The original methods used in search engine optimization (SEO) differ significantly from modern practices. From web pages perforated with buzzwords and nonsensical strings of search terms, companies slowly learned how to cater their media content to specific users and demographics. SEO methods included (but were not limited to) placing relevant, popular keywords in the headline of web pages, the attributes of hosted image files, or even URL of a website. The result? An over-saturation of keyword phrases which sometimes led to misdirection of target audiences. A famous example of this is the file sharing application, Limewire, which was plagued by popular search terms that were appended to chart-topping pop music- which, ironically, was stumbled across by users looking for something completely unrelated. Although many of these practices have become well known, they have formed the important foundation for many new emergent tactics to optimize search engine results.

Today, SEO has become a much more important concept in every business practice. Not only do companies need to tweak their websites to their audiences’ desires, they also must compete with several other groups that perform very similar services. Additionally, through years of data collection, it has become evident that a webpage’s “rank,” or placement on the list of search results, is far from the only detail keeping users browsing. Even small changes, such as including a small image of the author of the article have proven to keep page traffic up, and more of these new tactics are being discovered every day. Many popular sites have also moved towards phasing out more outdated methods of SEO, including the URL’s that include keyword after keyword separated by seemingly endless hyphens. Users are more inclined to browse sites with memorable, succinct addresses, rather than a string of appended buzzwords. Finally, and arguably most importantly, modern SEO greatly benefits from the introduction of the countless social media sites that have arisen in recent years. Ensuring that an article or page can be easily shared among these platforms is crucial in ensuring the popularity of a site.

As with most research-based practices, SEO has developed into quite a different beast than when it was first spoken of. Observing user browsing patterns and habits has revealed quite a bit of information that was previously unknown. However, it is important not to completely discredit this practices’ roots. Most all early SEO methods are present today in some way, shape or form. For example, an online clothing storefront will still have words such as “fashion,” “style,” and “glamorous” speckled across their sitemap, but with less frequency and prevalence than its predecessors. Similar tactics, such as image attribute tagging, can be seen perfected on image hosting sites such as Flickr and Tumblr. Online communities such as Grooveshark and YouTube have honed skills used by the Limewire mentioned above to help their users locate the media they’re searching for. In today’s rapidly moving tech-based world, it is imperative that origins are not forgotten; rather, that they are used to advance at an even greater speed.