History of SEO

The original purpose of the Internet was to share academic resources between universities. Search engine usage has evolved over the years but the primary principles of conducting a search remain largely unchanged. Most search processes include:

  • Experience the need for an answer, solution or piece of information.
  • Formulate that need in a string of words and phrases, also known as “the query.”
  • Execute the query at a search engine.
  • Browse through the results for a match.
  • Click on a result.
  • Scan for a solution, or a link to that solution.
  • If unsatisfied, return to the search results and browse for another link or…
  • Perform a new search with refinements to the query.

Search is very, very popular. It reaches nearly every online American, and billions of people around the world.  Being listed in the first few results is critical to visibility, greatest amount of traffic, and also instills trust in consumers as to the worthiness and relative importance of the company/website.

An incredible amount of offline economic activity is driven by searches on the web.  Search engines cannot fill out online forms, and thus any content contained behind them will remain hidden.  Poor link structures can lead to search engines failing to reach all of the content contained on a website, or allow them to spider it, but leave it so minimally exposed that it’s deemed “unimportant” by the engines’ index.

Web pages that use Flash, frames, Java applets, plug-in content, audio files & video have content that search engines cannot access.  Text that is not in HTML format in the parse-able code of a web page is inherently invisible to search engines.  This can include text in Flash files, images, photos, and video, audio & plug-in content.

SEO is the active practice of optimizing a web site by improving internal and external aspects in order to increase the traffic the site receives from search engines.  The majority of web traffic is driven by the major commercial search engines – Google, Bing and Yahoo.  Search queries, the words that users type into the search box, which contain terms and phrases best, suited to your site, carry extraordinary value. Experience has shown that search engine traffic can make (or break) an organization’s success. Targeted visitors to a website can provide publicity, revenue, and exposure like no other.

Submitting to search engines (as covered in the Essentials section) is only part of the challenge of getting good search engine positioning. It’s also important to prepare a Web site through “search engine optimization.”  Search engine optimization means ensuring that your Web pages are accessible to search engines and are focused in ways that help improve the chances they will be found. Others have mounted an effective defense of search engine optimization in the past, but people also need to use internal linking.

Scalable Relevance, or to combine rapid crawling and indexing with a relevance algorithm that can be instantly applied to new content, is how Google constructs the foundation for Search Engine Optimization.  Google’s model is built around identifying characteristics in web content that indicate the content is especially relevant or irrelevant, so that content all across the web with those same characteristics can be similarly promoted or demoted.

Google’s Page rank was named after is creator Larry Page.  It was originally called Backrub after it’s emphasis on back-links.  Check out Larry’s original paper on PageRank “The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hyper textual Web Search Engine.”

Optimizing Your Website

Websites should not be static. They should evolve. Optimization is the act, process, or methodology of making something as fully perfect, functional, or effective as possible. The different types of website optimization include:

  • Search engine ranking
  • User experience
  • Lead conversions
  • Customer acquisitions
  • Customer delight

You need to optimize websites for searchers and search engines. Google has 200 ranking factors that go into their ranking algorithm. Search Quality guidelines for Google can seem a little complex. So, what exactly does Google consider High Quality Marketing Content? At it’s most basic level, an optimized website is easy to crawl and understand with a simple design, that includes rich content and SEO keywords, and formatted content that is easy to read. Create a cognitive fluency for your customers by having a simple navigation, relevant color scheme, the language your buyer personas use, and streamlined way for next steps.

Your on-page SEO should include a page title, URLS, page headers, content, meta description. Format your content with font hierarchy (subheads with different colors, sizes, or font styles), pictures, short sentences and paragraphs, bullets, bolding, italics, and hyperlinked content. Add a one click learn more button to your home page. You can learn more about SEO from Matt Cutts or learn more from the experts at Hubspot.

Domain and Page Popularity

Page rank is the authority that search engines look to based on a certain website’s page relevance, speed and scalability.  One of the first guidebooks search engine marketing professional should read is “Beginners Guide to SEO.” Relevance and popularity or authority is important.  Two primary types of popularity are domain popularity and page popularity.  Look at the PageRank metric through a browser toolbar. Hyperlinks are the most important factor when it comes to ranking web pages.

Text is the currency of the Internet.  Relevancy is the measurement of the theoretical distance between two corresponding items with regards to relationship.

It takes less computing power and is much simpler programmatically to determine relevancy between a text query and a text document than it is between a text query and an image or video file.  This is the reason why text results are so much more prominent in search results than videos and images.  Text should be SEO’s primary focus this especially true until Google finds better ways to interpret and grade non-textual media.


The search engines must use their analysis of content as their primary indication of relevancy for determining rankings for a given a search query. Similar dilution has happened to the keywords Meta tag, some kinds of internal links, and H1 tags.  Instead of simply counting the number of times a word or phrase is on a webpage, they use natural language processing algorithms and other signals on a page to determine relevancy.  In addition to words on a page, search engines use signals like image meta information (alt attribute), link profile and site architecture, and information hierarchy to determine how relevant a give page that mentions.

Link Relevancy does not take into account the power of the link.  People have a tendency to link to content using the anchor text of either the domain name or the title of the page.  Use this to your advantage by including keywords you want to rank for in these two elements.

Beyond Specific anchor text, proximal text- the certain number of characters preceding and following the link itself-have some value.  Popularity and relevancy are the two concepts that make up the bulk of search engine optimization theory.

Search Engine Functions

Search engines have four functions – crawling, building an index, calculating relevancy & rankings and serving results.

Through links, search engines’ automated robots, called “crawlers,” or “spiders” can reach the many billions of interconnected documents.  When a person searches for something online, it requires the search engines to scour documents and do two things – first, return only those results that are relevant or useful to the searcher’s query, and second, rank those results in order of perceived value (or importance).

Currently, the major engines typically interpret importance as popularity – the more popular a site, page or document, the more valuable the information contained therein must be.  Algorithms than use search ranking factors to determine importance and relevance.

Many factors influence whether a particular web site appears in Web Search results and where it falls in the ranking. These include:

  • The number of other sites linking to it
  • The content of the pages and updates made to indices’
  • The testing of new product versions
  • The discovery of additional sites
  • Changes to the search algorithm – and other factors

Bing search engine rankings:

  • In the visible page text, include words users might choose as search query terms to find the information on your site.
  • Limit all pages to a reasonable size with one topic per page. An HTML page with no pictures should be under 150 KB.
  • Make sure that each page is accessible by at least one static text link.
  • Don’t put the text that you want indexed inside images.

Google search engine rankings:

  • Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines. Don’t deceive your users or present different content to search engines than you display to users, aka cloaking.
  • Make a site with a clear hierarchy and text links. Every page should be reachable from at least one static text link.
  • Create a useful, information-rich site, and write pages that clearly and accurately describe your content. Make sure that your <title> elements and ALT attributes are descriptive and accurate.
  • Keep the links on a given page to a reasonable number (fewer than 100).



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