25 years ago, there was no search engine optimization. Now, it pretty much rules the world! So how did we go from some students having a hobby in a backroom, trying to create websites that were easy to find, to all businesses requiring the assistance of a search engine optimization company? Let’s take a walk down memory lane!
Let There Be Life (1991 to 2002)
Tim Berners-Lee launched the first website in the world, CERN, which is still live. Take a look at it to see how different websites then are from now. Since August 6, 1991, when CERN went live, everything changed. By 1993, the first search engine was developed, which was Excite. Yahoo! Started in 1994, followed by Google in 1997. There were no rules then, but Google saw a potential and started to work on algorithms.
The Toddler Years (2003 to 2005)
Optimization, although it wasn’t yet called that, was now very much alive. It was also very unethical. Google decided to change this, creating incentives for those who would play by the rules. Keyword stuffing and bad linking practices were heavily penalized, and results started to become more relevant and of higher values. A very first glimpse of creating personalized search results was offered, and SEO itself was born as well. The focus was strongly on inbound links, with Google being the overseer, encouraging people to “not be evil”.
Growing Up (2006 to 2009)
It became clear that the search experience should become more reactive. This is why the Universal Search by Google was developed. The content became more engaging, was delivered in real time, and included more images, video, and more. Google Suggest started in 2008, which was a project to improve search results. From here, they developed Google Analytics and Google Trends and these really were the foundations for the personalized web we know today.
A Period of Enlightenment (2010 to 2012)
Things started to snowball all of a sudden, with Google making major changes that caused huge brands like Overstock and J.C. Penney to see their name dragged through the mud for not complying with the rules. In return, however, new search features were developed, including the Knowledge Graph by Google, and the concept of SERP (Search Engine Results Pages), which were in turn linked to local optimization efforts. Google Suggest grew up and become Google Instant, and Google+ was also born.
SEO Today (2013 to Now)
Today, we have a problem. People want to have a personalized experience, but they also want privacy. The two simply do not seem to go together, and there is also the issue of turf war between the social and the search. In the meantime, we are getting used to mobile optimization, which in turn is linked to both the social and the search, and which is loved by many, but equally criticized for violating privacy. Where things will go from here is anybody’s guess. What is for sure is that SEO won’t stand still.