SEO: Understanding the Search Engines

To understand the future of SEO we have to take a look back into the past and what the Internet was like before search engines. With the advent of the Internet came the 1st webpages.

Search Engines 1The way people found webpages was simple, your friend would tell you, hey check out this site and you would type in the web address (URL) and there you were. There were no search engines so being able to search for a website was impossible. Later came directories, someone decided that “hey, I will track the websites I know about and list them here in my directory.” That was a good idea, but again if you did not know the directory URL then you had no way to find the information, additionally the information was often incomplete. This idea did lead to the very 1st search engines, in 1995 Yahoo launched and became the most widely used Search Engine (SE) of it’s time!!

The initial search engines were nothing like they are today. They basically indexed based on keyword but there was no measure of popularity. In other words the relevance of the site to your search was seriously in question. The algorithm was extremely basic and the results were often hit and miss. This still was a big improvement from having nothing but it was not the best answer. This is the time that SEO came into being but again, the method was very weak and was based primarily on the keywords and the frequency of use on a website which of course can easily be manipulated. Site popularity was a factor in SE results but a small one, to understand how a site becomes popular let create a little example.

We will say a new website came to be and we will call it Ralph’s website.
This is an example of how Ralph’s website would climb in popularity and become a relevant search.

  • Ralph creates a website with good, interesting content. He formats his page correctly for search engines and human visitors.
  • Ralph then tells his friends about his site and shows him the interesting information and his friends like it.
  • These friends like the site so much that they tell others about the site! By now Ralph has listed his site in a directory or two.
  • A few of the people that visited Ralph’s site have websites of their own and because they liked the information they put a link on their own site advertising Ralph’s site. Ralph was also proactive and found other webmasters who would agree to put a link on their site about Ralph’s new site.
  • Next thing you know people who would see Ralph’s listing in the directory or on any of these other sites start visiting Ralph’s site too!
  • Soon, some of these others would like Ralph’s site too and also place a link back to Ralph.
  • Next thing you know, Ralph’s site has received so much attention that there are many other websites listing Ralph’s site and nearly everyone knows about his interesting information.

The reason for all of the link placements was not to try to get placed in a search engine but to generate REAL visitors!

Search Engines 2By having a link in a directory or in Yahoo it was considered very important to your site. Not because of “popularity” but to drive visitors to your site. A link from Yahoo or other Search Engine was important but not too important for SEO purposes, the reason was because the Search Engines still used keywords as the main factor for finding a relevant site. Many webmasters would use a technique called “keyword stuffing” to try to get better results from a search, unfortunately that was the only method of SEO available because the keywords on the page were the main force behind rankings.

As the Internet grew and more and more sites were popping up, the old method of ranking became obsolete. Webmaster would just flood their own site with keywords and then they would have a site ranking. Also simply counting the number of backlinks was ineffective because all the webmaster would have to do is go out and find links to trade as well as list their site in multiple directories. A better answer had to be available!

A Stanford student named Larry Page set out to create an algorithm that would track what the natural growth pattern of a site would look like as it was gaining popularity. The algorithm would not just count keywords and number of links but it would measure how the links interconnect and grow based on organic growth WITHOUT the help of a search engine. The algorithm, known as the Page Rank Algorithm, was based on finding the footprint that occurred when a site was rising in popularity on it’s own. That mind-set was based upon the fact that if the site was growing on it’s own then it was a site that people wanted to visit and provided relevant information.

This is how Google was born; Larry Page and Sergey Brin designed a search engine that was able to provide better and more relevant results for the people searching the Internet for subject matter.
The new search engine algorithm transformed how webmasters had to work on their sites. No longer could they just stuff the keyword in the HTML of the site or place the words all over the webpage and get results. Nor could they just trade links to get irrelevant backlinks to their webpage, Google had become very good at sorting and finding the most popular sites with the best information.

Modern SEO is based around mimicking the natural growth pattern of a website gaining popularity.

In order to do that you need back-links, not just mass quantities of links but relevant valuable links that will help your site. The Search Engines algorithms change all the time but one thing remains the same. The goal is to find the site most relevant to your search and it does this by examining your on page factors as well as your off page popularity.

Bear in mind that no two sites have the exact same link pattern and also remember that the algorithms are secret. However if you think it through a naturally occurring site rising in popularity will have links from personal type sites, possibly articles, bookmarks, directories etc.. In addition many of the sites pointing to these site will ALSO have links pointing to them! The most important thing to remember is that even today the Search Engines are looking for the same thing they were looking for in the past, a site that is gaining popularity just like Ralph’s website did back in the day!

While doing your SEO and backlinking NEVER forget that all you are trying to do is simulate the growth pattern of a site rising in popularity naturally!

With a good SEO provider and a sound strategy you can artificially create the type of “buzz” needed to skip months and sometime YEARS of natural growth. Please remember however if your site is not worthy of such ranking that you can and will lose it. The idea is to actually HAVE a site worthy of a top ranking and then “jump start” the process so the masses know about you. If your site is not relevant to the topic or search term then it will likely not hold it’s position for long.

By taking excellent care of your website and being relevant to the keywords important to you then you can effectively begin an SEO campaign that will benefit you and your company.

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