Search Engine Optimization: Hazy past, uncertain future

search engine_google

Exactly when and where Search Engine Optimisation was created is already something of a mystery. As far back as 2006, Carsten Cumbrowski was declaring that the source of the term was already up for debate. Ten years on and there is only more mud in the water.

The uncertain history of SEO seems apt since questions as to its future are even less clear cut. Expert authors are trying to give us some insight into the great imponderable of online marketing. That question is just what is Google going to do next?

A focus on backlinks retained

Whatever else is happening it seems the faith in the power of links remains. In an interesting discussion on where the link building and SEO are headed, it has been suggested that the long-standing reliance on backlinks is not set for the scrapheap just yet. It has been predicted that there is likely to be significance of what they call link earning. This describes a process where “links are earned by organizing exciting events and creating attractive content that allow online influencers to interact with digital assets.” The result is the generation of an organic buzz of interlinking. Other industry insiders, including RSO Consulting, are also affirming that backlinks will be part of the picture for the foreseeable future, albeit with a slightly downgraded significance.

Industry experts kept guessing

Paul Nelson, Chief Architect at Search Technologies, has pointed to the way that Google is now trying to refine its search return relevancy. Nelson predicts a move towards a more transparent process that is more visible to users and hence more user-friendly. It is always important to remember, he insists, that no single element can be all-important in determining Google’s page ranking.

Reality is the Sum of all Perspectives 2/4


Reality is the Sum of all Perspectives 2” (CC BY 2.0) by  entirelysubjective 

Last year’s buzz surrounding Google’s RankBrain machine learning enhancement suggests that some algorithms may be more important than others. As Google’s Greg Corrado told Bloomberg last autumn, RankBrain is intended to tap into what he called the ‘gut feeling and guessability’ of how people use language on the basis of its own processing of search data input. Already, according to Corrado, Rankbrain accounts for a significant percentage of search results and is the third most important ranking function. And it is doing that on the basis of its own machine learning rather than any direct human input.

The qualifications abound. The only certainty seems to be an ongoing state of indeterminacy. Miguel Helft of has pointed out that Google has a highly unconventional way of going about its business. He describes it as “a company unlike any other: always impatient, always moving and always searching for the next big thing.” It is an approach that makes second guessing Google’s planning difficult. In fact, it is every bit as difficult as mining the source of the SEO industry which it spawned all those years ago.


Article cover image: “seo-blocks” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by  Paloma Gómez 



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *