SEO Hacks that Forced Its Evolution
When SEO was just becoming SEO, websites ranked because it had hundreds of keyword domains that redirected to one page. After that, websites ranked when the page source was stuffed with thousands of keywords. Now, pages will rank high because it gets millions of visitors from search terms. There are certainly more milestones in SEO’s evolution but, rule-of-three for content.
Search algorithms evolved to prevent opportunistic players from gaming the system. We’re going to look at some of those hacks that gave a lot of websites that hockey stick growth for a few months then drove off a cliff.
Off-page Link Building
Automation - SEOnuke, Magic Article Submitter, and similar automated tools could build thousands of backlinks in a few days. Set your keywords, landing pages, and schedule submission using 300-word pieces of spun, nonsense content.
Social bookmarking - This only worked for a window of 2 months in 2011, but it did work. It was mostly automation but keywords and content be damned. Landing page urls were just spammed across thousands of bookmarking sites to show it was being 'shared’.
Blog & Forum commenting - While this could be automated, most SEOs did this manually. However, the target to link anchor texts and the lack of insightful brand representation had pages with irrelevant engagement. Websites owners adapted to this more with anti-spam counter-measures.
What works now?
Outreach. Talk to real people. Source for location and industry relevant sites and reach out to their owners. Find common ground where they can represent your brand in meaningful content. Never stop sourcing. This isn’t a task to tick off. It’s an on-going strategy to make sure you’re not the only one talking about your brand.
Page Source - These didn’t even display on-page. The source code would have thousands of keywords and variations repeated throughout.
Meta Data - Keywords and up to 5 of their variations were all over the meta title and descriptions for a single page. Nevermind a compelling copy that answers what is actually being searched.
Content - pages upon pages were created for near-similar keywords with overlapping talking points. You don’t need to open every page to these. You can see it from the keyword spammed navigation menu.
What works now?
Content Marketing. Find out what questions are being asked and answer it differently and better than everyone else. It’s not enough to just put up your content and expect people to find it. You need to get your content out to people who are into what you are offering. Establish relationships with industry leaders to give your content authority.
One thing that has been consistent over the last 20 years is to always, always consider your visitors intent & behaviour before implementing any technical SEO. Like any expertise, SEO will become intuitive for you when you do it long enough. QWERTYlabs has over 50 years of combined experience running different SEO campaigns so we know instinctively if your current strategy will work or needs to evolve.