Definition: Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Search engine optimization is the practice of improving the visibility of a website in search engines. By improving the visibility of websites in search engines the traffic to the websites increases. By creating more listings for specific keywords, and continually working to improve the rankings of these keyword listings, websites can gain greater exposure for their online properties.
History: Search engine optimization began in the mid-1990s when search engines began to command more attention on the web. Previously, information had been more difficult to locate. Search engines made it possible to query the long list of information online. Along with search engines came search engine optimization. Webmasters quickly noticed when their websites were not returning as a search result, because of this, they took measures to ensure their websites were being indexed by these search engines. This in turn resulted in organic search engine optimization and the emergence of SEO companies.
Although search engine optimization was a known practice previously, the foundation of Google in 1998 played a large role in its popularity. Google quickly attracted a loyal following, which resulted in an increasing amount of search engine optimization, paid search engine marketing and overall Internet marketing services. There are many milestones in Google’s life as a search engine. In 2005 Google began exploring personalized search. This meant crafting search results based on the history of past search queries. In 2007, Google announced a campaign against paid links. This was a somewhat needed measure as webmasters had been simply purchasing links to drive their websites to the top of the rankings. While this was a good step for white hat search engine optimization, it created a new strategy for black hat SEO experts. With this introduction to the algorithm, black hat search engine optimization experts could simply drive bad links to a website. By doing this, the websites search engine rankings would quickly plummet.
Some of the most interesting changes in search engine optimization have occurred in the last two years. The famous may-day update resulted in many websites with long-standing history dropping to the bottom of the rankings. At the same time, it allowed previously low ranked sites to climb to higer positions. The update seemed to favor internal pages, and allowed them to rank better accordingly. An even more recent update to Google came with the introduction of Google instant. Google instant did not change search engine optimization entirely, however, it did result in some alterations in keyword structure.
White Hat vs. Black Hat SEO: The idea of white hat vs. black hat SEO is fairly simply. White hat SEO is basically SEO strategies that are endorsed by Google. Black hat SEO on the other hand are strategies that are seen as spammy by Google, and inherently, damage the quality of the Internet and search results. When choosing an SEO company it is important to make sure they are known for white hat SEO. The reason being, Google may remove your website listings from the index for using black hat search engine optimization strategies. Being removed from the index will greatly hurt your online traffic.
Local Search Engine Optimization: Local search engine optimization helps websites get ranked for keywords associated with a specific location. For example, if you would like to get your website ranked for, “Search Engine Optimization California” you could enlist a SEO company to optimize your website and surrounding web properties for this keyword. Local search engine optimization has been around for sometime, however, it has become a primary point of interest recently with the large scale of mobile internet browsers. On February 16, 2010, it was documented that over 5 billion people have cell phone subscriptions globally. Local search engine optimization and mobile search engine optimization allow for these cell phone subscribers to find your website when searching in your area.
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