Search Engine Optimization’s Ugly Duckling Beginnings

It’s true! Search Engine Optimization (SEO) started off pretty ugly. In fact, the black hat practices of early SEO zealots are the reason that SEO algorithms have been incrementally changed, so that these sorts of practices could be eliminated.



Do you remember the days when people would duplicate their key words over and over at the bottom of a website so they’d get listed on page 1 of the search results? Practices like this manipulation of search engine results by spammy websites certainly didn’t serve readers and often turned up incorrect results. However, if this is what you imagine when you hear the words Search Engine Optimization then you haven’t seen the real beauty and potential of well done SEO practices.

In the past, SEO specialists and gurus touted the benefits of incoming links (link sharing) from websites with a high page rank. Even if they had to buy them or leave spammy comments to accomplish those ends.

There was a time when you “knew” that the first few results on a Google search would be garbage. Getting to the top of the search engine results pages (SERPS) was the only goal of search engine optimization just a few short years ago. Marketers sometimes made a living creating terrible websites that would rank first in search results. Have you ever clicked on an ad just to get away from one of those obnoxious pages and realized, a moment too late, that the obnoxious site owner probable made money because you were annoyed? Thank goodness those ugly days are coming to a close.

Google’s Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird updates have all but destroyed the effectiveness of malicious attempts to manipulate search engine results. Because of this, SEO has come into its own as a valuable online skill.

SEO, as is currently practiced, is all about making sure that search engines know what your website is about. The Search engines are proud to lead readers to websites that:

  1. Load quickly
  2. Are linked from outside sources
  3. Meet the specified keywords requested
  4. Are shared on social networks
  5. Don’t contain malicious scripts
  6. Don’t link to sites that contain pornography or malicious scripts

Interestingly, these are the same things readers are looking for! Even though each search engine writes their own algorithms, so that what you find in a Bing, Yahoo or Google search might not be identical, as a reader what you’re generally looking for is a site that’s relevant to your search and not full of spam.

“The more spammy the better” used to be the general consensus of developers who were using black hat techniques. Thankfully those days are all but over. Modern SEO has a whole new definition.

Contact us to learn more about how modern SEO practices differ from the old days. It took a Panda, a Penguin and a Hummingbird to turn the ugly duckling that used to be SEO into the swan it is today.

If you enjoyed this article, you may also want to check out these others:

Stay Connected: Simple Steps for Managing a Remote Team
5 Ways to Use LinkedIn to Grow Your Business
How To Amp Up Your Visibility With Facebook
A Picture’s Worth a Thousand Sales: Using Pinterest for Business
Ideas for Growing Your Business When the Going Gets Tough
Why Should You Care About Starting A Blog?
Email Marketing: How to Keep Your Messages Out of Your Customer’s Spam Box
Combining Blogging and Social Media into a Truly Effective Strategy

This article is published by Will Sherwood | The Sherwood Group |Website Design | Graphic Design | Marketing Communications: The Sherwood Group has over 30 years of experience working with all sorts of companies, small and large. Our clients range from entrepreneurs to Fortune 500 firms, in nearly every business sector, from across the street to around the world (and yes, even Europe, China, and South America). Our goal is to create advertising,  graphic design, website design, and marketing communication that still looks fresh and relevant 10-15 years later. Our mission is to stir your imagination and leave your competition shaken and wondering,  Now what do we do?”  We are located in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Do you need help growing your business? Click here to check out the social media marketing and website design packages from The Sherwood Group. We’ll help you capture new business and achieve your goals.

“Like” us and/or “Follow” us at these social media sites and we’ll return the favor:

      LinkedIn logo      Facebook logo      Twitter logo

LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter

Please comment. We’d like to know if you found this article informative or helpful?


  • By Chris Shaffer 14 Mar 2014

    There is a vast misunderstanding of what SEO is and Isn’t. The simple answer is, Whitehat seo is an investment (as part of the full marketing strategy) is absolutely essential for any business interested in getting the most out of their website.

  • By Josh Fagan 14 Mar 2014

    High quality, relavent content, ensuring your page elements are correct (a ton of posts about it), be a consistent entity regardless where your client or search engine bots see you, build quality industry relevant links naturally (do great things & create great content it’ll happen…basic marketing 101!). These are the principals our company has always worked from. Being new to the industry it amazes me SE’s have taken so long to “fix”. It has moved to actual marketing of your brand, be trustworthy & authoritative. To me it’s just moving real world marketing into the cyber world!

  • By Eric Hardenbrook 14 Mar 2014

    Agreed! Many factors need to be in place and working together toward a common goal in order to deliver the best results these days.

    If a business has not identified their ideal audience groups how is SEO going to save the day? It’s a bit like the “I just need more traffic” request for PPC or SEO when their website is unable to convert that traffic into sales. Doing one without at least a plan for involving the others has become a waste of time and $$.

    For this reason we no longer accept clients who only want “some SEO”. They have to be open to starting with an analysis and listening to business and marketing advice that is honestly seeking what’s best for the business, not promoting any particular angle or technique exclusively.

  • By Douglas Krantz 14 Mar 2014

    Well, first off, Google isn’t looking for the best looking page, Google isn’t looking for back links, Google isn’t looking for pages that have been optimized to their search engine. Google is looking for readers to come to Google and look again and again.

    Google knows that readers only search for things they want. If one search engine doesn’t give a reader what they’re looking for, they’ll find a different search engine. Google doesn’t want them to look elsewhere, so Google is trying to make sure that what the reader wants, the reader gets.

    The problem we have, as people setting up web sites, is that technology is out pacing us. Search engine software is figuring out what people really want. If all we do is provide pages that are good for search engines (SEO only), and don’t give readers and searchers what they want, Google is going to leave us behind.

    If, on the other hand, we give readers and searchers what they want (Reader Optimization or RO), then Google is going to search us out because that is what Google, in the end, wants.

  • By Nigel Cliffe 14 Mar 2014

    The SEO ‘industry’ has done itself so much harm. It all began when developers realized they could ‘game’ the system for unfair advantage. Little by little Google are eliminating the ability to affect search in this way, in preference to a more honest approach, serving customers, not advertisers.

    I think of it this way. If I’m looking/searching for information, I want what is:

    * Trustworthy
    * Reliable
    * Relevant
    * Timely

    SEO is simply about content – relevant content that reflects the categories outlined above.

    The role of a website is to reflect those attributes above. Google sees it that way too. It spiders the web looking for the stuff that we search for which best reflects our criteria. In exactly the categories outlined above. SEO has become all about content in my mind. Good content. Relevant content. From a source that does it over the long term.

    Buying your slot on the ‘first page of Google’ is a nonsense. As soon as this jargon disappears from the vocabulary of some unscrupulous businesses the better.

  • By Scott Bauer 14 Mar 2014

    Very important! Great experiences for marketing purposes double as good experiences for search engines. SEO is more than KWs and Meta data. Integration in early stages of marketing processes, improves branding and conversions.

  • By Filip Galetic 15 Mar 2014

    SEO as a separate activity no longer holds water. SEO should inform everything you do when you market online but you can’t do SEO without doing other things.

  • By Wilf Barnes 27 Mar 2014

    SEO is hugely relevant to your marketing mix. Your online marketing efforts should span display, search, email and social marketing. Don”t you want to be discoverable, in as many ways possible, for the keywords that are most important to your business?

    Keyword discountability is vital to your business because keywords bring you traffic, which brings you leads, sales and profit…. unless of course, nobody can find you. And it”s because the dynamics of the www change radically that more than ever, SEO strategy remains relevant to your marketing efforts.

  • By Wilf Barnes 27 Mar 2014

    hummm. … thanks to auto-correct on my phone “discoverability” got changed to “discountibility” so no, discountibility is not a fancy SEO term (hope nobody Googled it)

  • By williamsBrown 08 Apr 2014

    Genuinely good thanks, I do believe your trusty audience would probably want a great deal more blog posts of this nature maintain the good hard work.

  • By ปั้มไลค์ 09 Jun 2020

    Like!! I blog frequently and I really thank you for your content. The article has truly peaked my interest.