SEO : From Meta Tags To Canonicals
If someone told you that SEO is dead, don’t argue. They’re right.
SEO has come a long way, right from the meta optimization to social proliferation days. Today, it is not just limited to search engine optimization, but more like, compliance.
Telling Search Engines what your site is about
The early days of SEO was all about helping the search engines. We were all putting up lot of content on the internet before Wikipedia came into existence and search engines needed a lot of user participation. They relied and trusted webmasters to figure out the content on websites and did a good job at categorizing them.
Webmasters too, did a fairly good job of documenting their content and helped them scan content using meta tags, keyword densities and basic on-site SEOs. Google launched the Page Rank toolbar and life was good.
And then, people started to take advantage of this. They started to manipulate the search engines by taking advantage of the fact that they could influence the bots thinking capacities.
Search Engines starts to decide themselves
And then, after couple of years and many updates later, search engines started to think for themselves relying less on webmasters and website content.
Earlier, links were the major influencer in rankings but this was soon changing. With more and more signals like traffic, bounce rates came into the picture. On site optimization factors were given lesser importance than ever and webmasters started to find it difficult to manipulate search engine results.
Google launched the Cassandra update which checked for bad neighborhoods and similar domains linking to same sources with hidden links and other suck link based shady stuff.
Search Engines get clever. Cracks down on shady SEO
There has always been updates and “algorithm changes”, sometimes public, sometimes hidden from Google that always were aimed at cracking down on manipulative SEO practices.
Google’s Dominic update started to discount spammy and irrelevant links from websites link profiles.
There was seen a consistent emphasis on the importance of creating websites that were rich in content, good in intent and popular among people. Efforts were made to find, detect and tarnish scrupulous SEO practices every now and then.
Google Supplemental index (un-official) was being discussed heavily among SEOs were duplicate content was the villain and websites with duplicate content was being discounted parts of their websites from the web index.
Google’s Brandy Update cracks down on link neighborhoods, similar anchor texts and similar stuff. Google Austin update cracks down on hidden text, meta tags and other on-site over optimizations.
SEO, The Web 2.0 Times
Social Media came into picture and emerged a strong force on the web. There was a lot of emphasis on traffic, popularity and although there we no official documentation, social signals were seen to influence search results, at least, newer terms like real-time and collaboration started popping up.
Search engines gradually embraced the social momentum and started counting social signals (though very vaguely), and content became important as ever. “Content is king” was the mantra for some time for SEOs and blogging, micro-blogging and social networds gave way to a proliferation of fresh content from all sides.
Social sharing signals were beginning to show up as possibly an influencing factor in search engine results.
The New SEO – Post Penguin, Panda and EMD Updates
Today, things are more clear for SEOs. SEO is on a transformation phase. It is not dead. There has always been a constant struggle between spammers, SEOs and Search Engines, and that’s how it will always will be. Search Engines will get more clever, spammers will try more sophisticated ways to game the system and everything will improve for the good.
However, today there is a clear distinction between black and white.
Google and other search engines want you to focus on the user, offer better user experience, and easier ways to access information. “Optimization” is probably the wrong word, Search Engine Compliance is more like it.
Today, we’re seeing a bigger landscape, one that consists on web, mobile, tablets and other different and constantly evolving mediums that deliver us information in the shortest possible time with the least effort.
An additional click to access your website can kill it today. A click is costlier than ever.
The more the clicks needed to access information, the least valuable they become. Speed and time is valuable than ever. Websites that take an additional 2 seconds to load will pay for it later. There would be two other competitors willing to give the result to an information seeker within those two seconds.
We’re at a phase where SEO is evolving with newer technology coming in, newer medium to access information are made available and newer ways people are sharing information with each other.
I don’t believe that SEO is dead, but like I mentioned, it is ever evolving and changing, perhaps we should call it Search Engine Compliance.