Posted on

The basics of Search Engine Optimisation

I’m not a fan of Search Engine Optimisation – SEO as it’s known.

Or rather, I’m not a fan of practitioners of Search Engine Optimisation. This is probably unfair, but I have good reason for it. The words “snake oil salesmen” and “charlatans” may have passed my lips at various times.

SEO is both very simple and an incredible dark art. But it wasn’t always so.

In the beginning, there were no search engines. As the number of web-sites grew, people maintained directories; you would submit your site and it would get listed. The first search engines automated this process, looking for websites and then updating those directories automatically. They became “portals” – view this page and get a selection of the latest news, weather, sports and whatever else. And if it’s not on the home-page, you can search for it over here. These pages grew in complexity as the number of sites grew, but “discovery” – finding what you were actually looking for – remained a big problem in the 1990s web, unless the provider happened to have an agreement with the search engine home-page.

Until Google came along.

Google did two things that shook up the industry.

Firstly, their search engine was fantastic. I’ll talk about why later on.

Secondly, their home page was empty. It was one box, where you typed in your search query, and then you hit the button to see the responses. Compared to the bloated portal sites, this was a revelation. I, and many others, quickly set Google to be the first page my browser opened – it was fast and reliable.

Take action: How can you out-do your competition by doing less?