A Very Brief History Of SEO
While today’s online marketing world could not exist without SEO services delivered by a professional SEO firm, it was less than 20 years ago when any amateur could go online and drive traffic to their pages through some simple manipulation.
While it’s hard to pinpoint when SEO came into existence, it probably has a lot to do with the search engine Excite. With its beginning as Architext in 1993, Excite compiled results by utilising keywords. Over the next few years, it was followed by the likes of Lycos, Yahoo, AltaVista and AskJeeves. During the rise of the search engine, webmasters started to realise the potential of stuffing their websites full of particular keywords to ensure their pages would appear within the first few pages of searches on these platforms. This was black hat SEO before the term ‘search engine optimisation’ came to prominence in 1997. These techniques were aided by the way that early search engines relied on keyword density. However, the likes of AltaVista and Infoseek did try to introduce new algorithms to stop their web rankings from being manipulated by others. While this was going on, soon-to-be Google founders Sergey Brin and Lawrence Page were conceptualising technology that would see search results not just ranked on their keyword density, but the quality of the content and the keywords. This was the first step in turning the best SEO from the most keyword density, to the most relevant keywords and content, and paving the way for a whole new generation of SEO experts.
After the Millennium Bug thoroughly scared people into believing that their computers’ date and time settings were going to destroy the world, the 2000s brought about the meteoric rise of Google (formed in 1998) at the expense of its competitors. It was at this point that Google began to provide webmasters with early guidelines for what we would come to know as white hat SEO techniques. These were meant to encourage webmasters to follow a less advert-centric model that would provide more value to users of Google. But they were rather toothless, as both old and new black hat techniques (such as improper backlinking) continued to foster results. But as time went on, Google began to bring websites into line with their policies. This started with the infamous ‘Florida’ update in 2003; the Panda and Penguin updates in 2011 and 2012 respectively and with 2015 heralding in the importance of responsive design and unique quality content to achieving high Google rankings. These updates, and the increasingly complex algorithms used by Google to dictate their search engine rankings, brought about the rise of the professional SEO firm – moving SEO away from amateur manipulation to a paid-for service in its own right.
While Microsoft did launch its competitor Bing in 2009, and Yahoo managed to survive Google’s rise to dominance, Google continues to hold a dominant position as the world’s most used search engine. With this dominance comes the power to dictate the future of both SEO and the professional SEO firm. Despite this, one thing is clear: as Google continually tweaks its search engine algorithms, it has never been as important as it is now to invest in the best SEO companies to stay ahead of competitors.