Search Engine Optimization History: when was SEO born?

Universe - SEO - when was SEO born

There was a time when the internet was a desolate, quiet place with few websites. The world of the Internet seemed like an alternative universe where things could develop extremely fast and even become an institution that companies would have to abide by. This universe was bound to grow as a crowded market where the rules were not to be dictated by the seller but by the user.

In 1990, a British computer scientist created the first website that went online in 1991. After about seven years there were already 1 million websites and in 2014 the milestone of one billion online websites was reached.

As in a large library full of books, also on the Internet arose the need to organize a large amount of information on the web. Initially, the list was fairly simple. When sites were registered, they were manually entered into a directory list and keeping track of the listings was rather easy.

Between 1994 and 1996 the first search engines were born, this also included BackRub; which later became Google. At this point, we move from manual work to so-called machine learning, a sort of artificial intelligence capable of learning from data.

In this period, the term Search Engine Optimization was born, in fact, it was first used in 1997 when the necessity overcame the demand.

With the advent of ‘algorithms’, which are robots doing the categorizing and classification of sites; the websites began to be indexed in order of relevance to the search terms and hence the ranking began to assume more and more important aspect for webmasters.

With keywords and meta tags in the picture, which at the time were the only ranking factors, some clever souls began to take advantage of the system and by manipulation techniques (also called Black Hat SEO) to improve their website’s ranking in Search Engines (SE). A few years back, more rigorous algorithms and crawling techniques were introduced by the main Search Engines and this eliminated a lot of this abuse. This then introduced the “White Hat SEO” which are the correct techniques for developing and maintaining websites to ensure better ranking scores.

The importance of the ‘backlinks’ as a ranking factor was introduced later by Google, but this too was scrutinized by the SEO experts in an attempt to increase the ranking of their websites and place them among the first pages of the organic results, until once again SE improved their evaluating methods.

The countermove of the search engines to eradicate these abuses and tricky tactics by SEO experts has been the introduction over time of increasingly complex algorithms, able to identify techniques such as keyword stuffing, link purchase, spam, duplicate content, suspicious activity, link farms, etc.

Some of the best-known algorithms are Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird, Mobilegeddon, etc.

Nowadays, the ranking factors are different and are divided into two main categories: on-page / on-site SEO and off-page / off-site depending on whether they depend on interventions carried out within the site or outside.

SEO experts need to keep up-to-date as Google makes changes to its algorithms more than 500 times a year, and massive updates are launched from time to time that can have a significant impact on search results.

Generally speaking, some of the most important current factors to vector in for website SEO are optimization for mobile, loading times, content quality and social media activity. Voice Search Optimization is another trending factor to keep into consideration as the era of Alexa, Siri and Cortona are the highlighted topics in today’s news and technology.

What’s the future of SEO? Probably SEO specialists do not yet know what the most relevant factors will be in 5 or 10 years time, but they know that constant updating, flexibility, intuition, vision and passion are essential characteristics that allow an SEO expert to keep up with changes in user’s behaviour and search engines laws of practice.

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  1. […] start with understanding what SEO is. The acronym SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and consists of a set of techniques and strategies to optimize a website, a web page, or online […]

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