Search engine optimization started out very simple—you would submit your website to each search engine. After you did this, “the various engines which would send a “spider” to “crawl” that page, extract links to other pages from it, and return information found on the page to be indexed. The process involves a search engine spider downloading a page and storing it on the search engine’s own server, where a second program, known as an indexer, extracts various information about the page, such as the words it contains and where these are located, as well as any weight for specific words, and all links the page contains, which are then placed into a scheduler for crawling at a later date.” [Wikipedia]
A few years after this process got started (which was around the mid 90’s) website owners saw the great effects of having their website come up on the first page of search engine queries. And this is how SEO got started, according to Danny Sullivan, an industry expert; the term search engine optimization came around in 1997.
A year later Google was founded, and changed the game for search engine optimization by implementing an algorithm to process which websites were relevant to each search query The algorithm wasn’t too complicated at the time, but Google soon found that people were cracking their code, and more spam was being filed to the front page.
Now Google and other search engines are continuously changing their algorithm and monitoring what tactics SEO organizations are using to keep their content relevant. By 2007 Google realized many companies where buying links to get their PageRank up, so they decided to put a stop to it, and incorporated a nofollow tag. This will allow any website owner to keep links in their site, but when tagged with a nofollow, they will not be counted when the search engine spiders crawl that site.
With search engines becoming smarter to the SEO game, SEO organizations have implemented white hat and black hat tactics to keep up. White hat tactics are “fair move” techniques that will not penalize your company in search rankings. Black hat tactics on the other hand, are more deceptive, and can penalize your company by lowering your ranking, or not indexing your website at all.
To get started with SEO, it is a good idea to first do a little research on your business website to see where you stand. Internet browsers such as Google’s Chrome and Mozilla’s Firefox both offer SEO specific analytics resources, such as SEO Quake.
Download SEO Quake for your browser (currently supported on Firefox and Google Chrome) and after the install, any webpage you visit will show you its current page rank, as well as the last time it was cached and how old the page is. These results are directly related to how high websites will rank on a search engine.
Studies in online marketing have shown that a large majority of web users never go past the first page of results after inputting a search query, so increasing authority of your domain is the advertising equivalent to running commercials on prime time television.
Real Time Search Factors
In 2009 Google and other search engines realized the need for real time search. With the advent of social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, and blogs more and more people found they could find information as it was happening. A great example of this was during the Haitian earthquake at the beginning of 2010. Even news stations like CNN were getting relevant newsworthy information from Twitter.
Bing for example, has incorporated a Twitter real time search within their search engine. If you go to http://www.bing.com/twitter, you can type in a search query and see real time results from tweets. The only problem with this is not all tweets are relevant or have valuable information.
Google has realized this and come up with Google Caffeine. Although this feature is not fully live at the moment, rumored to be around 80% live (as of May 3rd 2010) it could change the SEO game. We don’t know how much since it is not live yet, but having real time search could make things more exciting for SEO organizations.
Some nice summary history videos of Google’s Page Rank