Beauty and the Beast: Dissecting the Evolution of SEO Best Practices

Sep 12, 2017

Since the beginning of search engines, you’d be hard pressed to find a marketing channel that has changed & rapidly evolved as significantly as search engine optimization (SEO).

The days of endless keyword stuffing, code manipulation, and spamming back links to rank for the keywords you wanted has come to a necessary end. Google has constantly evolved the way it indexes and ranks websites, and today more than ever, the success of your marketing & website itself depends on how well you can keep up and tweak your meta-data & content strategies accordingly.

While the foundation may have been set 10 years ago, let’s dive into a few key SEO buckets & look at some ways they are evolving with time.

Make Your SEO Resonate: Discover the Questions Your Buyer Persona is Asking

A common practice that can be easily identified in recent years is to identify a relevant keyword & then structure an entire blog post around that in hopes of reeling in all that potential search volume.

What’s missing in this thought process? The most important aspect of your content should be delivering value & directly resonating with your buyer persona.

The first step in doing is to drill down to the core of what your buyer persona is asking about & identifying the problem they are looking to solve.

You can create a brilliant piece of high-quality content, but if you don’t deliver value on the real questions your buyer persona is asking, then you’re really just adding to the endless blog & content noise out there on the web today.

Using tools like Quora & Answer the Public can be great ways to dig at these questions & get actionable data.

How effective you are aligning these questions to your content ultimately will decide how impactful your content creation efforts will be. Always keep this line of thinking front and center when mapping out your content plan.

Content Hasn’t Given Up its Throne. It’s Still King

The rise of content marketing in general has been trending way up in recent years, undoubtedly becoming an integral piece to an effective & comprehensive SEO strategy.

Google has adapted and continued to refine what it considers to be “quality” content since its inception. A notable event in this area was the Panda update in 2011.

This update served to kill the quantity over quality strategy that used to be commonplace among SEO professionals.

No longer are you able to plug in keyword after keyword forgoing the quality & readability of the content itself. The user experience has become an integral ranking factor.

Google’s algorithm now indexes the most relevant & valuable content accordingly ranks it above the less relevant and targeted noise that floods the web today.

Long-Form Content Stepping Into the Spotlight

Modern day logic would tell you that keeping things brief in regards to the length of your content would be the smart way to go in order to hold the attention of your readers. While there is certainly still a place for short and quickly digestible content, when it comes to providing truly valuable content, the long-form variety is quickly gaining steam, and for good reason.

Everybody and their mother puts out blog content nowadays, most of which is purely noise & adds little real value. The demand for long-form content has rapidly increased due to Google ranking these posts higher than the shorter variety. In Google’s eyes, when a search query is made with a question, Google always wants to show the highest quality results & most of these end up being posts over 2,000 words.

This is consistent with Google’s continuous algorithm updates to bring the highest quality content to the top of the rankings. Long-form allows you to rank for more long tail keyword phrases, which have inherently less competition than the shorter variety.

All of this to say that there isn’t such a thing as content that’s too long, but only content that is too boring. Quality over quantity is winning out and combining both is a winning recipe. You absolutely need to be creating long-form content to stay competitive in the search rankings.

Mobile At the Top of the Search Engine Food Chain

It’s no secret that the mobile platform has seen an exponential explosion in popularity & use in the last 5-10 years.

The launch of the Apple iPhone & similar Android devices opened up both a new series of opportunities and also challenges for SEO purposes and only continues to grow in staggering numbers.

Google has strongly come out with updates that imply you must optimize your site for mobile otherwise you will be pushed down the rankings.

The mobile-friendly update released on April 15’ was a big step in making that a strong priority.

The addition of AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) is another example of Google pushing the importance of a mobile first approach. They are essentially striped down HTML pages designed to load at hyper speeds. These results appear in mobile searches only but it will be interesting to see what Google has in store for future updates from an AMP perspective.

Keyword Strategy from a Darwinism Point of View

The ancient practice of “keyword stuffing” was essentially killed off with the Panda and Penguin update. But a smaller but more impactful update, Hummingbird, introduced semantic search. This was Google’s way of attempting to decipher user intent rather than indexing individual keywords and phrases alone.

This signaled a massive shift in the industry that forever changed how keyword strategy is implemented. Google’s attempt to understand intent is constantly evolving as well.

Although it has evolved, employing an effective keyword strategy certainly still has a place in modern SEO & still represents a key piece to the overall puzzle.

Final Thoughts

Taking a look at where SEO has come from & where we are today gives you a slight glimpse of where we could be headed in the future. It’s understanding these intricacies & keeping up with the constant barrage of algorithm changes that will make the difference in your SEO strategy underwhelming or truly shining in the search rankings.

Stay vigilant & stay learning & you will find great success in the ever important world we call SEO.

If you’re interested in learning how KPI Target can help your website make a substantial jump up in the search rankings, click here.