If you hang around search engine marketers long enough you will hear them whisper about Google, Yahoo or MSN's algorithms. Algorithms are a fancy way of saying "criteria". A search engine's algorithms are the criteria with which it picks, rates and displays search engine results.
Those that work daily on the Internet can tell when Google changes its algorithms. When the algorithms change, the results change.
Since algorithms are the path to getting results, everyone and her brother are trying to figure out just what these algorithms really mean and how to use them.
The rumor mill has it that Google has 200 such algorithms in its search engine tool chest. That means there are 200 factors or criteria that figure into every search engine result.
There are some that try to pick apart the algorithms in the belief that if they can find the real "keys" it will give them an edge in their search engine marketing efforts. Depending on who you are and what you do, this could be a total waste of time.
A better approach is to try for yourself and see what results work for your project. While a few techies may be able to decipher the inner workings of algorithms, the average user and viewer will obviously not see these algorithms at work, only the results.
It's hard to say how often the goodfolk at Google meet in the backroom and decide on the algorithms but suffice it to say they are on top of it and it is a constant process. If you have ever used a search engine that is not up to snuff you will quickly see the problem and switch to one that does.
For the average user and marketer what is important are the best practices for getting the desired search engine marketing results. Even though the algorithms may change regularly there are certain trends that are gaining momentum and appear to be the future of algorithms, if there is such a thing.
First comes what does not work. After spam, which will get you delisted from most search engines, the biggest change is the declining effect of metatags and the uselessness of quick and easy search engine optimization tactics.
Everyone uses these tactics and they do work for new sites and new blogs but once a site is picked up the metatags and other SEO gimmicks offer little improvement in key word domination and rankings.
Many SEO "strategies" are simply changing metatags and search strings or a series of words that a user will likely use when searching.
Another trend is increasing the number and quality of links a site has; hence the "link with anything" approach that search engine marketers love to promote in their offerings. While links are good and do improve results, there are some drawbacks.
First, all links are not equal so a higher rated link carries more weight with search engine results than a lesser rated link. In fact, some backlink generating websites have little impact on results as they are rated at almost zero by the search engines.
Another point is that an array of links can make your site look silly, awkward and downright stupid. Sites that are link driven offer little viewer value and are simple backlink factories that eventually drift to a lower search engine ranking.
This also includes any linked content you may post on your site. If you post content that is written for links your viewers will not see any content value and click away; if the viewer sees no value why should they stay?
"Content has become king" says Mike Brown of Zuniweb Creative Services, "the search engines know that viewers prize content above all else and those sites that are static and have little meaningful content will be ranked lower because they provide less viewer value."
It's also a matter of keeping content fresh and not letting it "fossilize." If you do not regularly update your site the search engine spiders and crawlers will stop visiting as often and you will be "classified" as a static site with little or no new fresh content.
How can your site become a source of reliable information if it has little new content?
"Changing and updating that content regularly is as important as having quality content," adds Mike Brown, "viewers want to see the latest and greatest and are often not interested in history or relics. The search engines know this so they give much higher placement to sites that regularly update content."
Relevant, quality content on your site not only helps your search engine placement but also establishes your web "look and feel". If your site's content is old, boring, or written for links, how can you expect your viewers to become interested and excited about your site?
In many ways content has always been king; it's just that now that quality content's relative importance is increasing. Those that understand and use quality content will be more successful in their search engine marketing efforts.
The question to ask is not what metatags to use but what content is of interest to your prospective customers and clients?