As new of a term it might seem to most people, the history of SEO is quite extensive. Search Engine Optimization has been an ongoing practice in the internet world, with roots stemming back to the early 90’s. Although the SEO styles of 2012 are exponentially different from those of the early internet, the evolution of search engine optimization can be easily tracked.
Brief History of SEO:
- 1995 – Yahoo Launches its Web Directory
- 1998 – Google Launches, DMOZ launches this same year
- 2000 – Yahoo Drops Altavista, Uses Google’s Algorithm instead
- 2001 – PageRank is revealed to users through the toolbar
- 2005 – NoFollow Tag Introduced
- 2009 – Google Introduces Caffeine Algorithm, a major shift in SEO.
- 2009 – Bing and Yahoo Merge
- 2011 – Panda Algorithm Update. A major step in the history of SEO
- April 24th 2012 – Penguin Algorithm Update
- September 27th 2012 – EMD Update (Exact Match Domain)
- October 4th 2012 – 65 Pack Rollout
The History of SEO – Early Years
The internet was not a singular invention. It was not created at one point in time by one person. The internet we know today came from a collaboration of many efforts and ideas by the computer innovators of the past few decades. However, the history of SEO has its start in the early 1990’s, where search engines began their early stages of development to help organize the sites listed on the internet. In 1995, optimization was born in the young stages of Yahoo. Internet users needed a way to sort out the abundance of sites registered on the rapidly expanding web. Alphabetical optimizations were formed, and formatted in the “yellow page” style like phonebooks. The next year, 1996, comprehension for things like keyword density and seasoning began to take hold. As the year progressed, determined individuals began to understand database algorithms, and the methods used in basic search engines.
Around 1997, Yahoo became the paramount submission site, and anyone who wanted to be recognized on the internet quickly learned that submitting their site to Yahoo was the only option. This year, SEO exploded in the public internet society, although what was used to get results then are insanely alien to the main tactics of today’s site ranking process. From late 1998 to early 1999, submission spamming became the general method of site rank. However, new algorithms brought new tactics, as SEO’s started to utilize multi-language platforms, word lists, and other innovative strategies. As the new millennium came, vast changes flooded the horizon of the SEO world.
All Google, All the Time
Between the years of 2000 and 2001, the internet experienced a massive shift. Google’s PageRank system and new ranking algorithms cut out most of the spam tactics that were extremely successful in the prior submission sites. Contrary to popular belief, Google was not actually the first search engine. Infoseek, Lycos, and Yahoo were all used long before Google launched. Even so, Google changed the game as they came on to the scene. They revolutionized the way SEO’s approached site ranking. As the company expanded, their ideas for how sites should organized and ranked exploded beyond all previous thoughts. Their new algorithms overthrew previous site ranking strategies, causing search engine optimization to take a step in a new direction.
Moving away from directory submissions and other older tactics, Google’s computer programmers introduced new bots that crawled the internet. These bots began scanning sites and looking for certain aspects like keyword density and relevant backlinks. Prior to this, sites that wanted to rank for a certain word would just post hidden pages. Text with a word repeated a thousand times, could usually become high ranked instantly. However, this simple strategy would not fly with Google. Their bots, known as “crawlers” became programmed to scan sites and pick up on duplicate content both on the site or on other sites. As Google became smarter and smarter, SEO’s did as well. As time passed, Google started to rely heavily on the amount of backlinks each site had. If Site A had 100 more links than Site B, Site A would receive the higher ranking. SEO’s caught on to this, and came out with innovative tactics to gain thousands of simple links easily. However, just as before, Google’s webspam team adapted to the new SEO methods of internet users.
New Horizons: Social Media
This constant battle of cat and mouse continued on and on, and still exists today; however, the introduction of Social Networking Sites once again revolutionized the SEO industry. A relatively new style of site, early social networks were rather niche and carried limited impact on site ranking. However, today’s world literally lives through the social networking medium, with sites like Facebook and Twitter carrying global impaction. As insane as it may sound, the recent revolution in Syria came around partially because of the mass sharing of information via twitter. This modern age of lightspeed communications and mass connectivity brought SEO and Google site ranking to a whole new level.
As sites like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Pintrest, Instagram, Reddit, StumbleUpon, Digg, etc., have reached billions of people worldwide, mankind is more connected than ever before. For Google, this creates a whole new batch of problems that need to be sorted out and integrated in to the ranking algorithm. Not only do sites need to have unique content and gratuitous amounts of natural backlinks, sites need social recognition as well. Having a social presence over the internet shows the actual popularity of site, and is an aspect that is very difficult to falsely create. Currently, Google and SEO’s find themselves in a continuous battle, with both sides taking victories as well as defeats. However, as history has shown us, there are always new ideas rapidly approaching on the horizon.
One thing is for sure, SEO will never die. The History of SEO is constantly changing, we will see more user metrics and higher level algorithms. White Hat SEO will soon become the only form of SEO.