Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is more important to your business than ever before. This may come as a surprise, since SEO no longer grabs the kind of hot-topic headlines it did a few years ago. But like the internet itself, search engine technology has evolved at a remarkable rate.
Advances in SEO have been fueled in no small party by the pervasiveness of mobile technology and the always-on nature of today’s consumers. Search is oftentimes the first destination when researching a new product or solving an unexpected issue or finding more information to inform a purchase decision.
These factors combine to make the key benefit of SEO—the ability of potential customers to find and engage with your business quickly and easily on the web—absolutely essential. To get started, it’s important to know a little about where search has been … and why those tactics are no longer effective.
Once Upon a Time, Keywords were King
SEO covers a variety of techniques that can be used to make your business rank high in online search results on popular search engines like Google. Initial SEO models focused on a simple, if ambitious, goal: make your website rank #1 in search results by using specific keywords. This made sense, since search engines relied heavily on finding specific keywords and search engine results pages (or SERPs) displayed results as bare-bones lists of links. However, the focus on keywords meant some or many of a search’s results could be frustratingly irrelevant. Over time, other drawbacks of heavily keyword-oriented search and SEO became apparent.
Classic Search, Common Problems
Soon, businesses began overstuffing their sites with keywords, even though doing so lowered the quality of the content. Consumers were likely to visit multiple sites based on exact match queries, learning as much or more about the completion as they did your business. And because business’s reputation wasn’t considered part of the SEO process, consumers who discovered a business through search were likely to encounter negative information posted by angry individuals or unscrupulous competitors.
Other complications included conflicting online information regarding things as simple as a company’s location, business hours or phone number. Not surprisingly, consumers who searched for information online still relied upon friends and family members for recommendations on products, services and the best places to buy.
The Second Search Revolution
Eventually, Google, Bing, Yahoo! and other (minor) search providers began cracking down on SEO practices, like keyword stuffing, that were skewing results. Meanwhile, the ongoing refinement of search engine technology eliminated others. For instance, Google search’s indexing of the web previously focused on keywords and link counts. It now analyzes websites and web pages for relevance, and ranks expertise, authority and trustworthiness as well. 
This means a search you initiate today will deliver results that are far more heavily based on content and context than in the past. These results will more accurately reflect the actual intent of your search, and you are apt to be more pleased with them.
This advanced, content-and-context-driven approach to search is yet another reason why content is king. It also means that a fundamental step in the customer buying journey has changed forever. We’ll explore these changes and ways your company can benefit from them in more detail in the next post.
Need Guidance Navigating SEO?
Interested in learning more about putting the new approach to search engine optimization and the many benefits it offers your business? We’d love to talk to you about SEO and other tools to grow your company. For more information, contact us online or call 888.573.4773.
1. “How Google Works: A Google Engineer’s Story,” Paul Haahr, SMX West 2016, March, 2016, San Jose, CA