What is SEO and how has it changed over the years?

Many business owners here will hear the phrase ‘search engine optimization’ (or SEO) from friends in the business community or even competitors and might think of it as a route to increase sales, but what is SEO? Or, business owners might have tried ‘SEO services’ in the past and found that they didn’t function as well as expected or function, but they are no longer effective – this article explains what SEO is, and why search engine optimization specialist works better than before.

I have worked in search engine optimization and website market ranking, before it was even called SEO. Here are the changes in SEO since the beginning of the new millennium and what you should look for in SEO services offered or provided by your SEO Agency.

We looked back at SEO for years and explained what SEO is today and how to best use it for our website.

SEO in 2000

Back at the start of the Millennium, the ‘big’ search engines that most people use are Lycos and Excite. Of course, at that time a very small percentage of the UK population had access to the internet and those who did have a slow ‘dial-up’ system.

Websites are one or two pages with basic information to enable them to load quickly (in 20 seconds). SEO practice at that time was to ‘hide’ as many keywords as possible on the page, so that the website was found for the search without making the page appear as spam for visitors.

In 2002 Google launched something called ‘AdWords’ and predicted to be the death of SEO, because people can pay to stand out, as of now the number 1 website to start internet searches.

In 2003, Yahoo bought Inktomi, AltaVista and FAST, which was basically the end of all smaller search engines. Google is starting to stamp out ‘spam’ practices and websites. At the same time Google realizes that ‘AdWords’ will not turn off SEO and that actually ‘natural listings’ drive visitors back to their search engine platform. Google began to recognize ‘professional SEO’ experts and promote good SEO rather than spam SEO.

2004 saw the first website ‘blocked’ from the internet when Google took action against websites that were spamming. They also take legal action against “SEO Companies” that are responsible.

To rank a website in 2006 you only need to link back to your website and buying links / link exchanges is the most preferred thing and most websites have web pages where they will list companies and links to their websites (I still wonder how many websites continue this exercise).

SEO 2015 and Beyond

The biggest change to search engines in 2015 was ‘punishment’ for websites that were not “mobile friendly” – mobile friendly websites have different information for smaller screens to make it easier for users to read and understand. To ensure that users get the best experience, Google starts to rank websites that are mobile-friendly or responsive (where websites automatically change their size and format to fit the screen) at a higher ranking.

The introduction of ‘semantic search’, where Google brings the website back in results is not based on keywords, but the content on the page, once again changes the way SEO agents view working on the website. Ranking for ‘Big’ keywords, like ‘Bristol Plumber’, is becoming less important, because internet users are becoming more familiar with their search. ‘Long tail keywords’, and as much as possible, are starting to increase website visitors and more importantly, conversions.

What is the SEO Process Today?

It might be true to say that the process or practice related to search engine optimization has now come out the term ‘SEO’

In the years gone by working the content and structure of the website was enough. Now, there is much more that must be done to not only rank the website in search engines, but to get customer involvement. A better service description is ‘digital marketing’.

The old practice, as mentioned before, means that the ‘big’ keyword is a ranking key. Focusing on one keyword per page or even for the entire website will rank the business and now it’s all about ‘ranking’.

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