A digital marketing strategy isn’t complete without SEO. Any well-rounded online marketing strategy will find SEO as its core element. This is because it is a powerful and data-driven online marketing tactic that can produce long-term results without having to invest a lot of marketing budget. Not just that, SEO can help companies broaden their online reach, create more opportunities for conversion, generate more revenue, and achieve scalable growth.

However, SEO hasn’t stayed the same all these years. SEO’s evolution has hardly ceased given how quickly search engine algorithms change to provide internet users with the best results and experiences. It is crucial that you know how SEO has evolved over the last few years. Therefore, in this post, we will discuss ways and factors that have contributed to the changes SEO has been through in the past. Let’s get started!

What is SEO?

SEO or Search Engine Optimization is essentially the process of improving a website’s design, structure, content, and links so that it ranks higher on search engines for particular search queries. It is also used as a marketing strategy since it helps businesses rank higher on search engines, generate more clicks, and drive more traffic to their business websites or landing pages. This marketing strategy has changed quite drastically over the years and so have the factors driving it. Earlier, the elements that were responsible for creating a successful SEO strategy were meta titles, descriptions, keywords, internal/external linking, heading tags, alt tags, and more.

How has SEO changed over the last few years?

Today, the concept of SEO has shifted from a plethora of contributing factors to a more customer-focused approach. SEO has changed since Google began to refine its tactics to help make search engines more user-friendly.

Earlier, businesses could just keyword spam their websites and easily rank their sites on search engines. But, the strategy doesn’t work in 2023.

Today, businesses have to create quality content, follow search engine guidelines, consider context, and deploy a human-first approach. Search engines are rewarding businesses with sites that focus on speed, mobile-friendliness, user experience, content quality, audience retention, and more. Therefore, it is very important for you to understand the changing search engine algorithms. Let’s dive deeper and discuss the changes brought in search engine optimization, shall we?

1. More attention to useful and quality content

Targeted advertising is dead. Google and other search engines have officially phased out the use of third-party cookies — leaving marketers with no option but to use contextual-based marketing strategies. This essentially means that websites will now show ads that are relevant to the content on a certain webpage.

The quest for relevance has pushed website owners to create high-quality, authentic, and more useful content. However, the need for quality content was recognized back in 2011 with the “Panda Update.” The algorithm update punished websites that relied on keyword stuffing and content spamming. 

2. Solid push towards a mobile-first search experience

Google rolled out the mobile-first update back in 2015 — an iconic update that pushed every marketer and business owner to rethink their marketing strategy. The search engine giant recognized the shift quite early and doubled down on mobile-friendliness across different marketing platforms. The “Mobile-Pocalypse” was sudden and unforgiving, leaving marketers no option but to comply.

Google and other search engines are evolving their algorithms to include voice search through Voice Engine Optimization or VEO. Soon, website owners might have to optimize their site’s design and content in a way that supports users performing Google searches by voice using home assistant devices or smartphones.

3. The need for more page speed

Do you know how fast your website loads, especially when its link is clicked on the search engine results? You should. This is because Google factors in page speed as a critical ranking factor. After all, modern-day internet users want things quickly! You should measure page speed in three different ways.

First, you should check how long it takes for the page to load completely. Second, you should measure how long it takes for the website to start the loading process. Third, you should clock the time it takes for the website to load enough for the user to start reading content.

4. More emphasis on social signals

SEO has officially quit the exclusivity and included social media as one of the primary factors determining search engine rankings. Social media has become a characteristic feature of SEO, giving brands owning a solid social media presence priority on SERPs. This shows how important it is to establish yourself as a reliable and authentic brand on social media. After all, Google wants to show results that are most likely to satisfy users’ queries and problems.

We suggest you develop a content management strategy that allows you to grow on social media so that you can make the most of your search engine rankings, i.e., driving more traffic from search engines back to your business website.

5. Prioritizing website security

Website security is a priority for search engines as the cases of data theft and breaches have significantly increased in the past few years. This has led Google and other big search engines to take action, addressing concerns from web users. Google updated its algorithm back in 2014 to introduce Secure Socket Layer or SSL certificate to add a layer of security to all websites. SSL certificates helped websites shift to HTTPS protocol containing a high level of encryption that allowed websites to ensure users’ safety and security. 

6. No more fake link-building tactics

In the early 2000s, website owners figured out the power of backlinks and realized it was a major search engine ranking factor. Soon, they were on their way to misusing backlinks to improve their website’s rankings.

Marketers fell for the dubious practice of generating a large quantity of low-quality backlinks. Indeed, the tactic worked. But, its success was shortened by a major Google algorithm updates — Penguin. The update punished websites that were engaged in backlink spamming. Google pushed website owners to create high-quality backlinks while punishing sites that used shady SEO tactics to boost search rankings. 

7. Double down on search intent

SEO has also evolved in a way that focuses on users’ search intent. What does search intent mean? Well, every time an internet user types a query into Google, the user does that with the aim of finding a definite answer. The query can be about anything. As a website owner and marketer, you should figure out the search intent of the users’ queries and produce better content.

8. Google My Business and Local SEO

Lastly, Google prioritized location-specific content in its quest to boost targeted local searches. Google introduced Google My Business — a tool that helps businesses make the most of their local audience. This tactic was named Local SEO. It has allowed business owners to carve an SEO strategy that doubles down on attracting local customers through the use of local keywords, local landing pages, content, and more.

What should companies expect from SEO in the future?

It is important that companies take a holistic approach to SEO. Why? Well, search engine algorithms are always on the move. Moreover, the technologies that search engines depend on are also rapidly changing. Indeed, we are still living in a time when marketers focus on nailing the meta tags, descriptions, keywords, and other factors.

But, with the advent of technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning, and automation, SEO tactics will only boil down to contextual search results that prioritize content quality, user-friendliness, relevance, and authenticity. As a business owner, you should be keeping an eye on how SEO is impacting businesses and how the latest technologies impact SEO. 

Final thoughts!

Search Engine Optimization will never stop changing. This is because internet penetration is increasing across the world and more and more people are becoming internet users. As a result, the average internet user behavior is changing — pushing search engines to create better algorithms to facilitate a better user experience.

Moreover, the changes in search engine optimization will only help strengthen the internet. We highly recommend marketers and business owners stay up to date with the latest SEO trends so they can quickly adapt and create better SEO strategies.

So, what are you waiting for?

Use the tips mentioned in the post and be on your way to creating a result-oriented SEO strategy. Did you find this post helpful? Let us know in the comments. Also, don’t forget to check out other informative posts on the blog!

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