What is SEO, and What Does it Mean Today?

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What is SEO, and What Does it Mean Today?  Empty What is SEO, and What Does it Mean Today?

Post  Nilesh Patel on Sat Sep 21, 2013 3:04 pm

For an intangible, virtual landscape, the internet is simply massive. Actually, massive doesn’t quite cover it. It’s a behemoth. It’s super-colossal. It’s really, really, really big. That is to say that there’s a lot of information available on the web, and it’s not always easy to locate the exact datum that you want. Simply combing through web pages one at a time to find what you’re looking for is the equivalent to searching for an atom-sized needle in a haystack the size of Texas. This is where search engines come in.

Search engines—such as Google—are designed to take an overview of the entire accessible internet and then give you links to sites that it believes are authoritative and relevant to your search. Relevance has to do with the words used on the page, while authoritativeness is usually based on the number of high-quality links that are directed to the page from other sites. It has been said that links are like votes, and in the world of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), that’s certainly true.

SEO is a practice that began back in the 1990s, when people first started to realize that they could make money off of their websites. In order to do that, they would need people to visit the sites, and in order for that to happen, they would have to utilize search engine results to the best of their abilities.

Thus, website owners were tasked with creating authoritative content into which promising keywords and links could be inserted. At the same time, the purpose of good content is to draw other respected sites in the hope that they will link to the page in question. The end goal is to have enough quality links and relevant content that the target site shows up on the first page of search results when an online search engine is used (for example a search for the words “Home Automation” using Google will result in the top results including sites for top rated home automation providers such as Vivint, as opposed to random pages of nonsense that just happen to use the right keywords). Better still, if you can land at the number-one spot for a specific search, then you know that your site will be getting a substantial amount of traffic. It is now a big part of the digital marketing industry, and is very popular.

Of course, to some people, anything worth doing is worth doing underhandedly. Using unethical “Black Hat” SEO techniques (which are techniques that break terms and conditions set forth by search engines), some unauthoritative and irrelevant sites began to take advantage of—and ultimately damage—the entire system. Keyword stuffing, hidden text, and doorway pages were all used in this way, killing the credibility of otherwise viable search engines, and making it much more difficult to find useful information on the internet.

However, Google, the world’s most popular search engine, began to develop ways to fight against this type of devious SEO. Two specific updates, first Google Panda (in February 2011) and then Google Penguin (in April 2012) were released and strengthened the Google algorithm. Panda was basically an improved intelligence which was designed to keep low-quality sites away from the top ranking spots, whereas Penguin was focused more on identifying sites that utilize Black Hat techniques, and lowering their search engine ranking as a deterrent.

But these new updates aren’t perfect. As long as search engine results are an important factor to online business and advertising, there will be people looking for innovative new ways to increase their site’s ranking without having to actually improve its content. Naturally, search engines such as Google will continue to fight against these tactics with new updates and programs. One major factor in the future of SEO will be its involvement in social media. Search results will be forced to include more social media results, and will also take into account personal information to provide the best and most useful returns. Of course, as these changes begin to take place, one can expect SEO as we know it to change as well. One thing that won’t change, however, is the necessity of search engines to deliver the most relevant data from authoritative sources. After all, the internet isn’t getting any smaller, and we’re all going to need a little help navigating it.

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Nilesh Patel
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