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A Decade of Evolution in the SEO Ecosystem [Infographic]

Date published: August 19, 2013
Last updated: August 19, 2013

Few industries have been as dynamic as SEO in the past decade – and it’s no secret this ecosystem has been evolving, largely due to Google’s regular search algorithm updates. It can be a headache staying current with trends and the most effective practices in the industry, so we have developed The Evolution of SEO infographic to keep you up to date.

Tied to the Fate of Google

The past, present and future of SEO are closely tied to Google. Every time it updates its search algorithm, SEOs have no choice but to evolve and adapt, or risk failure to deliver. As history proves, this trend will likely continue. But before we can understand where it’s going, we must understand where it’s been. Let’s take a look at some of the major events that have shaped the SEO industry over the past decade.

February 2003: Google launches its Hilltop algorithm, which is used to find search queries from the most authoritative websites.

August 2005: Google files patent for Agent Rank (which has become AuthorRank), a method of attributing content, credit, and authority to digital signatures owned by creators of that content.

December 2010: Google and Bing admit to using social signals to determine rank in search engines, which changes how SEOs approach content creation and engagement in the digital space.

February 2011: Google launches its Panda update, which targets poorly written content that pollutes organic search engine results. This was the first successful attempt to understand content quality algorithmically.

June 2011: Google launches its Google+ social media platform and lays the foundation for AuthorRank.

October 2011: Google begins encrypting keyword data. As a result, search query info is limited to SEOs.

November 2011: Google releases Caffeine update “Freshness,” which gives higher priority to newer, more relevant content. Although the original Caffeine update was launched in June 2010, it simply crawled available content in search results faster and did not significantly affect the SEO industry.

April 2012: Google unveils its Penguin update, which targets site-wide links as well as links from low-quality websites. It focuses on quality references rather than counting the number of links.

Out with the Old, In with the New

While traditional SEO practices are still prevalent today, the conditions and events listed above have given rise to a new era of SEO that is much more focused on the overall user experience, and less on the search engine itself.

Some of the older SEO techniques focused on site architecture, inorganic links, competitor audits, on-page keyword sculpting, and programming. Effective SEO today should focus on diverse keyword portfolios, compelling Metadata, site load speed, user interface, and user experience. Instead of optimizing for search engines, SEOs must now optimize for people.

Content marketing is the keystone of today’s SEO. Publishing the right content in the right place at the right time makes for relevant marketing that is helpful to people rather than disruptive – it attracts visitors instead of repelling them. It’s this type of content Google and the other search engines want to feature in their search engine results pages.

Social media and online PR are vastly important today, too. Social media provides a platform for brands to drive brand awareness and community engagement. Social sharing helps the search engines determine a brand’s relevance.

Online PR strategies help brands naturally earn links, online media coverage, media relationships, guest articles, and syndication. An effective digital PR campaign can help brands earn their marketplace’s undivided attention – and the search engines will notice, too.

A New Era of SEO

The wilting of old SEO practices have left behind a desolate landscape for those who refuse to adapt. However, a new era of SEO is in full bloom with content marketing, social media, and online PR basking in the sun.

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