Did Search Optimisation Start In Phone Books?
These days phone books are considered a bit of a laughing stock by younger generations and the internet savvy. The thought of keeping one or two lumps of paper (depending on where you live) as your reference for finding phone numbers or businesses seems ridiculous to most of us. But was the idea of search optimisation actually born in these cumbersome old books?
The first search optimisation attempts
Now I may be showing my age here just a little bit but if you’ve ever used a phone book you may have noticed something funny about the popularity of certain business names. This was something pointed out to me by my father after I asked about a business name painted in huge letters across the side of an old factory. The name was AAAA. Aardvark & Sons, or something like that anyway. I think they were carpenters, or tradesmen at the very least.
As a kid under 10 years of age the concept wasn’t immediately clear to me, until my father showed me a phone book. As a carpenter himself he was well aware of this practice. If you haven’t worked it out yet (or are under 10 years of age) the idea is simple – if your business name starts with a lot of A’s then guess who comes up first in alphabetical ordered listings in the phone book? You!
Before long other business owners had worked out what was going on and began trading under similar names. Sure enough, after a few years of this tactic being copied over and over you ended up with the start of many phone book categories looking like this:
AAAAAAA. Aardvark & Co.
AAAAAA. Aardvark & Sons.
You get the picture. Some categories started with dozens of business names like this. Now when you see them all listed one after the other it looks like Sesame Street must have been brought to us by the letter ‘A‘ the day these business names were registered.
The reasoning was simple however: most people are lazy, or perhaps desperate when they turned to the phone book. A leaking roof, a dripping tap, something needing fixing fast. So in their haste they looked up the section for ‘Plumbers‘ for example and often called the first business listed. Obviously, being at the top had it’s advantages.
Much like in today’s search engine optimisation battle for supremacy these business owners had worked out a way to get to the top, and in the process cornered much of the work available.
In the early days of search engine optimisation it wasn’t much more difficult than this to get a high ranking but alas, those days are gone. Search optimisation has become a science and the methodologies for achieving high search rankings are highly guarded secrets for most SEO practitioners. I certainly wouldn’t disclose everything I do for my clients as a search engine optimisation consultant – would you?
Like this article? Share it:
- 27 May, 2011
- Posted by Justin