The history of SEO has been fraught with
algorithm changes, keyword stuﬃng, and
link baiting that have caused many
businesses problems in the past.
Knowing where SEO has come from and
how it has evolved will help you understand
why the term SEO has continued to make
brands, marketers, and content creators
nervous over the years.
SEO - A PastShady
Some dates to Remember
SEO has changed a lot over the years,
with the majority of big algorithm updates
made by Google. Here are some of the
major milestones over the past few
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1990’s Webmasters begin providing links to bring people to their websites.
Search Engine Optimization becomes a term to describe tactics used to get websites
to rank higher with search engines.
Google introduces Florida and Cassandra updates focused on eliminating hidden text
and hidden links.
2004 Google introduces Austin update to penalize invisible text and meta-tag stuﬃng.
2005 Google and other search engines customize search results by user.
Google introduces Panda - websites using keyword stuﬃng and duplicate content get
2012 Google introduces Penguin - focused on web spam and link farming techniques.
2013 Google introduces Hummingbird - aimed at improving semantic search.
2015 Google introduces Mobile Friendly - designed to improve mobile search experiences.
Some dates to Remember
Black Hats and White Hats
Before there were rules to prevent it, the job
of an SEO expert was to use tactics to
improve the ranking of a website.
Black Hat Techniques
‣ Hidden content
‣ Meta keyword stuﬃng
‣ Doorway or gateway pages
‣ Link manipulation and link farming
All of these techniques were designed to
“game the system.” This eventually lead to
the audience not trusting what they clicked
because it was often an irrelevant, spammy
page focused on traﬃc volume instead of
Black Hats Get Punished
In an eﬀort to make the internet a more
useful tool for everyone, Google started
to punish websites that were improving
their rank without merit.
Enter white hat SEO.
White Hat Techniques:
‣ Quality content
‣ Semantic search terms
‣ Proper titles and meta data
‣ Relevant keyword use
‣ Quality inbound links
Quality content answers questions and provides solutions for problems
audiences have identiﬁed in their search queries, on social media or
other channels. The hallmark of quality content continues to be original,
actionable, and relevant information.
Base your decisions about what content to create on search results and
keyword data. Knowing what your audience is talking about and what
keywords they’re already using when they ﬁnd you organically is the
ﬁrst step to creating optimized content.
When you have a winning piece of content, make it evergreen by
creating other assets from the same topic.
Sematic Search Terms
Unlike single keyword tracking and use, semantic search terms take into
account the natural language and the entire sentence of the query to
understand the intent of the search and put it into context. Focusing on
user intent helps brands target their messages and provide more
relevance for their audiences.
As search engines get smarter about how they perceive the intent of the
search queries, brands will want to create content for long-tail keywords
that take into account their audiences’ intentions and the way questions are
being asked in their industry. The focus will shift from creating content
around speciﬁc keywords to looking at broader topics and including
schema meta data.
Proper Titles and Meta Data
While the purpose of black hat techniques was to drive as much
traﬃc to your website as possible, white hat practices are more
interested in driving the right traﬃc. The proper use of titles and
meta data delivers on your content promise to bring relevant
content to your audiences.
Titles and meta data should be:
Keyword stuﬃng is a black hat technique that
results in spammy, uninformative, and useless
content. On the other hand, relevant keyword
use informs useful content creation. Identify
what your audiences are talking about and
how well your content performs as compared
to your competitors.
Keyword Stuﬃng is Dead, Relevant
Keywords Are Not
Keyword Best Practices
● Use high volume, high engagement keywords.
● Track popular keywords your competitors are ranking for.
● Focus on keywords relevant to your business.
● Track most improved keywords for you and your competitor’s content.
● Use keywords from niche markets.
● Use keywords that convert by:
○ Search volume
○ Click through rates
● Create content and keyword groups, by:
○ User personas
○ Product features
○ Product lines
○ Campaign message
Quality Inbound Links
Improving ﬁndability includes attracting quality inbound links. If
you’ve established your brand as a source for relevant, useful
content, chances are you will attract the right audience and they
will share your content. Increase your chances by creating a variety
of types of content and promoting it through social channels as
well as on your own website.
When Google started updating its algorithm to punish poor SEO practices, the battle
cry went up, “SEO IS DEAD!” The truth is that Black Hat SEO is (and should be) dead.
But SEO that is done correctly, and with content and user experience at its core, is
alive and more valuable than ever. Now, successful brands are focusing on creating
websites and content that oﬀer a rich customer experience, with the goal of SEO
being to ensure audiences can ﬁnd it.
SEO - Not Dead Yet
In 1996, Bill Gates declared, “Content is King”. He saw opportunities
for all size companies to participate in a content revolution that
included providing both information and entertainment.
We have seen that revolution take place and the
internet become crowded with
content in its many diﬀerent forms:
● Landing pages
● Slide Shares
Content is Born
According to the Content Marketing Institute, content marketing began in 4200 BC,
when man ﬁrst wrote on cave walls to tell a story of the hunt. Since then, brands
have been telling stories of one kind or another in order to sell products and retain
customers. From brand-published magazines to sponsored radio shows and web
conferencing, the corporate story has been formulating since the beginning of time.
A Long History of Content
But now it’s not enough to just put your
infographic on a cave wall for the next cave
dweller to see. Now, everything we create
must have a purpose, an audience, and the
ability to drive traﬃc to our websites. Now,
more than ever, brands need SEO to help
their content work for them. SEO can help
● Know the topics and keywords your
audience is using.
● Use keywords with suﬃcient volume.
● Match title and subtitles to target keywords.
● Use keywords naturally in your content.
● Write content that informs and entertains.
● Optimize for mobile.
Content Needs SEO
The caveman wrote on the wall to tell a story and perhaps inform the next guy
about what animals were in the area and what tools to use to best kill that game. His
content was both informative and entertaining. But more importantly, it was written
with his audience in mind.
While there is nothing wrong with optimizing your content for SEO value, the best
content is written with the audience in mind. Writing quality content for your
audience still provides you with the best SEO value.
● Create audience personas, proﬁles of the actual people you’re trying to reach. Start
with just one or two and then expand as you experience success with your content.
● Tell a story, answer questions and create solutions that have nothing to do with your
product or service.
● Listen as much as you talk (or more) to ﬁnd out what your audience is talking about.
● Create a relationship with your potential customers and provide a customer journey.
Principles of SEO Applied to Content
Some things to consider before you publish your content:
Use SEO White Hat Practices to
Amplify Your Message
Title/Headline - make sure you take the time to create a title that is
both informative and attention grabbing.
Meta Description - include target words in a relevant description of your
Title Tags - think of these in much the same way you would a
title - catch the attention of the crawlers.
SEO Category - use keywords to diﬀerentiate your topics
Know what to measure and how to measure it. Measure all your content based on
these three categories:
Use Measurement to Inform Your
Type of Content
Discover which type of
content works best for
your message. Is it a blog
post, a webinar, a slide
deck, an infographic or
some other type of
Know where your traﬃc is
coming from. Are you
getting found from organic
search, social channels,
email campaigns, or
Know which messages
are reaching your target
audience and what
topics they are searching
for on the web.
Whether you’ve never focused on SEO value, or
you just want to keep up to date with recent
Google algorithm changes, an SEO and content
audit will help you get recommendations about:
● Where to refresh old content.
● Update and add meta tags.
● Change out headers.
● Include important keywords.
● Identify relevant keywords and topics.
Why create more content when you can improve
your search rankings by taking a little time to
improve the content you already have?
SEO and Content Audit
Need help getting the most out of your content?
Send out a smoke signal or an email and we’ll get back to you.