In practising search engine optimisation (SEO), there are certain realties that must be accepted in order to succeed. One such reality is that Google is the king of the search engine landscape and its tight monopolisation of search traffic has only slightly been eroded by other search engines like Bing.

However, with the next best competitor only holding a tiny fraction of Google’s market share, most SEO practitioners will admit that it may as well be called “Google optimisation”. This is because, above all, contemporary SEO methods try to appease the ever vigilant policing of the Google algorithm.

The Google algorithm is revered simply because of its ability to blacklist websites that engage in spam and black hat SEO techniques. Let’s take a look at the ways in which Google’s algorithm effects SEO.

Keyword stuffing and cloaking

In more primitive versions of the internet, black hat techniques like keyword stuffing and cloaking would be popular amongst unscrupulous SEO practitioners. These techniques would attempt to artificially inflate the relevancy of a website by spamming relevant keywords or ‘cloaking’ them by colouring the same as the site’s background so that only the search engine indexer would read them.

The very first major algorithmic updates worked to penalise website that engaged in these activities. It was not long after that Google’s policing had effectively made these basic black hat techniques obsolete.

Paid for links

Another black hat technique involves the creation of backlink networks as a result of paid links rather than sincerely earning them. This would mean that people could by an extensive network of backlinks and enjoy a boost in search relevancy.

While it took some time, Google eventually came down hard against paid-for links and effectively made them obsolete for the purposes of SEO.

Low quality content

Unlike keyword stuffing and paid-for backlinks, judging quality to be low quality would require the algorithm to become much more sophisticated in how it evaluated the subjective quality of a website’s content. New updates meant Google could now target plagiarised content, content that was duplicated across several pages and content that had poor grammar, spelling and did not go into depth on the topics it was discussing.

While having low quality content is not necessarily an unethical practise, Google does not reward content that doesn’t fit the criteria of being “rich”. Rich content helps website get higher search rankings as Google believes it is giving users highly authoritative answers to their queries.