The Past, Present and Future of SEO

Written by: Jason Bayless | September 05, 2016
Though many people think of search engine optimization as a fairly new type of digital marketing, SEO has existed in one way or another for over a decade. It was not always given a name, but since the days of dial up, there has been competition to connect with the most visitors. Getting as many people as possible to visit a website or buy a product has always been the end goal for many businesses. Over time, the strategies used to place a website became a more streamlined set of guidelines and best practices. Now, there is an industry devoted to marketing websites in a more sophisticated way, using data and tools that weren’t available years ago to take the user all the way through a journey. If the past and present are any indication, the future of SEO will be even more complex and based in even more data and analysis.

The Past
In the past, more was better in terms of SEO. A full SEO strategy simply meant keyword stuffing each page of the site, loading up your site with guest posts and getting as many backlinks pointing to the site as possible. Google’s technology was less sophisticated than it is now, and the related strategies to rank on the first page were also less sophisticated. Black hat SEO practices like submitting to link directories or buying tons of low quality links, paired with simple content that included a high density of keywords, were often effective enough to do the trick. But as Google’s search engine grew more sophisticated, those types of tactics became outdated and new strategies emerged.

The Present
With SEO now seen as its own booming industry, there are now many components needed to form a complete strategy and rank a website. Local optimization, technical site requirements and an inbound content plan should all work together with the ultimate goal of giving the user the best possible experience. Content is more important than ever, with forms like video and podcasts entering the equation along with blog posts. Companies who want to rank their sites have to create large quantities of content, be active on multiple social media channels and look to the data to improve the onsite user experience. A full mobile strategy also has to be put in place, as mobile searches are growing faster than ever. Users want more information, right where they are and any site that is not mobile friendly is liable to miss out on the incoming business from these users.

The Future
With Google always striving to develop new products and technologies, it can be hard to predict what is next for search engine optimization. One thing that we do know is that as Google’s technology grows more sophisticated, SEO strategies will also have to grow more complex to keep up. Google’s ultimate goal is to integrate seamlessly into every user’s life, in as many ways as possible. This will mean optimizing the user experience to many different types of searches, including those coming from mobile devices, wearable technology and even the technology powering self driving vehicles. A full and robust content strategy for users from each of these categories is the only way businesses and their websites will be able to stay competitive.

While the future may be hard to predict, if the past is any indication, Google and other search engines will only grow more sophisticated. The search engine optimization industry will only continue to grow with it. As ever, those who want to stay competitive within SEO will have to adapt to new practices and evolve constantly.