SEO Now and Then

Much has changed online in ten years. Read on to see how SEO keeps up.

Trends and technology have evolved significantly over the last decade. These changes have prompted search engines such as Google and Bing to provide answers in different, more accurate ways. This is good news for search engine users, and it means businesses can more easily get the word out about their high-quality services. For the SEO pros at Online Image®, keeping up with these changes is an exciting challenge.

In 2006, SEO strategies revolved around links and keywords. While effective then, it resulted in cluttered, spammy pages that weren’t useful to users. Since then, search engines have matured to focus on a searcher’s intention rather than simply matching words. As our iPhones replaced our iPods, mobile and social platforms became more significant to SEO and online marketing strategies for local and large businesses.

Be Social

Ten years ago, social networks were treated as a teenage trend. Although popular, sitesThe entire set of pages that make up a website, including the homepage (root domain) and all other pages. such as MySpace were thought to be a passing phase, despite mountains of comments and posts from users. However, in 2006 that site surpassed Google as the most visited website in the U.S.

Since then, social media has become a force of nature on the Internet. As of 2014, there were 1.35 billion active monthly users on Facebook. With so much traffic and sharing, Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms are worth considering when building your online presence.

It’s hard to deny the presence of social media online even if the posts, comments and shares you see on Facebook don’t directly affect where a page lands on a search results page (SERPSearch engine results page, meaning the pages that list links to web pages relevant to the search query in question.). Google and Bing tend to favor links from Google +, Facebook and Twitter. When it comes to traffic, the links shared between Facebook users can indirectly influence how Google searches for results. The more shares a post has, the more likely you’ll see it.

Social media and search engines don’t directly feed each other. Instead, Google picks up on links and shares from your site, favoring sites with an active and popular social media presence. The best way to increase your SEO power on social media is through interactions with other users and useful links related to your site or service.

We do recommend being cautious about buying ads on social sites though, particularly for financial and home service businesses. Search engine ads have proved more effective because they show up at just the moment a customer wants them.

Going Mobile

If you had a smartphone in 2006, you probably didn’t use the web browserA program or application (app) used to navigate the World Wide Web, such as Chrome, Internet Explorer, Safari or Mozilla Firefox. often. While mobile devices had the ability to access the web, the Internet was still designed for laptops and desktop computers. Ten years later, this has changed drastically.

It’s embarrassing when you think of how often you check your phone every day. According to the NY Post, the average Joe spends a collective three hours a day on their phone. Most of that time is spent in apps, but 2015 saw mobile devices become the main source of Google queriesThis occurs when a user asks a search engine to perform a search and provide relevant results. The term can be used either for the string of words that made up the query or for the action of asking itself.. For the first time, mobile searchesThis term is used to differentiate search queries that come from mobile devices, such as tablets and smartphones, from queries that come from desktop browsers. surpassed desktop searches. Such a large change has caused Google to adjust how it conducts searches. Now, page speedThis is a figure provided by Google that reflects how quickly a page loads content for users. This is differentiated from site speed, which means how quickly a sample of pages within a domain load, on average. and site design are more important than ever.

Page design on mobile and desktop platforms now favors scrolling pages and short form copy. More mobile users means site design and speed have become more important. The most effective SEO strategies target short and informative page titles with meta descriptionsThese are made up of the words that show up under hyperlinks in search engine results and are usually a few sentences about the page. Along with Meta titles, these make up metatags. full of relevant keywords.  For a more technical look, Google Developers have provided some useful information for optimizing mobile websites.

Meta Keywords and Heading Tags

Once upon a time, keywords were a cornerstone of the SEO world. Since then, Google and other search engines have shifted their focus from topic to user intent. This means strategies such as keyword stuffingThis refers to the outdated technique of using keyword phrases over and over again and in nonsensical ways in an attempt to get better rankings in search engine results. These days, stuffing is known as a “black hat” technique that can get your site banned from results. are no longer effective for attracting traffic.

Keywords still hold sway in the SEO world. But nowadays they serve as trackers rather than beacons, allowing you to trace the amount of traffic they draw to a site. This means placement of keywords has become more important than frequency. The higher on the pageA specific URL, as compared to a site or root domain. There may be several pages on one site., the more priority a search engine gives the keywords.

Location, Location, Location

When you run a small business, your online presence may not seem like a priority. Over the last decade, search engines on mobile and desktop searches have become the most useful tool for users to shop locally. It’s become easier over the years for a local business to build a website, but few are maximizing their online potential. As more small businesses begin to build their online presence, you will need to compete.

Chances are your restaurant, storefront or service has many competitors. As geolocation technology advances, search engines such as Google will be able to pinpoint a searcher’s location and match it with businesses closest to them, especially when those businesses have great sites with highly relevant content. This means you want any means to set you apart from your competitors. Always include hours, location and ways for customers to contact you online. Links to reviews and social media are also easy ways to show potential visitors how their online experience can be just as good as a brick and mortar visit.