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Evolution of SEO – A Look Back at Different SEO Practices and How They Changed

Before becoming the service and industry that we now know today, search engine optimisation was first a more general practice that started in the earlier days of the internet and evolved along with the world wide web, its technology, and the search habits of its users. The evolution of SEO is therefore most closely aligned with the evolution of search engines themselves.

The history of search engine optimisation begins a few years after the first internet websites were created. The term “SEO” itself originated around the year 1997 and the various methods employed in the practice of search engine optimisation generally depended on the signals which the search engines being optimised for, used to rank or rate websites. Those signals have changed and evolved throughout the years, most often due to abuse by website owners, webmasters, and sometimes marketers, resulting in simultaneously evolving SEO practices to overcome or work around such ranking signal changes.

Let’s plot a course through only some of the key, evolving SEO practices to show how they have changed from the earliest and now outdated SEO strategies, to the current era of search engine optimisation focused on creating relevant, high quality content and developing optimised websites.

If SEO seems like a bit much to handle on your own, get the help of an expert SEO specialist from Resurge Digital, Brisbane’s leading digital marketing company. Call 1300 659 035, e-mail [email protected] or enquire online for help with search engine optimisation.

Earliest Days of SEO and HTML Metadata Abuse

Some of the earliest attempts at influencing search engines to display some websites in positions more attractive than others were focused on the features built into the language used to build websites – HTML. HTML includes a <meta> tag attribute called “name” with a possible value of “keywords”. Website owners could simply list the keywords relevant to a given web page directly in its code, to inform search engines on search terms for which they think their pages should appear on those search engines. However, meta keywords tag was often abused.

Logically, any given website owner who wanted to drive more traffic to any of their pages could use a list of popular search terms in the meta keywords tag, regardless of how relevant those terms were to what was actually on the page. This kind of meta-tag stuffing would lead to poor quality search results, where pages that abused the meta keywords would appear for search queries to which they were not relevant. As a way of combating this problem, meta keywords were deprecated – for example, Google officially stated that they do not use the keywords meta tag in web search ranking of pages in September 2009, however, they were already ignoring these meta keywords much earlier.

On Page Keyword Stuffing

Website owners and webmasters have quickly noticed that repeating a given keyword multiple times on a page helped that page to rank better for that keyword, and thus keyword stuffing became an effective strategy for some time. Mentioning a certain term or a phrase an excessive number of times in the text of a page or placing invisible, for example white-text-on-a-white-background, keyword mentions on a page were a common practice for a time. In the early days, search engines treated a higher number of occurrences of a given phrase on a page as a signal of that page’s increase relevance to that same phrase. That is until search engines like Google determined this practice as leading to low quality search results, and started to design their ranking algorithms to better understand and interpret how keyword density relates to a page’s relevance to that keyword. This now bygone approach should not be confused with a still-valid and legitimate need for maintaining an appropriate keyword density in well-optimised content however.

Backlinks and Guest Blogging

Backlinking came to increased prominence as a strategy with the rise of Google. One of the initially most influential factors for ranking highly on Google were links to a website, from other frequently linked-to and therefore highly ranking websites. Reaching out to other websites with offers of guest blogging as a way of earning backlinks was one of the very common approaches to building backlinks, and eventually resulted in this practice being declared as problematic guest blog spam. Google has designed and released algorithm updates such as Penguin, specifically targeting link building practices employed solely as a way of influencing Google Search rankings.

Hight Quality Content is Crowned King

Google especially has been leading the charge when it comes to promoting good content on the web, and taking steps towards rewarding high quality websites over the years. In early 2010’s, Google’s roll out of the Panda algorithm update lead to increased emphasis on providing exceptionally good content as an effective SEO strategy. The Panda algorithm update was designed to penalise low-quality websites with thin content – sites with not much or not especially informative text. This emphasis continues to this day with regular algorithm updates to Google’s helpful content system.

In this current helpful content paradigm, at Resurge Digital we put emphasis on equipping our clients with well optimised web page text that follows the best SEO practices to consequently deliver the best possible SEO outcomes.

To keep up with the ongoing evolution of SEO, call us 1300 659 035, e-mail [email protected] or enquire online for our expert help with search engine optimisation and other digital marketing services Brisbane wide, and beyond.


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