Search engine optimization has come a long way and so have search engines. One thing to know is that search engines are always changing their algorithms, particularly Google. Important SEO basics that were essential 10 years ago today may not hold the same value in 2012. For those that are just now learning about SEO, be sure to know these six important changes:
1.) Keyword Stuffing vs. Content Creation
Back, 10 years ago keyword stuffing actually boosted your search rankings. Today, keyword stuffing raises red flags and you’re usually penalized for overusing keywords. Instead, search engines are looking for content-rich websites; sites with unique, linkable content. For SEO experts, “content is king” because this is what the search engines are looking for. Sites that offer relevant information that the spider bots can crawl stand to gain more visibility than those who don’t.
2.) Meta Tag Optimization
When SEO was implemented years ago, it was crucial to spend a significant amount of time perfecting your meta tags. Meta tags are used in the html coding to describe what the page is about. Now, this optimization technique is almost worthless with respect to rankings in Google. Meta tags are still displayed in search results, so it’s good to optimize them for readability and descriptiveness. But in terms your actual ranking, meta tags have no effect. A better way to strategically place your keywords is throughout the content and in the title tags.
3.) Photos and Videos
Photos and videos weren’t even considered in SEO campaigns 10 years back. In fact, YouTube wasn’t even launched until 2005! Now, more than ever, search engines are giving photos a lot of weight in search engine rankings. Even though content is king, photos are just as important. Google’s search and Google’s image search give you two opportunities to rank.
4.) Google Places
In 2009, Google replaced their “Google Local Business Center” with Google Places in the hopes of better connecting Google Place pages with the tool enabling business owners to manage their presence on Google. Since the launch of Google Places, the importance of ranking in Google Local has become more significant. Since Google Places appears at the top of search engine results, managing and optimizing your business listing is important especially for small, local businesses. Just like your website, make sure your Places page is properly optimized for the search engine as 97% of consumers search for local establishments or businesses online.
5.) Website Design and Architecture
Website designs are important for SEO. Having the right architecture for your website can make a difference, not only for usability reasons, but for SEO as well. Your navigation should be displayed as having the top-level pages, most important pages in your main navigation and subpages under those main pages, resembling a funnel-type structure. This structure will help guide your internal linking properly.
6.) Social Media
Social media is an industry in itself, but can often times be combined with SEO strategies for more powerful optimization. Social media and social networking have been one of the internet’s most powerful tools these past few years and weren’t even on the rise 10 years ago. For many businesses, using these types of tools can be very valuable. Take Pinterest for example, many SEO experts have found great value in this new social platform. Pinterest helps SEO and social media campaigns. Although social media may not directly lead to more revenue, it can absolutely be used to communicate and engage with customers and build your presence on the web.
10 years ago, you used to be able to “cheat” the system by implementing what we refer to now as black hat SEO techniques. Search engines have become more sophisticated since then and also have a mind of their own. It’s hard to think about what the internet may bring in 2013, but good SEO requires patience and is a constant battle.