Understanding SEO starts with its history and with seeing all the changes the search engines and marketers have gone through over the years. From the early days of hidden text at the bottom of the day (now considered black hat SEO) to video marketing and social media marketing, SEO has undergone a lot of changes. Here we’re going to go over the history of SEO so you can understand why the system is what it is today, and why you can’t do certain things without being penalised by Google.
In the beginning, there was Yahoo!, and it was good. Seriously, Yahoo! and a handful of other companies were around, but it all began with Yahoo! (pardon the excessive exclamations, but it was an exciting time). SEO came about by accident when a few marketers were trying to exploit how things worked. This led to the barrage of Viagra search results and tons of porn when looking for innocuous subjects like the “hamster dance”. Yahoo! was easily manipulated, as it used information on the actual pages to rank sites, not its own algorithm; these were the golden days of keyword stuffing to your heart’s content and getting crap sites at the very time. Searchers began complaining, and Yahoo! devised an algorithm.
This algorithm was cracked pretty quick, and they stopped relying on on-page information. This still had open holes with plenty of sites being stolen and used for nefarious purposes like selling fake pharmaceuticals and a bunch of adult products. It was the wild west of marketing, but when the internet met Google….
The Google Age
Google began to create its own ways of organising searches, and so ended the age of indulgence. Instead of using what people had on their pages, Google decided to weigh links against one another. If you had a lot of inbound links (backlinks) coming through to your site from other popular sites, you’ll get higher in the SERPs; outgoing links were also weighted to make sure people weren’t just shifting people towards suspicious sites that would end up ripping them off. Some of the old tricks would work in the early days of Google; people were able to still use little tricks like hidden text and redirects and ghost pages, but after a while Google found ways around it.
Now you can’t get around things like you used to since marketers are much more creative and provide much more value for the attention of their audiences. There are still some people trying to game the system, but with each new update Google steps closer to perfection while the spammers find another hole to use against them. Locked in an epic struggle, Google will always win out; if they can’t provide valuable safe information to the people they’re serving, people will find another search engine that can do the job. Google’s survival depends on staying on top of SEO, and yours is dependent on understanding how the system works.
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