Search engine optimization (SEO) has gotten more competitive over the years. At this point, it’s more difficult than ever to target and acquire new customers by ranking in search. Doing so on a budget is an even tougher challenge.
But it wasn’t always this way. In fact, the internet used to be a lot like the Wild West. Budgets were high and scrutiny was low. Banner ads and keyword stuffing were the norm and Google and max bids weren’t even a thing.
Search engine optimization has changed a lot, so let’s compare the way things used to be and the way they are today.
Search Engines in the 1990s
THEN: Yahoo! Alta Vista, AskJeeves, Excite, Go
NOW: Google, text ads
From the beginning, we’ve seen that search engines were the secret to growing your customer base.
Back then, you wanted to be found in search engines (although Yahoo! kept calling themselves a directory). There were a few pretty serious search contenders in the 90s. Some of the biggies were Yahoo!, Alta Vista, Ask Jeeves, Go.com and Excite.
If you were lucky enough to get in early, you could lock down an exclusive advertising spot to show your 468×60 banners at the top of the search results for the coveted keywords “web hosting” and “hosting.”
You would negotiate a CPM rate between $10 – $45, and most importantly, you would almost certainly get first right of refusal on your keyword buy. In short, you could own a 100% monopoly on your keywords for a specific search engine until you decided otherwise. Sweet, right?
If you chose the search engine optimization (SEO) route, you were entering a strange world of uber-nerds with almost mystic powers of divination. They would set up mysterious doorway pages that would grab the search engine spider’s attention and trick them into listing the page as full of wonderful, keyword-rich content when a user performed a search.
Another early SEO tactic was keyword stuffing. Do you remember selecting a top search result from a major search engine, only to find an entire page (or more) of the exact same keyword printed over and over and OVER again on the page? Search engines eventually banned the practice, but a mutated version soon emerged–keyword stuffing, but using either transparent text, or text matched to the same color as the web page background to remain invisible.
Search engines today
Today, search engines are still important. Every marketer wants to land among the top 10 web searches. But unlike the 90s, there are fewer contenders in search. Google is the most popular search engine, Yahoo! has faded into the background, along with MSN, Alta Vista, AskJeeves, Go, and Excite.
Doorway pages and keyword stuffing have disappeared, replaced by more sophisticated algorithms that produce more relevant, unique, valuable search results.
Today’s SEO gurus are more apt to really understand the nature of the businesses that they are marketing, and have access to software that reveals the specific traffic for each search term as well as the optimum page set up and keyword densities that consistently yield the highest rankings.
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Article written by Ben Fisher and Derek Vaughan of The Hosting News. All rights reserved. If you wish to republish this article please make sure all weblinks and the about section is intact.