For the last couple of decades, SEO has been a primary focus of digital marketers all over the world. With more than 3.5 billion searches performed every day, the potential for visibility is practically limitless, and even a few years of experience in the industry is enough to master the basics.
Here’s the thing, though—the basics have remained more or less the same for several years now, with almost no fundamental changes to the way we approach search engine optimization, except perhaps for the increasing focus on optimizing for mobile devices.
There have been major algorithm updates and paradigm shifts, of course, but most of the basic tenets are the same as they were in 2012. The world of search (and technology in general) is one with origins in massive, unpredicted leaps forward—so are we overdue for seeing a revolution in SEO?
SEO to Date: Bits and Pieces
Google isn’t the only search engine that matters for SEO, but it is the most popular and the one responsible for driving most trends and strategic shifts, so it’s the one I’m going to pay most attention to. Since its launch in 1997, Google has gone through a handful of major changes, including major leaps forward in how it calculates “PageRank,” how it evaluates link quality, and how it determines the trustworthiness of content on a page.
Other than those fundamental overhauls, most of the “major” updates that have attracted attention in the SEO community—such as Panda’s overhaul to content quality evaluation and the “mobilegeddon” update designed to favor mobile-friendly sites—haven’t torn down our main strategic pillars.
Tactics like producing high-quality content, optimizing your page titles, descriptions, and content for specific keywords, and building high-quality links still form the core practices of earning exceptional results. For the most part, Google has kept its formula intact, with moderate modifications to occasionally improve elements of that formula.
SEO Updates Today
Today, SEO is more stable and streamlined than ever. It’s been years since we’ve seen an update big enough to send search marketers into a frenzy, and most of the major “branch” updates (like Panda and Penguin) have been incorporated into Google’s “core” algorithm. Essentially, that means they run in real time, constantly updating information based on new developments and tweaking search rankings accordingly.
Newer updates, like RankBrain, are even capable of updating themselves, which means they can gradually improve over time. This framework would suggest Google has a plan for the distant future, and one that only requires tweaks and balances to a system that’s already in place. But is there a possibility for a bigger, deeper overhaul?