Search engines are critical to business today. Search engines bring self-qualified sales leads to your company website; people looking to find more information about the very thing that you sell. But search engines are evolving and they are now taking social media presence into account when they rank your company in their search results.
Since the first search engines were invented (Remember Lycos? Inktomi? How about Archie? Archie was the first real Internet search engine, invented in 1990 by a student at McGill University in Montreal.) people have been coming up with ways to game the results. So the search engines have been, and still are in, a constant race to both upgrade the quality and relevance of their results and keep users from being able to artificially inflate their search rankings.
In the early days, search looked for key words. If you wanted to be found for “prototype PCB” you just made sure you used that phrase a lot on your website and you got ranked very highly when someone searched for that phrase. Then it became about your keywords and the number of links you had to your website or page. The search engines figured that the more links you had, the more relevant your content must be, and the higher you should rank in the search results.
And that’s the way things stood for quite a while. You could stuff your website with your keywords, and then start linking to your suppliers, your customers and even Aunt Ethel, and you would zoom up the rankings.
Then the search engines started to get smart. There were things they started looking for...
Are there too many keywords?
Search engines are smart enough now to figure out if a web page has been stuffed with an unnatural number of keywords. These pages get penalized by the search engines. If you have to cheat, your content can’t be that good, can it?
Is your content engaging?
The search engines want to see if your content is thick or thin. If it’s thick, people want to read it. Thin content causes what is called a high bounce rate: Readers don’t stick around to read the content, they leave.
Do you have high quality links?
The search engines figured out that mass does not necessarily mean class. If I am linked to Apple, and you are linked to your Aunt Ethel, Google’s going to like me more. More links to more high quality sites mean higher rankings.
And then, in the past couple of years, social networks came along and the search engines figured out how to include them in the search results...