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November 5, 2018

Why SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is over


I really don't see very many references to SEO anymore, but there was a time when it was big business, and expert advice could make a big difference to whether your business was "findable" on the internet. But those days are over.

A Search Engine, by the way, is any type of internet program that allows you to search for stuff, the most popular one by far being Google. There's also Bing, and Yahoo, and there was a time when there were a LOT of search engines. But for the last few years the winner of that competition has been Google. So much so that when people ask me to search for something on the internet, they simply ask me to "Google it".

I've been keeping my eye on search engine optimization since about 2001, when I first got interested in learning about the World Wide Web, also called the Internet. In those days, everything was written in code, and in order for search engines to find a web page, certain code had to be inserted. That code would be read by the search engines, and if you included a keyword meta tag, for example "Civil War", the search engines would index that, and people who searched for web pages about the Civil War would be able to find your page on the Civil War. Of course right away it was a mess, because meta tags could say "Civil War" and direct people to a porn site. And that began the process of cleaning up search data.

The hidden code of meta tags gave way to having search engines simply read what was on a web page. You may recall the keywords were often designed in a circle, as if they were a graphic, but they were there for the search engines to find. That went on for quite a while, and finally the search engines learned to read pages better, and they're still doing that.

As search engines got better and better at reading pages, with Google search leading the way, people gained more confidence in using them. Of course there were still bad guys who would put a nonsense paragraph on the web page, which would include keywords that had nothing to do with the page, but that practice has essentially gone away. I still see it in spam email, where there is a nonsense paragraph at the bottom of the email to fool the spam filters. Email spam filters are easier to trick than Google indexing - Google is good!

A few years ago, the concept of a "white hat" for web pages became popular. And it simply meant that you didn't do any tricks on your web site. If your website was about dachshunds, you simply created a website with dachshunds, and Google could find you just fine. In fact, in the last couple of years of doing SEO consultation, I simply had to tell people: be nice, be real. And my clients were!

So here we are at the end of SEO Optimization. There are no tricks, no secrets, no need to pay anyone, including me, for advice on getting on a Google search. If you know what to do to run a respectable  business, you're there. The good guys have won.

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