Then vs Now: How Has SEO Changed Over the Years?

1st Nov, 2021
Author image
Tara Wesson
Content Strategist

The idea of SEO as a way for dodgy marketers to climb to the top of search results is as antiquated as it is incorrect. While the wild west of the early internet was indeed a completely different landscape, today good SEO is all about creating a valuable experience for the user.

If your SEO strategy is still rooted in the past, here are the areas of modern SEO that will keep you up-to-date with consumer demand and ahead of your competitors in organic search results.


Keywords and intent

SEO and keywords have always gone hand in hand – and that remains true to this day. However, in the past it was all about singular keywords. Pages were ranked almost entirely based on single keywords, which meant pages were filled with high-interest keywords stuffed into poorly written copy.

Today, keywords are still central to SEO—but long-tail keywords are much more common. In fact, the vast majority of search traffic comes from long-tail keywords so it makes sense to factor it into your SEO strategy. Long-tail keywords are made up of three to five words, and generally are more focused on intent. 

Consumer intent focuses on why users search for certain phrases, and what they want from certain keywords. Google categorises consumer intent into three types: transactional intent, navigational intent, and informational intent. Google will then return different search results based on what the consumer has entered.

Content quality over quantity

Similar to keywords, the actual content on webpages has transformed from basic, keyword-stuffed sentences to copy written with user experience (UX) in mind. 

In the early days of SEO, the main reason for creating content was to rank well in search engines. That meant the actual writing didn’t have to be very good – or even legible – so long as it hit all the big keywords for your business type. Nowadays, your content needs to provide actual value to your audience. This is why content marketing is essential for an overall SEO strategy.

Content marketing takes a proactive approach to marketing, providing search engines with useful and informative content with the goal of attracting (and retaining) consumers to your website.


Eliminating the ‘black hat’ link builders

The final element to the triumvirate of SEO, link building was formerly about spamming your web pages with lots of links to popular sites and web pages in the hope that it would help you rank higher. Many of the ‘black hat’ SEO experts also used to pay domain owners to publish links to their website in order to rank higher.

These days, doing anything like that will get you in a lot of trouble with Google. These dodgy techniques could see a webpage’s rank drop overnight, and you could even get your entire site penalised. The solution is to build backlinks into your pages that are high quality and relevant.


5 top SEO tips for 2021 and beyond

Because SEO is constantly evolving, you need to stay across the latest changes and updates to ensure your pages are ranking high in search results. For 2021 and beyond, here are some important considerations for better SEO.

1. Write for your audience

It’s easy to think about SEO in terms of appeasing a faceless search engine, but Google has refined its algorithm to such an extent that you now need to craft user-friendly content. Create copy with the mindset of pleasing humans rather than an algorithm. Making your content authoritative and relevant to the user will naturally lead to higher search rankings.

2. Create a good user experience

Whatever business you run, you want your potential customers to find it very easy to either make a purchase or contact you directly. That means developing your website in such a way that it provides a good user experience (UX). Dead links, page errors and poor navigation can turn even the most loyal customer into a missed conversion. It’s also important to optimise for mobile devices in 2021, as more than half (55.77%) of all online searches are made on mobile devices.

3. Make sure links are relevant

The old days of backlinking are long gone – now you need to ensure your links are reputable and relevant to the content you are creating. Deploying a smart link-building strategy can have huge benefits, helping more than half (51%) of marketers see a positive impact within one to three months. By including hyperlinks in your content, such as the statistic we’ve included above, you can build your site’s authority and relevance.

4. Streamline your website

Web users have short attention spans, with 40% of users abandoning a page that takes over 3 seconds to load. If your site takes too long to load, customers will have no problem finding a competitor with faster-loading pages. Remove anything that slows down your site by cleaning up your code, compressing images, removing unused sub-folders and deleting old plugins. Tools like PageSpeed Insights can help you continually monitor your website’s performance.

5. Update your content regularly

The best content isn’t set-and-forget. Your competitors will be improving their existing content and fleshing out their pages, so you need to be doing the same to stay relevant in search rankings. Make a habit out of updating your content with better keywords and links, and improve the readability of your content every few months.

SEO is constantly changing, with Google’s algorithm shifting to consistently deliver a positive experience to the user. Although it may be tempting, SEO is not a quick-fix, set and forget digital marketing strategy. It is something that businesses need to continually monitor and optimise for, in order to keep pace with competitors and the expectations of digital audiences.

SEO is essential for every modern business, particularly those reliant on eCommerce – so you need to get it right the first time. Vine Digital is a highly experienced SEO agency that will help optimise your website, boost your audience and help your pages rank high in search results. Contact us today or call (02) 8006 8100.

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