Published by Simon Brooks on 28th November 2014 | SEO, SEO Management

SEO Today and Yesterday

By Simon Brooks, 28 November 2014


We all know the days of companies ‘cheating’ their way to the top of Google rankings are numbered.

The days of SEO being about buying dodgy backlinks, stuffing copy with keywords and using ‘spammy’ techniques are, thankfully, in the past.

Google’s infamous Penguin algorithm shook up the world of SEO, and what used to work simply doesn’t cut it anymore.

Previous Google algorithm updates, such as Panda and Penguin, tackled dodgy backlinks and keyword stuffing. The latest, Penguin 3.0, is more about restoring the balance – helping small businesses who are operating best practise to see an improvement in their SEO.

With all the changes it’s difficult to know what to do and what to avoid. In this article we’ll break down the SEO tactics of yesterday and show what your SEO strategy should look like today.


Have your keyword cake but tell them how to eat it – Onsite SEO

Cake SEOSEO is often broken down into two key areas, onsite and offsite.  Onsite includes keywords and content, offsite consists of link building.

Old-school techniques for content placed emphasis on appealing to search engines rather than people. “Keyword Stuffing” was rife, with companies filling the page with as many instances of the chosen keyword as possible, regardless of how awful it was for the reader to wade through.

Example of Keyword Stuffing: Keyword “Cake”

I like Cake. There are many different types of Cake available – Sponge Cake, Almond Cake & Lemon Drizzle Cake are just some of the types of Cake available. Some Cakes aren’t Cakes at all, like Jaffa Cake, despite the fact that they have the word Cake in their name.

Today’s techniques have seen the balance tipped back in favour of the human and website content is more focused on the user experience (UX).

It’s still important for pages to include the right keywords, in the right places and in the right quantities. However the real key to finding your way to the top of the search engine results lies in filling those pages with content humans actively want to read and share.

In the ‘old days’ Keywords were usually singular, with pages optimised around a single word or very short phrases.

Now 70% of search traffic comes from ‘key phrases’ or ‘long tail keywords’, these return much more specific results.  With the explosion in web visits from smart phones and tools such as Siri it’s more important than ever that sites are optimised for localised search terms in the form of questions “Where can I find the best chocolate cake in Cambridge?” for example. (We’d recommend Fitzbilllies on Trumpington Street, if you were wondering).


Content Marketing

As the emphasis moves away from keyword stuffing, content marketing is key. Creating content to provide real value to the audience and focused on the audience it will attract.

An Econsultancy report shows 88% of the companies that use SEO, integrate content marketing into their strategy. Companies needs to focus on content marketing, and not just because we say, but because it works!


Bad backlinks belong back in the day – Offsite SEO

Old School Techniques included paying “SEO Consultants” lots of money to increase the number of ‘Backlinks’ to your site. These links would often come from poor quality sites with little or no genuine shared interest. When the Google algorithms changed sites with poor backlinks were penalised and backlisted.

Today’s Techniques focus on building links from external sites via relationship building and having great content that readers naturally want to share with friends.  Genuine shared interest from linking sites leads to enhanced ‘authority’ which helps boost rankings along with social engagement.

Backlinko Founder, Brian Dean, was able to increase his organic traffic by 110% in 14 days simply by creating better content than his competitors. He then reached out to the backlinks for the competitor’s outdated content and replaced it with his.

Changes from old SEO practices to today’s techniques are largely driven by changes to the Google algorithm, Penguin, which was implemented in order to improve the quality of results.


What does a penguin have to do with my Google ranking?

Penguin SEOGoogle’s latest version of its Penguin algorithm, 3.0, was released mid-October and is the first update in over a year. Industry insiders are already reporting big changes in search traffic since the release.

The first version of Penguin, released in April 2012, targeted sites that were using “spammy” techniques to cheat Google’s algorithm. Penguin’s primary target was sites that were paying for links and over-optimising (keyword stuffing) anchor text.

This latest release has been designed to create a better user experience for those searching online, pushing companies to create genuinely useful and engaging content that people would link to naturally.


Going up or going down? Changing your Google rankings position

The update is great news if you were penalised during an earlier Penguin update and have been cleaning up your SEO act. Penalties can only be removed once a new update has been released, so Penguin 3.0 could mean improved rankings and increased search traffic.

However if you’re guilty of any of the SEO crimes that Google are targeting with this latest change then you may see a steep decline in organic traffic to your site.

And it’s worth mentioning that it’s not only your site that may be affected; your competitor’s search rankings may improve if they’ve had a penalty removed.


How to tell if your site has been affected and what to do if it has:

  • Check your Google Analytics to see if there’s any obvious change in traffic.
  • If you have been penalised you’ll need to clean up the backlink profile of your site.
  • To remove ‘spammy’ links you’ll need to disavow the links.
  • This disassociates your business from those dodgy sites. It’s possible some good links may be removed in the process but, ultimately, it’s worth it.
  • Read through Google’s Webmaster guidelines and ensure your SEO marketing efforts are in keeping with them.
  • Regularly check your inbound links to make sure they’re spam free.
  • Stay up-to-date with changes in the SEO world, or use a company that does.


5 steps to stop your site from being penalised in the future:

Sites like the Google Webmasters YouTube channel, Search Engine Land and Moz are great resources for industry updates.

  • The best way to improve your search performance, and ensure you never get penalised, is to create high quality content.
  • Creating a great site with content that is useful to your target audience, where people will want to share and link to it, is the best long term SEO strategy a company can have.


Have any SEO horror stories or great examples of when content marketing has worked for you, we’d love to hear them – tweet @c4bmedia using #SEOhorror or #SEOsuccess


Is your website getting found? Are you getting enough visitors?

Get started with an SEO Assessment from C4B Media.

Contact us on 01763 877110


About the Author: Simon Brooks

Simon has over 30 years’ experience in all aspects of strategic and digital marketing. He is a director and joint founder of C4B Media and has led numerous successful marketing projects for clients across diverse industries.

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