Despite the (unfortunate) juxtaposition of terms, SEO’s role is not about perfecting search engines or optimizing websites for their bots and algorithms. It’s about putting the best version of your website out there and showing that you are relevant and valuable. Or so it should be.
By understanding SEO’s past, we learn about what went wrong and do better.
At present, the only thing one can do is experiment and constantly try to improve. (This is why the most frequent answer you’ll get from an SEO specialist when you ask what the result will be is “it depends”).
Looking towards the future, it seems that it belongs to virtual assistants and artificially-intelligent, natural-language-processing, machine-learning search engines.
And we have to keep up.
Fast Query Engines
Search Engines return results in milliseconds. Millions of results in tenths of a second. Regardless of the number of websites online, search engines will scour the internet for the most relevant results for a search.
The way they do it, however, is ever-changing. In the beginning, search engines worked on literal matches. They literally matched the words you were using to perform your search with everything in their database. If it matched, it was included in the results; if not, it wasn’t.
When the number of sites started growing, search engines needed a new indicator to filter through the relevant matches. One of the chosen indicators was the number of links pointing to a website
The more they were, the more authority they gave it. But that only proved that quantity over quality doesn’t work in the context of web search.
What’s interesting to mention is that user experience – how much the user enjoyed the websites that were returned as results – did not matter at all. Things like loading speed or readability amounted for nothing in the eyes of the search engine.