A long time back, it was a slow and peaceful world for SEOs. Annual updates were announced by Google and unless you were living in a cave without wifi (a lot of us did), you would learn about it only when you logged in again. Things began to move a bit faster with the Google dance which started happening every month almost on a fixed date (last week of the month). While most SEOs were getting used to the dance steps, Google announced that it would update its index on a weekly basis.
With 28 major updates in the last one year and more than 600 minor updates according to SEMRush, SEOs are literally like chicken dancing on a hot plate
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Even the most seasoned SEOs tend to miss out on important updates till the new goes viral a few hours later! Only a novice will miss out on an update completely and continue to work in a certain way that may even prove detrimental for their websites/clients.
Meta Tag Keywords
Lots of SEOs still love the meta tag, but Google obviously doesn’t. In it’s famous blog post here https://webmasters.googleblog.com/2009/09/google-does-not-use-keywords-meta-tag.html in 2009, Google clears the air once and for all on a controversial topic that experts were aware of almost in early 2008. Stuffing keywords in this tag (that doesn’t exist in the page content) can actually get your site banned. The keyword tags do not show anywhere else and are not shown to the user. Google also does not use the meta tag “Description”, although the description content shows up in search result pages. Today, the description content is used just like an ad copy to lure users to click on the link.
Plagiarism was and still is a big NO NO for Google. SEOs still give this advice, “Don’t post your blog on LinkedIn or Medium. Let it remain only on your website”. What started as a debate on SEJ https://www.searchenginejournal.com/duplicate-content-medium-linkedin-bad-seo/155072/ is established beyond doubt. Google ignores duplicate content but doesn’t get pissed off by it like it used to before. Although Google indexes & understands original content pretty well, it’s better to make it pretty clear using a canonical tag like this:
<link rel="canonical" href="http://mydomain.com/original-version/">
Medium realises that a lot of bloggers/authors refrain from publishing on its platform fearing a backlash from search engines. They have created this useful guide for the same:
SEOs approach link building with a “more the merrier” approach. A team of link builders with amazing copy paste skills used to sow the web with the same title, description and keywords. Each link would count as a “vote” for the page, a system that the Google search engine was originally based on. Although links are still an important factor in determining SERP, Google has updated its algorithm to recognise links from “bad neighbourhoods”. If you have links to your site from these neighbourhoods, your site gets banned from the Google index. SEOs pleaded not guilty and even claimed that their competitors had created those links to malign their website. Google gave them a reprieve by creating a disavow tool here https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/2648487?hl=en
The Adwords keyword planner had been an important source of data to determine what keywords to optimise a website for, in terms of SEO. Using it in 2017 is too farfetched though. Even the “searches related to” phrases at the bottom of the search results page and Google autocomplete provide better insights today, more aligned to the way Google RankBrain “thinks” (Yeah, it’s a machine learning algorithm that can think). Search Engine Land has a good FAQ on RankBrain. Being the third most important factor in ranking pages, SEOs today are expected to know what AI is and how it works. Although SEOs can still fall back to Adwords keywords planner for confirming your hunches, too much reliance on keywords is not recommended. RankBrain thinks in terms of concepts, somewhat like humans do!
The Tech Part
SEOs of old were not classified as techies or geeks. They understood a little bit of HTML & knew how to operate a FTP program or CMS. That is changing fast. Google gives prominence to HTTPS even for static non transactional websites, responsive design even for B2B websites and non CSS/JS framework based sites even for small websites. Certain types of banners reduce rankings on mobile and AMP pages rank higher. The lines between SEO & Web Design are blurring & SEOs need to update their skill sets on a regular basis to stay relevant. A SEO that does not know what LSI stands for or how a “Smart Speaker” or “Home Assistant” works, is in for big trouble.