The best SEO practices as we know them are very different today to what they have been traditionally. Once upon a time, it is assumed that the best way to get ahead in the search engine rankings was to post as much content as humanly possible and to get as many links as possible too. It was all about volume, all about quantity over quantity. Today all that has changed the precise opposite approach is the only viable option. In this post, we’ll take a look at the very best SEO strategies and why they are what they are…
SEO Then And Now
When Google first became the number one search engine, everyone clamored to try and work out what the best way to get to the top was. Google was relatively simplistic back then fortunately though and that meant it didn’t take long to decipher precisely what Google’s algorithm involved. Back then, Google used two basic methods in order to try and index content.
The first was to look for inbound links. Google’s spiders would follow links in order to find new pages on the web and would also see them as testimonials. The more links a site had, the more popular it was deemed to be and the assumption was that this would be a reflection of quality.
In order to discern the subject matter of the site meanwhile, Google would look for exact keyword matches. If a certain phrase was repeated often enough in the text, then it would stand to reason that that phrase must be highly relevant and it would make sense to show the site when people searched for that term.
But the problem with this system was that it was too simplistic and too easy to manipulate. It was only a matter of time before people began flooding there websites with repetitive uses of the same keywords and with lots of low-quality in fact often paid links. In short, Google’s search results pages began to fill up with spam.
SEO The New Way
Each year, Google changes its search algorithm around 500–600 times. While most of these changes are minor, Google occasionally rolls out a “major” algorithmic update (such as Google Panda and Google Penguin) that affects search results in significant ways.
For search marketers, knowing the dates of these Google updates can help explain changes in rankings and organic website traffic and ultimately improve search engine optimization.
2017 Updates “Fred” (Unconfirmed) — March 8, 2017
Google rolled out what appeared to be a major update, with reports of widespread impacts across the SEO community. Gary Illyes jokingly referred to is as “Fred”, and the name stuck, but he later made it clear that this was not an official confirmation.New, unconfirmed Google ranking update ‘Fred’ shakes the SEO world (SEL)
Unnamed Major Update — February 6, 2017
Algorithm changes beginning on February 1st continued for a full week, peaking around February 6th (some reported the 7th). Webmaster chatter and industry case studies suggest these were separate events.
Thus Google had to update its algorithms and today we see something a lot more sophisticated. Today, Google uses advanced algorithms that take into account the time that visitors spend on each web page, the quality of the inbound links and the use of synonyms and related terms.
Any attempt to try and play the system will risk having your site penalized or even de-indexed and the result is that Google is now much more relevant in terms of the results it brings up.
So what do search engine optimizers do now? Should they try and work out the new algorithm? Of course that’s what everyone is clamoring to do, but it somewhat misses the point. The whole point is that Google doesn’t want us to work out how to manipulate its results. If we ever find a reliable system that we can exploit to get to the top of the SERPs, then Google will just change its workings again.
The only future proof strategy in SEO then, is to make a very high-quality website that is particularly relevant to your audience. If you do that, then your goals will be aligned with Google and any future updates will only help your site to perform even better!