If this were the early 2000s, then you we’d be seeing websites popping up by the thousands that shot immediately to the top of Google’s rankings by using a few simple tricks. Back then, SEO was much more of a simple math game. These days, it has become a complex formula that requires knowledge and experience. What used to be just about the right keywords is now about:

  • Authority
  • Keywords
  • Reputation management
  • Web content
  • Location information

And much more. The rise of Google’s RankBrain is only going to further complicate issues. SEO still matters in 2016 – maybe even more than it used to – but it isn’t the same game. Here are 3 reasons why SEO isn’t the same as it used to be.

SEO isn’t all about PageRank anymore

PageRank is an algorithm used to determine the rank of websites based on the quantity and quality of links to said web page, and if this were 10 years ago, then it would be the one thing businesses would be concentrating on. That’s not the case anymore. Google has smartened up. There are now about 200 different ranking factors that go into a page’s place atop the rankings.

What to concentrate on:

Your goal nowadays shouldn’t be to just get the right keywords (though they still matter). Google cares more about your authority as a thought leader, the ease of use of your site, your web content, and dozens of other very important factors aside from your PageRank. SEO needs to be a good mix of quality links, great content, and a great user experience.

2) Keywords are more about placement than density

Keyword density still matters – too much or too little and you won’t rank – but it isn’t nearly as important as placement. Your goal as a company should be to have your keywords in great content, in the right place on your web pages and landing pages, and making sure they are ones that people are looking for. Remember, your goal is to appeal to both Google and your audience.

3) Google uses semantics now

Back in the day, Google used to use only short keywords. That game has completely changed. Long-tail keywords are all the rage now, and concentrating your efforts on more semantic-sounding phrases is the only way to go. For example, “cheap gyms in Brooklyn” is more likely to receive the kind of traffic that converts compared to “Gyms New York” – though both are worth targeting.

Google has now gone even further with their semantics searching. That means the algorithm is now advanced enough to make inferences about what people are searching for. This means crafting your content and user experience to appeal to Google the right way so that customers can find you.

SEO is not the same as it used to be, but it’s still very important. These are just 3 of the ways that SEO isn’t as easy as it used to be. This constantly evolving game requires consistent analysis and dedication to ensure that you can keep playing it the right way.