You have certainly heard of Google, right? So every time a page is published on the internet, Google (and other search engines) seek to index it so that it is found by the searcher. But there are thousands of pages being published every day on the internet and this causes a lot of competition. So how do you get one page ahead of others?
That’s where SEO (Search Engine Optimization) comes in. As the translation itself suggests, SEO is an optimization for search engines, that is, a set of techniques that influence search engine algorithms to rank a page for a particular keyword that was searched. After reading this post you might need to learn about useful SEO definitions and terms.
In 1993 Architext emerged, considered the first internet search engine (which became Excite). With success, similar new sites have emerged, such as Yahoo! (1994) and finally Google (1997).
Founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Google was created to be a large-scale search engine and to “organize the internet,” using the link structure to determine the relevance of pages according to user search. The idea of using links received by a page is inspired by academia: an article or scientific research that receives citations from journals and articles by other authors, especially those with a better reputation, are considered more reliable. Following this logic, the revolutionary Pagerank was developed: a 0 to 10 metric created by Larry Page and calculated by the number and quality of incoming links.
Website optimization for search engines is designed to reach the user by delivering the answer they are looking for with the ideal format. By including more band name keywords in the site content, they noticed that the site returned to the top position. Until Google became popular, SEO was limited to sending the site to search engines and on-page optimizations, such as including (and repeating) keywords in content.
Already with the popularization of Google SEO professionals began to look more at the link metric, very important for the search engine. This led to link building strategies, exploring both legitimate link building techniques and more obscure practices, focused solely on improving site evaluation, regardless of quality.
These ranking manipulation techniques became known as Black Hat SEO.
It was also in 2000 that the Google Toolbar was launched for Internet Explorer, which featured Pagerank from sites 0 to 10. This made link building techniques more measurable and popular.
In the same year, Google’s organic results got company: Google AdWords was launched, including sponsored results, which remain in search results to this day. After years of website optimization, link generation and a lot of ranking manipulation with Black Hat techniques, in 2003 the first major update of its algorithm, called Florida, was released, which changed SEO forever. According to an article written at the time by Gord Hotchkiss, Florida was a filter applied to commercial-based searches identified by the use of specific keywords. It cleaned up many of the sites that previously filled the rankings (in several tests, the tool removed 50 to 98% of the sites previously listed).
The target was affiliate sites, with domains that contained keywords and with a network of links pointing to the site’s home page. When released, the update sparked outrage in merchants, whose affiliate sites were their primary source of traffic (and sales). Despite the impact of the upgrade, the results were positive, with higher quality sites being launched, retailers investing more in the site itself and improving search results.
This was just the first update from Google. In the following years new updates were released, always aiming to decrease the illegitimate results presented by the search engine and improve the search quality. Since then, with every update released by Google, there has also been a lot of speculation about the death of SEO. However, site optimization for search engines goes far beyond questionable techniques designed to manipulate Google’s displayed results, which are penalized and extinguished with updates.