Believe it or not, SEO has not always been what it is now. It has gone through an evolution from its earliest beginnings in the 1990s to today.
The 1990s: The Almighty Keyword
When SEO started, it was much more focused on keywords than on quality content. Content writers often competed to have the most keywords on a page, even if it meant the content was nonsensical or just repeated the same word or phrase all the way down the page, known as spamming.
Over a few years' time, search engines realized they couldn't continue to rank pages by keywords alone. By the early 2000s, Google began to gain prominence as the world's largest search engine--and Google didn't believe in web spam.
The 2000s: Good Basic Content
By the mid-2000s, web spam was no longer making it to the top of web search indexes. Instead, new Google algorithms focused on quality, relevant content, and overusing keywords earned well-deserved penalties from search engines, although using keywords sparingly and in context remained effective.
For a number of years, basic content could find its way to the top of the Search Engine Ranking Pages (SERPs) without much difficulty, just by being relevant and topical. Searches got less frustrating and more fruitful during this time period. Many content providers built catalogs of content organized around popular categories to market products or gain popularity in other ways.
The 2010s: Social Media and Mobile
After some years of optimizing a lot of blog content and marketing material, the world of SEO changed yet again. While the use of keywords will likely always happen to some extent, Google algorithms have become much more focused on the content itself and have now evolved to include whether your content is optimized for social media and mobile.
The 2020s: Voice and Video
As more and more people begin to prefer watching videos and doing searches by voice to the written word, SEO has continued to evolve as well. Long-tail keywords focus on a sentence rather than a word or phrase and aim to give results for the ubiquitous searches by voice assistants that are happening today all over the world.
SEO is far from static, meaning what works today may not be effective tomorrow. While some aspects of SEO, like keywords, still have some use today, SEO has become far more complex and nuanced than it was when the internet was just getting started.
But make no mistake, SEO should be a vital part of your CPG brand's digital marketing strategy. It helps your brand get visibility online and can drive engagement and sales, something every brand has an overriding goal.
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