It is difficult to find another term in the field of digital marketing that causes as much confusion and misunderstanding as SEO. Most people, especially those who start their own business, are well aware of the importance of being at the forefront of search engines. However, when it comes to the process itself, they refuse to accept the fact that SEO is not a one-time action, but a slow, systematic methodology that requires constant care and maintenance. “Can’t we just optimize it once and get it over with?” “Isn’t it better to invest in paid advertising?” “How come for at least 6 months ?!” our clients that at Smarkethink we decided to look at the burning question – is SEO magic and what lies behind the abstract term.
So what is the famous search engine optimization? If we have to define it in one short sentence, we can say that SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a marketing technique to increase the visibility of a site in the organic results of search engines, ie. positioning it among the first results when searching for words. Because statistics show that Google has held a solid 90% market share in this area for years, most people think specifically about their search engine when it comes to optimizing a site. Of course, there are businesses that are looking for alternatives (for example, the Chinese search engine Baidu and the Russian Yandex), but for the purposes of our material, we will assume that when we talk about search engine optimization, we are talking about Google’s search engine.
Why did SEO come about in the first place? This is an interesting question with a logical answer from a business point of view. Back in 1991, Tim Bernars-Lee, also known as the inventor of the Web, created the world’s first website – a project that still exists. A few years later, various “search engines” appear on the scene, whose function is simple – they must collect newly created information by indexing the sites that publish it and catalog it so that users can access it by searching on given word. At that time, everyone was fighting for territory and, although Google was preceded by platforms such as Excite and Yahoo, its entry into the market in 1998 can be considered the beginning of the end for many competitors such as Ask Jeeves, Ask.com, AOL, Altavista , Lycos and others.
In fact, many articles on the web point to the fact that Google quickly realized the need for better content classification to maximize user benefit as the main reason for Google’s success. It is also believed that the company’s focus on continuous improvement of the algorithm has contributed greatly to the monopoly position that Google has on the Internet at the moment.
Why is it important to know all this? To understand what lies behind SEO, we need to understand the logic of search engines, and in particular the giant Google. In the late 90’s and early 2000’s Google indexed a large number of sites (of course, compared to today’s number of sites, we can say that the figure was tiny).
The competition is intensifying and businesses want to get involved in this new and exciting world, as many of these websites are starting to fight for top positions on the same topics. The developers of Google (and probably its more massive competitors) understand that algorithms designed simply for indexing will quickly become a primitive system if they do not make adjustments to the way these results are arranged. After all, if you have 100 sites, all offering information on TV repairs, you need to choose some logical arrangement of who will appear where in the results and it will be in favor of those who will seek the information in question. So, there are the criteria that should rank the sites from the most useful to the most useless in relation to the user query on Google: nowadays these criteria are known to experts as “ranking factors” – ranking factors that will help your site to ranks first in Google results.
Of course, the emergence of ranking factors does not escape the sharp eye of marketers around the world. This is how SEO was born, which in its most original form was a manipulation of Google’s results, by studying the principle of trial and error. SEO experts find that they can relatively easily influence the ranking of results through tactics such as keyword stuffing (using the keyword many times more than necessary in the text) link building (creating links to the site, paid and organic), cloaking (redirection technique) search engines to a different site than the one seen by users) and many other similar technical solutions. The site rating system is constantly being abused.
A typical example of keyword stuffing
Of course, Google does not stand idly by. They understand that continuous and timely updating of their algorithm and set ranking factors is vital if they want to provide their users with the experience they have been promised. Intensive work is underway to establish rules of use and to declare violations of all methods that prove to be manipulative. The algorithm is constantly improving, and yet looking back in the first decade of the 21st century shows that Google’s fight against unauthorized tactics is complex and slow, especially since the number of SEO experts is growing exponentially and more and more ways are being shared online. to outwit the system.
A brief look at the period between 2010-2010 shows that many of Google’s first pages were filled with small, poorly informative sites whose main purpose was to generate visits and profit from paid ad programs on their own site – like Google’s AdSense (this type of site even has its own name in the world of online entrepreneurs – MFA or Made for AdSense). Black hat techniques (breaking SEO rules) are thriving. And why not – the moment a site is dropped from the charts, its clone is created in no time and so on indefinitely.
Made for Adsense site – little information, lots of ads
However, in the second decade, things began to change. Google stands firmly behind its ideology and spares no effort to combat the manipulation of their results. Words like “site authority”, “quality”, “project longevity” are becoming more and more common. Content is beginning to dominate as a factor. Local SEO appears on the scene (that is, the algorithm begins to give preference to local search results from a given geographical area). The mobile version becomes the first addition, then mandatory, and a few weeks ago – a leading factor after the latest update of Google “mobile-first”.
SEO is becoming a complex ecosystem, far from the simple technical tricks that abounded at the beginning of the era – the number of factors is increasing, as well as their complexity. Many SEO experts are aware of where the wind is blowing and are beginning to advise their clients to accept their projects as a long-term investment, distinguishing them from operations that would ruin years of hard work and finances. Google’s vision is beginning to come true: for its users to get the best possible answer to a search engine question.
So, is SEO magic? Of course not. It’s the way to reach your users by proving to Google that you deserve the first positions you fight for. Do not neglect the purely technical aspects, but also pay serious attention to the social elements, putting thought and creativity at every step. Maintain engagement on your social networks, create original and quality content that makes sense from the user’s point of view (and not just take up space on your blog), monitor and analyze your data to see what you like and what you don’t most of all, seek the help of a specialist who will offer you help with these things. Be useful, persistent and authentic and the results will not only come, but will stay for a long time.