Understanding Modern SEO

It seems that we’ve gotten into a few discussions over the past few weeks revolving around the way SEO works. There are some traditionalist viewpoints, and some modern ones. However, when we get involved in these discussions, we notice some common ideas come in to play that aren’t necessarily correct. We also notice that people have a hard time understanding that some of the old ways that search engines used rank content are being pruned out of the algorithms. Today we’re going to discuss the philosophies behind the modern algorithms and how those algorithms will be looking at content in the future.

Traditionally, SEO has been built on proper keyword placement, usage, and frequency on a web page. There were all sorts of important tricks to use, like making sure all of the underlying code for an image was stuffed with the keywords for the site. There were SEO keyword counters, ways of hiding keywords, and manipulating the way that the search engines would find your page by “keyword stuffing” (the act of putting hundreds of highly searched keywords on to your page to help generate traffic). In the old days of search, people learned to manipulate the system, earning undeserved high rankings in search.

Over the years, the search companies have picked up on all the ways the system had been manipulated, modifying their algorithms to work around these cheat methods. Eventually, Google, Yahoo, and Bing – as well as other search companies – began to penalize sites caught using techniques like these, which are now referred to as Black Hat SEO techniques. If you were caught employing these unscrupulous methods, your site was sent so far down in search rankings that nobody would ever see it.

All the while, the search giants improved their algorithms. The goal of a search engine is to deliver the most relevant content to the person searching so that she would continue to use the service. Every new algorithm change is designed to improve the results returned. They attempt to track all of their users, delivering more information about what the individual might be looking for when she enters a query. They scan content for accurate, relevant information. They pay attention to page visits and how long a visitor stays on the site. They pay attention to where she goes from the page she lands on. They watch what happens to a page on social media channels.

Slowly, the search engines are eliminating keywords and other site-controllable factors, opting instead for the more accurate indicator of relevance; interest. By finding out what people are interested in, the search engines will be able to deliver content that’s interesting, relevant, and catered to what the searcher wants to know. Ranking are even disappearing, as no two people get delivered the same content in the same order in most cases. Their browsing history is different, therefore so are their search results.

The key to having good SEO is to have high quality, interesting, engaging content constantly flowing from your site into the lives of other people. They’ll read it and, if they like it, they’ll share. If you’re lucky, you’ll produce viral content, which will boost your SEO beyond measure. However, without quality content, you can kiss your rankings goodbye.

Let us know your thoughts and experiences with SEO in the comments below. After all, your interaction helps us. We’ll see you next week. Have an awesome weekend!

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About the author:

Michael McNew
Web developer, marketing innovator, technology enthusiast, and founder of Visceral Concepts, Michael McNew has developed a passion for delivering value to small business, turning his creativity towards image and reputation building for small business owners.