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The Evolution of SEO

Evolution with iPad

I’ve worked for many years on the editorial side of things—first in community journalism, covering tempests in a teapot in Philadelphia, South Jersey and the New York suburbs, and later in business-to-business media, writing for magazines, updating websites, planning and putting on events.

Along the way I’ve witnessed the evolution of thinking on SEO and optimizing website content. To say that, ten years ago, optimizing for websites was an afterthought to many publishers and businesses is almost giving them too much credit. It was barely a thought. Content was often thrown up with little regard for whether anyone would -- or would want to -- actually read it. Putting stuff online was just something you (grudgingly) had to do.

SEO: Quality Content

How times have changed. Any business that isn’t thinking about SEO is a business that is not interested in growing. Five years ago, most of the talk around SEO focused on keywords, meta description tags (which tell people using search engines what a site is about) and clean URLs. While these are still important, there is so much more to consider today.

Quality content, descriptive headlines and section titling allow search engines to find key phrases and home in on what your site offers.

Social Media Marketing

The explosion in social media means platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest are a major source of links back to sites, and therefore improved search rankings. Successful websites today are updated frequently with fresh content (native or user-generated) and encourage dynamic interactions that pull traffic to and from the site -- this tells Google your content is important to people. While changes to search engine algorithms have (thankfully) made spammy posts crammed with keywords obsolete, keywords and descriptive phrases, utilized correctly, are still very important.

SEO strategies today are multifaceted and evolve organically, just like the queries and interests of the real people Google and Bing want using their platforms -- and you want coming to your site.  

Jim Sturdivant is 4x3's content marketer and SEO copywriter