Google is the big major search engine and will constantly move the goal posts.
To recap what has happened. Google let loose an update to Panda in 2011 and this set out to filter low quality pages. In 2012 Penguin 1 was let loose and sort out websites that were over optimised. So this shook up the field of optimising for the search engines completely. More followed in May 2013 when penguin 2 came along and was tougher than Penguin 1. Since then Google's focus has included mobile friendliness, responsive web site design and usability.
Google’s tolerance of certain techniques has shifted. What this means that the line between white-hat techniques and the black-hat techniques has moved from between the two and now closer to the white-hat side of things. This has expanded the methods and strategies Google does not approve of.
A strategy of white-hat techniques is must for the long term because although black-hat will remain, it is not for the good long term because Google will again move the goal posts and cause a big stir.
What strategy do you use then? There are four areas you will need to look at.
The first is quality content, good organisation of your website, authority and finally putting the visitor first. By focusing on these areas your website should fairly safe from any future updates because you will be giving Google what it wants from websites.
Content can be anything from text, articles, reviews or even videos, games and quizzes. They can all be used in your website. Some rules of thumb are that the content must be created for the visitor and not for the search engines. What this means is that it must be properly written in the given language for example English, it must read well and make sense. There must be no signs of sticking in phrases to help the search engine rankings.
Good organisation of your website
The way your website is structured is very important indeed not only for search engines but human visitors too. Good organisation of your content combined with clear and easy to follow navigation to and from areas of your website is vital.
What is authority? In our context this is an accepted source of expert information or advice. How do you become an authority on your area? You create a great website that has lots of great content and is well organised. You must also put your website out to as many relevant and high quality places as you can. In short this means getting backlinks.
Websites are there to sell, to be online shops and provide windows into the services that you provide. A website has a very short time to make the first impression in which the visitor will decide to go elsewhere and stay. What makes a good first impression? Answer: An effective design, easy to use navigation, quick loading time, well laid out content.
With mobile devices suich as mobiles now in use daily/hourly website must be designed to work on these devices. This can be accomplished by responsive website design and using website apps.
SSL connections are now a must when using Google's Chrome because it actively labels your website secure or not secure. At present this is not so with other browsers but it may happen if and when the issue for SSL is forced.