Search Engines Defined

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sam barns

Dec 8, 2006, 2:41:15 AM12/8/06

SEO began in the mid-1990s, as the first search engines were cataloging the early Web. Initially, all a webmaster needed to do was submit a site to the various engines which would run spiders, programs to "crawl" the site, and store the collected data. The search engines then sorted the information by topic, and served results based on pages they had spidered. As the number of documents online kept growing, and more webmasters realized the value of organic search listings, so popular search engines began to sort their listings so they could display the most relevant pages first. This was the start of a search engine versus webmaster game that continues to this day.

SEO is basically an abbreviation for "search engine optimization." Many people provide SEO services for website owners, from writing copy to giving advice on site architecture and helping to find relevant directories to which a site can be submitted. However, a few unethical SEOs have given the industry a black eye through their overly aggressive marketing efforts and their attempts to unfairly manipulate search engine results.

Be sure to understand where the money goes. While Google never sells better ranking in our search results, several other search engines combine pay-per-click or pay-for-inclusion results with their regular web search results. Some SEOs will promise to rank you highly in search engines, but place you in the advertising section rather than in the search results. A few SEOs will even change their bid prices in real time to create the illusion that they "control" other search engines and can place themselves in the slot of their choice. This scam doesn't work with Google because our advertising is clearly labeled and separated from our search results, but be sure to ask any SEO you're considering which fees go toward permanent inclusion and which apply toward temporary advertising.

Talk to many SEOs, and ask other SEOs if they'd recommend the firm you're considering. References are a good start, but they don't tell the whole story. You should ask how long a company has been in business and how many full time individuals it employs. If you feel pressured or uneasy, go with your gut feeling and play it safe: hold off until you find a firm that you can trust.

Make sure you're protected legally. For your own safety, you should insist on a full and unconditional money-back guarantee. Don't be afraid to request a refund if you're unsatisfied for any reason, or if your SEO's actions cause your domain to be removed from a search engine's index. Make sure you have a contract in writing that includes pricing. The contract should also require the SEO to stay within the guidelines recommended by each search engine for site inclusion.

Search engine operators became interested in the SEO community in the late 1990s. A number of high profile SEO community leaders established contractual relationships with search engines for advertising and consulting purposes. These early contacts led to an amelioration of some hostile feelings between the search optimization and search engineering communities.

In early 2000, search engines and SEO firms attempted to establish a

Sam Barns is an expert in free Internet traffic. For information visit his website at

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