The Evolution of SEARCH System: From 1990s to Date

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 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.

Video SEO

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!

5 Important Findings from Merkle’s Digital Marketing Report for Q4 2017

On 25 January 2018, Merkle, a global marketing agency headquartered at the Columbia Gateway Drive released its Q4 2017 Digital Marketing Report. The report includes a detailed analysis of the performance of the major search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing, the popular social networks like Facebook and Instagram, and the giant online shopping store Amazon. It also sheds some light on the performance of Organic Search and Paid Search.

Here are 5 important findings from the report:

  1. Rise in Organic Search Visits

There is a significant rise in the total site visits driven by organic search, and the number is up 6%  year-over-year in the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2017. This is the strongest rate of growth in over 2 years. Although there was a drop in the desktop organic search visits in 2016, the Q4 of 2017 sees an improvement in that.

The mobile organic search growth, however, sees a record-high rate of 15% year-over-year in the fourth quarter of 2017. With a huge 96% share of all site visits by mobile organic search, Google has outplayed all other search engines in the Q4 2017.

Google organic search visits increased by 8% year-over-year, which was up by 7% from the third quarter of 2017. 

  1. Increase in Overall Search Ad Spend

The fourth quarter of 2017 shows an increase in the overall search ad spend across all major platforms. For Google, it was 22% in the Q3 2017 and 24% in the Q4 2017 witnessing a 2% rise. Out of the total paid search spend, the search ad spend increased by 23% year-over-year and the Google shopping ads spend increased by 32% year-over-year.

Bing Ads and Yahoo Gemini together witnessed a growth of 32% year-over-year, which is up by 6% from the Q3 of 2017. 

  1. Growth of Bing Product Ads

There is an impressive growth in Bing Product Ads spend in the Q4 of 2017, which is the highest in the last 2 years. While the clicks rose to 62% and the clicks fell to 11% the Bing Product Ads spend rose by 43%, which is quite exceptional.

  1. Facebook: Rise of Ad Spend but Fall of Impressions

In the Q4 of 2017, Facebook ad spend rose by 20% year-over-year but the impressions declined by 27% year-over-year. Out of the total Facebook spend, Phone and Tablet together share 83%, while the rest 17% goes to Desktop.

Talking about Instagram, the total spend the rise was 122% in Q4, nearly doubled from Q3 of 2017. The increase in impressions was at 99%.

Out of the total paid social media spend in Q4 2017, Facebook shares 82%, Instagram 8%, Pinterest 7% and other networks such as Twitter, Snapchat and LinkedIn collectively share 3%.

  1. Major Rise of Amazon Sponsored Product Ads Spend 

The Q4 of 2017 witnessed a major rise of Amazon Sponsored Product Ads spend which rose by 64% quarter-over-quarter. The Headline Ads spend increased by 75% quarter-over-quarter in Q4 2017.

Here is full report in case you would like more insights on the topic. You can also download the report for future reference.