Thirty years ago days anyone looking for a recipe would have to get up, put some shoes on and go locate themselves a cookbook from a shop or friend. If the shops were closed, so were the hopes of impressing anyone that night. Fast forward to 1991 and people could now pull up whatever they wanted onto their monitor. This was the web 1.0, a futurescape where any information could be accessed at the click of a button. However, it was a purely passive experience; you couldn’t rate your recipe or share it or even suggest adding a little salt. All in all, things were just a little bland.

The web 2.0 simply refers to the use of the internet in an active, inclusive way. It’s commonly thought of as a gradual shift in usability and the ability to produce content, taking the internet out of the hands of experts and into the lap of anyone.

Since the web 2.0 isn’t a technical change, no line can be drawn that signals the end of the web 1.0 and the start of the web 2.0. However, pages displaying web 2.0 qualities will generally encourage people to leave comments, share content or otherwise interact with the site. The web 1.0 is a more static experience, akin to visiting a classical art exhibit as opposed to an interactive one.

The development of the web 1.0

When the internet was initially developed it was purely a communication tool, used by researchers to share knowledge. The world wide web was simply a means to share this network with everyone. As such, it was built on this concept, taking shape as a virtual library of sorts – not the limitless platform we see today. It therefore comes as no surprise that static pages were the norm, displaying text, links, images and not much else. Over time this expanded to include videos and fine examples of spinning Word Art but again, little else. At this point the web might as well have been hung with a sign saying “look but don’t touch”.

A shift to web 2.0

If the web 1.0 can be summarized as the “read-only” web, then the web 2.0 is the read-write web. The phrase began to enter popular usage around 2004, coinciding with the development of user-focused sites such as Facebook (2004), Youtube (2005) and Twitter (2006). This ability to not only interact with content, but actively create it, transformed the web from a quiet library to a bustling studio – an ever evolving space of collaboration, mass participation and rich user experience.

The development of the web 2.0 also changed the way in which people viewed its purpose, especially in business. Initially companies used the web as an extension of a ‘bricks and mortar’ model, simply selling goods directly to a consumer (note: even though shopping carts are interactive, they’re still considered a web 1.0 function). However as time went by, people realised that sites could provide services that could be monetized. It didn’t take long before Google became a major force in this new web, helping transform the business landscape into the digital one we see today.

Power to the people

The importance of this shift cannot be overstated. In the world of the web 2.0 knowledge quickly became power, information became its currency and people now had the ability to directly influence the world from their laptops and mobiles. The mobile internet is a particular feature of the web 2.0, representing how the internet had moved away from the shackles of the desktop PC and onto other devices.

Social media forms the core of the web 2.0, providing a platform for anyone’s story to be heard, anyone’s art to be viewed and anyone’s nan to comment on their profile pictures. In fact, social media has become so ubiquitous that over 40% of the world have some sort of account – over three quarters of total internet users.

Social plugins and company pages also mean that consumers are now closer to companies than ever before, enabling them to harness the power of the web to drive engagement and market themselves far more effectively. Of course, news archives are full of companies that have committed social media faux-paus, a reminder that the internet should still be used carefully and with a clear plan in mind.

Web 2.0 & SEO

In the age of digital business, audiences of millions lies tantalisingly close to anyone able to make themselves visible. However only a small proportion ever realise their true potential, viewing digital marketing as an afterthought as opposed to a central component business. In the web 2.0 one well placed video can garner worldwide recognition in hours. The important thing is to produce content that users choose to interact with. Doing this revolves around one simple word: Value.

When producing content to maximise the properties of web 2.0, it’s vital to understand that it’s a more human experience. People only tend to share and interact with content that provides something new, something more comprehensive than its predecessors, or something that elicits an emotion; be it sympathy, positivity or anger. Just remember that content can be sharable for the wrong reasons as well as the right ones. Indeed the most commented on news articles are often the most controversial. Making a company visible through SEO relies on the foundations of producing this positive valuable content – done correctly, the opportunities of the web 2.0 are virtually limitless.

There are two key benefits to web 2.0 in terms of SEO. Shareability and user generated content. Whilst social shares may not count as backlinks, the increased visibility can result in link earning potential that wouldn’t exist without social platforms. Furthermore, the interactivity of web 2.0 means that user generated content can be harnessed to improve a website’s (and webpage’s) relevance and value for the searcher.