Search Engine Optimization Today and Yesterday: What Has Changed?

If you maintain any type of presence online, then you have heard about the updates that the major search engines do from time to time. What you may not realize is that the nature of those changes makes some things that used to be very important to placement in search engine results no longer relevant. In some cases, continuing to use those older methods will drive your pages to the lower rungs of those results or even get your site banned. Even if you've been operating a web site for the better part of tw o decades and think you have it down pat, there are some important things you need to know about how SEO has changed. Here are some examples.

Updates are More Frequent

Once upon a time, the major engines tended to release an algorithm update annually. Web site owners and operators could depend on when the release would take place and be prepared to adjust accordingly. Depending on how much advance information was provided, some would even make changes before the release went into effect. This made it easier to keep your site rankings and not experience sudden drops.

Today, updates large and small take place on a more frequent basis. In the period from July 2016 to July 2017, the SEO Google strategy involved releasing multiple updates, some of them more than mere housekeeping that reinforced what was already in place. When you take into consideration the other major search engines along with Google, you are talking about just under 30 major updates and a little over 600 minor ones during that same period. That can make keeping up with the changes a much greater challenge.

Keyword Density: Less is More

Keywords and keyword phrases (sometimes referred to as long-tail keywords) have been important to search engine function since the World Wide Web moved from being more of a private resource for governments and institutions of higher learning to a tool that consumers could use for all sorts of purposes. They are still important, but the rules for usage are much different today.

There was a time when using a keyword repeatedly in your page content was a good way to increase the odds of placing higher in search engine results. This led some people to finding creative ways to use a keyword or phrase multiple times even if it was not directly relevant to the page content. The reason? That particular phrase was currently very popular and could be used to get the pages to turn up in more searches.

This is a good example of a practice that was fine a decade ago but will now cause you nothing but grief. Google along with the other popular search engines have made changes that place a great deal of emphasis on the use of relevant keywords. They also frown on stuffing the content with keywords even when they are relevant. Your best bet is to work with a professional who understands how much is too much, what keywords are the best fit for the topic of your content, and how to use them so that the search engines don't penalize your page.

Meta Tags and Descriptions are Not Used the Same Way

While this is not true of all search engines, the importance of meta tags and descriptions has lessened in many cases. You would find it difficult to come across any reputable SEO tutorial in the last few years that urges you to include non-relevant terms into the tags or dwell too much on creating a description that is laden with keywords.

This was not always the case and can still hold true for some of the minor search engines that have not followed Google's lead. At one time, incorporating keywords into the tag was considered a great way to get more of the right type of attention. The same was true with the description that typically shows up as part of the search engine results. Unless your company operates in an niche market where the consumers are more likely to use search engines other than Google, using the older approach will not help your traffic.

Duplicate Content on Different Pages No Longer Spreads the Word

There was a time when having the same content on more than one site was actually helpful. You could use the same content on your main web page, add it to a blog, post some of it on classified sites, and even create landing pages using that content. If you try this approach today, you could find that the result is not the same as it was as recently as five years ago.

The SEO techniques of today require that your content be unique. Even if the content you are using on your website is outstanding in terms of organization, readability, and informational level, using it in multiple places around the Internet will not help. In fact, it dilutes the influence of the content and causes search engines to place each of those pages lower in the results. Instead of helping spread the word about your company, you end up making it harder for consumers to find you.

Web Design and Technical Aspects Matter More

While the layout of your website has always been important in terms of making it easy for visitors to find what they want, how the site is designed and the functionality is beginning to play more of a role in SEO. Along with making sure the site is secure, there's the matter of coming up with a design that works well for consumers who rely more on their mobiles than using laptops and desktops to find the information they seek. Instead of using a free template, you would do well to work with a professional who can help with design and the function of the site as well as the text, images, animation, and other elements.

You are already an expert in your industry. Instead of trying to figure out what goes into solid SEO strategies, hire a professional. In the long run, you will have an online presence that search engines look upon with favor and enjoy a higher level of traffic to each of your pages.