It is commonly known that no two years in SEO are the same, it is always changing.

Google’s search algorithms change around 500 to 600 times every year. While most of these alterations are fairly minor, every so often huge updates in the algorithm, like Panda and Penguin, will have significant implications for website rankings.

Most recently, Google has rolled out the newest version of Pigeon – an update that dramatically alters local search results and changes how search engines interpret locational information. Pigeon is a wiser, more intuitive search process. This change in the algorithm will have a huge impact on commercial businesses that don’t specify an exact location, and their rankings may drop as a result.

Over the last decade, SEO has changed so much that the practises that we came to know in the year 2005 would be unrecognisable to the savvy search marketers of today’s digital landscape. It’s interesting to see just how far the world of search has come, with over a decade of dodgy SEO techniques we have compiled a rundown of the top five things we really don’t miss about SEO.

Buying links

Remember the days when we could go out there and buy 100 links on PR4 (PageRank 4) domains? We miss those don’t we? Well, not really.

Google soon put an end to this devious tactic through the introduction of the much-needed “Penguin” algorithm update (amongst others). No longer can companies buy site-wide directory links and ‘hope for the best’; Google ensured these black-hat techniques would never work again. Now, we’re living in a much more creative and free-flowing world of SEO, where big ideas flourish and exciting campaigns succeed.

Keyword stuffing

I sell sofas, sofas are nice, sofas are comfy. Sofas, sofas, sofas. Do you want to buy a sofa? Does this read naturally? Definitely not – but that’s a technique a lot of websites adopted way back when.

Before Google became wise to the manipulative ways of black hat SEO, unscrupulous businesses could get away with anything – cramming as many keywords into a sentence as they saw fit. Now, however, that sort of content would see brands smacked with a fairly hefty penalty and webmasters are having to create content with the user in mind. Producing content that people actually want to read. Shocking, isn’t it?

Exact-match domains

In a similar light to above, forcing a keyword or two into your domain name was a well-known way to get a little more exposure for your targeted terms. Selling TVs? Put it in your domain name. Offering free legal advice? Guess what? Put it in your domain name!

That was until Google introduced the ‘EMD’ penalty (exact-match domain penalty) to stop black hat SEO manipulating its algorithms. Now, and again quite rightly, you’ve got to have a brand; something meaningful and entirely spam-free.

The easy life

SEO used to be easy, didn’t it? Well, a little simpler anyway. Now SEO has a bad name – mainly due to the three points above this one. Look at it like this, if you hire a plumber to do some work for you and this plumber does a terrible job, does that mean all plumbers are bad? No it does not, so the same should apply for SEOs.

SEO isn’t about quick wins, it’s more about building a strong brand online that will lead to natural and organic success. It’s about creating the right message to engage your customers and encouraging people to share your amazing content. It’s no longer about buying links and expecting rankings and it hasn’t been this way for a long time.

Smaller budgets

Collating all of the above into an SEO strategy would likely cost you about a fifth of what a modern-day SEO campaign would cost. You could outsource your spun content and buy a bumper package of high PR links for next to nothing… and hey presto! You’d have yourself a ranking website.

Of course, if you’re creating industry-leading content and engaging your customers in the right way, you won’t have to spend as much to achieve organic success. But it can often cost us to get the right talent in our companies. Building a well-optimised website that maximises overall visitor experience also comes at a cost, but it’s certainly a worthy long-term investment.

As you can see, this isn’t a list of tactics we are going to resort back to. While it is true that SEO is constantly changing, we can safely say it is for the better and helps to create a more useful, intuitive user experience.