Search engine optimisation (SEO) has progressed to become one of the biggest digital marketing disciplines over the last 20 years. Since its inception, the fundamental thinking behind SEO hasn’t changed very much, with the biggest shakeup of the industry occurring when Google launches a new algorithmic update.

But beyond the small changes to tactics to meet new algorithmic changes and the new software solutions for carrying them out, there have been no major innovations in how SEO is performed. At its heart, SEO remains centred around website optimisation tactics and digital marketing campaigns.

Looking at the bigger picture, SEO is primarily shaped by the whims of the world’s biggest search engine; Google. Google, while its market share is not concrete, is the de facto king of search engines and is the primary target of all SEO work, even if other search engines like Bing identified for targeting.

On a smaller scale, SEO is much about making strategic adjustments to the campaigns of clients to meet their individual needs and circumstances. Since every client is different they each have the chance to experience volatility in their rankings in unexpected places and this kind of issue needs to be addressed from an SEO perspective.

Rather than innovate directly, SEO seems to advance by responding to innovations made by search engines and related technology. For example, the rise of voice search through virtual assistants like Google Assistant and Apple’s Siri has led to an SEO response in the form of targeting natural speech keywords and phrases.

Advances in artificial intelligence have enabled search engine crawlers to gauge the linguistic quality of a website’s content and it’s authoritativeness on the subject matter, rewarding it with a higher ranking if it’s considered high quality. This has prompted SEO practitioners to focus sourcing highly competent copywriters who can write in-depth and authoritatively on topics that engage users.

Given the increased importance of high quality, user-friendly content it can be seen that, as a field, SEO has shifted from more technical optimisation factors to semantic quality. It’s now more important to have content that is sincerely good and well-read rather than litter it with relevant keywords or incorporate high DA backlinks.

While the technical factors will always remain important, the ongoing trend in SEO seems to favour sincerely earned web presences that look less like they were deliberately engineered.