HISTORY OF SEO
The precursors of the Internet date back to the 1960’s, but the exact date of conception is not agreed upon. Generally, the internet as we know it began in the mid 1980’s (according to Al Gore!) However, it is clear that once it got rolling, the commercial potential became evident and the tech race was on. Supposedly, the first mention of the term “search engine optimization” came in 1997 from Danny Sullivan.
When web masters and content providers first started submitting sites to search engines, all they had to do was alert the search engine the site was ready. Then the search engine would crawl the site and extract certain details to categorize the content contained in the site. Once users typed in a query, the search engine would return results just like they do today.
Early on, search engines relied on very basic information to form their rankings for various queries. Whereas meta tags, and meta keywords today are very basic entry level SEO techniques, they used to be the end all be all for SEO. If you knew which keywords you wanted your website to rank for, a person could stuff their page with keywords and many search engines would reward those behaviors with top rankings. As you can imagine, this deficiency led to poor search results being returned by search engines, and thus the user experience suffered alongside it.
Then, in 1998, two graduate students at Stanford developed a method for obtaining more accurate search results called “Backrub." Their idea was to use an algorithm comprised of numerous triggers (including both on-page items and off-page techniques) which would implicitly mean that a website was appropriate to the search query. For example, if a website has numerous other sites who link to it, in theory, the site being linked to would be worthy information and thus important to search engine rankings.
As search engine rankings became more of a prized attribute to websites, the ranking factors that search engines used to assign rank needed to be more secretive to prevent Black Hat techniques. Over time, search engines like Google have constantly tweaked their algorithms to better provide search results. However, the results of these changes are often left to be deciphered rather than explicitly explained due to the likelihood that people would try and game the system if they knew the specifics.
SEO HISTORY TIMELINE
1994 Brian Pinkerton Creates the first website crawler to index entire website pages.
1996 Excit purchase technology called WebCrawler.
1997 The SEO site Search Engine Watch is launched to cover SEO related topics.
1997 Danny Sullivan, first used the the phrase "search engine optimization”.
1998 Larry Page and Sergey Brin founded Google.
2000 Google releases AdWords to sell advertising amongst search results.
2002 Link Bombing becomes a technique used to game search engines.
2003 Google introduces AdSense to sell ads on websites.
2004 Search engines try to change their ranking algorithms to reduce the impact of black hat techniques.
2005 Google launches Google Analytics.
2005 Google rumored to have implanted the “Sand Box Effect” to curb newer sites impact on search results.
2005 Google began personalizing search results for each user.
2007 The New York Times' Saul Hansell says that Google ranks sites by using more than 200 different ranking signals.
2007 Google announced a campaign against paid links that transfer PageRank.
2009 Google announced it would be using the web search history of all its users in order to populate search results.
2010 A new web indexing system called Google Caffeine was announced.
2011 Google Launches Panda update which penalizes websites containing content duplicated from other websites and sources.
2012 Google launches Penguin update the goal of which was to penalize websites that used manipulative techniques to improve their rankings on the search engine.
2013 Google launches Google Hummingbird update which is an algorithm change designed to improve Google's natural language processing and semantic understanding of web pages.
2014 Saw updates to Penguin, Pirate, Panda, and all of these over again! There is talk that updates to google algorithms occur almost constantly.
2015 Google cracks down on private blog networks and numerous other updates. The year will surely hold more change for all websites!