SEO (also known as Search Engine Optimisation or Search Engine Optimisation) has been around in some form or another since the birth of recognisable search engines in the mid 1990s. For most of us, surfing the internet without a search engine is virtually unthinkable, as they help us to sort through the millions of websites out there to find what we are looking for easily and quickly. Seeing the value of having your website found, crawled and indexed by search engines is easy, but how did Search Engine Optimisation as a strategy evolve?
The History Of SEO
It is thought that the phrase “search engine optimisation” first appeared around the mid to late 1990s, although it is thought that SEO as a practice began a few years previously. As the sheer volume of websites began to swell, search engines became necessary in order to sort results and allow users to find relevant sites when requested. It quickly became obvious to online businesses that they would get more traffic to their site if they optimised it to be found by the engines and ranked on the first page of results. Although some web masters, especially in the early days, did their own SEO, it is far more common for specialist Search Engine Optimisation Agencies or SEO consultants to be brought in to deal with these aspects of a website.
Early Search Engine Optimisation was generally a combination of techniques which are mostly now considered “black hat” as it was very open to abuse. This is because early Search Engine Optimisation practitioners could easily manipulate the search engine algorithms, which relied mostly on information provided by webmasters, such as meta tags, page source attributes and keyword density.
Black Hat SEO
Black Hat Search Engine Optimisation techniques ultimately aim to trick search engines in believing that a website is something which it is not. Black Hat SEO techniques include keyword stuffing, hidden text, doorway pages and link farms amongst others and they ultimately affect the relevance of search results negatively. Black hat Search Engine Optimisation is sometimes also known as Spamdexing. These early SEO attempts which abused the search engine system meant that instead of users finding the kind of website they wanted, they often ended up on a webpage stuffed with repetitions of a keywords and no useful information.
Evolving Search Engine Optimisation
Search engines had to change in order to provide relevant results to their users, who would soon go elsewhere otherwise, so Search Engine Optimisation had to evolve too. Search engine developers created more complicated algorithms in order to rank websites which included criteria more difficult for webmasters to manipulate. Google first appeared in 1998 and its ranking algorithm took off page factors into consideration as well as the usual on page factors. Off page factors include analysing the inbound links from other websites and Google page PageRank value. These early yet more complex algorithms were still open to influence by Black Hat SEO practitioners who built link farms and bought and sold links, sometimes on a mass scale, in order to mislead search engines.
More recent developments by the major search engines have made abuse by disreputable SEO practitioners more difficult. Search engines keep their cards close to their chest, and do not disclose much about their ranking criteria to those who practice Search Engine Optimisation, whether they are ethical SEO companies or Black Hat SEO companies.
Search engines are not passive in the war against Black Hat Search Engine Optimisation. If they find a website which is using techniques which they consider to be misleading (i.e. any Black Hat SEO technique) then they frequently give penalties, take away PageRank or blacklist a website altogether for a period of time. This is one reason why you should always choose an SEO company which has a good reputation and only uses ethical Search Engine Optimisation techniques, such as SEO Consult Australia.
Ethical Search Engine Optimisation
Ethical SEO refers to those Search Engine Optimisation techniques which work with search engines to produce the most relevant results possible. Ethical SEO does this by using a set of Search Engine Optimisation techniques which give a true representation of the website to search engines – i.e. the same as they give to human users. There is sometimes some confusion as to why Search Engine Optimisation needs to take place at all. Can’t search engines simply read and understand my website already? Whilst this may be true to a certain extent, there are usually ways in which a site can be improved by using tried and tested ethical SEO techniques to help bring them to the attention of the major search engines and help them stand out from their competitors.
Search Engine Optimisation ‘Authority’
Ethical Search Engine Optimisation techniques have changed frequently over the last few years in order to keep pace with ever evolving and more complex search engine algorithms. Using descriptive page titles, meta data and incorporating a certain keyword density into your page content used to be all the Search Engine Optimisation techniques needed to rank well. Now with search engines which use filters, which can identify manipulative SEO techniques and penalise them, ethical Search Engine Optimisation techniques now aim to build trust (known in the SEO industry as ‘Authority) between the website and major search engines in order for them to rank the site well.
Authority is gained by the proper implementation of ethical Search Engine Optimisation techniques and a number of other factors. As well as the on page SEO strategy, there also needs to be an off page Search Engine Optimisation strategy, which includes link building and other Search Engine Optimisation techniques like article submissions, online press releases and social media bookmarking. It is the combination of multiple ethical Search Engine Optimisation techniques used to create a comprehensive SEO strategy tailored to your business which will bring excellent long term Search Engine Optimisation results.