within content and backend optimisation, but with the arrival of Google and Yahoo that soon changed.

In the early years there were no rules, which marketers could use to what they probably felt was their advantage, but in reality, stuffing as many keywords as possible into content, overloading pages with tagging and backlinks was not a clean or clever way to generate high search rankings. Content would be messy and spam was a problem. Rules and regulations were needed for some sort of order and an end to unprincipled optimisation tactics.

This is where search pioneers such as Google stepped in. They understood the need for homing in on valuable content and discouraging the use of black-hat SEO tactics by using clever algorithm updates that would penalise those not following the rules. They looked at how data was indexed and delivered and they simplified the whole process so users could get to the information they needed quickly and easily.

In the last ten years, we have seen a more personalised and user-focused web, thanks to search leaders like Google. Marketers could no longer get away with packing as many keywords into their content as possible, or using bad linking practices, so they became more inventive and created tighter content and backlinks that were relevant and focused on the user. This time period also saw the beginning of local SEO that gave users useful, local information such as locations, maps and mobile results.

The demand for ‘real time’ news has also surged in the last ten years. Users want their information straight away, which means a more reactive experience is needed to satisfy that instant gratification required. Features such as Google’s Universal Search and real time updates from Google News and Twitter, etc. means that news, images and video are instantly accessible and this user-focused approach is ever-improving thanks to even more developments that include Google Suggest, Google Trends, Google Analytics and Google Instant which displays results as a query is being typed… How did we ever live without this?

And what about more recent changes? One of the biggest developments in the last few years has been the way that brands need to ‘earn’ their rankings. Google stepped up on major updates that imposed even stricter regulations on keywords, content quality and the use of over-optimisation. Brands had to concentrate on good, user-focused content more than ever before or face the consequences.

All this is great news for users who get cleaner, faster and easier search results both locally and nationally. The availability of immediate answers from features such as Google’s Knowledge Graph also helped as users could see everything they needed via panels in search engine results pages (SERPS) rather than dig through content.

Social media has also had a huge impact on the need for, and quality of, SEO. If marketers create interesting, shareable content on their website, this will then be shared across the web, which in turn creates backlinks and even further engagement! We’re all experiencing a more personalised web… but should that worry us?

Another shift in SEO is how accessible a website is as those lacking mobile optimisation or responsive design will see a significant reduction in how and where they rank when it comes to SERPS. Brands need to ensure their website works across all devices and is fully responsive as well as using the right keywords and links. If they want to keep up with the quality content and personalisation that SEO – and the internet – demands.

As for the future, we are confident that SEO will continue to concentrate on building the user experience via personalisation, user intent and unique content that is of the best quality. As previously stated, we want our information, and we want it now. Just look at the increasing popularity of smart tech and wearable gadgets that give us constant connectivity and predicative content solutions. As a brand, you need to ensure that you stay ahead by using this instant user need to leverage data from external platforms so you can personalise users’ searches and meet their needs.

Here’s a few of our top tips to help you along the way:

  • Maintain a strong, consistent brand presence across all digital channels
  • Use social media! Maintain a social presence – and influence – via social media platforms
  • Experiment with visual content media as it is a growing trend
  • Have content that is accessible and optimised for local, mobile and voice-enabled searches
  • If you have an app, use app-indexing, which allows users to land on exactly the right content within your app
  • Be creative!

SEO is a crucial part of your business, and it will continue to grow alongside the web and evolve with even more regulations (and penalties). If used well, it can make a big difference to who you reach and how, but we understand that all this SEO talk can be a little baffling, which is why we’re here to help.

Our knowledge in SEO and the ever changing regulations means we can ensure your website is optimised both onsite and offsite, and we can create a plan for content that is search engine friendly and appeals to your target audience.

Let’s talk SEO.