In the already fast moving world of the Internet, the issue of search engine ranking is among the most mercurial. Early on, many commercial websites that remain competitive today found that it is better to stay on top of developments rather than role with the punches. As early as 1997, search engine companies noticed that webmasters were trying to rank high—or early–in organic search results, and that some were going so far as to manipulate their rankings by cramming web pages with superfluous keywords.
Although the “ .com” designation is short for “commerce,” if people were to believe their web searches returned only advertisements, Internet use would have fallen early on. Since the success of a search engine is gauged by its ability to find the most relevant results to a given search, allowing those results to be false would cause users to look elsewhere for their information.
Where the search engines zig, webmasters and others in the search engine optimization business often zag. Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft’s Bing, do not disclose the algorithms they use to rank pages. A study of the patents each company holds on the search techniques, however, is one way to deduce how they function. And that seems to have been the case, judging by the number of methods devised to ensure placement “up top.”Google and Yahoo!, for instance, use programs known as web crawler to find locate pages for their search results. Any pages already linked from indexed pages by other search engines need not to be submitted, as they are found automatically.
Yahoo!, for instance, uses a paid submission service that sets crawling for a set fee or a cost per click on the website in question. Rival search engine Google in 2005 announced that it could tailor search results based on a logged-in user’s preferences. In 2007, it announced a campaign aimed at limiting paid links that transfer PageRank. Byh 2009, Google announced that it had taken measures to limit the effects of PageRank “sculpting” by using of the so-called “nofollow” attribute on linked pages. The latest news from Google is that it is working on a change in its algorithm that is meant to be unnoticeable by most users, one that is meant to expedite the time it takes to index a site and make it searchable. And that’s just one search engine.
Some websites use both “organic,” or unpaid, methods to rank sites, and the more traditional pay per click model. Typically, the higher a site appears in a search results list, the more hits it will receive. The used of organic marketing is one way some businesses see higher rankings and more traffic from search engines. By aligning keywords and phrases in a context that is relevant to their offerings, these sites are ensuring more traffic through search engine referrals and by repeat customer traffic. Although organic and pay per click methods are often used by companies that fine tune their search engine optimization campaigns to different search engines, the use of organic search marketing, for the present at least, seems to be the safer ethical and monetary bet, at least in the foreseeable future. In Internet terms, that’s a few weeks, at best. The clock is ticking.