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The Changing Face of SEO

The job of Digital Marketing specialist has evolved immeasurably since the inception of Google and the growth of the internet. Google is now one of the biggest companies in the world and has become much more sophisticated in the way that it monitors the activities of online marketer’s.

As Google has become more self-aware it has created a need for a more organic approach to SEO strategy. In order to fully define what this really means, it is helpful to go back to the good ol’ days and assess what has actually changed.

The Past, Present & Future

Onsite SEO – When performing on-page optimisation back in the day, all SEOs would need to do is assess two, three, four or five keywords per URL and optimise the page elements. This meant that the title, meta description, headings and body content would need to reflect these keywords.

Things are different now. With big leaps being made in semantic search and machine learning, a page can rank for a variety of related keywords, not just the keywords that you optimise the page for. This is a much more refined way of doing things; having content that fulfils the needs of the searcher (rather than just being the best match for a particular keyword) creates a much better experience.

Modern online marketers need to have working knowledge of content creation and its promotion. Back in the day it was about optimising current landing pages based on search volume; modern SEO is a mixture of optimising your current content and creating new content that meets the end-users search query, picking up social signals along the way.

Devices – Before the rise of tablets and smart phones, it was all about optimising for desktops and this was because it was the most commonly used device to search the web.

Smart phones are now the most used device for browsing the internet and consuming content. While it’s true to say that desktop is still relevant, mobile searches have exploded in the past few years and may well continue to grow. According to comScore, over 60% of all time spent on the internet is accessed via mobile and tablet and has now officially passed desktop usage.

This means that SEO must be focussed on optimising mobile experience, especially through apps and ensuring that mobile pages’ load as quickly as possible.

Local – Google has changed the local results from 10-pack to 7-pack, and has now settled on 3-pack. In the old days of SEO, it was quite easy to spam the listings by incorporating keywords into the business name, taking links from below par directories, and claiming the exact location of the business was somewhere it wasn’t.

The ‘Pigeon Update’ looked to rectify this and has turned local into a sort of hub that relies on positive reviews and ranking factors like relevance and page content.

Social – Before the heady days of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, online social sharing was mainly defined within email and instant messaging – these fell outside the domain of traditional SEO campaigns.

These days’ social media is an important marketing venture. It is too often neglected by marketers and it means they’re missing out on a huge part of a successful SEO campaign.

SEO and social must work in tandem to build brand exposure, connect businesses with their customer base and drive traffic to the website. SEO must now utilise social networks to promote content to earn shares and links alike.

Link Building –  Links have always had a large significance when it comes to ranking on search engines, but link building as a practice has changed over time.

Classic SEO was about the quantity of links – more links = more ranking increases. Anchor text was more stringent, meaning that keyword-rich anchor text could help a site rank by itself. This meant that even the worse quality links secured from questionable sources could be huge ranking factor, if not the biggest.

Today, thankfully, it’s not about quantity, but quality. Links from trustworthy sites and sites relevant to your brand carry more weight, and links from poor quality sources are grounds for a penalty from Google or just discounted straight off the bat. Google want to see a good mixture of links; in other words, a more ‘natural’ link profile – this includes follow and no follow, keyword-rich anchor text and branded anchor text.

SEOs these days need to focus on high-quality content and the pursuit of links that are relevant to the searcher. So, if your SEO agency doesn’t have a specialist content team, how can you profess to be doing SEO?

Technical SEO – SEO hasn’t changed very much from a technical perspective in the last few years or so, and the basics of technical audits still apply. However, SEOs these days must ensure that all of their clients’ build sites in a mobile-friendly way and ensure the page’s load as quickly as possible in order to keep the users attention.

Closing Statement

As we’ve outlined SEO has come on leaps and bounds over the years, and the only way to be successful is to adapt to it. The job of an SEO has changed from traditional optimisation and evolved to ensure quality, shareable content across multiple platforms is the biggest ranking factor.

We should perhaps no longer look at our jobs as ‘SEOs’, but more ‘Content Journey Analysts’: specialists operating to optimise a brand’s voice to attract new customers into every stage of the journey. If professionals in the sector can do this properly, they will win the Google war of ranking.

 

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