Google’s April 21st mobile-friendly update is pretty big news these days. There isn’t a major online marketing site that hasn’t made some mention of it. Those of us in the SEO world are pretty anxious to see the results but for now we have to wait. Only time will tell how much this algorithm will shake things up. We’ll all know in a year, and in ten years it’ll likely be a distant memory. All this thinking about the future had us thinking about the past. What was the SEO world like ten years ago? What was big news at one time but is now all but forgotten?
Back to the Past
To find out, we decided to take a peek back at the news stories from 2005. We searched on SEO topics and limited the results to articles from that year. We also fired up the wayback machine and browsed the important blogs from the day. One site we took a peek at was seomoz.org (some of you who are new to SEO may only know them as moz.com) and that’s where we stumbled upon this little SEO quiz. It consisted of thirty-two questions separated into four parts: On-Page Optimization, Link Building, The SEO Industry, and Search Technology.
While this isn’t one particular event or a big news story, we still thought it was interesting as a snapshot of what was relevant a decade ago. It puts things going on today in an interesting perspective.
For instance, Yahoo was mentioned a bit more than they likely would be today. Although it seems like Google has dominated forever, ten years ago Yahoo was nearly neck-and-neck with them with around 32% for Yahoo vs Google’s 35%. Compare that with today’s figures which show Google with about 65% and Yahoo at 13%.
Interesting Takeaways from Looking at the Past
- Keyword Density: A lot more emphasis was put on exact percentages for keyword density in content. Today, this has nearly disappeared. Google algorithm is a lot more complex than just looking into how many times a keyword is mentioned on the page, but 10 years ago, that wasn’t the case. This made us think about what will become irrelevant in the next 10 years.
- Duplicate Content: Google has changed the way they deal with duplicate content. Content is more segmented now, and Google can identify the parts of the page that are common across your website and it isn’t going to ding you for them. If you’re copying someone’s site, you’ll likely just never be indexed.
- Link Building: If you look at the ads next to the quiz in the wayback machine, you can see how the community’s perception of link building has changed. At one point, SEOMoz.org actually advertised paid text link companies on their website. It’s not because Moz was black hat back then, it’s because the tactics weren’t yet looked down upon as much as they are today. This is the story with almost all link building strategies, the ones that work well don’t work for long, because Google becomes savvy.
Here is the link to the entire quiz if you’d like to take it or see what else you can gather from it. Sorry, the correct answers may be lost forever.