Scoring the top spot for a particularly relevant, common Google search term is something that just about any business can benefit from. As a result, interest in search engine optimization, or SEO, remains high among business owners and leaders, even if things have changed a great deal over the years. Understanding how and why modern SEO differs from the approaches of the past can help make it easier to figure just how much to invest and when.
It used to be that fairly crude SEO techniques could produce results, but those days are now in the distant past. Formerly, SEO campaigns that focused on building huge amounts of essentially meaningless links would often push a site and its pages high in the Google results. Because the PageRank algorithm that lies at the core of Google’s search business revolves around the identification of links between sites, earlier versions of the system were quite susceptible to gaming of this sort.
Google also realized early on, however, that vast numbers of low quality links were not typically an indication of real page quality. For years and years, the search giant’s technologists therefore worked on ways of making the algorithm better able to distinguish meaningful links from worthless ones. In a series of updates beginning a few years ago that virtually upended the world of SEO, Google began not only disregarding spam-like links but also assessing penalties on sites that relied too heavily on them.
That refinement of the basic approach turned out to be successful enough that SEO experts started looking for other ways to make progress. With Google insisting all along that it wished to promote in its search results those sites that host the most useful content, SEO specialists started to shift in this direction. While some still employ so-called “gray hat” techniques that sometimes approach underhandedness, many more make quality content a top priority in their campaigns.
Because of this and for other reasons, it can take more time than before to achieve the desired ranking results. At the same time, building up a stockpile of high quality content can also boost a site’s value in other ways, something that could never be said of the massive link-building efforts of the past.…