SEO Guide Chapter 1: The Evolution of SEO

If you're just getting into SEO then you need to know one basic principle: SEO is always changing (and in my opinion after 8 years full-time, for the better).

They say to know your future, look at your past. I think while the zoo animals have dominated the last few years, one thing has remained the same: quality wins long-term.

Changes in SEO have caused some people to say SEO is dead and that it is a waste of time. Let me tell you something though, SEO isn't dead (unless your on the second page, then we have more to talk about) and it never will be.

Optimizing for search engines used to be about simple link building (usually mass bulk spam *lack of quality care*), structuring your site in a certain way, and adding content and that was it.

SEO gurus offered guides on how to build the best links and develop your site but that was only for the short-term. Today, SEO is much different.

A high-ranking site is essentially the end result of a highly thought-out plan involving creative content, quality links, social media interaction, and a deep connection to your audience.

What Role Does Organic Search Play?

For any brand, having a strong online presence is important. The Internet is quickly approaching over one billion websites on several topics. Search engines ultimately connect billions of people around the world with the relevant content to their interests.

To understand SEO, you need to understand a search engine. A search engine’s primary goal is to provide its’ search users with relevant, positive results. In other words, a search engine wants users to find the most relevant and most helpful content for any given search query.

Keywords are a search engine's currency. In other words, keywords tell a search engine what users are looking for and it’s the easiest way for search engines to categorize and index content on the web.

Search algorithms

However, there are over a billion sites on the web today, which means it is not easy to categorize content on the web. This is why Google, Bing, and other search engines hire teams of engineers to create search algorithms, which are sophisticated and complex.

The goal of a search algorithm is to provide users with the most accurate content for a given keyword. Hundreds of factors influence a search ranking and this entire guide will go into more detail on some of these factors.

Types of Traffic

Organic traffic is the most common type of traffic you will receive from your SEO efforts. However, it is not the only type of traffic. In fact, there are five main types of traffic which include

  • Organic traffic: achieved from high rankings in search engines.
  • Referral traffic: traffic received based on a link from another website.
  • Social media traffic: traffic from Facebook, Twitter, etc.
  • Paid Traffic: Traffic purchased from any website.
  • Direct Traffic: Traffic when users type in your url directly.

If you put effort into SEO, you should receive traffic from most of these sources. Diversifying your traffic sources will help your brand survive the ever evolving nature of search engines and it will help you connect with your customers on a larger scale.

The Dynamically Changing Landscape of SEO

SEO has had a shady past and many experienced SEOs will tell you that in the past, spammers ruled the SERPS. With efforts by Google and Bing, this is not the case so much anymore, although spammers still have control over some niches.

Spamming has short-term benefits although it is not a business model anybody should rely on. Sure, it might be more work to build a brand site with quality content and links but it’s a much more stable business model and you can know you’re actually helping people.

In the next chapter, we’re going to discuss the three most important aspects to SEO and what you need to do to succeed in all three of these categories.

or go back to last chapter:

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