Today, most web masters and web designers couldn’t live without SEO. Why? Why, it gets you the visits, and visits are practically all that matters for our online personas (with very few notable exceptions, of course). Nearly million people bear ‘SEO’ in their job descriptions on LinkedIn. But it wasn’t always like that; in previous ages, others aspects, such as site visuals and content, took precedence over visits themselves, assuming that a site with good structure and appearance will, by its own nature, attract the visitors naturally. This is a look back at that time period – the pre-SEO period, its birth and advent.
It didn’t take people long that site esthetics wasn’t what really sought for. However, it wasn’t that they looked for coherent, grammatically coherent sentences either. Remember that time you searched for ‘walkthrough for Might and Magic VI’? No, since you searched for ‘Might and Magic VI walkthrough’ or some other form that wouldn’t get you a passing grade on your English test.
SEO first came in the form of meta tags. As far as SEO is concerned, meta tags were tags that were invisible to the user but were visible to the search engines. In short, they were words inserted into the site for the sole purpose of attracting new visitors. A web master or web site designer would include a bunch of them onto the site and simply hope for the best. As opposed to modern SEO, this ancient practice sought to include as many relevant tags as possible (or, if you weren’t really feeling moral, irrelevant tags).
The term ‘search engine optimization’ came into being in 1997, and since then, it came to refer more and more to what we’re used to today – combination of words based not so much on what the site has to offer, but on what people are most likely to search for. It became a big hit – people could simply get their local SEO expert or find bluehatmarketing in Toronto, for example, and have their site tweaked to the max for maximum visitors.
The search engines quickly caught on to this, however. They developed complex algorithms that rank sites; up to 200 different criteria are reported. The search engines giants such as Google, Yahoo or Bing never disclose their algorithms, as this would largely jeopardize the way they operate, as well as cause an overload in sites that rank too well.
Does this mean that SEO doesn’t work? Far from it. While search engine keywords aren’t the sole criterion, they’re still a criterion; a site that does SEO will rank much, much better than the one that doesn’t. Not only that – good deal of SEO experts regularly check their results and experiments a little, ensuring that their clients get the best possible practice for their line of business. SEO might not be for everyone (not all people are web masters for visitors or revenue); but when it is required, it’d better be done right.