Search engine optimization is a term frequently used by web professionals. From the advent of search after the birth of myriad websites to this very day, optimizing a website for both users and search engines has become common practice. During the formative years users of online search, website owners and developers would scarcely think of writing for the search engine. Content was purely written material and only contained relevant information for users. Competition between businesses was limited to a restricted geographical area so not many website owners (and businessmen) bothered to make their site search friendly. However, search continues to evolve on a continual basis as users and search engines become smarter every day. Additionally, with the surging popularity of online search and the globalization phenomena spreading across a multitude of countries, online search became a hot topic.
Many web developers and programmers started understanding how search works and tried to write for visitors as well as for various search engines. In the early 2000s, programs such as ‘PageRank’ in Google crawled on various webpages to determine its relevancy to a search term. This was done simply by searching for certain keywords or search terms on a page. When a user typed in ‘places to see in Australia’, the program searched for the typed words on each page before displaying the results. The most relevant ones were placed on the top in descending order of importance. This kind of search was purely keyword-centric. It did not matter if there were videos or a location map; search was only based on words typed in the search box.
However, this led to various underhanded techniques employed by black hat SEO companies in order to garner a higher search rank. Companies would forget the usefulness of the content and simply concentrate on acquiring higher number of clicks by just putting commonly searched terms on a page. Link spamming, wherein each page linked to other pages for no rhyme or reason became widespread among developers. Finally, Google and other popular search engines realized this and tried to incorporate different elements that would make search more beneficial to users.
Finally, with a slew of updates till this date, search has moved on from being purely keyword-centric to the addition of videos, audio clips, social media sites, blogs and active forums. A website is no longer judged on its keywords, rather, Google now looks for sites that contain YouTube links or helpful videos, checks if the site contains blogs by visitors, goes through any social media links that it may have and audio clips to assist users in meeting their plethora of search demands. Active websites are given higher importance than outdated ones. Additionally, if social media accounts of a company are active, the page ranks higher than those that that do not contain dynamic social media accounts.
As Google and other search engines continue to make searches user friendly it is imperative that as a website owner, you provide relevant and highly valuable information to users. No longer can you concentrate on the written material; equal, if not more attention needs to be placed on creation of videos, social media accounts, providing a location map of your company, audio clips, blog posts, discussion forums and much more.