The good ol’ days of 2009 – weren’t they great? Back then, an SEO practitioner could do keyword research on fat-head phrases, create awful content around them, sculpt page titles and other meta data, play around with header tags and alt text and do pretty well in the search engines.
If they were lucky, they could get their mitts on an exact match domain name. But to dominate across multiple keyword categories and ensure the best rankings, link building was required. Forums, blog comments, bookmarking sites, directories and article sharing were some favorite link building opportunities.
The Journey to the Present
Google has launched many updates since 2009, each looking to overcome its major shortcoming – rewarding bad content. Back then, major search engines didn’t really have a good way to identify high quality content because they relied on an algorithm designed mostly around factors that had nothing to do with the quality of the content published.
In theory, PageRank was supposed to give Google the ability to identify good and relevant content. If a web property had a robust link graph, it meant their content was good enough to attract inbound links from other websites and blogs.
Once SEOs figured this out, the algorithm manipulation was on. After nearly a decade of spammy link building, Google finally figured out how to combat it.
How Google Fixed 2009-Era SEO
Today, Google relies on many updates since its 2009 algorithm to ensure better and more relevant content is displayed on its results pages. For the most part, these changes have allowed good, prolific content creators to flourish online. While these changes aren’t perfect, they certainly have led to content quality improvements on search engine results pages.
Below are some of Google’s most noteworthy launches, algorithm and indexing updates since 2009:
- Google Caffeine – Made Google’s indexing dynamic as opposed to stratified
- Caffeine Update “Freshness” – Rewarded the newest content
- Social Signal Integration – Factored in social media buzz around a brand
- Google Panda – Helped identify poor quality content in its index
- Google +1, Google+ – Provided full social visibility within its own social environment
- Google SSL Implementation – Limited availability of keyword search query data
- Google Penguin – Helped identify spam in a site’s link graph
Here are some likely algorithm changes to come (may already exist):
- AuthorRank – Factoring in a content author’s online authority
- Transition Rank – Placing search engine results in a temporary random position for up to three months, before placing it where it rightfully belongs
The Bottom Line
It’s likely that many marketing departments around the world aren’t fully aware of the implications of the above. This is evident by the sheer number of current requests seen for the old tactics. Deploying 2009 SEO can actually hurt a web property’s visibility today.
To succeed on search engines requires a commitment to producing great, problem-solving content over time and executing a true earned media strategy. SEO in 2013 looks more like inbound marketing and PR than the SEO of yesterday. For help getting your inbound and content marketing ramped up download this blog optimization guide.