I am writing this article on my way back from Brighton SEO conference. It was such a great day- so many inspirational speakers shared their experiences! My head is full of new ideas.
However, I also feel a bit nostalgic. SEO made an amazing journey during the last 15 years, which I had a pleasure to be part of for the last 8 of them.
The “old” SEO times
I got to SEO by building my own website in HTML (by the book= with a book in my hand). After I launched it, there was no traffic coming through, so I bought another book, “How to get to the top of Google and Stay There”, and optimised the pages according to the book’s chapters, I also created a few external links. 3 months later the website started ranking for highly searchable terms. And I got my first customer!
Literally, that’s all I did. But this project got me my first full-time job in SEO without me having any previous formal experience (I take the book for the interview with me though?!)
In that time, SEO was all about technical optimisation (yay!) and… spamming (to call a spade a spade:). I remember submitting URLs to directories (aka link building), creating doorway pages and submitting an enormous amount of content to different article directories. Of course, I will never admit to buying links or creating hundreds of websites for links- no one did that (I’ve also learnt British sarcasm). I can’t even imagine how super-fun (and dodgy) SEO must have been before I even joined it!!
But those were also the times when I’ve learnt a lot about the technical aspects of SEO. I spent an enormous amount of hours on technical audits of large websites built on bespoke platforms. Those builds didn’t follow any possible form of SEO guidelines. It was the best playground I could ever imagine! Duplications (jsessions), hidden content/ cloaking, problems with accessibility, indexation, crawl- just name it! I loved it! (and I could make a cup of tea for myself before a single page finished loading!)
The “better” SEO times
In the same time, Google was working on their spam detection. SEO slowly started evolving to meet constantly changing Google guidelines and algorithm updates (like Panda or Penguin to name a few!). “Content became the King”.
More great platforms with out-of-the-box SEO solutions were built (the day I discovered WordPress was like Christmas in the middle of the summer!) and technical SEO seemed to get slightly less focus.
Today, SEO is finally all about the customers. The SEO specialist job description has been completely rewritten and now combines activities from many other disciplines like social, content or ux. Keeping a user in the center of everything to build sites that really add value, is definitely the way to go.
I just miss the technical part, a bit…
So thank you for the Technical SEO session at Brighton SEO on Friday. It truly made my day.