#FreeAdvice is a monthly feature where we take your questions about search/analytics/etc and answer them here. The number of answers will vary based on length, complexity, our energy levels.
How often do SEO practices change?
I’ll avoid the dreaded “yes and no” style answer (always and never, in this case) and instead say your SEO foundation should never change, but the tactics that you employ should basically always change.
What the heck does that mean?
The goals of search engines have really never changed. They want to be really efficient at answering questions so they can create repeat users who drive revenue through ad views/clicks.
Note I didn’t say they want to provide the best answers, they just want to be efficient at getting to an answer. Without getting into the history of Page Rank or anything like that, this goes to the idea that the most important thing you can do is create quality content that is easy for both search engines and people to find and understand.
Isn’t that obvious and cliche? Well, yes, but it’s not the belief of all SEOs. There’s a large group of people that either put that piece as a lesser priority or not one at all. We like to call them “black hat”, but whatever the term, they’re putting tactics over strategy. Whatever the latest exploit of the search engine process may be, they’re using that as their core belief of how you do SEO.
That’s not a sustainable practice. It sure can be in limited instances, but the practices are not universally repeatable. Maybe they only work reliably on smaller sites covering very specific topics. But larger sites that rank for a broad range of terms? Often it’s a short-term fix that either stops working or can lead to negative impact.
So what changes? Everything else! But these changes are more around the “…easy for both search engines and people to find and understand”. This is all about keeping up with the evolution of the internet. Different technologies for building and viewing websites appear/evolve – that means changes in your SEO practice. Google creates different features (think rich snippets) in search results, your practice evolves. And on and on. None of this impacts the core of what you do as an SEO. But they are pieces of the puzzle and tools you can employ that are constantly being added or changed.
Until search engines disappear and we have an entirely different way of navigating the web (similar to the time before search engines existed), the foundation won’t change. But the tactics and peripheral concepts may change daily. We just have to try and keep up.