The evolution of SEO
Columnist Winston Burton reflects on how search engine optimization (SEO) has changed over the years. Where might things go from here?
The job of an SEO has certainly evolved over time due to Google cracking down on spam techniques, the rise of mobile, changes in the SERPs and so on. But what does an SEO really do these days, and how has this role changed over the years?
A look into the past and present
On-page optimization: When performing on-page optimization in the old days, SEOs would map two to five keywords per URL and optimize the page elements (title, meta description, headings, body content and so on) for these keywords.
But things have changed. Now, with advances in semantic search and machine learning, a page can rank for a lot of related keywords, not just the keywords for which you optimize the page. This is a better way of doing things, as having content that fulfills the needs of what users are looking for (rather than just being the best match for a given keyword string) is a better experience.
Modern-day SEOs should have a solid understanding of not just content creation, but also content promotion. Whereas previously it was all about optimizing existing landing pages based on search volume and striking distance, SEO today is a mixture of optimizing existing content and creating, optimizing and amplifying new content that meets end-users’ needs to enforce your brand and capture social signals and links to rank higher in the SERPs.
Devices: Back in the day, it was all about optimizing for desktops because that was the primary device used to surf the web.