A brief history of search engine optimization
Search engine optimization is one of the most important elements of every website. It is what helps your website climb in rank and get to the first page of Google. Furthermore, it makes your business visible to online customers and enables you to get traffic, conversions, and much more. The evolution of SEO has made substantial progress during the last decade. So, let’s look at a brief history of search engine optimization to understand more about how it has developed into what it is today and get a better insight into what it may become in the next ten to twenty years.
Let’s travel back in time to when it all started
The first website appeared in 1991, almost 30 years ago. With it, the roots of search engine optimization slowly started to spread everywhere on the internet. Websites began to multiply in numbers at a rapid pace. As that was happening, a need for some form of structure and organization was born.
With the appearance of the search engine called Excite in 1994, the way we processed online information completely changed. It launched in the next two years, and soon Yahoo, Alta Vista, and other search engines joined in the party.
However, real progress happened in 1996, with the invention of BackRub, one of the most famous search engines of all time. Sergey Brin and Larry Page invented it, and in 1997, they registered it as a domain with a name we all know and love today – Google!
We can safely say that this was the revolutionary period for the future development of keyword research, user intent, on-page and off-page optimization, and many other pivotal elements of search engine optimization we use today.
How SEO looked in the old days
If we look at the current search engine optimization rules, they have developed and become a complex formula that consists of various elements. Each important in its own way, they create a combination of rules all websites must follow. Furthermore, those rules change quickly, and it takes more and more to stay at the top.
However, SEO in the old days looked a lot different than today. It was very simple and loose in terms of requirements. A huge downside is that it could be exploited in many ways by hackers. There were no measures to prevent spam and dirty tactics, so it was easier to climb in rank.
But then, things got better!
As it always happens, pioneers in technological development always get a huge head-start over the competition. Google saw an opportunity and took it. Their lead engineers started developing an algorithm focused on rewarding quality over “other approaches.” Users and relevant content were placed in the spotlight of all happening.
In this considerable time period, there were hundreds, if not thousands, of changes to the advanced algorithm used today. Each one improved it by a small percentage, making it more perfect and more complex.
The key takeaway from all of those changes was that the progress required time. Cutting corners and trying to achieve greatness overnight never gave lasting results.
Search Engine Strategies conference
The first SES conference was held in 1999. The demand for understanding search engine optimization was high, and marketers all around the world needed information. Search marketing was placed in a distant corner, completely forgotten, and someone had to take the dust off of it.
Since then, the conference was successfully held by different companies and presenters until 2016, when it was shut down. However, it allowed people to learn about the use of SEO and develop their skills simultaneously to keep up with the changes.
How Google used its SEO algorithm to become the number 1 search engine in the world
The majority of the other search engines used simpler factors to rank websites. They focused on the domain name, on-page optimization, and presence in web directories to give a higher rank to websites.
Google’s new algorithm focused on information retrieval. They valued both on-page and off-page elements, link building, anchors, and content quality. The unspoken motto of their strategy was “if someone talks about you, you must be important”.
Seeing how this advanced technology was something completely different, the leader at the time, Yahoo, decided to partner with Google in 2000. All of the search results on Yahoo had a small message that said: “Powered by Google.”
Although this seemed like an excellent strategic move, it was everything that Google needed to take the number 1 position from Yahoo. They got enough publicity and exposure to all of Yahoo’s clients and slowly turned them into loyal Google followers. That’s how the Google revolution started. Furthermore, they soon added Google Toolbar to Internet Explorer so everyone could see their rank.
The need for modern SEO strategies was born
The next step Google took to continue expanding the use of SEO was to launch Google AdSense, providing a way to monetize internet publishing. It was a massive boom in 2003, but it actually created many problems for Google in the long run.
As soon as a new way to earn money gets into the light of the day, there will be people who will find ways to exploit it to make easy income. That was the birth of spammy websites with copied content, made only with a purpose to rank high, consequently getting a lot of clicks and earning money. This resulted in many website rankings going down as they tried to find solutions to fix this problem.
If looking for ways to boost SEO today, there is an array of possibilities in front of you. You need to publish relevant content, build quality backlinks, work on metadata, use proper tags and attributes. Furthermore, citations are something you should work on since they can give you bonus SEO points.
None of these strategies existed back then. SEO today developed in so many ways, and it values presence, quality, and activity above all.
How a brief history of search engine optimization affects the SEO of the future
As mentioned before, a brief history of search engine optimization teaches us that significant progress requires baby steps. The problems of yesterday needed a solution, and it presented itself. It is safe to say that the future of SEO lies in solving the issues of today:
- the lack of voice search optimization
- content duplication and plagiarism
- the low-quality mobile experience
- non-search-friendly images
- bad redirects
- slow loading speed
- messy URL addresses
- data structure issues
All of these things need improvement, and the answers to these issues will give us an approximate view of what the future of SEO may bring to the table.