Businessmen know that in order to thrive and be continuously successful in business, it’s NOT a good idea to build on the things that made the business a success. In fact, doing this can actually make your business sink, like in the case of VHS companies that went bankrupt with the arrival of the DVD. The same is true in Search Engine Optimization – you cannot build on the past to succeed in the future.
In this article, we’re going to breeze through 25 years of SEO to identify trends in the industry, so you may know why certain websites thrived while others faded into the background as Google’s algorithm changed.
SEO was in its early stages between 1991 to 2002. At first it was a simple single-celled organism. At this stage, the guys at Excite were trying to find ways to organize content on the Internet. In 1993, the first search engine turned up search results based on the keywords found in the content. In 1994, Yahoo entered the search game, followed by Google in 1997. Both companies improved Excite’s platform in indexing and delivering information.
In this early stage of SEO, practically anything goes. Marketers leveraged keyword stuffing, spammy backlinking, and excessive tagging.
In the wake of blackhat SEO tactics, Google took charge and penalized bad backlinking as well as keyword stuffing to improve indexing. This was between 2003 to 2005.
Since that time until the present moment, Google has made many, many updates to its search engine algorithm to reflect the growing trends of Internet usage. Now, it’s all about the users and their experience on the website. This sounds simple enough, however, when translated to algorithm language, we are talking about at least 200 factors that Google considers to rank a website.
In all those changes, there were many websites that disappeared from the search engine rankings, yet there were those that thrived and even shot up in the search engine results, making you wonder: What’s the secret of these successful websites?
Taking the analogy in business, these websites did not only focus on the current factors for ranking, they also focused on trends that might affect the search engine algorithm in the future. The successful and most profitable website owners notice when something new might affect how people use the Internet.
Nowhere is this fact more glaringly real than in the case of social signals. At first, SEO experts thought social media websites like Facebook would be in direct competition with Google in terms of popularity, however, it was only a matter of time before Google included it in the algorithm.
The websites that thrived in the social media update understood that Google is bound to make that change as people changed the way they consume information online. We can expect to see more changes in the future. However, these changes will only help Google maintain its nature as a search engine, which is to provide relevant content.