SEO has been around for ages. Soon after search engines started to grow in popularity, webmasters became interested in pushing their websites to the top of the SERPs. This is how search engine optimization was born. As the results were promising, some of these people have positioned themselves as SEO specialists, selling their services to other companies willing to improve the online visibility of their website.
The beginning of this trade was fairly straightforward. The more links a web page acquired, the better its authority. In addition, if you wanted to rank for a specific keywords, it was enough to repeat it a lot of times in the copy and use it as anchor text for incoming links. This is how experts were doing on-page and off-page optimization back in those times. However, search engines weren’t too happy to see their results manipulated in such brutal manner, so they implemented algorithm changes that made ranking more difficult. Black hat measures such as stuffing a page with keywords written in the same color as the background have become reasons for severe penalties from Google. This is what put an end to keyword stuffing and to many other similar actions meant to promote a web page in the SERPs.
Everything seemed to be just fine, SEO professionals were in direct competition for acquiring as many links as possible. The only thing they had to be careful about as to vary the anchors, in order to create the appearance of a natural link profile. Some websites have reached the top of search engines for keywords with high traffic levels and with excellent commercial potential. Many of these websites were affiliate stores. Their owners made money from promoting products and services of other companies and sending them qualified leads.
As Google didn’t make any revenue from such websites, they have decided to tweak their algorithm in order to demote them, claiming they are only an unnecessary link in the merchant-consumer chain. Algorithm updates such as Panda and Penguin have killed millions of websites, leaving their owners without the work of a lifetime almost overnight.
Google’s intention was to clean the SERPs by eliminating spam and low quality websites from their top results. Unfortunately, these measures have hit a lot of legit businesses, as well.
Today, SEO is a totally different game. Although inbound links are still the ones that matter, acquiring good ones has become extremely challenging. Only links from high authority websites in related industries matter. The era of submitting your website to thousands of web directories has ended. Moreover, such low quality links may even harm a website, so this isn’t a good practice anymore.
The content is also one of the ranking factors, but you have to avoid keyword stuffing, and develop your copy around the LSI concept. Besides, your content has to be appealing to people, as social media activity may influence the position of a web page in Google.
Briefly, SEO has become a complex activity, requiring lots of tests and adjustments. This has made it more expensive, as larger volumes of work are required. Still, SEO has a brilliant future, as the results are worth the effort. All business owners would love to enjoy an endless stream of targeted visitors, without having to pay for each of them.