SEO or Search engine optimisation might be dying, but its still being practised and how people do it is interesting! It’s a highly creative field with many means to the end. Personally, I find the ethical road to the top of the search bar to be uninteresting in terms of creativity on the optimisers behalf. It requires sincerity and hard work.
The incorrect/unethical way which tends to lead to bad results is much more interesting, here is a few ways “black hat” SEO’s operate.
This is an extremely technical process where a site with high SE visibility/credibility is hijacked and a page is placed advertising X is placed on on the website. So when you search for product X it will be at the top of the results based off how the search algorithm prioritises results. The main target for these schemes are .edu pages. Here is an example of http://www.bakeraviation.edu, a completely legit aviation school in the US being hijacked by a Viagra ad. As you can see google is already onto this as they have below the search result for the school “this site may be hacked”.
You generate a lot of links to your page and spread them across the internet. This can be done through various means: Spam bots or people power for example. Now there are two applications of this technique which is what makes it a bit more interesting. The obvious one is you use it to boost your page to the top of a SE. The less obvious more devious method is where you purposefully do it to a competitor. Known as Google bowling, you use the a SE policy against Google bombing so that the competitor is seen to be using these tactics and is punished by Google by being pushed lower into search results.
This is where the page displayed on the SE will be unrelated to the page. This is done through IT wizardry and I, a simple man, was unable to figure out how exactly it’s done.
These are some of the interesting ways that people get creative with SE algorithms. Google is quiet large and works very hard to deliver quality content so the ability for people to do this gets more and more difficult, or you could say more and more technical.