The web has only been extant for around 15 years so certain battle lines and modi operandi have been developed by users and stakeholders alike. One of the keenest battle zones is the conflict between SEO programs and search engines.
Website owners were keen to artificially inflate the ranking of their website in a listing and/or intrude in a web search for which they had little relevance. Websites would often fill their pages with completely irrelevant words and phrases to be turned up in spurious web searches.
As the search engines have refined their tactics so too has their power and influence increased. All search engine companies realize that websites will employ SEO strategies to win business – it is, after all, why they have websites.
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The concern of the larger web search engines is that certain companies and individuals will disabuse the system and bring down the name of the search engine with it. If Yahoo! (for example) suddenly started returning erroneous or obscene listings for standard searches its reputation would fall and Google’s (say) would rise.
Due to this it is not uncommon for search engines to blacklist or ban abusers from their search results. Obviously, and especially in the USA, this barring has to be legally defensible and proportionate. Some clients of SEOs will be unaware that they are being associated with malpractice and being penalized because of it.
As the web has settled down in older markets the adversarial nature has increasingly diminished between the well-regulated and professional players. A search engine company that cracks down too hard on SEOs will lose business to rivals. Whilst a universal thaw looks unlikely, some of the larger search engine companies such as Google and Yahoo! are going out of their way (compared to previous efforts) to work with SEOs.
It is now not uncommon to see the search engine companies represented at SEO events and conferences and as paid inclusion rears its head to alter the searching dynamic once again the search engines are beginning to offer advice on how to maximize the potential for searching on their sites. There are comprehensive breakdowns of hits, total pages, users etc available to SEOs to help them refine their actions and target their advertising.
The most important part of the search engine process is the way the pages are indexed after the algorithms have done their work. Most search engines will automatically link pages from other search engine indexed pages which guarantees inclusion in the database. This though will not guarantee a ranking in the final displayed listing and the webcrawler programs will not automatically list all pages on a site – often due to number and distance from the central site. This is why the job of the SEO is important – both to the search engine and to the SEO’s client. If you were to type in ‘insurance’ and get 3 results you would stop using that search engine pretty quickly.
This does leave the search engines open to abuse from offensive website and underhand practices. The action here has been to expand the search from a purely inclusive one to a search that now has an exclusive action, too.
The above has all been about search engines preventing indexing and working with reputable SEOs to overcome this. To prevent indexing of unwanted sites the search engines have adopted this new exclusive practice that has also necessitated working closely with the reputable companies. Certain words and pages can be explicitly excluded from result displays. A search for ‘toys’ for example might see the search engine exclude obvious offensive sites and pages whilst a search for ‘sex toys’ would not.
Obviously, the honest companies that the search engines want on their listings do not want to see their pages excluded and have to work closely with the likes of Google to establish the latest limits and restrictions. In summary the SEOs have come in from the cold and become increasingly professional and respected as the Internet has developed. However, new tactics and actions are only ever just round the corner when it comes to Internet advertising: the eternal struggle for optimization of the product for which both SEOs and search engines strive.