January 6, 2010
By Jill Whalen, CEO of High Rankings
I've been SEO'ing websites long before the 21st century began. We say on our website that it's been officially since 1995, but I was doing SEO for my old parenting website all the way back in 1993. For me, the start of this past decade in 2000 seems like only yesterday. Sometimes I feel I've been touting the same SEO processes and procedures for the past 10 years.
But have I?
Or has SEO changed so much, as almost everybody else always says, and I just haven't noticed?
I just so happen to have been writing SEO newsletters since the year 2000, which provides me with a unique opportunity to see exactly how much SEO has changed (or not) in the past 10 years. I spent the better part of this morning fishing through them all, looking for interesting nuggets that showed just how much search marketing has or hasn't changed. As you have probably guessed, what I found was a little bit of both – sort of "the more things change, the more they stay the same" kinda thing.
Here are some random things I spotted, year by year:
Best Jill quote of 2000:
"Who would believe that in the year 2000 we'd still hear of people trying to find new ways to hide text on their pages?"2001
Best Jill quote of 2001:
"In my opinion, buying additional domain names for the sole purpose of obtaining more search engine rankings is NOT a good idea. If you spend the time it takes to create great content, you'll naturally be able to obtain high rankings. Instead of buying up additional domain names, keep adding worthwhile pages to your existing site.2002
Best Jill Quote of 2002:
"Years ago, when I would read about the latest and greatest techniques for 'tricking' the search engines, I would often wonder if I were missing the boat by not working that way. There were times when I even doubted my own tried-and-true ways of attacking SEO. But then I'd slap myself and remember that my 'crazy' Content Is King method seemed to be working fine, so I must be doing something right. When I hear people say that the search engines now want to see relevant content (like this is some new concept), it absolutely blows me away! Content is all they've ever wanted, and all they will want in the future." - From an old RankWrite newsletter.Nailed it!
This was one of the few years I made some SEO predictions.
Here are some of the standouts:
"Google will remain the dominant player in the biz, with more and more regular people believing that Google = Search Engine. We will also see Google continue to get bashed by webmasters who can't figure out how to get a decent listing."
Very true still today.
"If Google goes public in 2003 (and I'm not making any predictions on that), we will see it start to suck by 2004. By 'suck,' I mean become like all the other engines."
Okay, so I was totally off the mark on that one!
Best Jill Quote of 2003:
After reviewing (for free) a site that turned out to be super spammy, I wrote:
"When I emailed [the site owner] to tell him that he was a very baaaaaad boy for using these techniques, his answer was simply that he had been given some bad advice. No, I'm sorry, that just doesn't cut it. Sure, in 1995 that excuse might have worked. Maybe even in 1997. But there's certainly enough good SEO advice in existence right now that ignorance of this magnitude is really inexcusable."And yet…still today…in 2010…we still see a multitude of spammy sites and silly excuses. [head bang]
"Apparently Google just 'updated their backlinks,' according to forum members who study such things. Not surprisingly (to me at least), many have noticed that an increase in toolbar PageRank doesn't seem to affect a page's ranking in the search engine results for its keyword phrases."
I knew this in 2004, yet just this week in 2010 people were crying about the latest toolbar PR update – go figure!
"The important thing to note, however, is that most sites don't need to resort to Black Hat SEO.2005
"SEO isn't ALL about anything. It's about lots of things all added together to make the perfect combination for your site. A linking campaign alone will never be as effective if you neglect your on-page content, and vice versa."2007
Which leads us to the best Jill Quote of 2007:
"A much smarter idea would be to fix up your current corporate site so that every page of it is optimized in such a way that each of your main categories and each individual product page would rank on its own merits. One great site is 1,000 times better than 50 small sites."Whoa…eerily similar to my quote from 2001…
Best Jill Quote of 2008:
"A search in today's Google index shows about 19,100,000 results for the phrase 'social media' and approximately 1,630,000 Google results for 'social media marketing.' It's safe to conclude that social media and its use as an online marketing strategy are here to stay, and are growing by leaps and bounds. If you're marketing websites, scary as it may sound, you need to learn about social media." – From "Scared of Social Media?"2009
The Best Jill Quote of 2009 is something that you probably never thought you'd hear me say:
"I've got a secret for you. It's one you won't hear me say very often when it comes to SEO. While my mantra has always been to make your site be the best it can be, you may not actually need to bust your butt as hard as you think when it comes to your SEO goals." – From "Is Your SEO Campaign Out of Focus," mentioned above.Which brings us up to date with 2010!
I can't say for sure what will happen in search marketing this year, but I hope (as I've hoped every year of the past decade) that more people will continue to buy into the fact that the best way to gain more targeted search engine visitors to their websites is to make something great! While I can tell that this idea is finally starting to sink in with many, I also see new folks just getting into it who haven't figured this out yet.
Yes, it's hard. Yes, it takes a lot of work. But we all know that's the only way to have long-term success.
It's important to note that my ideal of SEO even before the year 2000 has always assumed that search engines will someday be perfect. Through the years, Google has given credence to my mantra during the times when they haven't allowed the crap-hat SEO stuff to work. By the same token, they have also made me look silly at the times when it does still work. My hope is that Google (or any other search engine) never gives up trying to find the best, most relevant results for their users – the searchers – because my SEO methods are based on that ideal.
Happy 2010 everyone! – Jill
Jill Whalen is the CEO of High Rankings, a Boston SEO Consulting Agency.
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