The beginning of it all
The world’s first website created by Tim Berners-Lee looks totally different to what we use now. The digital landscape has changed monumentally in the last 25 years and it will never cease to surprise us. Search Engines now have well-structured mechanisms in place to organise and alleviate the digital madness.
While marketers and business owners used keyword stuffing amongst other techniques to get visibility, this is now a thing of the past, as search engines are cleverer than ever. According to Moz, Google now changes its algorithm around 500-600 times per year. And while these alterations are minor, google sporadically rolls out a major update that can substantially change your site’s ranking.
As a consequence, SEO has advanced rapidly to connect individuals with highly targeted data and engaging content. To understand what the mysterious future of SEO might hold, it is very important to analyse the past trends that have taken place.
In February 2011, Google’s Panda Update was introduced as a mean to stop sites with poor quality content from climbing their way up into Google’s first pages. This update affected about 12% of search results and gave priority to sites with high-quality content.
In April 2012, Google launched its Penguin Update in order to decrease search engine rankings for those websites that violate Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, such as keyword stuffing, or those buying links primarily to boost Google’s ranking.
In August 2013, Google announced the Hummingbird Update relating to speed and precision. Those pages matching the meaning of a query do better than pages matching just a few words.
A new search update was released in June 2013 to target very spammy queries such as “payday loans” or similar terms normally associated with spam. HTTPs Everywhere was then created as a FireFox, Chrome and Opera extension in order to encrypt your communications with major websites and thus, making your browsing more secure.
In April 2015, Google launched the mobile update, AKA “Mobilegeddon” and started considering mobile friendliness as a ranking factor. Google started getting information from indexed apps like Eric Enge predicted. You can check your site with The Mobile Friendly Tool to see how Google sees your pages. This is now particularly relevant as Google is planning to increase the weighting of mobile friendly sites this May.
Now Google is using a machine learning technology called Rank Brain to help deliver its search results. Machine learning means that a computer teaches itself something rather than being taught by humans. Page Rank is basically part of the overall Hummingbird algorithm that covers a specific way of giving pages credit based on the links from other pages pointing at them. Also, let’s not forget that the Penguin 4.0 update is meant to be due this March. This new update will most likely favour semantically related links.
The future of SEO
As the Internet is transforming to offer more personalised, targeted and engaging content to its users, individuals expect instant answers to their query with minimal effort. SEO will certainly continue to evolve to fulfil these needs and businesses will have to prepare for the improvements that Google has in mind.
“there is only one SEO rule you ever need to learn: At the end of the day, Google wants to connect searchers with the best, most relevant content they can.”
All in all, trends over the last few years have shown the importance of demonstrating natural and ethical optimisation techniques that aim at building long-term relationships with users. As SEO keeps evolving, we can expect this strategy to be rewarded, while questionable tactics will be even more penalised. At the end of the day as Mike King mentioned:
“Great SEO is really no different than it was a few years ago. Terrible SEO is what’s changed drastically.”
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