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A Brief History of Past SEO Efforts (Case Study)

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Care to take a stroll down search lane? The history of attempts to reach the peak of Google’s search results is a recurring history of trial, error, and algorithm updates, Googlebot.

In the beginning, there was Googlebot. Tasked with crawling the web and saving

cached copies of websites within the massive Google index, at first the bot was a creature to be courted: webmasters and website owners had to submit their URLs to a Google submission service.

Only then would Googlebot grace them with its presence; whereas today the bot will find websites so long as others link to them naturally. In those days (early 1990’s), PageRank was much simpler than it is today. Links, the fuel that drives a website’s PageRank, could be bought and sold and Google did not mind.  Then came the search engine boom, when online marketers found out what a gold mine search engine technology is.

Abuses became common, and links bought and sold were among many such abuses that Google eventually penalized. Googlebot was not happy.

Aside from widespread link spamming, there also arose META keyword spamming and content keyword spamming.  In efforts to abuse other facets of how Googlebot performs its job, black hat SEO marketers and so-called experts exploited the META element called “keyword” within the HTML code of webpages states Grant McArthur who owns a Digital Marketing Agency in Glasgow.

These codes were supposed to tell Googlebot what the websites and webpages were about, and thus help it in its task of crawling and ranking websites. Because of this, black hat practices developed where the META keyword element was misused to designate keywords that had nothing to do with website content.

Content keyword spamming also became prevalent: keywords – the words that search users would use to conduct a query through Google – were overstuffed and used too many times within content solely to increase website ranking. This led to websites misleading search users and containing useless, spam content.

Googlebot saw that all was not well. Algorithm updates were applied every time an abuse grew to a threatening size. These updates eventually became a staple within the development of Google Search.

Through multitudes of various (and oddly codenamed) algorithm updates, Google thwarted abuses and spamming and other black hat practices that were frowned upon, while giving welcome practices the proverbial nod of approval.

The META keyword element became inconsequential, keyword spammers were penalized, and low-value links actually devalued the authority and PageRank of websites.  In 2010, Google released over 500 updates – close to 2 algorithm updates per day for a year.

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Today, updates such as the infamous Panda update that penalized duplicate content to a massive degree are news-making developments that any business website watches out for and acts upon, to ensure its place in Google’s search results. It is plain to see through the ups and downs of SEO history that hacks used to get to the top of Google Search in yesteryears might not be as effective tomorrow – they may even prove detrimental to a website.

This pattern of history will repeat itself continuously for years to come.  Fortunately, errors and abuses of the past have allowed for the establishment of good SEO practices – hacks that ensure Googlebot will smile upon your website.

These practices have become a fundamental and constant means to optimize a website for Google search.

Think like Googlebot for a moment. Imagine making your way through the streets of the Internet (the links) to every reputable destination (the websites) you can visit.

When you see all the signs are right and the place you drop in on seems like a great place for a certain group of people (search users of a particular keyword) to visit, you take a log of the place (Google index) and remember to show it to interested parties when they ask for it, along with other places similar to it (search results page).

What factors would you want to see to decide how useful a place is to people interested in it?

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