What is SEO?

SEO, which stands for Search Engine Optimization, is a web marketing technique used by companies to generate traffic to a website through search engine results and rankings. To get a better understanding of SEO, it's important to know the history of SEO and how it evolved to what it is today.

SEO: A Brief History

The history of SEO has been a long winding road. While search engines such as WebCrawler and AltaVista started the search engine movement, they did not make any substantial changes for websites to rely on their services. In 1999, major search engines such as Google and Yahoo! began their domination as search engine portals. Other websites began to rely on the traffic generated by these search engines and the dominant search engines started to notice this.

Thus, in 2000 SEOs were introduced to the Page Rank system. At this time, most websites were building links by spamming links everywhere and anywhere, keywords were being abused left and right to boost page rankings. There was no one to stop them, until Google launched a series of algorithm updates that changed the way SEO was being applied.

In November of 2003, Google released the Florida update. The algorithm update removed a large amount of top ranking sites from their position. This update detected websites that were over optimized and took them off the index to promote natural content. Most changes after the Florida update were significant modifications to indexing, decrease emphasis of various tags, patterns related to searching and web 2.0 properties. The algorithm updates all share the same intention, which was to reduce spam and promote quality content.

All these updates mean one thing: practicing SEO requires flexibility. Heavily focusing on one SEO approach too much can and will hurt your website.

Search Engines

The foundation of SEO is the search engine. That's why it's important to know how they work. Search engines use bots to "crawl" or scour the internet to see what's out there, jumping from link to link. As the bots (also known as spiders) search the web, they are also taking note of everything they come across. This is called indexing. During this process, the keywords and common phrases of websites are grouped into categories for archiving.

When you perform a search using a search engine, the search engine will fetch the results from the websites that were indexed. Many different types of algorithms are applied to check for relevancy due to the large amount of websites in the database. Such factors for relevancy may include links, keyword density and tags.

Not all search engines use the same set of algorithms; therefore different SEO approaches need to be taken into account for dominating the different search engines. These algorithms are also being updated on a regular basis. What worked yesterday might not work today. SEO is an ongoing process of adapting to various changes to the online market.

Now that you have a general background of SEO, lets take a look at two major SEO approaches that are currently being used today.