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SEO FOR BEGINNERS 2: Search engine optimization after the Google Revolution

Following Yahoo’s partnership with Google in the year 2000, the Google Toolbar became available on Internet Explorer, making it possible for SEO practitioners to view their page rank score (within the range of 1-10). The practice of Link exchange request emails, therefore, became very prevalent.

In addition to Google’s organic results, a paid search Ad was also introduced known as Google’s Adwords Ads, appearing above, below and to the right of Google’s unpaid results. During the time, a group of webmasters in London casually got together at a pub to discuss and share ideas on everything concerning SEO. This casual get together eventually became Pubcon, a large search conference series that still runs till today. Meanwhile, over the coming months, SEO practitioners got used to a periodical Google Dance in which Google updated its Index which sometimes affected major page ranks.


After acquiring in 2003, Google launched Adsense. The combination of Adsense and led to a blogging revolution as well as a surge in monetizing simple web publishing. The launch of Google Adsense created problems that would later take a number of Google Algorithm updates to fix. Adsense gave birth to black hat practices such as the prevalence of poor or stolen content created just to rank well and get paid.


In the year 2004, top search engines including Google began improving their search results to cater to the needs of searches that had a geographical intent e.g ‘The best restaurants in Lagos’. This year also witnessed an improvement in the use of end-user data such as search history and interests to personalize search results. This meant that when searching for the same query, two people sitting close together in a restaurant may not get the same search results based on their search history.

The following year, in 2005, Google and other search engines created the no-follow tags as a means to combat spam. SEO practitioners took advantage of this for page rank sculpting. This year also witnessed a number of noteworthy updates from Google. The first was Jagger, which helped to reduce the number of unsolicited link exchanges that was prevalent around that time and also diminished the importance of anchor text as a page rank factor due to its corruptibility. The second update was Big Daddy which improved Google’s architecture, allowing for an improved understanding of the relationship between site links.


The world witnessed major development in 2006 as Google acquired the World’s biggest user-generated video sharing network known as Youtube which later became the second biggest search engine in the world. Due to its increasing popularity, Video SEO became crucial for brands, businesses and individuals that wanted to be found. That same year, Google launched two other incredibly unique products; Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools. Google Analytics was a free tool that enabled Webmasters to have an insight into how well their sites performed while the Webmaster tools enabled them to view crawling errors, see what searches their sites showed up for, and request re-inclusion.

Meanwhile, XML sitemaps gained universal support from all the search engines that same year, allowing webmasters to display to the search engines every URL on their website that was available for crawling. An XML sitemap not only contains a list of URLs but also other more important information that would enable search engines to crawl more intelligently.


In 2007, web searches began to evolve in wonderful ways with the introduction of Google’s Universal Search aimed at improving the user’s experience. Before this period, search results only displayed ten blue links. Thereafter Google introduced the biggest change to SEO and Google search by mixing organic search results with other types of results like news, videos and images.


In 2010, Google announced that site speed was a ranking factor. Two years before that time, Google released an update called ‘caffeine’ to improve the speed of its indexing. According to the Search Engine Journal, It was a faster and more accurate search architecture that provided better and more relevant results and crawling larger parts of the web.


In 2009, Microsoft Live search became ‘BING’ and then joined forces with Yahoo on a ten-year search deal in an attempt to challenge Google’s almost seventy per cent grip of the United States’s search market. The search alliance witnessed Microsoft’s Bing powering Yahoo’s organic and paid search results. That partnership only made Bing the second biggest search engine and failed to break Google’s massive grip on the global search market.


Towards the end of the 2000s, another phenomenon called social networks emerged. Google tried to dominate the market with Youtube. However, bigger players like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn emerged. The rise of social media brought speculations that social signals impacted search rankings. While Google denied the impact of social shares like tweets as being ranking factors, It has continued to be listed by practitioners as having a strong correlation with search rankings just as other forms of digital marketing can help to drive more traffic to websites, therefore increasing brand awareness and affinity.

SOURCE: SEO 101: Learn the Basics of Search Engine Optimization by Loren Baker


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