In the mid to late 1990's, I spent a surprising amount of time "optimizing" my organization's ranking on search engines. In essence, I would make sure that when someone typed in our name, or something very close to that name, our website would pop up in the first five "hits". Since then, SEO (search engine optimization) has become an INDUSTRY designed to cut in at the front of the result-line when some unknown stranger blithely types in a keyword search.
There are actually companies who are paid to audit other organizations' sites, recommend strategies for improving result list results and/or manage the optimization on a longer term contract. There are thousands of these consulting companies but most focus on American, Canadian and United Kingdom clientele.
As in the old days, there are strategies that fall in accordance with the policies and guidelines set out by major search engines (like Google) and then there are techniques that ignore these conventions and look for sneakier ways to improve results. Since money is the driving force for the these activities, linking searchers with the BEST information is not really a priority.
So how does this kind of activity affect the information we find on the Web? I wonder what kind of influence it has (and will continue to have) on the quality and accessibility of information. Perhaps, such activities will only further enhance the role of libraries....?