April 15, 2010

SEO parameters - first part

In this and some future articles I will talk about the parameters that affect the page rankings, especially in Google. Knowing these parameters and the ability to measure them in some way gives us great advantage because it allows us to optimize the SEO work in order to get good results. For newbies, the abbreviation SEO means Search Engine Optimization. Google it, and you’ll get over twenty seven million hits – this tells you how important SEO is. But before going any further, let me talk a bit about how I started in this business and how it was done back at the stone age of internet, more then 10 years ago.

In the late 90’s, when I started to access the Internet using an ancient 48Kb/sec modem, I had already understood how important a good placement in search engines really is, to attract quality web traffic, and visitors clicking the banners and ordering goods or services offered by sponsors. Back then, together with AltaVista, the most popular search engine was Infoseek. I spent hours analyzing the sites that appeared on the first page of results, trying to discover the mechanisms that regulate which site stands at the top of the rankings and which at the bottom. In those days the SEs were not taking in consideration the backlinks and thus it was pretty easy to discover the ranking concept – all I had to do was to analyze the content of the pages. My effort was rewarded and after two weeks of hard work, I succeeded in finding the mathematical formula that assigned scores to a web page. The formula was based on the presence of keywords in the title, text and links. It was enough for me to analyze the source code of the first placed site and I could produce the page that had better score then the analyzed page. The result was that my site became placed at the top of the search list.

The first sites that I developed and the first pennies I earned came from the sponsorship of the adult industry. Being rated first in the rankings for the word "porn" translated into a few thousand dollars a month and I often succeeded to be the first. I already thought about quitting my job and becoming a full time webmaster. After all, my regular job was paying only a fraction of what I was making on the Internet, and besides, I was my own boss and was working whenever I wanted.

However, I soon realized that there are others who had the same idea and the competition was getting fierce. I needed to work day and night in order to beat the competitors and keep the rankings. I remember days when ten or more different sites would occupy the first spot – everything was changing so fast. Soon thereafter, the people at Infoseek have begun to change the search algorithms very frequently, making everything even more complicated. For instance, they introduced limits on the density of the keyword - if a keyword, let’s say, exceeded 6% of all the words on the page, the site was penalized. I had developed a word generator that repeated the keywords as many times as required, but soon realized that this is not going to work any more.
And in order to get a high ranking, the good content was becoming a necessity, the texts became longer, and the files grew larger. The game was getting really complicated.