Originally, there was a lot less competition for SEO. This is largely because of how difficult it was to make websites and the fact hosting was cheap. In order to build a website, it had to be done using technical coding and this meant access to the online world was limited. Additionally, people weren’t buying online yet, nor were they using credit card payments. The Internet almost hadn’t found its true purpose. This was changed by and large through the launch of Amazon.com, which as it grew became the world’s largest online retailer and also showed how easy it was to shop online. Additionally, social media networks such as Facebook gave people a social reason to keep returning online even if they weren’t searching. During this time, SEO wasn’t as easy to target or specify and there was less incentive to ‘manipulate’ the results.
With search habits and information requests considerably evolving and growing since then, SEO has continued to change. In 2007, the first iPhone was launched and a path was forged into how prominent the smartphone would become. People were starting to search while on the go, with less browsing time but wanting quicker results, and were moving their location frequently. The technology needed to evolve with this, and websites had to become more mobile responsive. In 2016, mobile search actually overtook desktop searches in popularity. With the popularity of mobile, Google algorithms started to advance and this helped to influence the search results. With this, Search Engine Optimisation became more prevalent.
Choosing relevant keywords has always been important to SEO, and back in the early days, many people tried to trick search engines by packing lots of keywords onto a page but turning them into the same colour as the background so they weren’t visible. It used to be that having lots of inbound links and backlinks also helped your site dramatically, although it didn’t matter where this content came from or went to and this saw a lot of link spam. It is still important to have links on your page as this helps with your Google authority, but they need to connect with useful, high-quality and relevant sites.
Keywords also remain crucial, although their value in a website’s URL has become less important. Ultimately, competition has become much fiercer. It is now far easier to set up a website, and most businesses won’t launch without having some kind of online space. The battle for the best domain name and the top keywords can be costly, and now it can require paid-for Google Ads in order to have any chance of ranking highly. Voice-activated searches are also changing how people search, with more people using long-tail keywords. Google’s algorithms are evolving to try and match the human brain and intent, considering what the user is looking for, why they are going to the site, what they will do once there, and whether they will return. In order to have any chance of carving out a notable space in the online world, staying abreast of SEO changes is crucial.