The Elusive Practice of Search Engine Optimization
Search engine technology has completely revolutionized the way we retrieve relevant information. Mastering the algorithms that drive these marvels of technology is the challenge, and assures the webmaster complete marketing success. In 1990, Alan Emtage at McGill University developed the first search engine, named Archie. Its purpose was to create a database of web filenames that could be queried, and retrieved by any user. Archie helped address this data chaos by integrating a script-based data collector with a standard expression matcher for relevant user query retrieval. Contemporary search engines use software ‘spiders’ that go out into the internet, and retrieve content and data. Armed with this retrieved data, search engine algorithms rank content based on the relevance of what the user is searching for. It is the job of the webmaster to optimize a web site based on relevant keywords, so that search engine algorithms list their URL as close to page one as possible. This is the practice of Search Engine Optimization, determining how search engines think, and if successful could lead to very lucrative returns.
The process of search engine optimization is plagued with unscrupulous scammers, spammers and deceptive practitioners. This is referred to as Black-Hat Search Engine Optimization, and it hurts the search engines as well as the users who query them. Black-Hat techniques employ techniques that trick the search engines with thousands of meaningless articles loaded with keywords carefully chosen to draw traffic, and generate quick revenue. In addition to link farms that artificially inflate the importance of an otherwise irrelevant web site. Some black-hat hackers attempt to negatively influence competitor’s rankings by exploiting various search engine vulnerabilities. All these practices dilute the true value of legitimate web sites, and realize only short term gains. Gradually search engines started recognizing these techniques, and have taken proactive approaches. Algorithms have been developed to uncover and ban sites that employ those practices. Search Engine Optimization is a long term goal that requires astute and careful planning. White-Hat optimization is the ethical means to this end.
“Give the public what the public wants”, this is the mantra of any successful search engine. If a user places a query, and receives very relevant data, the user will most likely return for future inquiries. The objective of white-hat optimization is to provide the user with a content relevant search result. White-hat search engine optimization is the practice of improving the design and content of websites to draw more search engine traffic in an ethical manner. Content is king, it is important to have content that’s relevant to your visitor’s expectations, otherwise they will just hit their back button. It is important that your pages are well structured, using descriptive page titles and other page text. Further, keyword rich inbound links must be built, and submitting original articles will accomplish this goal.. Providing fresh new content will assure repeat visits with the opportunity to expose more products to your users. White hat SEO techniques can take some time to implement however their results tend to last for a long time.
As the web continues on its exponential growth path, the need for better search engines becomes more vital. These are the challenges that face the search engines, as well as the experts that contribute to their success. Search engine optimization is an art that requires skill, and creativity, a synergy of original content, efficient marketing, and site analysis. These are the foundations for a successful search engine optimization campaign.