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Evolution of SEO: From Past to Present and Beyond


In the world of business, the term ‘search engine optimisation’ (SEO) is frequently encountered. Entrepreneurs may hear about SEO from peers, competitors, or even have experienced mixed results from previous SEO services. This article aims to elucidate the concept of SEO, highlighting how it has evolved over time and why the modern approach, referred to as ‘new’ SEO, is more effective than ever.

Journey Through SEO Eras:

The author, having an extensive background in search engine optimisation and website ranking, reflects on the transformation of SEO practices since the turn of the millennium. Each era has brought distinct changes in SEO strategies and outcomes, leading to the evolution of the field.

SEO in the Year 2000:

At the dawn of the new millennium, internet usage was in its infancy, with search engines like Lycos and Excite being predominant. Slow ‘dial-up’ connections limited online accessibility. Websites were basic, often just one or two pages with minimal content. SEO practices then involved cramming as many keywords as possible on a page without making it appear spammy.

Shifts in the Early 2000s:

The launch of Google’s ‘AdWords’ in 2002 was perceived as a potential threat to SEO, as it enabled paid prominence on the search platform. Google started taking action against spam practices and promoted professional SEO practices that aligned with user interests.

Mid-2000s Changes:

Between 2004 and 2008, Google became the dominant search engine, combating poor linking practices and spam content. The focus shifted towards ranking websites based on content quality and relevance to user searches.

SEO in the 2010s:

The advent of social media impacted search engines, with Twitter content appearing in search results. Google’s ‘Caffeine’ update introduced videos and images to search outcomes. Personalised search results were also introduced, generating mixed responses from SEO practitioners.

Mobile-Friendly SEO:

In 2015, Google began penalising websites that weren’t mobile-friendly, ranking responsive sites higher. This shift acknowledged the growing use of mobile devices for online searches, granting local businesses an edge over larger corporations.

Semantic Search and Content Evolution:

‘Semantic search,’ introduced by Google, focused on delivering results based on page content rather than keywords. SEO strategies transitioned from ranking for big keywords to including ‘long tail keywords’ that catered to specific user needs and intentions.

Current SEO Landscape:

The traditional approach to SEO has surpassed its prime, giving way to a broader concept termed ‘digital marketing.’ SEO now emphasizes delivering value to users, focusing on quality content and semantic search.

Optimising Website Content:

Website content, which once relied on 300 words, now requires around 800 words to be ‘semantic search’ friendly, engaging, and informative. Content structure has evolved to engage users and provide relevant information.

Link Building’s Evolution:

Links are now valued for their quality and relevance, rather than sheer quantity. Building relationships and obtaining relevant, contextual links are preferred over accumulating countless unrelated ones.

The Power of Social Media:

Social media, once dismissed, has become a driving force for businesses. Facebook, in particular, has evolved into a platform for building brands, garnering customer reviews, and facilitating direct customer engagement.

Video Marketing:

The rise of YouTube, the world’s second-largest search engine, has led to video marketing becoming an integral part of digital strategies. Videos enable businesses to convey their messages effectively and engage users, driving traffic and customer interest.

The Future of SEO:

The author predicts that semantic search and the demand for valuable content will continue shaping the SEO landscape. Businesses should look beyond traditional SEO practices and embrace a holistic ‘digital marketing’ approach for a successful online presence.

Tags: SEO Evolution, Digital Marketing, Semantic Search, Quality Content, Mobile-Friendly, Link Building, Social Media, Video Marketing

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