5 SEO Trends That Haven’t Changed Since The Beginning of Time



by Andrew Wilson


There are many trends in SEO that come and go, but some of them stay and become best practices. In this article, we will explore five SEO trends that haven’t changed since the beginning of time.


Table of Contents

  1. Keyword Stuffing

  2. Backlinks

  3. Time sensitive content

  4. Evergreen content

  5. Structured content


1. Keyword Stuffing

Let’s be clear. Keyword optimization is an SEO practice, and keyword stuffing is a trend that has existed for as long as SEO has existed. To this day, SEOs perform keyword stuffing when they start to ‘optimize’ a page for search engines.


How it started

In 1993, a search engine called Excite started using keywords to index websites and show search results. Every other search engine started doing it after that. SEOs soon realized that the more keywords they have in the content, the higher they rank for said keyword. 


Thus started the era of keyword stuffing where entire masses of texts didn’t have to make sense, they just had to have a metric ton of keywords.It took several years and hundreds of algorithm changes to encourage SEOs to go for content that makes sense vs content that has a 50% keyword density.


How it’s still hasn’t changed that much

What do SEOs do when they are working with a page that ranks, let’s say 15, and they are trying to get it in the top 10? The most common plan of action is, build more backlinks, add more content, and increase the keyword density on the page. The SEOs reach out to the content/copy writer, provide a list of keywords, and ask for additional copy that includes those keywords all the time. 


Some call it keyword optimization, but it is keyword stuffing at its very core. We are calling it that because the decision to add more content, and more keywords, is not to improve user experience, it is not to provide value to the visitors, the core reason to add more content is to have more keywords, and that’s called keyword stuffing. It existed in the early 90s, and it exists today, only we have learned to be more careful about it.


2. Backlinks

When it comes to SEO activities that take the lion’s share of SEO’s time and effort, it has to be link building. Once all the on-page SEO activities are done, it is time to build links and keep building them for as long as you are working on the project. Link building is not just a trend, it is a best practice that needs to be done if you have any chance of showing up on the first page.


How it started

Backlinks are almost as old as keywords when it comes to SEO trends that stuck around and turned into best practices. I found one term paper dating back all the way back to 1998 talking about the importance of backlinks and referencing papers older than that. This goes to show that SEOs had already cracked the code that backlinks improve rankings. 


As with any code that SEOs crack, this was abused to high heaven. SEOs started using backlink generators, i.e. software that targeted forums, the comments section of different websites, and social media to leave generic comments that contained a link. Initially, these links worked but soon Google started rolling out updates to combat this issue. 


Now they have given clear instructions about the type of backlinks (do-follow, no-follow, ugc, and sponsored), and often crack down on websites and PBNs using black hat SEO techniques.


How it still hasn’t changed that much

Backlinks are still an officially recognized ranking factor by the major search engines of the world. SEOs still continue to build links through guest posting and other techniques, and it does not look like this trend is going away anytime soon. Backlinks still count as votes of confidence and they still work.


3. Time sensitive content

Time sensitive content is content that has a short shelf life and great public interest. For example, when google rolls out a new algorithm update, any article about the new update will have a shelf life of one week, and it is the SEOs job to optimize it and keep track of its rank and traffic during that one week. 


The same goes for when a new product is launched, a celebrity couple breaks up, something goes viral on the internet, a major event is just around the corner and so on.


How it started

Time sensitive content is older than the internet. Think of news reporting in print media. When newspapers and print media were all that we had, most of the front page real estate went to time sensitive content. That’s because time sensitive content has a short life, and a great demand for a short duration of time. 


People want to know more about the latest news stories and what’s happening locally and around the world, and that means that they will actively find content in that regard. That behavior has not changed throughout history. When something starts trending or there is a new development in an industry, people will always actively search for more information on that and consume it in the form of videos, articles, and images.


How it still hasn’t changed that much

It is a highly promising but rewarding tactic for SEOs to go after time sensitive content. You are essentially trying to get ahead of the story, publish content before the competition, keep updating it and optimizing it, and keep track of keyword rank and traffic every hour. Most SEOs work closely with the content marketing manager to create a roadmap and execute it in time. 


However, time sensitive content cannot be planned, so it requires keeping an eye on the latest developments in the industry and constantly doing keyword research, looking at google trends, as well as tracking the numbers from search console and analytics. It is a tough thing, but many websites try to and successfully generate traffic from time sensitive content.


4. Evergreen content

Evergreen content is the opposite of time sensitive content. It is the kind of content that will always be relevant. It has the potential to bring you a steady amount of traffic consistently. 

However, it may not have the search volume of time sensitive content and may not get the same type of attention. Examples of evergreen content may include food recipes, how to article, motivational and self-improvement content, educational content as well as analysis and opinion articles.


How it started

Evergreen content is as old as literature itself. In fact, it can be argued that it is older than time sensitive content. Arguably, pretty much all content that’s not time-sensitive content can be classified as evergreen content, so it goes as far back as ancient literature. 


SEOs figured out the usefulness of evergreen content in the early days of the internet and published list style articles, guides, and analytical content.


How it still exists

However, in the early days of the internet, black hat SEO dominated white hat tactics and the importance of evergreen content was undermined by black hat websites getting the bulk of traffic. With time, as there is more emphasis on quality and search engines have come down hard on black hat websites, evergreen content is one of the most common parts of every content strategy made by every SEO today.


5. Structured content (describing the structure of your content to search engines)

SEOs use h1, h2, h3 tags as well as a bunch of other code to let search engines know the structure of the content. This enables the search engine to index the content properly and show it in a way that it is meant to be shown.


How it started

Using html tags like h1, body etc. is as old as the internet.This was a best practice that you could not avoid when publishing content because you need these tags to make the content presentable to the reader. That being said, it plays a big role in SEO as it tells the crawlers the hierarchy of the content.


How it still exists

Over the last two decades, structured content has evolved to the point where there are now schemas for everything ranging from FAQs to recipes. With the help of these schemas, you can describe your content to Google and tell it exactly how to index it and where to categorize it.


Conclusion

In going back for SEO trends that haven’t changed, I had to search Google for articles published in the early 90s and was surprised to see that the man vs machine debate, link building strategies, and best practices haven’t changed that much. 

What has changed is the ease with which one could use black hat techniques. Using keywords, building links, providing structure to your content, and creating a great content plan all are best practices today and can help you rank higher for the keywords that you are targeting.

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