Staying On Trend With The Evolution of SEO

typing on computer behind a search bar

Introduction to SEO

Overall, SEO as a digital marketing vertical has morphed to a great degree. Looking back on how SEO used to function — from keyword stuffing to backlink-building practices — it has evolved significantly from the early 2000s. Google introduced a number of Google Panda (February 2011) & Penguin updates (April 2012) to ensure effective quality search results for its users. Any website engaging in unscrupulous practices was penalized and dropped off from the Search Index. 

Key Features of SEO

The updates made over the last few years have changed the search experience, making results more dynamic, focused, and, of course, relevant. 

Natural Language Processing (NLP)

This was one of the biggest game-changers in the field oand,f Artificial Intelligence as it helped minimize the communication gap between computers and humans. Google launched their search engine algorithm Hummingbird in September 2013, which added more meaning to the words that users were putting in their queries. In October 2015, Google launched RankBrain to move one step further into the Hummingbird Algorithm. RankBrain helps users get the most relevant search results based on their queries. To take things up a notch further, in October 2019, Google released the BERT update to ensure that the search engine more easily understood the context of search queries.

Website Security Prioritization

Starting back in 2014, Google doubled down on their mission to make the internet a safer place by enabling the https encryption as a required ranking signal for websites. The https signal also helped websites win the user’s trust that their confidential information is safe. It became one of the important stepping stones for search engines to ensure that their user’s data integrity is maintained.

Quick Answer Feature

As if competing for the number one rank position wasn’t already hard enough, Google introduced the quick answer feature snippet in 2014. The quick answer feature uses short text snippets to answer a search query at a glance. Through the quick answer feature snippet, websites could rank for position zero on the SERP, driving up competition even more. For users, however, this feature makes looking for quick answers a piece of cake as they don’t even have to visit a website for an answer to their query. Although competition for position zero is stiff, the quick answer feature poses a good potential to boost a website’s traffic.

Smooth UX and Page Speed

Back in 2010, Google announced that page speed will be considered as a ranking signal for desktop searches. And, nearly ten years later, in July 2018, Google started considering page speed a ranking factor for mobile searches as well. Hence, over the past decade, website UX design has undergone certain adjustments, such as prioritizing intuitive and clear navigation, concise direction, and good page speed to ensure an efficient on-page user experience. 

Mobile Search Update

Over the years, as mobile phones continue to get smarter, it became imperative for websites to be mobile-friendly. The summer of 2015 saw the first sharp rise in mobile queries, compared to desktop queries and mobile optimization has become a must since then. To adapt to the changing digital landscape, Google finally officially launched in July 2019 the mobile-first indexing update. This update primarily uses the mobile version of a website for indexing and ranking.

Social Media

Although it is not a direct contributor to SEO rankings, the link-sharing done on social media platforms increases brand awareness, brand visibility, substantial content distribution, and incoming organic traffic. John Mueller, Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst said:

Do social media signals have an impact on organic rankings in Google? Not directly. No. So it’s not that there’s any kind of a ranking effect there. To a large part, social networks also have a nofollow on the links that they provide when they post this content, so it’s not the case that would give you any kind of a ranking boost there. What you do sometimes see however is that the social posts show up in the search results.”

Hence, we can say that social media can help in attracting users to one’s website who might be interested in what the brand has to offer. A proper social media presence can nurture trust with one’s audience while also cultivating a good online reputation.

Intelligent Searches

The world of search is still evolving: voice search, image search, virtual chatbots, and virtual personal assistants have been gaining traction in making a user’s search journey a lot simpler and easier. While the first virtual assistant appeared in 2011 (you know her as Apple’s Siri), other virtual assistants, such as the Google Assistant from Google, Cortana from Microsoft, and Alexa from Amazon, were developed soon after. Now, these virtual assistants formed a new battleground of deciding who is the smartest and most helpful to consumers!

NetElixir’s SEO Solution

NetElixir thrives on one principle — being customer-oriented! Our goal is to make businesses succeed online. Over the years, we have been helping our clientele by equipping them with strong digital insights and informed strategies to broaden their business’s growth horizon and make a mark in the digital landscape.  

The journey that started 18 years ago in 2004 has now reached a new chapter. Throughout this journey, along with changing times, NetElixir’s growth strategies have also come a long way. Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Social Media, and Paid Search are some of our key offerings which have all the more solidified the path. One of the key handles of this success story has been SEO.

We have been seeing a lot of upgrades this past decade and the digital space is only going to grow more, as evidenced by the new emerging concept of Zuckerberg’s Metaverse. The idea of the Metaverse is for a user’s virtual world to evolve based on the decisions and interactions they make within the space. There aren’t any specific metrics to determine the KPIs in this space yet, but for now, user engagement can be a good indicator of the results. One can try to reap the benefits of a first-mover advantage in this channel. Soon, impressing your human audience won’t be enough; you’ll need to impress their virtual avatars as well!

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