A Basic Background On Search Engine Optimization

A Basic Background On Search Engine Optimization

Digital Marketing

Have you ever even heard of search engine optimization (SEO)? If you haven’t, it may still make a lot of sense. I mean, who is in charge of prioritizing the content that appears when you type out a phrase in the search bar and hit enter? Is it the search engine provider? Because that would be a ridiculous amount of work for one company. Even if it were possible, how then would they decide whose webpage gets to appear as a top result? Would site owners pay them? That would surely turn into a bidding war where only the richest could participate. And content based on relevance and unanimous interest wouldn’t at all be a priority. No, there’s just gotta be a better way. But of course, there is- I was just being dramatically ironic- and it turns out it’s an entire industry all to itself.

A Sped-Up History of SEO

The myth of how SEO started out goes something like this: In 1997, a co-manager for the rock band Jefferson Starship was upset that his band appeared on the fourth page of the search results rather than the first. The very next morning, he brought this frustration to his colleagues’ attention, and through this interaction, the term “search engine optimization” was born. Just a few years down the road, in 2008, a man named Jason Gambert attempted to codify the way that SEO was done. In fact, he tried to patent the term and make it his own, thereby restricting other SEO companies from selling other SEO methods. But a young woman, Rhea Drysdale would take the lead in preventing this process from getting very far. After some initial opposition herself, in 2010 the U.S. Patents and Trademarks Office would finally discontinue Gambert’s lordship over SEO policy.

How Modern SEO Evolved From A Dance Between Its Earliest Pioneers and Google

Trying to set in stone the processes of SEO was obviously a mistake, considering how much reprogramming had gone into the algorithms for search engines by the time Jason made his appeal- and how much more there was to come- through his desire to see standards in the industry was not at all for the wrong reasons. The early days of SEO were like the Wild West. Spamming links tied to shoddy content and even hacking were both methods used by otherwise dignified marketers at the time. It was really Google, though, that would make first steps in meeting SEO where it ought to stand. Its response to all this unregulated activity was to constantly update their algorithm to reward only quality content that was of interest to users. 

Why Google And SEO Are Inseparable

In 1996, two Stanford PhD students by the names of Sergey Brin and Larry Page designed BackRub, the same search engine that would officially become Google two year later. Check out https://en.ryte.com/wiki/Backrub if you’ve never seen this early version of Google before. Lucky for Brin And Page, Google’s rapid rise to popularity made it the number one search engine by 2000 with over 1 billion web pages in its index. Nowadays there still exist over 30 search engines. But Google is the only one around which the SEO community revolves- as it still outshines all the rest- receiving over 90% of all web traffic.

How Do Search Engines Work?

Search engines work based off of three principles: Crawling, indexing, and ranking. Crawling is where bots called spiders, or “crawlers” scour the web rummaging through each site’s code from the farthest corners of the Internet. They are also programmed to take not of a site’s content. Then the scouted websites are archived in the index where they are organized and stored until they appear as a search result. Ranking is the process by which search results are ordered based off matched terms, and by how relevant the search engine deems the content of a webpage to the perceived intention of a query. For example, before the recent era of COVID-19, typing “corona” into to the search bar might have brought up images of the sun, or everyone’s favorite Mexican beer. But as times progress, the most consistent intention behind certain search terms changes along with it, so now the same keyword will likely correspond to search results referring to the corona virus.

The Two Types Of Search Results

The general process of SEO is likewise easy to describe but helps to first understand the difference between a paid search and an organic search. You may notice that when you Google a keyword, you get a few links up at the top with the term (ad) placed as a header. These are examples of websites that have paid for optimization, and therefore have become instantly prioritized as search results. In this case, the marketers of sites bid on keywords, and the payment itself comes as a cost-per-click basis. Yet only about 20% of clicks go to paid searches, while the other 80% is all from users’ primary interest in organic search content. If you haven’t already guessed, organic searches come about as a natural interaction between a search engine’s algorithms as well as its users.

How SEO Capitalizes On The Organic Search

The organic search is where the art of SEO comes in. First off it is important to ensure a site’s content is relevant and of high grade. Here, the placement of keywords having the most user traffic potential is important. What I’ve stated thus far is known as on-site optimization. But the bulk of the work that companies like Mesa SEO based their operations around looks like the following:

A plethora of decent content is gradually added to the web, with each page containing embedded “backlinks” to other quality sites. This practice is called “off-page optimization.” The impact this has on increasing the prioritization of the linked sites in the search results can then be observed and measured. This and the rest of the effort done to maximize the first two steps is called technical optimization; for example, tweaking your site’s programming so that it is more recognizable to Google’s algorithms. 

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