SEO Then & Now

Now that the top three ranking factors from Google are well known, are we going to see a drastic change in the application of SEO?

How will the top three ranking factors impact the application of SEO in the future?

Let us go back in history before attempting to answer this question.

SEO has evolved a lot over the years, when SEO came into being, there were just a few basic optimization techniques that a site needed in order to get top ranking in the SERPs. Many of those optimization techniques are in practice today, but in a much more evolved way. SEO elements that were a part of the optimization process, such as, the title tag, description tag, keyword tag, header tags, body text, images, anchor texts, internal links, site architecture, etc, have been there ever since SEO started. Some of these elements are still very important.

The difference from then and now is how much of importance each of these elements gets; the focus has shifted from optimizing a page by following a fixed set of on and off page optimizing techniques to optimizing a site with a more customer centric focus, the earlier optimization was focused more on the search engines. With a shift in focus, the applicability of the on-page technical factors changed too. Today a site has to be user friendly, informative, with a strong focus on attracting, retaining, and converting customers into paying customers. Back then, SEOs job was done once a site got ranked, well mostly.

What we have seen and are seeing is the evolution of the SEO techniques that were mostly  transactional” to a more “strategic” approach now.

Google’s top three ranking factors did not come as a surprise. Content that answers the visitors question and retains the interest of the visitor has been something that most marketers have been focusing on, whether through texts, videos, infographics….

And Links have always been one of the most popular SEO techniques and it continues to be. But there is a change in how the links are obtained now vis-à-vis back then. Back then there were pages and pages devoted to external links. You would find sites that would have pages and pages full of unrelated links categorized under various categories. They were just link farms that were existing because of various link exchanges, one way, two way, three way, anyway…. 🙂

Today the most valuable external links are those that are obtained naturally. That starts happening once you are an authority by virtue of your content (the 2nd top ranking factor for Google). Content that is unique, informative, researched, and helpful so that people find it beneficial, interesting, unique, and worth sharing and linking to.This is when people link to a content naturally.

Traditionally there were other ways of getting links; from high traffic portal, search directories, Press releases, etc. All of these continue to exist and some of them are still good ways of generating links but the difference now is that marketers are focusing on getting links from highly relevant sites and not any site that may provide them a link since there is no value in that. The idea of links is to help visitors, to direct them to sites that they may find helpful. This shift in SEO from merely ranking to converting has impacted how SEO is applied today.

There has been a paradigm shift in the way SEO is applied today vis-à-vis back then. None of the earlier techniques are obsolete (barring a few that actually never made sense, link exchanges and link farms, unnecessary and unnatural stuffing of keywords in visible texts, titles, anchor texts) but what has changed is how SEO best practices are applied, the degree, and the context in which it is applied.

We won’t see a sudden drastic change in SEO strategies, but a consolidation of the changes that we have been seeing until now. We will see more focused approach towards creating unique, informative, and useful content.

We will continue to see SEO best practices evolve even more as we approach the era when the “Internet of things” is in everything!

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