The goal of every search engine is to crawl the Internet to find as many web pages as possible, analyze them to determine their potential value to users (people who use their search engine) and to rank them accordingly. The search engine able to find the most web pages and rank them properly, so that users only see the very best, will inevitably attract the most users.
Google has been the most proficient at this process and has therefore grown to be the largest search engine. Nearly 67% of all searchers use Google while only 10.3% use Bing and 9.9% favor Yahoo. Search engines rely on this traffic volume for paid advertising, since the more traffic volume they have the more advertisers they can attract.
But this high traffic volume attracts more than just advertisers. It attracts the attention of millions of website owners, all competing for their share of the staggering volume of traffic that flows through to top ranked websites every day. Search engines like Google know that many website owners will do anything, both ethically and otherwise, to get this traffic. Because of this fact, they had to develop a set of guidelines for websites to follow. Websites that work outside of these guidelines risk losing their rankings or being removed from the search engine entirely.
It may be tempting to look at the current guidelines to hunt for potential loopholes to exploit, but remember that search engines change and grow faster than we can keep up with. Google, for example, makes over 400 changes to their algorithm every year. This means that a loophole that exists today may be closed tomorrow, leaving your website vulnerable to penalty. So rather than focusing on loopholes it’s better to focus on the goals of the search engine so that you can make sure your marketing methods will always align with their ideals. This will give you the freedom to utilize many SEO methods without fear of losing all of your hard-earned search traffic.
Search engines would prefer their algorithms be solely responsible for what ranks and what doesn’t. This is why they tend to view SEO as a threat. SEO is our attempt to manipulate their algorithm for better rankings. When we lace all of our content with keywords we’re trying to appear more relevant, just as when we build links we’re trying to appear more popular and trusted by other websites. Because of these practices, search engines have to constantly develop new ways to detect SEO. So far they have developed to the point of being able to effectively detect keyword stuffing, duplicate content, stolen content, link trades, paid links, hidden links and many other methods used to manipulate their algorithm.
What this should mean to you as a website marketer is that the best SEO is camouflage SEO. Don’t over-optimize your website by repeating your keywords throughout the content. Don’t hide text, don’t create lots of very similar pages meant to target similar keywords and don’t work to get the majority of your links from one single source. Instead, build your website to be usable and valuable to visitors and work to get links from a wide variety of sources steadily over time. This will result in a quality website that will be immune to future search engine changes.