Just like fashion trends or the “Top 40” songs list, online marketing is always changing. If you are still using the same marketing tricks that you were using five or even 10 years ago, your efforts to reach consumers are falling short of their potential. Here are some ways that online marketing has evolved and how you can make the most of the changes.

From Novelty to Necessity

When the Internet was in its nascent stages in the 1990s, about five million people used it, and online marketing took a back seat to things like print and television advertising. Today, however, nearly 90 percent of the U.S. population are now Internet users.

While online dominance isn’t a surprise to anyone, it is a sign that online marketing has become more important than ever. Yet many small businesses are failing to leap on the bandwagon. Data from 2013 indicates that only about half of small businesses have websites. If your website is outdated or — gasp! — Nonexistent, you’d better start sprinting to catch up with the pack.

Smarter Search Engines

Saturating websites with search-engine-friendly keywords has long been a way for businesses to catch attention. However, search engines are getting smarter every day. They are getting better at bringing up relevant results for searchers that don’t hinge on the exact search string that they use. As Moz explains, “try, for example, searching for ‘That movie where the guy is called The Dude,’ and you will see that Google properly returns “The Big Lebowski” in the first ranking position.

The lesson? While strategically using keywords in your content can give you a boost on search engine pages, you shouldn’t underestimate the value of high quality, relevant content. Crafting articles, infographics, videos, and other content that fits what searchers are looking for is more important that creating content that just contains the right words.

The Ever-Changing Social Landscape

Remember MySpace? The platform’s fall into obscurity illustrates how trends in social media are always shifting.

While Facebook remains a key way for businesses to reach consumers on social media, its usefulness may be on the decline, since the Facebook news feed is unlikely to show all of your posts to people who like your page.

Image-focused networks are on the rise. Finding creative ways to use networks like Instagram and Pinterest can make your business more visible to your target audience.

Making Email Marketing Personal

Every aspect of online marketing has evolved, even email marketing, which often stands in the shadow of content marketing and social media. In the past, you may have blasted everyone on your email list with the same message, but doing that limits your efforts’ effectiveness. By creating personas for your recipients and using responsive design templates, you are bound to make a greater impact.

Whether or not you believe that humans came into being thanks to some mind-boggling random cosmic process, evolution is a fact — at least when it comes to online marketing. By keeping abreast of the latest trends, you can reach more consumers and grow your business.