SEO, or search engine optimization, is the new(er) buzzword of digital marketing. In fact, I can hardly imagine my life without it, despite the fact that it's only two decades old. Search engines have given us normal folk superpowers--they've given us access to nearly unimaginable amounts of knowledge and information.
Search engines have drastically changed our lives. We're no longer waiting to stumble across a banner ad to realize that we need something. Now, consumers are actively seeking out information online about products and services that they want to buy.
And with this change in consumer behavior, brands want to capitalize...obviously!
Did you know that today, there are almost a million people on LinkedIn with SEO in their job title?
These experts tend to fall into two camps: those who try to stay within Google's guidelines (or at least as best they can) and those who try to outsmart the algorithm. And the search engines react--multiple times (one of the most recent changes was Mobilegeddon).
Google wants to reward companies who develop brands and put their customers first. Google wants to reward businesses that create valuable content and earn links and social shares. Google doesn't want you to use tricks, schemes and spam to reach the top--but some still maintain that it's the best method.
All of this brings up an important question: Is SEO still important? The Guardian actually predicted it's death 2 years ago.
Despite it's relative infancy, SEO already has an interesting and colorful history. Over a few blog posts, I'm going to delve into some of the major milestones in 5-10 year increments.
- 1994-2000 (that's what you're reading now, so just keep scrolling!)
- 2001-2010 (click here, it was a doozy!)
- 2011-SEO today (hint: content, content, content!)
- Must-have SEO strategies (and how to start your first campaign)
In 1991, the first website goes live. And with these growing number of sites, there's a need to organize and catalogue them. Early attempts include Archie (1990) and Gopher (1991) and although primitive, are regarded as the first search engines.
But we're going to start the bulk of our story in 1994. That's when Brian Pinkerton created the first crawler to index entire pages and generates a list of the top 25 websites. Fast forward a few years, and Exite (a big deal in the 90s and better known as Ask.com today) purchases Webcrawler.
Another major milestone takes place in 1997. Danny Sullivan, one of the fathers of search, launched Search Engine Watch to help facilitate conversations around SEO. His company even founded Search Engine Strategies Conference (SES), which is still going strong today with events all over the world!
In 1998, Google is born.
They launch an algorithm called PageRank to index websites more accurately. It looked at incoming links for a webpage to help determine where it should rank. This component is still used today and places emphasis on meaningful, inbound links. "Link Juice" is the start of a long and everlasting romance between SEO and links.
SES (remember? created by rockstar Danny Sullivan) coordinated their first event in 1999. Topics covered included: designing search engine friendly sites, meta tags and share pros/cons to creating precisely optimized content.
Just like today, search engines started updating their algorithms, which caused problems for SEOs. After Altavista relaunched it's website, so many site disappeared that it became known as Black Monday.
To close this first five-year chapter, Google introduces Google AdWords at the onset of the new millennium...
Curious about what's next and the future of SEO? Check back soon and in the meantime, let's continue the discussion below!