Five Years of SEO
Search Engine Optimisation

Five Years of SEO

22nd December 2014


The end of the year is here. This usually means you will start to see overview posts of what happened in the past year. But this year it’s not just the end of the year, it’s the end of the first 5 years of the decade as well. And 5 years is like an eternity in Digital Marketing and SEO in specific.

If you are interested in SEO it might seem as if the past few years the world of SEO has changed completely. Google keeps making updates, there are more Penguin and Panda Updates than there are rain-showers in England and the SERPS look nothing like they did a few years back.

But how much has really changed? And what are the most important changes we have seen over the past few years? I talked to several SEO experts and analysed the most important changes.

In a group of articles we will dive into the changes, both on Google’s side as on the SEO’s side. How Google has changed the SEO’s live.

Has it really changed?

Of course the question ‘what has changed’ should be preceded by the question ‘has something really changed?’ That all depends on how you look at things of course. You could say that everything has changed and nothing has changed at the same time and still be right.

Marcus Tandler, aka ‘Mediadonis’ may just hit the hammer on the nail when he says:

“I don´t really think that so much has changed – it´s just all granular changes all leading up to Google becoming more independent from SEO tactics and focusing more on really trying to determine what´s the best result for any given query. Google just needs to become independent from outside sources that can easily be manipulated.”

Is he right? It’s how you look at things. Yes, there are changes we can see, but the fundamentals are still the same. Google has always been about trying to give the user quality results and has always been fighting ‘bad links’. They have just gotten a lot better at it.

I also think Joe Hall’s summary is very good:

“To be honest with you, I think the fundamentals of SEO haven’t changed at all.”

The fundamentals haven’t changed that much. That’s it! There are tactical changes, the essence is still the same.

The changes that made impact

So does that make this a short post? Are we done? Far from. Even though the fundamentals might not have changed that much, there are still many changes within Google that have made an impact in the past few years and that make that an SEO has to adapt and change his way of working in a way.

Moz has a great overview of all changes made by Google throughout the years, copying that is overdone. There’s also a great article on Momentology looking at SEO trends. What is missing though is an explanation of the most important changes and how they impact the lives of the SEO.

In a set of articles I’d like to highlight those that according to the group of experts I talked to had the most impact on an SEO’s life in the past few years. In one of the other articles belonging to this group of articles I will talk about the biggest changes in an SEO’s life. These changes are triggered by changes from Google. And those changes I’m focusing on here.

The experts and the topics

I asked several different experts in the SEO industry about their views on the changing industry. In the different articles you will find opinions and quotes from James Carson, Anders Hjorth, Nick Garner, Barry Adams, Joe Hall, Kaspar Szymanski, Kate Morris, Bastian Grimm, Russell O’Sullivan, Marcus Tandler, Debra Mastaler, Arianne Donoghue, Andre Alpar, Razvan Gavrilas, Kevin Gibbons and Mike King.

Thank you all for your contribution!

Let’s dive in!

From the expert opinions and a bit of historical research different topics emerged, which we will all be discussing in different articles:

  • The Panda and Penguin updates
  • The SEO’s nightmare: Not Provided
  • Hummingbird and Knowlegde Graph
  • The impact of Mobile
  • The changing SERPS: Personalisation, Localisation and more

All these changes also had their impact on an SEO’s day-to-day live. I asked the experts to shine their lights on the changes from Google as well as on the changes and what an SEO’s live looks like these days:

  • What is the biggest change to an SEO’s job?
  • What’s the most important part of an SEO’s job these days?

Here’s the result. Enjoy!


Written By
Bas van den Beld is an award winning Digital Marketing consultant, trainer and speaker. He is the founder of State of Digital and helps companies develop solid marketing strategies.
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