I have been doing search engine optimization (SEO) for organizations since 1997. Back then Yahoo and most of the other search engines were mostly just directories with a search functionality. Google really changed the game when they first started doing search and nothing has been the same since.
Google was the first search engine in my opinion that really started taking a look at sites as being a part of the internet rather than just being sites themselves. With that link popularity was a big part of their formula and that has continued to evolve and improve with time. At first that would seem to make a lot of sense because sites that are linked to by other sites you would think would be more valuable sites. If someone takes the time to link to my site then in theory my site has some value. The problem with looking at link popularity as part of the search evaluation formula is that it can be easily manipulated. Internet business is often big business and many search engine optimization companies will do anything to get their websites up to page one on Google. For these companies buying thousands of links that have no real value (i.e. they aren't links that will drive quality traffic or probably any traffic) other than to build backlinks (links from another site to yours) for search engine optimization purposes is an easy solution to higher search engine ranking.
About a month ago Google made an update to their search algorithm that slapped these companies that were following these practices. Although many have not been caught, a lot of sites rankings tumbled as a result of poor quality backlinks that were purchased in mass. Now we aren't saying that adding backlinks is a bad idea. But getting quality backlinks from related websites that can drive real traffic is the best practice.
At Pixo, we like to approach search engine optimization as a means to drive quality traffic to our clients websites. We do search engine optimization for great clients in Denver and across the united states using ethical practices and as a result we didn't see drops in ranking with Google's search update. If you would like to learn how to get your website up to page one on Google contact us about our search engine optimization services.