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Search Engine Algorithms: It Has Always Been A Cat And Mouse Game

Aug 17, 2007
I remember ten years ago when we were designing websites for our clients that we used to play around with the keywords, descriptions and a variety of content related methods to help our customer get a high ranking on Yahoo. In some cases we were successful enough that not only were all the pages indexed, but they would come up consecutively.

Undoubtedly, everything has changed over the past 10 years, but the question still remains the same. Why would we spend so much time trying to beat the search engine algorithms? The answer is very simple, we are all trying to make a living, earn money, support our customers and insure their success. There is indeed one assumption in this writing. That is to say the website we are talking about are regular business websites. Not scams, not fraudulent services, not spam websites. Nothing of the sort, just everyday normal business websites.

The Internet by its very electronic nature has introduced the idea of lower cost marketing, more efficient marketing, measured marketing, and broader marketing. Naturally, a business would indeed seek these methods to get new and more business. Considering most businesses are small business, we run into the issue of not enough time in the day to do the work and certainly not enough money to outsource the work either. You can read "Internet Marketing and the Small Business" article at the URL provided at the end for reference.

Over the years the Big 3 - not automotive - but search engines Google, MSN and Yahoo have continually tried to provide better quality responses to visitors searching the web for information. A noble idea and certainly much faster than the early days of "Archie" and "Veronica" searching. They have introduced a variety of methods in this quest with the algorithms. As the algorithms change, well so do the tactics of Internet marketers and webmasters. The tactics follow some general rules - how do we circumvent the algorithms for the success of our clients and most notably, how do we make it easier, faster, more efficient.

This cat and mouse game can be best exemplified using "Links" that have become such a crucial part of ranking and popularity. In the early days it was simple, exchange links with other websites and the more websites with your link the more popular your site and therefore the higher your ranking. How tough can that be? Everyone is now chasing link exchanges; however, the process is time consuming. Not only to get the link exchange, but then to ultimately get more traffic to make money "now" (not tomorrow) is taking time too.

First request for the link exchange, then wait to get a confirmation, then add their link to your site, send a confirmation, wait for the response that your link is now on their site and finally confirm the link. Having done all that, let us not forget to check every 30 days that the link exchange still exists at the other website. Therefore, we need to know the exact url of our link on the other website and keep track of all this information using....well...something besides hard copy.

Along come services to make this process easier. This would include software and web based services. These services allow you to process the link exchange simpler and even go as far as creating the link web page for you and uploading the web page to your server. There was still one aspect that was not addressed with these services and that is the time to complete the link exchange. In some cases you're waiting 30 - 60 days. We certainly are not willing to wait this long to start making money.

Services now took the process even a step further and link farms are created. Register your site and put their code on your web page(s). Voila, you have instant link exchanges and the time for the process has been eliminated. Now it was strictly waiting for the search engines to index the information.

As you can imagine, this did not sit well with the search engines, especially Google. The next step is to modify the algorithms to identify link farms and other "un-naturally" occurring links. Yep, the issue of naturally occurring links was emphasized. You cannot have too many too quickly. You cannot use link farms. Your links have to be related to your industry. Inbound only links have a higher value than reciprocal link exchanges. More rules, regulations and policies being imposed upon the business, however, each of these rules bring about the next creativity, specifically about inbound only links.

The idea of selling text links on already high ranking websites emerges. Websites sell the text links directly or you can use brokers. Not only can you purchase the text links, but even within a single website you can have choices of how much to pay based the ranking of a particular page. You can spend a few dollars per month, pay mid-range between $25 - $50 or above $100.

Absolutely amazing how many sub-industries were created from the link exchange process. All the rules, regulations and policies in an effort to make for the search engines to provide more quality information to searchers and for website owners to make more money faster. What a circle-jerk!

The latest development, as you can imagine, is the purchase of text links is now going to be frowned upon and your site rankings will be down graded. Unfortunately, I cannot say that the search engines will do a good job of identifying purchased links versus legitimate advertising links. Nonetheless, whatever they do identify and however they decide to identify this it will hurt you.

So, the cat and mouse game continues. Link exchanges will probably not have a significant value in the long run. Inbound links will be scrutinized and these new sub-industries will refocus upon the next service they can provide to help website owners make money and do so faster.

Do you see where this is going? It will never end. The search engines will create impositions. The process will become more complicated. In the early days it was Meta Tags, then Link Exchanges. Now we're looking for content, authority websites, landing pages, comment tags, header tags, image ALT descriptions, Anchor Titles. It really does not make a difference. The search engines can throw out any rule, regulation or policy and there will always be a way around the "system". After all we are in the electronic medium and there is nothing that a computer cannot do that money and time cannot buy!
About the Author
Melih Oztalay is the CEO of SmartFinds Internet Marketing. SmartFinds Internet Marketing provides a variety of business internet marketing services including research, analysis and planning.

"Internet Marketing and the Small Business" article at the URL provided at the end for reference. http://www.hsfideas.com/articles/small_business.html
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