SEO is an ever-changing field, and tactics that worked swimmingly just 5 years ago are now more than likely to get you overlooked or even penalized by the search engines.

Back in the olden days, SEO was focused on page ranking to the exclusion of everything else. As a result, many SEO experts used a variety of tricks (keyword stuffing, hidden text, link farms) to spoof their clients onto the results pages. But the search engines have gotten more sophisticated and users have grown more savvy, and simply appearing in the search results is no longer enough. If you’re not giving people what they’re looking for, then all the #1 rankings in the world aren’t going to help your business.

Which is why we’ve seen this shift in the focus of SEO over the past decade, from rankings to personal engagement.

Over on his QuickSprout blog, marketing guru Neil Patel has put together this interesting infographic highlighting just how SEO has changed over the past decade or so. Some interesting takeaways:

  • Keyword research, which was once the backbone of SEO, now takes a backseat to analytics, content, and social media.
  • Content marketing has become a big deal in SEO, with the emphasis changing to content written for your audience rather than the search engines.
  • Backlinks are still a powerful ranking signal for search engines, but they need to be quality links to relevant, up-to-date content.
What SEO Used To Be Versus What SEO Is Now
Courtesy of Quicksprout.