Search engine optimization, as we know it, is dead. Since its birth, SEO has always been a highly strategic and reactive concept. Over the years, SEO has been such an immensely profitable practice that entire careers have been carved out of the practice of identifying what parameters a search engine uses to rank a given website. At its core, SEO is a way for marketers to game the search engine system—essentially by reverse engineering the ranking algorithm of Google, Bing, Yahoo! and the rest, in order to get their website to the top of the pile.
In the early days of the internet, search engines mainly used HTML meta tags to determine which keywords best described the content of each specific page of a website. Rankings were prioritized based on factors such as keyword density (the number of times a keyword appears on a given page). This was the status quo until Google burst on to the scene in 2001. Google revolutionized SEO by leaning on inbound links to establish a page’s overall quality. This approach to SEO goes back to the academic notion that an article’s significance is defined by the number and quality of citations it contains.
Google’s game changing approach soon became the industry standard and SEO became less about on-site content and more about off-site link building. The process of link building involves SEO-minded webmasters managing a list of links to be traded for reciprocal links with other webmasters. Google caught on to this practice pretty fast so SEO professionals upped the ante with 3-way reciprocal linking. This method was so sophisticated for its time that it couldn’t be detected even by the typically eagle-eyed Google.
Soon enough, search engines began to get wise to these evolving SEO tactics, forcing optimizers to adapt their approach again and again and again…
To learn about some of those tactics and the death of SEO, come on back over to the Coach blog tomorrow (8/28) for part 2…
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