Technically speaking, search engine optimization is the process of influencing the visibility of a web page against a search query, in a search engine.
Different business functions define SEO from different perspectives. Business people view it as either Organic or Paid SEO. On the other hand, techies differentiate it on the basis of the purpose being solved. For instance, image search, local search, video search, news search and industry-specific search.
SEO involves activities across multiple aspects of a website, for instance, content, HTML and associated coding. The purpose is to increase their relevance with respect to specific search terms. This becomes importance because every website has its own relevance and business objective. So in this process we need to focus more on the website domain, targeted audience, demographic areas and business goals.
How the SEO Industry came into being
Search engine optimization industry works in the landscape provided by search engines. Let’s explore the history of the growth of the search engine optimization industry.
If we categorise the search engine history into generations, it will look like this:
First generation search engines: AltaVista, Excite, Infoseek
Ranking based on Content – Pure Information Retrieval
Users started spamming by keyword stuffing (eg., by adding keywords, text to increase content similarity).
Second generation search engines: Lycos
Ranking based on Content + Structure – Site Popularity
A hyperlink from a page on a site X to some page on site Y is considered a popularity vote from site X to site Y. This led to users spamming using ‘Link Farms’.
Third generation search engines: Google, Teoma, Yahoo
Ranking based on Content + Structure + Value – Page Reputation
Page reputation or ‘Page Rank‘ of a page serves as the algorithm behind the search engine function.
|The game changed when…Google used the factors behind ‘Page Reputation’ and patented it as ‘PR Algorithm’, after adding certain features. Since then, they have added more features and factors to it. As of today, Google considers around 200 factors in offering results in SERP (search engine results page) against a search query.|
Users try to spam these search engines as well, using ‘link farms’, key word stuffing, and other means. But, Google keeps updating its algorithms consistently, to facilitate better user experience. This has left people with no choice but to align all the search engine optimization activities to Google’s guidelines. This gave rise to the search engine optimization industry.
Like Google, all the other search engines promote their own algorithmic processes to crawl and index the web pages over the web. All of them want the users to follow their algorithms for better visibility or search results.