Find Out How SEO Works, Its Evolution and How It Is Conducted Today
In a way, we can only be so generous in this article; to provide too little might give the impression that we don’t know what we are doing. On the other hand, to provide too much detail will give the reader the grounds to start their SEO campaigns without our assistance; thereby, thwarting our very own business model!
Let’s start from the beginning, shall we?
The beginning is always a good place to start and find out how search engines have evolved. It provides credibility to the website viewers that the owner of the website, or the business that owns the website, knows what they are talking about.
By the end of the article, you’ll know what SEO is and that it’s not as straightforward as it once was.
A Time Before Google, It Wasn’t That Long Ago
Google only came into existence in 1998. Before that, there were early search engines that were developed, but never really dominated at all. For those that are reading this and were born before the mid-1980s, you may recall some of the following websites:
- Web Crawler – This is still functioning, but crawls data from Google and Yahoo.
- Lycos – This website is still functioning today, although not very well. Visit Lycos and search for anything, good luck at getting results!
- AltaVista – this was one of the most popular and managed to stay around until 2013 when it was finally permanently shut down. It was purchased by Yahoo in 2003.
- Excite – This search engine still functions and operates. The results are littered with Google Ads, but there is consistency between the results.
- AskJeeves – The website was based on a butler who would come to your assistance when needed and provide you with answers. The ‘Jeeves’ part of the domain was eventually phased out, thus now you may recognise ask.com.
- Yahoo – this one stays and is now the 4th largest search engine behind Google, YouTube (yes, you heard it right!) and Bing.
So why did these early search engines start, but not prosper?
The simple answer is ‘Google’.
Google came along and created a much simpler user interface, with a simple white screen and a search box to type your questions into.
They also developed an algorithm that produced and still produces the best results for any query.
But their algorithm wasn’t the best one straight away.
SEO Was Easy — The Early Gold Rush
The early iterations of search engines were relatively simple and looked for words in the domain and on the web page to determine what website should be placed higher than the other.
Say, for instance, you wanted to gain traffic for ‘accountant Auckland’, which is a specific search phrase that holds potential value for an accounting firm in Auckland.
An Auckland accountancy firm would simply purchase the domain ‘accountansauckland.co.nz’ and place the term ‘accountants Auckland’ several times all over the home page.
It was as simple as placing the target phrase as many times as possible (even in white on a white background) throughout the home page. The website with the most ‘accountants Auckland’ on their website was to be ranked #1.
As you can imagine, once SEO marketing agencies become privy to this information, it was exploited.
This type of search engine was what users would be experiencing in the early 2000s.
Notably, this form of search engines did not provide great user experience, so ‘inbound links’ were factored into the algorithms to determine where to rank a website.
An inbound link from another website was a reference to another website and therefore ‘a vote’ towards another website. It started a whole new era of SEO techniques.
Google Dominates and Develops Its Algorithm
Given that Google went on to dominate the search engine market, it is no surprise that they were the first to incorporate inbound links as a solid ranking factor for websites.
Google found that the results were still not as good as they possibly could be. It, therefore, planned to develop their algorithm with planned updates over the coming years to test and refine every step.
However, before the changes in the algorithm were introduced, there was a gold rush of website owners buying domains, specifically targeted for affiliate searches and making a quick buck overnight.
Search Engine Optimisation Services Were Still Straightforward
Not only were affiliate website owners able to bring in fast cash, but local SEO marketing companies were able to provide services to local businesses. They continued to provide services very quickly with little effort or understanding into what could happen if things changed.
Oh boy, did they change!
The Panda – Google’s First Rubbish Website Killer
By the beginning of 2011, Google was the dominant search engine on the planet (certainly in the western world), and in February 2011, the party was over for those website owners using rubbish on-page content.
Google unleashed its Panda algorithm.
This aspect of their algorithm examined the on-page content of websites.
It was designed to remove ‘low-quality websites’, ‘thin content websites’ and place websites with significantly higher quality content at the top of the search engines.
As you can imagine, there were thousands of websites removed from page one overnight. The game was up for making a fast buck on the internet (almost there was still the issue of link building) and Google had made their algorithm better.
Refinement Towards Coherent Readableness
Over the proceeding years, Google enhanced it’s on-page content requirements significantly.
Say, for instance, you wanted to have a page ranking for ‘accounting service Auckland’ on a page with a thousand words.
Initially, you might have been able to list that phrase thirty times in the content. No matter how bad it was written you would rank on page one.
Panda changed that; from say 50 times on that page, then 15 times, then 5 times, and finally it now only makes sense to create content with the target phrase listed perhaps only once.
It all depends on the phrase and how broad or ‘long-tail’ the term is.
Since 2015, we would recommend that all on-page content is written with a human reader in mind, not an algorithm bot.
A Penguin – The Links Were Being Examined
We briefly eluded to this in the last section – the inbound links.
Webmasters had figured out that what you place on the page of your website was important (the most important factor for SEO).
You can control the on-page content with what you write on a page. But controlling the inbound links was harder to develop and oversee.
Software developers created programs that would create hundreds of links daily back to websites. The software enabled users to control the velocity, the anchor text, and what type of links were created.
Making money online was automated at this point; you could automate the content and automate the links.
Panda sorted out the on-page content in 2011.
On the 24th of April 2012, Google rolled out its Penguin algorithm update. This examined the backlinks of a website and was able to determine if a webmaster was manipulating the algorithm results by over-optimising the anchor text.
Back to the accountants’ example; before April 2012, if you were to have hundreds of backlinks with the anchor texts with ‘accountants in Auckland’, it would rank more than likely high on page 1 for that term.
Once the algorithm was released, to have hundreds of links with the anchor text ‘accountants in Auckland’ pointing to a website from hundreds of different other websites would trigger a penalty.
Subsequently, hundreds of websites were affected by this and therefore had their rankings dive overnight.
In the same way in which Panda refined itself consistently for 4 years, so too did Penguin. You could have 40% target anchors pointing to a website, then 20% target anchors, then 10% and finally it settled at a level we are fully aware of.
It Gets Trickier and Several Websites Lose Out
Up until late 2014 and early 2015, it was possible to still manipulate the search rankings using techniques that could be deemed ‘black hat’ and still rank very well.
But even those techniques were discovered by Google and pushed further down the rankings.
Google refined their algorithm even further to specifically trap potential webmasters who might have violated their Terms and Conditions, with caveats within patented proprietary ranking methods.
Webmasters needed to be careful and not rush attempts to manipulate the rankings from this point onwards.
You Cannot Beat Google, So Join Them
We finally get to what Search Engine Optimisation Is today and will continue to be for a considerable time.
Why a considerable time, you may ask?
Well, with Panda and Penguin updates, Google has consistently refined and tweaked their algorithm to a state that will unlikely change in the near or long future.
There is only a limit that Google can place on alterations for the content on a website’s page. The target keyword needs to be placed somewhere on a website, and if you omit the target keyword, how will search engines determine what you want to rank for?
Likewise, with links to a website, you need to have indicators of the phrases that you want to rank for in the link ‘anchor text’. The link anchors need to include phrases that are relative to the target keywords.
Good SEO marketing companies will now not aim to ‘beat’ Google by trying to manipulate the on-page or the links too much. But instead, try to adhere as much as possible to Webmaster Guidelines.
Write well written, original and engaging content, and eventually, Google will find and rank your website.
What Do SEO Companies Do?
By now, you would have a good understanding of what SEO companies in Auckland do.
We move websites, from their humble beginnings far away from Google’s first page, to the top of page 1. With extensive research, we bring businesses targeted traffic with buying intent. We help websites convert that traffic to help it achieve a higher percentage of leads and therefore, more sales and greater revenue.
SEO marketing, when done correctly with experienced and knowledgeable SEO consultants, will be able to bring you more business, month after month.
Being #1 in Google Does Win the Race
To understand the benefits of being at the top of Google for specific search terms that are highly relevant, you need to look at the percentages of traffic across the entire page.
Over the years, Google has changed the style and design of its home page.
Take the below sequence of homes pages that are below:
Turning the Century:
Google has evolved, developed and enhanced their business.
Despite this, Google will periodically change how the search results are displayed with the Ads.
Early Designs for Search Results
There have been 10 ad positions on page 1 for specific search terms; with 3 adverts at the top, 4 down the side of the organic results, and then 3 at the bottom page.
When that was the case, the #1 organic listing would receive around 40% of the total traffic.
The percentages of ads being clicked would only be higher when the query was urgent — for instance, “emergency plumbers”, “emergency electricians”, or “emergency locksmith”.
The design that Google has settled on for the moment incorporates Google Ads, Google Maps, Organic Listings. Notably, this design will bring in the most clicks on their ads and therefore, the most revenue for Google. But either way, the #1 organic position still gets between 30% to 33% of the traffic.
That’s nearly a 3rd of overall traffic on average decides to pick the #1 position.
The task of any SEO marketing company would be to obtain that #1 position for targeted search phrases. This is the holy grail of positions. It provides the MOST traffic by at least a factor of 2 when compared to other positions on page one. And by a factor of 4 to 6 for all Google Ads positions.
To Divulge Everything Would Be an Injustice
By now, we’ve given you a complete summary of how Google has developed its algorithm. From its early beginnings to what is now a highly developed robot, scanning billions of web pages every day.
It provides users with the best results when compared to the other search engines out there and acts as the #1 resource for all internet users in the western world.
We at Weka SEO have a very clear and systematic understanding of how SEO functions with today’s algorithm. Google will not go away; they aren’t likely to sell out page 1 solely to ads. That would be akin to having only ads on the television, and no one would watch television.
They must keep the organic listings on the home page; it is unavoidable.
Hopefully, by reading through the whole article, you are given an oversight into SEO, how SEO has developed and thus perceiving Weka SEO to be an important resource for your internet marketing requirements.
If you would like to know more, we suggest that you reach out to us.