The Evolution of SEO

Retrieving information on the web was a simple task when only a limited number of websites existed on the web. But Search Engine Optimization has evolved during the years and understanding the direction SEO has been constantly evolving is a necessity for any firm or marketer that seeks to employ a sustainable SEO strategy.
The constant need to offer a better search experience to the individual user and the constant battle against SEO professionals and webmasters seeking to manipulate Google’s search algorithms were the driving forces behind the shift in the type of ranking factors:
a shift from keyword-specific and technically-manipulated search, to today’s semantic search; in essence, smarter search that seeks to boost accuracy by taming ambiguity via an understanding of context (Grimes, 2010).
Today, the factors affecting the rank of a website for a given search query on Google are hundreds. In an effort to categorize these factors, the research of Searchmetrics “2014 Ranking Factors Study” lists:
  • content
  • technology
  • backlinks
  • user signals
Given this new state of SEO it appears that brands and professionals that want to rank their websites high cannot solely rely on technical SEO , but have to incorporate a complete digital strategy that will allow them to satisfy all the prerequisites in Google’s guidelines.

Basic Factors of SEO success

- Keyword Discovery Process: Establish which keywords correspond to the target audiences’ intent as searchers. Once the target keywords have been established, the website has to be structured accordingly: Each page has to target a set keyword or keywords and each page has to result in a website architecture that allows both the visitors and the Search Engines’ spiders to navigate. The keyword discovery process begins with understanding the interests of all relevant stakeholders; what are potential clients searching for in each step of their conversion funnel? What are suppliers, retailers or fellow professionals within the same industry searching for? The keyword list that will result from this endeavor has to be expanded and optimized with the use of tools and resources such as Google Suggest, AdWords Keyword Planner, the news, YouTube or BuzzSumo. This process will lead our client to an optimized list of keywords that reflect the idiomatic use of language the targeted audience uses in Search, will gather the highest possible search volume and will result in highly-shareable content. For that, content marketing] is an integral factor of modern SEO, whilst still being equally relevant to the success of a firm’s digital strategy without the attached SEO benefits it provides.

- Backlinks: Content may be a necessity, but backlinks are still relevant. And given that the backlink profile of a website used to be its key ranking factor, Google has gone a long way into attempting to counter any manipulation attempts of its algorithm. Under its Panda algorithm_ techniques in the sorts of unusual linking paterns within irrelevant or thin context started becoming penalized and websites that employ such tactics will loose ranks rapidly. As the Panda algorithm continuous evolving with every update, any non editorial link from non authoritative websites is a potential reason for penalization. Links that that are not supported under Google’s guidelines include internet directories, off-topic infographics and other embeds, guest posts, spam-commenting with follow-links, and PR announcements automatically shared on multiple domains. In the current state of Google’s algorithm and in accordance with the trend developed by all “Panda” updates, the goal of any brand looking to establish a sustainable SEO website is to strive to achieve editorially earned links. For that to happen, the website’s content has to be of a quality that other webmasters and editors will seek to link to it. In order to increase the chances of editorial backlinks being earned, brands and professionals have to build relationships with stakeholders that could further the content’s exposure: customers, audience, industry experts, associates, press, industry bloggers etc.. Finally, brands can also buy exposure for their pieces of content through advertising, that will then bring organic links if the targeted audience finds the content relevant and helpful.

- User Signals: User signals affect rankings as well. The CTR of a website on Google’s SERPs lets the search engine know whether users feel the website is actually relevant to their search query. Low bounce rates and high time-on-site feeds the search engine’s algorithm with the information that users did find quality and relevant data in that web page. If users leave the website and return to Google Search, the web page is deemed irrelevant to the searcher’s intent.
SEO is an ever-growing world. It never ceases to develop. Want to find out how you can take advantage of the current state of SEO and be a step ahead? Get in touch!