07 Jun SEO Evolution
Search engine optimisation, oh my, how things have changed over the years. Haven’t they? My name is Paul Barrs and in this short video I’ll be looking to show you some of the techniques and strategies that unbelievably even modern SEO teachers and internet marketers still use which are now old-school, old hat, black hat and are dangerous if you continue them with your current modern SEO practices. So, grab your favourite beverage, perhaps a coffee or a cool drink. Take some notes or just sit back and enjoy this trip down memory lane.
If we go all the way back to the beginning, 2001, search engine marketing was just getting up and running and the theme for the day, the theme was keywords, keywords, keywords, keywords everywhere in every place in every possible way, jam packed into the page. I remember once being given a checklist of 25 different places, this, this, this, and these places where you had to put your keywords and then once you had done, then you’d go and create another page which would be exactly the same except you would change the keyword to maybe a multiple variation of it or you know, the two of the . . . the plural variation or another word meaning the same, but just written differently. And that was the way we did back then.
And we would create domains and subdomains which would just be keywords, nothing else. Everything was focused on the keywords and our computers had programs that wrote the content and we pressed buttons and we spat them out and, oh, boy, it was beautiful because well, at that time, anything was possible. I actually think it’s a really good thing that you can’t do that now because from a user-consumer point of view, it’s all about getting the best results first. I mean, who wants to Google something to only go through to a page where you’ve just got to search again and keep on looking. I know I didn’t, don’t, but back then that’s what we used to be able to get away with.
Fortunately, these tactics, well, they’re pretty much dead and buried now and no one does them anymore. But of course, there’s more to it than just that. If we take a step forward a few more years, let’s say 2008, keywords, still very, very important and we would exact match this keyword phrase with two, three, four, perhaps five, as we started to look for those long title keywords and we would match them into the right places just like we used to, but we wouldn’t use automated tools anymore. We’d get clever, we’d get crafty and we’d create domain names and we would do these things in the same way, but differently.
I remember one time someone saying, and this was unbelievably just recently, “Well, Paul, shouldn’t I be underlining that keyword, bold facing it, making it in italics to make it stand out? I’ve got a plug-in on my website that tells me I should do that.” Do you know what I said to them? “Get a new plug-in because, no, you don’t want to make it look silly, not for the customers.
Imagine you go through all the work and you do get some good SEO results and someone clicks through to your website. What is it that you want to happen then? Have them buy from you. Have them contact you. Have them get involved or get engaged. You don’t want them to look at your content on your website and go, “Hey, this guy or this girl is silly. Look at how messy this page is.” And we used to write our content and we would create links every single place and fill up every on-page ranking signal we could possibly get our hands on. We had maybe 150 or so and there are over 200 of them now.
The thing is this, the way things have evolved and changed over the years have come down to one simple thing, the UX, the user experience. So, these practices that you can see on the screen right now, while they still have their place, they are secondary to the user experience, to customer focused search. That’s what it all comes down to now. Yes, we still need to do keyword research. Yes, we still need to find out what people are looking for, but then now we don’t just put it here, put it there and do what we were told in the checklist. Now, we work a little bit harder.
Here’s what writing for SEO in 2018 looks like. The most important thing that you need to do once you’ve done your research, once you found out what people are looking for, you’ve got to ask yourself the question, “What do they really want?” I’ve always said in my workshops and seminars we have to find out not just what people are looking for now, but what do they really want, and this is key, what else would they like to know? Solving the searcher’s query when it comes to writing the content on your website all comes down to understanding the user intent. What is it that they want to know? And what else might they like to know?
So, how do we go about doing that? Well, there are many different things and I’ve covered those in other videos, but it all comes down to having a good site structure, doing your research, doing your homework, and planning your content simply to answer the questions.
Think about this. There are two different types of customers, those who know what they want and those who don’t. Hey that’s pretty simple, isn’t it?
But the thing is this, those who know what they want, they’re just trying to decide who to buy it from. So, you do need to write some of your content for them, people looking for a specific thing. But then there’s the other 80%, because I’m going to follow the 80/20 rule here and say about 20% of the people in that buying cycle, they know what they want, but before they do, they’ve got to do their research, they’ve got to look online and discover. And if we can understand the intent behind the search, you can capture a whole beautiful marketplace with what do they want to know now and then what else would they like to know? And that’s the key to structure and write your content to lead them through the answers of what they’re looking for and then once they’ve finished that discovery phase, they move from the 80% to the 20%, who do I buy this from? And how beautiful it is if they’re on your website when that happens.
So, in order to answer their query, that is the most important thing, their user intent. And yes there are, you can see here item 3, still some very important technical things that need to be done. Actually, there’s a lot of important technical things on speed loading time and SSL certificates and site structure technically, as well. All of those things still play a part. Yes, that’s very, very important, but they are the most important things and once those are done, very simply after that, we’ve done our research and we have to make sure that we talk about what we’re there to talk about.
Someone recently said to me, “Well, Paul, shouldn’t I still do this, shouldn’t do that, shouldn’t I do this and this?” I said, “Yeah, but hold on a minute, just wait one second. Yes, you do need to put on the page what you want to be found on, you just have to do this.” But here’s the way I like to explain it, write about what you’re there to write about because if you don’t, no one will know why they’re there, even if they did click through from search.
Does that make sense? Write about what you’re there to write about.
If you really want to get into the nitty-gritty and you worry that you might have, you know, perhaps used a particular keyword too many times, then do a search and replace, copy your text to a Word document, do a search and replace, and just replace whatever that keyword is with in bold black uppercase letters, keyword phrase. And if you find then that as you’re looking through and you can keyword phrase and is you’re looking and you keep reading keyword phrase and for some silly reason, keyword phrase keeps popping up, keyword phrase, and it’s looking silly and stupid, chances are it’s in there too much and maybe you run it through some kind of scanning program that’s said it’s in there too much.
So, look at it from the semantic search point of view, but please write about what you’re there to write about, answer the users’ questions. What do they want to know now? What else are they likely to know? And discover, brainstorm. Talk to people and figure out what is their user intent, is it to buy a thing? What is the end goal? Is to learn how to DIY and do it themselves? Whatever it is, write you content for Google. Sorry, apologies, write your content for the customer.
Think about this as a final thought. Google wants to please their customers. I like to employ what I call the one click philosophy. Google says, “Someone comes to us and we search, we want them to click something once and they’ve found what they’re looking for.” I mean, that’s got to be the ultimate goal of a search engine, isn’t it? To deliver what their customers, their users, their searchers, are looking for the very first time. Google doesn’t want them to go back and keep searching because if they do, it means they delivered a bad result.
So, what do you have to do? Your keyword research and then deliver the content which answers that or they want to know now and what else they might like to know, so that when Google sends them through to you, they get what they want. That’s how you make Google happy” by keeping their customers happy.
All right folks, this is Paul Barrs from paulbarrs.com. I’m going to sign off on this fascinating little trip down memory lane. Amazing how much things have changed in search over the years, thankfully for the better. And of course, if you would like some help, we work with customers here in Australia, all day, every day and we get results because we follow the guiding principles, and we stay away from the black hat rubbish. Yes, folks, we can help you out, get some good results in Google search and also the other search engines, they still can too, believe it or not. Thank you very much for your time and I’ll talk to you soon. Bye-bye.