The Greek philosopher Heraclitus once said “change is the only constant in life,” and that couldn’t be truer when it comes to search engine optimization.
That said, even as SEO evolves, there are some things that will never change. Knowing what these are will give you a focused, long-term vision of where you should put your SEO efforts. Without further ado, here are four key ways that SEO will never change.
1. Search engines are always striving to create a better search experience for users.
When search engines first came onto the scene in 1993, the primary goal was to help users sift more easily through an ever-expanding world wide web to find what they’re looking for.
Fast forward nearly three decades — search traffic has become crucial to businesses trying to remain visible, relevant, and profitable in their respective industries and niches. As a result, search engines have adopted additional goals and implemented new technologies that more or less revolve around helping businesses make money.
However, despite the “money talks” reality of our increasingly digital world, one thing that reputable search engines remain fairly steadfast on is the commitment to putting the experience of users first. Over the years, website owners and SEO professionals have regularly bemoaned the unmooring caused by shifts in Google’s algorithm. But the reasons those shifts happen is because search engines like Google are trying to continuously refine their algorithm in order to provide the most relevant and high-quality results possible to users.
What does this mean for you? It’s actually pretty simple. As you’re putting together your SEO strategy, you need to be asking yourself: “Does this SEO tactic complement Google’s primary goal of putting users first?”
2. Success from Black Hat SEO tactics is always short-lived.
There are no shortcuts in SEO, and there is no “one simple trick” to make your site rank number one. If anyone is telling you otherwise, you’re probably dealing with someone peddling black hat SEO tactics.
While black hat SEO isn’t technically against the law, it is against recommended best practices laid out by search engines. Examples of black hat SEO include:
- Keyword stuffing
- Bait and switch schemes
- Cloaking and sneaky redirects
- Article spinning
- Buying links
- Link farms and “private blog networks”
- Spammy comments and fake reviews
Even if you’re getting results from a Black Hat SEO tactic, it likely won’t last for long. Google is really great about identifying unethical tactics, and once they find out you’ve been engaging in black hat tactics, not only will they put a stop to it — they’ll penalize you for it, too.
If you’re not sure if some new trick you’ve discovered is considered “Black Hat,” ask yourself the following: “Is this tactic working because I’m helping users solve for what they need, or is it working because I’m gaming the algorithm?” You can also refer to Google’s Webmaster Guidelines to review the basic principles and no-no’s to avoid.
3. Search engines always need to be able to crawl your site.
This one is pretty obvious — if a search engine like Google can’t crawl your site, it can’t index you, and if it can’t index you, it can’t list you in search results.
How exactly does crawling work? Naturally, Google does a great job of explaining it in laymen’s terms:
“The web is like an ever-growing library with billions of books and no central filing system. We use software known as web crawlers to discover publicly available webpages. Crawlers look at webpages and follow links on those pages, much like you would if you were browsing content on the web. They go from link to link and bring data about those webpages back to Google’s servers.”
Once your site has been crawled, Google uses a complex algorithm to evaluate keywords, links, freshness, and other attributes of the page. These attributes play a huge role in how well you rank for certain keywords and topic.
There are many reasons why Google may be having trouble crawling or indexing pages your site. Are you blocking crawlers? Is your site missing a sitemap? Do you have too much duplicate content? Is your site super new? Here’s a pretty comprehensive list of all the reasons why Google isn’t indexing your site.
4. SEO best practices will always change.
Yep, SEO best practices are always in flux — and that’s one way SEO will never change.
When you beginning focusing seriously on your SEO work, you quickly learn that your work is never truly done. Even if you find yourself ranking at number one for all your desired keywords, it requires effort to keep yourself there. Not only are competitors also vying for those top spots, but Google is always tweaking its algorithm and introducing new technologies (such as Google RankBrain in 2015) that change the game. What this means is that you must be prepared to respond to changes in best practices as they come and, if necessary, change course.
Ready to level up your SEO game?