A Brief But Noble History Of SEO or Search Engine Optimisation


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The term “SEO” (Search Engine Optimization) is often used in digital marketing. And as a company owner, you’ve certainly heard your staff or agency laud it as if it were essential to their success. Yet, are you sure of its identity and origin?

Surely, a short Google search will provide Wikipedia’s explanation of SEO (SEO). But how much does the definition “the procedure of influencing the position of a website or a web page in a search engine’s unpaid results” tell you about this technique and how it became so important for company expansion? It’s safe to assume none.

Technology That Would Eventually Become The Internet

Internet users have increased dramatically over the last several years and continue to rise daily. Search engines are making great strides to present users with the most relevant, contextual results when they search from any device. If so, you may have pondered the question of when and how this phenomenon emerged. In 1958, AT&T released a commercial modem that allowed remote computers to communicate via standard telephone lines. With the name “internet” just being created in December 1974, this was the first incarnation of the internet.

Age Of Stone And Copper In The Information Age

A rivalry between many search engines existed from the outset. Crawl-based search engines and directories were popular in the 1990s. Perhaps you’re old enough to remember when search engines like AltaVista, Infoseek, Yahoo, and Ask Jeeves ruled the web. On-page optimization was the sole method for increasing a website’s rankings in major search engines. This includes things like proper HTML tags, links, and other tags, as well as useful material. The primary piece of advice was to use keyword repetition across as many pages and meta tags as feasible. The greater the quantity, the greater the advantage over rivals. This widely used method is now known as SPAM despite its widespread use in the past.

Jerry Wang and David Filo, two Stanford University students, founded Yahoo in a trailer on campus in 1994. There was a time when web admins had to submit their site to Yahoo’s directory by hand. The websites AltaVista, Excite, and Lycos were also introduced to the public.

In 1996, students at Stanford University developed Backrub, a search engine that provided results based on the quality and quantity of inbound links. In the long run, Backrub would evolve into Google.

At 1997, Danny Sullivan created Search Engine Watch, a website dedicated to reporting on developments in the search business, offering advice on conducting online searches, and detailing strategies for improving a website’s position in search results. Both Google.com and Ask Jeeves were introduced during this time.

In 1998, sponsored links & paid search on Goto.com marked the debut of search engine advertising. Eventually, Yahoo purchased Goto.com. Amongst SEO professionals, DMOZ (the Open Directory Project) quickly became the site’s most sought-after for listing. With the launch of MSN Search, originally powered by Inktomi, MSN entered the search market.

In 1999, Search Engine Strategies (SES) was the first event to focus only on search engine marketing.

Upheaval Caused by Google

Google co-founders Sergei Brin and Lawrence Page released their research paper, “The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine,” in 1998 as part of their coursework at Stanford. The authors said that advertising was the primary revenue source for commercial search engines. Quality search for users is not necessarily aligned with the objectives of the advertising business model. As they described PageRank, the mechanism Google used to determine a page’s relevance to a search query and rank it, many saw this as a watershed point in the company’s history. Bear in mind that it did so, considering both the search query and the quality of the article.

Yahoo’s co-founders, David Filo and Jerry Wang started the company as a university student project. Still, the website quickly became widely known for providing a comprehensive index of links to relevant websites. To be indexed and made accessible to searchers worldwide, online publishers would voluntarily submit their pages for review. Yahoo’s agreement with Google to handle its organic search was a strategic error in 2000. Consequently, many Yahoo users saw the ‘Powered by Google’ label next to each search result. By providing an early platform for it at the turn of the century, Yahoo helped Google write its success narrative.

Several factors contributed to Google’s indisputable success. Bread-crumbing (internal links that show how your website is organized on the web) and on-page content were two of the numerous factors used to determine a website’s ranking before the year 2000. However, both are now considered antiquated and insufficient. On the other hand, Google considered both on-page and off-page factors when determining a page’s position on the search engine results page.

The world’s SEOs misunderstood this, as link building was the only factor in ranking well in Google’s search engine results pages. Over the next several years, Google would crack down on link farms and similar spammy practices that had become too common in the SEO community. The Google Toolbar, an extension for Internet Explorer, was released to provide web admins with information on the importance of their pages as determined by Google’s PageRank algorithm.

Google Adsense And The Acceleration Of Profitability

Google purchased both Blogger.com and AdSense in 2003. With this update, the search engine expanded paid online publications, which essentially changed the face of blogging. Now even bloggers with mediocre material might make money online without actively doing anything. Unfortunately for Google, it wasn’t immediately clear that the company was partly to blame for the issues it would eventually have to address. By this, we mean spammy methods and phony sites whose only goal is to generate revenue via advertising.


Historically, it took a long time for a single, minor modification to search algorithms to be implemented, giving rise to several black-hat SEO Cairns strategies that may boost a page’s search ranks. Google has become much more alert and smart over the years, continually adapting to encourage the gradual expansion of ethical SEO strategies. Users want more relevant, high-quality search results with no effort.

Therefore, personalization is a major focus. Website owners may get ready for this by making their apps’ in-app content more intuitive and specific to users’ goals and needs since Google is rumored to leverage data from other platforms to achieve this goal.


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