When I started working at a company in 2006 SEO was so different! We could put a few keywords in our meta tags and make sure the keyword was on the page somewhere and BAM we should show up on the first page of Google. Fast forward 10 years and so much has changed. Let’s review some game changers in the SEO industry….
1. Universal Search – Google use to be 10 blue links. Now there is News, Images, Videos, Reviews, Maps and even complete answers to your questions without ever having to click a result. This update now allowed a website to show up in multiple places on the search engines rather than just being 1 link. Imagine having your website show up in a image search, map listing and a organic link…. Throw in a Paid Ad and you now had 4 listings for one search result! It also changed SEO because now we could optimize many more elements on a page and there was more techniques you had to master.
2. Mobile & Location – This was a huge game changer! This year Google even made a very public announcement that websites needed to make sure they were responsive or had a mobile website or could see a decrease in rankings on mobile devices. FINALLY companies started listening to what their website companies have been telling them for years and decided to update their websites. However, it shouldn’t have taken the big Google announcement for companies to understand that people search differently on mobile and tablet devices and the search engines would have to adapt. Along with mobile also came a huge Geographic/Location change. If you were physically closer to a business vs. the one who normally ranks #1, Google started showing you the one that you could get to quicker.
3. Data – The search engines collect so much data on what results and websites we like and dislike. Due to this searchers will now see completely different results based on their past history and location. Try it – Have you and someone else in the office search for the same thing on your computers and phone, there is a big chance you will see different results. Funny thing is, while Google is collecting more and more data on users; they took away the keyword data in our Analytics. This upset many people in the industry but I thought of it as a great change. There should be a bigger focus on trends, how Organic traffic is growing, how are sales/leads changing and how are users engaging with the site vs. what 1 keyword brought in more or less traffic this month.
4. People – We now want everything immediately without having any hassle. To keep up with users expectations the search engines have adapted to giving us the best results possible in the quickest way. Try searching how old a celebrity is – Google will give you the answer along with other related celebrities, just in case you were wondering how old they were too. You can even get flight information, suggestions on music and images of the inside of a business right from Google. With people wanting everything quickly also came how fast your website is loading. Site speed became really important to SEO and changed the way the industry designed/developed websites.
5. Links – The more the better!! Well that is what we use to think – Now it is about quality and quantity. Links are still important to SEO but the search engines are smart and now make sure things are natural and not forced. There is now more articles about how to fix your bad links vs. how to get links. Don’t get caught up with trying to figure out how to cheat the link system anymore, play it safe and you will be rewarded.
I am sure you came here to find out the future of SEO but the honest truth is no one knows! Humans will change, technology will change and the search engines will adapt. In my opinion, the search engines will continue to get smarter and understand more semantic results. Social Media will continue to be a game changer for companies and with that content will continue to play an important role in SEO.
What do you think will be the next game changer in the SEO industry?