If you are a webmaster or an SEO professional who has been there for a while, you must be aware of the beautiful history of SEO. Although the competition between websites to get found on search engine results (which is the main aim of SEO) is still the same, there is a tremendous change in how it performs today and how it was performing back in 1990s during its initial days.
It’s interesting to note that SEO (Search Engine Optimization) has remained a debatable term ever since it came to the scene. That’s simply because we don’t optimize search engines, rather the websites for getting positioned on search engine results pages. People have been using different terms such as Search Engine Submission, Search Engine Positioning, Search Engine Registration and Search Engine Placement etc. for SEO but none of them could make it to become the official name; SEO certainly did. SEM (Search Engine Marketing) is also a very popular term nowadays but it is close to PAID not ORGANIC search.
SEO has undoubtedly evolved a lot in its procedure and performance and it is still evolving every single day, and so is the entire SEARCH system. When I say SEARCH system, I mean the entire world of search, including the search engines and ranking, the SEO procedure to get ranked, and all other things that co-exist with searching the web.
Let’s take a cursory look at how the entire search system has evolved over the past 25-30 years.
Evolution of Search Engines
If you were born in the 2000s, talking about the first search engines in the 1900s is just a dead language for you, but know that there were human-powered directories and crawler-based listings such as AltaVista, Infoseek, Excite, Lycos, Ask Jeeves and Yahoo out there back then. They were not like the today’s ultra-advanced search engines, but they were getting operated to a good extent.
SEO then was only limited to some on-page activities like ensuring that HTML tags were accurate, there were external as well as internal links, the content was good with enough text. The more the number of keywords, the better the ranking was, which is termed as “Keyword Stuffing” nowadays and is regarded as a bad SEO tactic.
In the year 2000, Yahoo partnered with Google, and replaced Inktomi by Google to power their organic search results. This proved to be a bad move by Yahoo that eventually gave rise to their biggest competitor, which soon surpassed Yahoo to become the #1 search engine in the world.
In 2003 Google acquired Blogger.com and launched its monetizing platform Google AdSense, which is a noteworthy move by Google.
Personalization of Search Results
In the early 2000s, the major search engines decided to improve the search results for location-based search queries. Around 2004, began personalizing search results based on the end-user data.
The introduction of “nofollow” tags in 2005 and the “Maps Plus Box” in 2006 are the other important moves by Google and other top search engines.
In October 2006, Google made the most important decision of its life to acquire YouTube and did so for $1.65 billion. It was the most important decision because YouTube is the most popular video search engine today with more than a billion active users. This gave birth to Video SEO.
In the same year, Google also launched two other important products, known as Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools.
Yahoo & Bing Partnership
In 2009, Microsoft Live Search was renamed as Bing Search. In the same year, Yahoo and Bing joined hands to combat the ever-increasing popularity of Google, but the alliance has failed to beat Google both in the US and in the global arena.
Social Networks and Their Popularity
Not to forget, the rise of Social networks that started in late 2000s is an important phenomenon in the history of Search. Major players like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and a few others are evolving day by day, and their popularity is increasing too. Today, they are believed to have a significant indirect impact on the overall SEO performance.
The Well-known Google Updates
In 2011 and 2012, Google made two crucial updates to its ranking algorithm, known as Google’s Panda update and Google’s Penguin update respectively. Both the updates aimed at rewarding high-quality sites and providing the most relevant search listings to the searchers.
Mobile Search In the year 2015, mobile searches overtook desktop searches on Google. In the same year, Google rolled out a mobile-friendly algorithm update intended to give users timely results.
AI Added to Google Products
In 2017, Google was declared an AI-first company by its CEO. Google is taking a lot of interest and enthusiasm in incorporating Artificial Intelligence into its products including the Google Search, Gmail, Google Adwords, Google Assistant etc. The Voice Search and Visual Search are also gaining in popularity in today’s time.
The future is going to very exciting!