SEO Search Engine Optimiztion SEO Search Engine Optimization
How To Optimize a Website for Search Engines

May 1st, 2009:

The History of SEO
Search Engine Optimization

SEO - That was then - This is now
A glance at the history of search engine optimization

Search Engine Optimization has changed quite a bit over the years. While optimizing a website for search engines was fairly simple in the mid 90s, when search engine optimization started, it has now become a sophisticated science. When I first began creating and optimizing websites for search engines, well-written meta tags or repeating the main keywords over and over again in the body of a website would usually do the job. If the site didn't get listed in top positions on the first attempt, I could add or subtract keywords to get the desired top search engine listing.

A vast number of webmasters soon adopted this procedure, which led to hopelessly "spammed" search engines. Every search engine on the internet had to face this problem and come up with some sort of filtering system to distinguish the good from the bad and the ugly, or the useful from the not-so-useful and the spam.

Search engines struck back and stopped accepting websites containing endlessly repeated keywords. The webmaster community developed new techniques to work around this. So called "hidden text" or "hidden keyword" techniques, for example, employed text that was invisible to the visitor, but was contained in the HTML code and therefore very readable for search engine spiders and robots. This was only one of the new strategies to get a website listed in the top positions of a search engine.

Since each search engine had different criteria for selecting sites to list in the top 10, webmasters had to create multiple so-called "doorway pages", each designed for one particular search engine or keyword combination, in order to get top positions in all search engines. Slowly but surely the situation was getting out of hand.

The major search engines in the mid 90s were (among others) Alta Vista, Yahoo, and Excite (who was powering AOL Search, which had the most members of all ISPs and search engines at the time). [Google was not founded until 1998]

As the search engines created methods to limit search engine spam, webmasters developed new ways to trick these mostly automated search engine processes into listing their websites or web pages in top positions. Search engines were facing a serious problem that threatened to take away their credibility and their usefulness for everyone searching the web.

Search engines had to find a new way of offering valuable search results to their users. While Yahoo was already using "human editors" to evaluate websites for their informational value and user friendliness, a new search engine kept getting bigger and bigger. Towards the end of the 90s Google was starting to become the leading search engine on the internet.

Google used automated programs (called "spiders" or "robots") to constantly scan the entire internet for new websites or updates on existing websites, and to gather other useful information that would indicate a possible top search engine listing. A vast number of human editors then verified these automatically identified sites.

In other words, a website had to pass the automated selection process as well as the typically very well-trained and experienced eye of the human editor.

A new era of search engine optimization has begun.

Search Engine Optimization 2.0

In today's internet and search engine world, simply adding meta tags and keywords to your website is definitely NOT enough to guarantee a good rating, or even that your site will be listed at all.

Search engine optimization has become a new profession, which involves much more than just finding keywords and writing meta tags. If you want to get top listings in major search engines like Google, Yahoo or MSN you will need to optimize your Web site from the ground up.

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