To many, search engine optimization is a hokey term that is something marketing teams use to make themselves more prevalent in the digital era. Meanwhile, in reality, it’s a dynamic and powerful tool that is a necessary part of every successful marketing firm’s repertoire.
In order to enlighten the casual reader about the specifics of search engine optimization, we have compiled a list of five ways in which search optimization is crucial to getting articles out in the public domain.
Search engine optimization is not new.
Search engine optimization is the practice of strategically altering internet-based content so that major such engines (primarily Google) pick up that content. It started in the early 1990s when the internet was new and just barely beginning to get cluttered with information and pages. Essentially, what companies would do at that stage is find ways to repeatedly place high value keywords throughout each page, which was an essential strategy to tricking Google’s early algorithms into placing that page higher in generic search results. It evolved from there.
Search engine optimization is constantly evolving.
While the early search engine optimization strategies mostly just involved keyword repetition, once Google came on the scene, that changed drastically. What Google did different was that it introduced “Page Rank,” which was a way of calculating how many other sources linked to a certain page. From there, Google became the de facto search engine. They have constantly innovated and expanded their search engine algorithms over the years. As such, simply keeping up with Google has become a large industry in itself. Hundreds, if not thousands, of companies follow Google’s every move religiously, trying to glean some information on their search algorithms, but, like Coca–Cola, Google will never divulge their secret recipe.
Search engine optimization is easily learned.
Search engine optimization is not some sort of wonky technical ability that only guys who drink Red Bull and stay up all night on their computers know of. Really, at its core, it’s aiming to understand what drives a page to the front of Google’s search results, and then tailoring pages to appeal to that. Because 75% of search users only click on results displayed on the first page, getting on Google’s first page is hugely valuable. Doing so only requires knowledge of a few technical terms like “metatag” and “link farming.” You do not need to understand HTML coding, or even any other type of coding, to engage in search engine optimization.
There are a whole amount of tricks devoted to “cheating” at search engine optimization.
Like anything else in the world, if something becomes a competition, people are likely to cheat at that competition. Therefore, dozens of “black hat” strategies have been developed that allow web developers to artificially rise to the top of page rankings. “Link farming” (referenced earlier) is the practice of creating whole dummy webpages that link to a page of which you want to boost the ranking.
“Keyword stuffing” is repeating a highly valuable phrase over and over without context. For example, a website reading “baseball cards baseball cards baseball cards baseball cards.”
Even on this very post, we might eventually experience one of those ways to cheat. Have you ever noticed those “Make thousands of dollars working at home” comments that often have a link in them? Well, those are likely artificially generated in order to drive the host webpage’s page ranking up.
Oh yeah, and if Google catches you engaging in one of these tactics, you will be removed from their results, which is essentially like being wiped from the internet.
Small companies can indeed “win” at search engine optimization.
You might think that Google’s algorithm’s are naturally geared towards promoting the products of multi-national companies, and in a way you are right. If you search, “soda,” you are indeed likely to find only results about Coke – or maybe Pepsi. However, if you search, “soda bars in Chicago open late on Tuesday,” it is very possible that a search engine optimization firm has worked with your local soda bar to get their results up to par. So, it’s not just a marketing tactic used by the powers-that-be, but also by the powers-that-want-to-be.
Featured photo credit: Free – IT consultation and Assessment/ Dave Forsyth via flickr.com