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Redefining the Industry of Search Engine Optimization
By Eric Lander - November 01, 2001

For years, the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) industry has been fighting off the curse of a bad name. Thankfully, we have entered a period in which many search engines and indexes are cleaning up their acts and offering their users the most valuable content they can. The result is an entirely new set of successful optimization techniques, and is now weeding out the good SEO's from the bad.

Overview of the Changes…
In recent years past, search engine optimization firms were lurking around every corner. Many of those firms serviced their clientele by offering single pages that attracted the attention of the search engines by focusing on a particular key word or phrase. Following the URL submission of such a page, rank was apparent.

These pages were referred to in many ways - doorways, hallways, gateways, and anchors to name a few. Regardless, these pages were very successful at gaining the attention of the search engines, and consequently ranked very well. When a user accessed these pages though, there was hardly any real information to utilize unless you clicked your way beyond all the useless hype.

The reputation of engines then suffered, because users were unable to find the information that they were truly seeking. Not one to lay down and die, the heavy hitting engines we all love and use, needed to make a change.

So it became, that ranked URL's were theoretically useless. As search engines began realizing that they needed to gain a competitive edge on other engines and directories - they began to realize this fault and address it appropriately. With the new update of Google's database upon us, it is apparent today more than ever that the importance of doorway pages in the minds of the engines is at an all time low.

This entire process (though now ending) has come at quite the price for the optimization industry. Many firms that once provided single-page solutions are closing down their operations or laying off their employees in massive amounts. This though, is truly good for the industry - because it forces the legitimate and informed to remain in business.

What is Working Now
Again, this is a positive sign for things to come. The days of doorway page success are simply no more, and that is evident by the largest searching engine's attempts to minimize (or eliminate) their presence within search results.

As a direct result, the industry and the way that optimization specialists work is all changing - and doing so for the best. What will be next? What are the determining factors? Well, I have always been one to say that content is king, but it seems now that both content and context will be king… Let me explain a bit.

Search engines only work well if they can provide their users with quality, relevant search results for a particular search query. As doorway pages began dominating, they were quickly eliminated. Why? Simply because the doorway pages were not useful to the searcher looking for information. Now, industry giants like Google have begun to analyze how themes of sites work, and has made significant progress within such areas.

So, if you are about to begin a new optimization campaign, analyze the site and the situation as one that is entirely unique. Don't be afraid to think of and apply some creative approach - because that very well may become the next wave to SEO. But, do so with the following factors in mind:

• Provide information of relevance to your target audience
• Systems like Google's Page Rank (PR) are growing in importance
• Engines are beginning to index dynamic content sources
• Engines are beginning to index flash content
• Link Popularity is sure to have a positive effect
• Always factor in functionality, usability, and browse-ability for all
• Text is always going to be have more value than images
• Analyze, analyze, analyze

The result of the entire shakedown should be something we all - as honest optimization specialists - absolutely adore. Less spam, less annoyance, and more legitimacy and respect.