How the SEO Landscape has changed in 7 years
Posted on January 01, 2014
This is the first post from our newest team member, Nathan Davies. Nathan has been in the SEO industry for over 7 years, and has seen some big changes in the industry. We asked Nathan to pen some thoughts on how he feels things have changed.
It has been 7 years in SEO for myself - not as long as many but long enough to notice the huge change both in the workings of the Google algorithm but also the way Australian businesses view and use SEO. Back then SEO for SEO's was simpler - there were less providers to compete with, and the online competitive landscape was relatively weak and rich in its pickings.
The Google algorithm itself easy enough to 'manipulate' - It was all about the links - tweak a couple of the on-page factors to let Google know what you do, set up automated or outsourced link building and Bob's your uncle. Speak of near-irrelevant old-fashioned phrases/institutions, a large per cent of enquiries were from clients that were spending huge amount a year on yellow pages and were just starting to question the complete lack of transparency and results when it came to ROI.
People were waking up to the fact that they were only spending such monies as it was something they'd always done. But there comes a time when 'the devil you know' starts to wear thin when the devil is taking $10,000 for the privilege of being plonked in a book which is then swiftly placed, unwrapped into a recycling bin. The lucky ones were used to prop up monitors. Selling the concept of SEO was different as well - much of the time was spent introducing clients to Google- how it worked, why it was handy to appear there, and occasionally - what exactly it was. Now days the market is a lot more educated and mostly pre-sold on the concept.
It's now down to the SEO companies to show deliverables, case studies, and results to build their case. It's always been a intangible sell though and at the end of the day it comes down to trust – that your SEO provider knows what they're doing, and that they will spend the time doing so. Clients were certainly interested though - they knew they needed to be on the net as that's where their customers were. It was the Land of Opportunity - people were looking for your product, right at that moment - and businesses now had the ability to jump in front of them like a street-hawker, proudly displaying exactly what you were looking for sir! What a co-incidence! Compared to a physical store waiting eagerly for foot-traffic, or a print ad that cries desperately 'remember me when you think you might want a .....' it really is quite a compelling marketing solution.
Of course while the opportunities are still there, everyone knows it now and it's meant SEO companies have to work harder to keep their current clients ranking and their new clients a foot in the door. Then of course there's the ever-changing Google algorithm, which means that much of the work previously performed by SEO's have been rendered impotent. Google, aware of this tweaking of sites are clamping down with a heavy foot - sending those naughty sites that have been overly optimised to the back of the class.
Hell hath no fury like a Google scorned. So the opportunity is still there online, in fact with much of previous SEO work (if done waywardly) being rendered invalid (with the Penguin/Panda updates that Daniel discussed in this earlier blog), there is certainly scope for a well put together website to achieve greatness. It's the same with most things - put in the effort to have a relevant, user-friendly site that people want to visit and Google will help them to do so.