It seems everyone is a SEO expert these days. For the initiated that's a fancy acronym for Search Engine Optimization, another fancy phrase that loosely means: I know how search engines work and you don't.
In 1999 I guess I was a SEO expert because my sites were routinely found on the first page of search results. But I never thought of myself as an SEO guy.
I was an online publisher making money with affiliate programs because the pages I published tended to migrate to the top rankings, thereby gaining exposure and sales for merchants I represented.
Actually, only about 20% of my pages got the coveted top listings. But that was all I needed because I was optimizing each page for a separate and unique keyword.
Of course, a “keyword” could also be a phrase. And as long as I had lots of keywords and lots of pages stuffed with these keywords I could make money – because I was assured traffic.
Inside Knowledge Went A Long Way
Ah yes, the good old days!
I remember very well how easy it was back then to comply with the search engine's algorithms. Just sprinkle your keyword (and phrases) into the headline, sub headline and body. Add a few tags and a well written description to the code. Get a few link partners pointing to a 500 word article with a photo appropriately tagged -- and voila! Top rankings!
Unfortunately for us, who were publishing weak content and still getting top rankings because of what we knew, Google (and the others) were quietly rewriting their mathematical formulas (algorithms) to prevent “spam content” as they unloving called it from even getting indexed let alone highly ranked.
In 2005, the same day as the Tsunami devastated parts of Thailand, the you-know-what-hit-the-fan and the good old days were gone.
Personally, while many leaped into “paid search” after that, I stuck to my guns. And I implored my students to do the same.
I had always taught it was foolhardy to attempt to outwit Google. I said, we just needed to figure this out. And we did.
The More Things Change The More Things Stay the Same
Many have never thought of this but Google's only goal is to serve up the most popular and relevant listings in chronological order (top to bottom). That way they become a trusted search engine for millions allowing them to make money from advertisers willing to pay for such high exposure.
It's that simple. Yet it takes mathematical genius to write programs to match a users search query with the most relevant and popular pages so that users learn to trust the results.
Prior to 2005, before the infamous “Jagger update” we were using inside knowledge that was corrupting Google's intent. Fact is, although their “algorithm” hadn't been perfected so often we were not the best choice for a high ranking.
But Google has never wavered from their commitment to offer credible search results.
And that's a good thing.
These Days It's Easier Than Ever
The problem with the outlawed practice of “keyword stuffing, common before 2005, was that it was very boring slapping together web content. (even though it was profitable)
But now quality content actually does win out.
And this it mainly due to advances in computer sciences, particularly Artificial Intelligence. You see, the algorithms are so smart now that they can even tell whether the article was written by a native speaker. And they are certainly smart enough detect an overuse of keywords or weak backlinks.
Today I teach students of my affiliate marketing trainings to write (or hire writers) who write naturally. Forget about keyword density rules. That's a thing of the past.
Of course good content is only half the battle because you not only need a page of “relevant” content, but it must be seen as popular.
How does Google know whether your site (or page) is popular?
Well, if you listened to my recent affiliate marketing podcast you'd know that good old fashioned backlinks emanating from articles on trusted sites in the Google index will push your pages to the top.
Of course, I teach many more variations in my trainings. But essentially, if you have relevant, well written content and others are linking to that content – you win.
About the Author
James Martell lives in White Rock, BC with his wife Arlene and their four children. James is a pioneer in the affiliate marketing industry and was successfully profiting with affiliate websites as early as 1999. Visit this website often for the very latest in news and tips on how to make money with affiliate programs.