The History of Search Engine Optimization

March 31, 2014

A History of SEO

Here are the most important factors affecting search engine optimization over the past two decades:

  • Did you know the first search engines were edited manually, by humans, and not robot spiders?
  • The first person to create a web crawler, appropriately named Web Crawler, was Brian Pinkerton in 1994. It generated a list of the top 25 websites.
  • Till 1997, Yahoo search was still run by humans. If there were no human-powered results, only then would crawler-based results show up from partners.
  • In 1998, Google launches. They create PageRank to analyze and rank websites more accurately.
    Extra: PageRank is a link analysis algorithm used by Google to help determine the relative importance of a website. Every website is given a Google PageRank score between 0 and 10 on an exponential scale.
  • Google continues to work on their PageRank feature by introducing a PageRank toolbar, so that SEOs can now check and record PageRank. Google also launches Adwords in 2000.
  • In 2002, the practice of Google bombing begins. This is where numerous backlinks are created to rank a website highly for unrelated searches.
  • Three years after Adwords is launched, Google releases Adsense, in 2003. The search algorithm undergoes the Florida update that penalizes keyword stuffing and anchor text over-optimization tactics that were popular in the late 90s.
  • In order to deal with blog spam, Google releases the nofollow tag in 2005. This is supported by both MSN and Yahoo.
    Extra: The nofollow tag is a way publishers can tell search engines not to count some of their links to other pages as 'votes' in favor of that content.
  • The incredibly useful Google Analytics is launched. This helps SEOs to analyze websites, giving SEOs a great way to evaluate and monitor the performance of their campaigns.
  • There are rumors flying around about the Google Sandbox. This is a filter that affects new website rankings.
  • In 2006, XML Sitemaps are launched and supported by all of the major search engines.
    Extra: Sitemaps are a way to tell Google about pages on your site that they might not otherwise discover. In its simplest terms, an XML Sitemap-usually called Sitemap, with a capital S-is a list of the pages on your website.
  • The most visible of updates, at least to the layman, is launched in 2008. Google Suggest provides SEOs with another method to assist with keyword research.
  • With the increasing popularity of social networking, Google uses real-time social results to provide more updated results in 2009.
  • Microsoft launches Bing in May 2009. In July Microsoft and Yahoo! announce a deal in which Bing would power Yahoo! Search.
  • In 2010, both Google & Bing confirm Twitter & Facebook influence SEO.
  • In March of 2011, Bing surpasses Yahoo as the second most popular search engine.
  • Google launches real-time search including Twitter results. This ends in 2011, when Google's deal with Twitter expires.
  • 2011 sees a major algorithm update, called Panda by Google. Its aim is to prevent sites with low quality content from acquiring top tier rankings
  • 2012 sees another major update, the release of Google's Penguin. It's aim is to punish websites that are building low quality links. Grey hat tactics like article spinning, blog networks and directories become black hat.
  • In the same year, Google releases a disavow tool to help websites recover from penalties due to bad backlinks.

So there you have it. It's amazing to think how much search engines have changed over the past 20 years. If you find this interesting, but would still like someone else to handle your website's SEO and Marketing, then call ITC, and the Insurance Website Builder team can help you make sense of all of this and more.


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