Search Engine Optimization. What is it? Does it work? How can it be used? Where is it? Why does it keep changing? Is SEO a verb or noun? What about? What about? What about???
In the early days of the web, search engine optimization was nearly unheard of. Websites were grouped by audience or subject. Business sites over here. Research sites over there. Government sites on the shelf below. Yahoo felt more like a library or a book store than a search engine. Ideas for indexing content was in its infancy and WAIS databases were king. The most used protocol was Z39.50, not e-mail, ftp, telnet, gopher or web. Times were about to change.
Along came Alta Vista and the proverbial genie was out of the bottle. Now someone did not have to look through a endless sea of categories for a website, but could now enter words and phrases. Ask Jeeves allow the user to take the next step and ask in a question form: “What is the color blue?”, “Why is the sky blue?”, “How is beer made?”. The web and Internet were becoming synonyms, even though the Internet is more than the web. People were getting dial up accounts in large numbers. The web was growing exponentially. Thousands of sites were being added each day. How could a business be heard in all that noise?
By studying the algorithms of the search engines, content started to be created that took advantage of it. Pages did not necessarily have to be human readable. All it had to be was consumed by the spiders and seen as optimized by the search engine. When a page is optimized for say “the best home business” or “make money now stuffing envelopes”, it gets pushed to the top of the page. A business’ voice is heard the best and loudest. They get more traffic, others get less.
As pages become flooded with keywords to create better search engine optimization, the spammers took over. Site after site of pure gibberish was created. The charlatans started to win. The snake oil salesmen gave everyone a bad name. Something had to give. It did.
The largest search engine, Google, changed their algorithm. Panda went live and search engine optimization changed overnight. Content became king again. Real content. Not machine gibberish. Articles started to become relevant again. Blogs mattered. The sun came out.
Google continues to change their algorithm. Search engine optimization has become both an Art and a Science. Good content, good social awareness and backlinking all play their part in making sites rank higher. Sure, the spammers will now hire armies of writers to earn their top spots again, however, their efforts and expenses will greatly increase. In the meantime, actual individuals will be able to have their voices heard.
Learn to move with search engine optimization or get left behind. Know what the changes mean. Create your content to adhere to the new standards. Be heard. Be seen.