From basic beginnings, SEO has evolved into a mighty beast that now dominates the thoughts of every webmaster throughout the world, making it one of the most competitive industries with both SEO consultants and industry competitors trying out-do one another on a daily basis.
During it’s infancy, SEO was an extremely basic process where optimising the a webpage’s Meta data would, in all probability, have a positive impact on its organic presence and overall online visibility level. If you wanted to be found effectively on Google for “Aviation Equipment”, for example, you would simply enhance your Homepage’s Meta title to become “Aviation Equipment”, whilst you would include the targeted term within an informative Meta description, as well as inserting it into your Meta keywords. If this targeted keyword was then included within the page title, body content and alt text then, within a short period of time, your website would feature strongly within the first page of Google’s search results.
Of course, one of the reasons for this was that SEO was still a young industry, with very few websites actually optimising its pages. In addition, Google’s search algorithms were, at the time, very basic and only focused on a small number of elements and, if these elements were met, then strong organic rankings would be achieved.
In short, achieving organic success on Google was a fairly straightforward process. However, those days are long gone.
In the last fifteen years or so, the evolution of SEO has been dramatic with Google now analysing hundreds of elements when determining which websites/webpages should feature prominently within their organic results. This ranges from on-page SEO (Meta information, page titles, h1 tags, body content, internal linking and so on) and the number of quality backlinks that lead into your website/webpage – so the main areas that were analysed historically – to a vast number of technical elements, such as site speed, whether the site is mobile-friendly, and whether the content on your pages meets end-user’s needs. Further to this, your company’s social media presence also now plays a factor in how effectively your website will perform, as Google now wants to show the best quality results within its organic results, therefore businesses that have a strong social media following will, more than likely, only feature prominently within the search results on Google.
Another huge shift in SEO has come due to the rise of online usage on mobile devices. Previously, SEO was focused around desktop computers, as this is how users accessed the web, but this has now changed with mobile phones now becoming the most used device for users to get online, with this shift officially taking place in 2015.
This has led to Google’s search algorithms focusing more heavily on the mobile experience that each website provides. So, SEO consultants, and webmasters, now need to ensure that their sites are mobile-friendly, offer a strong user-experience across mobile phones and tablets, as well as load within around two seconds to achieve greater organic success.
Another shift in the evolution in SEO has come in the form of link building, which has always been an key factor in achieving organic success. However, in the early days of SEO, link building was purely built around the number of links that you could gain into your site. This led to many webmasters buying hundreds, or even thousands, of backlinks from link farms to immediately, and substantially, increase their backlink profile, whilst anchor text also played a more important role in the SEO process, as keyword-rich anchor text would help to boost a site’s organic ranking for the terms used within the links themselves.
In reality, the backlink process was, historically, flawed due to the ways in which the system could be manipulated, especially if buying hundreds of links from link farms in India actually led to sites achieving a vastly improved level of organic visibility.
Fortunately, in the case of fairness, link building is now far more focused on gaining quality links rather than sheer quantity. This makes link building far more difficult than it was before, but that now puts everyone in a fairly level playing field, unless of course your main competitor is Amazon, eBay or Google themselves!
Gaining links from highly authoritative webpages, especially those that contain a strong relevance to your own sites, are far more heavily weighted, whilst gaining links from spammy websites can actually hinder your organic progress within Google, making them a huge no-no in the new world of SEO.
Overall, it is now a case of creating a healthy and “natural” link profile and, if this is achieved, then great online success can be achieved.
Early within the article we touched upon the importance of social media, and it is essential that we highlight this in more detail, especially as it can make the difference between you sitting behind one of your competitors on Google or surpassing them.
Social media is a topic that many clients fail to understand the benefit of, mainly down to a couple of reasons. Firstly, a large number of clients who were around when print advertising was the key to achieving success fail to appreciate the importance that social media now plays, both in increasing the awareness and visibility of a business and it’s products, but also in developing the organic progress of their website. Secondly, many business owners think that the social media audience simply would not be interested in what they have to say, but this is a mistake that has been made now for far too long.
Initially, social media fell outside of the scope of the vast majority of SEO campaigns, with many experts and webmasters considering social media to be separate from the work that was required to achieve organic success on the search engines. Today though, social media plays a huge role in SEO and any digital marketing experts, or webmasters, that ignore this are making a huge mistake, as the two need to work hand-in-hand to achieve an increased level of brand exposure and engagement.
Of course, it is also important to not ignore the simple fact that your business can also reach a vast audience on social media, which is also different to the audience that would be searching for your products on Google. If you are selling a new product then it is unlikely that users will be searching for it within the organic search results, whereas, promoting the product through social media can make a huge difference to product awareness, which, in turn, will provide a boost to the number of organic visits that you receive via Google and other leading search engines.
So, the evolution of SEO is clear for everyone to see. Gone are the days when Google focused on a small number of basic on-page elements, with these being replaced by a far more complex array of factors, ranging from technical to social and everything in between. However, do not assume that the SEO evolution has stopped because, if you do, then you will be very much mistaken, as new important, decisive factors are being added to Google’s search algorithms at an alarming rate, making the job of SEO consultants more complicated and tougher than ever before.
And we wouldn’t want it any other way.
Discover how Jump 2 IT Media can help your website achieve online success by visiting our search engine optimisation page. Alternatively, give us a call on 0845 582 3545 to speak to our friendly team.