SEO For Google Now Harder? What Has Changed Over The Past Few Years?

May 23, 2018 - 8:25 am 41 by

Google Beach Washed Up

There is an interesting thread starting up at WebmasterWorld talking about what has changed specifically with SEO around Google over the past few years. Specifically, why techniques they used back in 2016 no longer work in 2018.

It got me thinking, how much has changed here over the past few years or so and is my Google traffic less or more or the same? So I checked Google Analytics and compared the past year of traffic to the same period of time two years ago and my Google organic traffic is up over 20%. Of course, some of that can be a single story here and there that went viral that has totally messed up the data, and Google Analytics doesn't automatically take out those outliers. If I had to guess, I'd think my traffic isn't all that much better from Google and why? Well, I haven't changed much over the years.

Of course, I hope my writing gets better over the years as I write more. You know, they say the more you do something, the better you get at it. :)

But looking and covering SEO and Google updates for about 15 years now, what has changed more recently over the past few years? What are the biggest things I see people get stuck with now that they said worked back a few years ago?

Off the top of my head, this is how SEO changed over the past few years:

  • Content quality: Google just expects better quality content, especially in English, than they did a few years ago. Google is way better at determining what better quality content than they were a just a few years ago. Of course, they sometimes get it wrong, which is why they continue to update their algorithms, to try to do better.
  • Less is more: Having fewer better pages is better than having many lower quality pages. This somewhat hit us with Panda but has grown and grown to be more of a thing over the years. Content pruning is a real thing, despite what some say.
  • Links: Both algorithmically and manually, Google is discounting links that are not all that great in a better way. It just isn't as easy as joining a link farm or PBN and rank high in a matter of days.
  • User experience: It just seems sites with cooler and easier UX are doing better these days.
  • Competition: There are more web pages out there competition for the same keywords than a few years ago, so which will Google rank number one?
  • Google UI changes: Of course, we got things like featured snippets, different ad placement, voice search, and new user interface changes at Google. These all play a role on the traffic you'd get from Google.

In short, you just can't do the same old, same old and expect to see your rankings stay flat and not get worse. You need to get better because without getting better, why should you continue to rank high in the search results. It is like an actor that was amazing 10 years ago and then hasn't had another blockbuster movie since. Sometimes you need to reinvent yourself and make a splash to be recognized again.

What do you think?

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.


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