As a new or aspiring affiliate marketer, you’ve probably seen the term SEO thrown around. But, what does SEO mean exactly? SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization.

Ok, but what the heck does THAT mean?

When reading about SEO, you need to be careful. SEO has undergone many major changes over the past few years, so there is a lot of conflicting information about what SEO really is.

Let’s make this crystal clear for you. I’m going to tell you what SEO was like many years ago and we will progress to the present day.

SEO In The 1990’s

What Does SEO Mean?

Nobody can really point to an exact date and say “that’s when SEO first started.” That’s because SEO techniques developed slowly and over time. Before Google was around, there were several search engine companies all trying to gain market share. Since each search engine used different metrics to rank websites, there wasn’t much of a point to doing any SEO. Some search engines you ranked well for, others you didn’t.

In the late 1990’s, however, Google began to dominate the search engine war. That meant, website owners and early affiliate marketers could try to find out how Google ranked websites in their search results.

Is Google solely responsible for creation of SEO? It’s arguable, but a strong argument could be made that Google is the one who made SEO widespread.

If you have a few minutes, check out the history of Google. You’re going to leverage Google quite a bit with your business, so it’s good to know a little bit about them.

SEO In The 2000’s

How SEO Changed

In the early 2000’s, Google began to see a rise in the number of spammy and low quality websites. That’s because in the early days, the Google algorithm was not that complex. All you really had to do is figure out the search term you wanted to rank highly for and include that exact search term into a web page as many times as possible.

Google had to do something and FAST.

So, they began to make changes. Soon they implemented changes to their algorithm to try and catch spammy websites trying to game the Google search results. And this worked… for a while.

SEO Between 2005 and 2010

During these years, Google was consistently making changes to their search algorithm. You could no longer “keyword stuff” articles and spammy websites, while not eliminated, were being reduced in the search results. Google began to tell website owners to focus on providing a good user experience instead of tying to guess their algorithm.

But one thing was certain. Every website owner knew the single most important ingredient in the Google algorithm was lots and lots of links pointing into your site. The more, the better!

So what happened? “Link building services” started popping up, promising to drive thousands and thousands of links to your website for just a few bucks. It was a frenzy, especially for website owners trying to rank highly for very competitive search phrases. Whoever had the funds to purchase the most links would win.

After a while, Google started to even tweak this ingredient in their algorithm. They were able to detect genuine links from unnatural links, so you had to buy your links from a place that made them “look real” to Google.

And then, everything changed.

What Does SEO Mean Today?

Google Penguin Update

While 2010 mostly continued like 2009, in 2011 everything was turned upside down in the SEO world. Google decided to put a stop to “unnatural linking tactics”. And so, Google released an update that was given the name “Penguin”. It’s not so much that linking no longer worked, but Google actually began penalizing websites that had unnatural or paid links pointing into their site.

Literally overnight, many website owners woke up to find Google no longer sending them traffic, or having their traffic cut by half or more. It was like a magnitude 9 earthquake rocking the entire foundation of SEO. People were scrambling.

After that, another update rolled out. This one was called “Panda”. The Panda update was designed to penalize website that had a small amount of content but a high number of advertisements. It also penalized websites that had too many advertisements towards the top of the page. Again, many websites saw their rankings dropping in Google.

Since the initial releases, Google has continued to penalize websites using “unnatural SEO tactics” or having a large number of advertisements without enough interesting content. In other words, Google does not like SEO and they don’t want anyone trying to figure out their algorithm.

The Future Of SEO

Google Panda Update

For starters, you should never rely on just one traffic source. In my Free 7 Day Affiliate Marketing E-Course I go over all of the different ways you can attract free visitors to your website. By diversifying your traffic sources, you’ll never be one algorithm change from disaster. You’ll have many pillars holding your business up.

However, free search engine traffic does bring in a lot of visitors and they are highly targeted visitors as well. So what exactly is the future of SEO? How can you get your site to rank #1?

That’s a loaded question. But the short answer is, provide your sites visitors with a great experience. Google tracks user behavior on your website. If visitors are visiting for 15 seconds and then hitting the back button to return to the search results, that tells Google you might not be a great fit for that search term. But if people are spending 20 minutes on your site and reading 4 articles before going to an affiliate site and making a purchase, that tells Google you’re giving them exactly what they want.

It’s also important to note that Google does openly accept and allow some very basic SEO strategies. In fact, if you’re not using the strategies that Google specifically recommends, you are likely losing out on a ton of free traffic.

In my 7 day e-course, I talk about how to keep your users engaged AND how to use “white hat SEO” strategies.

The Difference Between “White Hat SEO” And “Black Hat SEO”

These are two terms you’ll hear quite a bit in the SEO community. White hat SEO simply means you are using search engine optimization techniques that are deemed as acceptable by Google and other search engines. Black hat SEO is a term used to reference search engine optimization techniques that are not deemed acceptable by Google or other search engines.

To make things even more confusing, what used to be white hat SEO (buying links) is now black hat SEO and can get your site penalized.

Still have questions? I highly recommend you sign up for my free 7-day affiliate marketing e-course. Throughout the week, we’ll touch on SEO quite a bit and by next week, you’ll know everything you need to know about effective SEO techniques.