History of SEO

SEO rules the web world today. However, less than two decades ago, SEO was a stab in the dark with a set of crude trial and error methods. If you take a walk down the history of SEO, you will notice how astronomical the growth has been. SEO companies began offering specialised services much later in the evolutionary phase.

1995 – 1996

This was the Stone Age of SEO. Interestingly, the websites in the early days were listed in the alphabetical order. The methods were crude and based on luck. It was only towards the end of 1996 that specific concepts of keywords, keyword density, placement, data mining and text matching began to take roots. As 1996 bid farewell, SEO came out of the caves and began to get more refined. HTML was the common web designing platform.

1997 – 1999

1997 was a major landmark because the very first search algorithms came into being. They were simple, and considered only the rudimentary aspects of a web page for ranking. So, the newly evolved SEO pundits were able to decode these simple algorithms and customise pages to fit into the mould created by these ranking programs.

Flash based websites were designed extensively. SEO evolved further towards mid 1997. The pundits began to manipulate and hoodwink algorithms by spamming and other means, so much so that towards the end of 1997, spam was the most serious issue on the Internet. 

The year 1998 brought a new dawn. Algorithms were made more complicated and decoding became difficult. So, SEO metamorphosed into serious business.

Seeds of black hat marketing were sown and the matter became a serious threat to the credibility to ranking. Altavista came into picture and banned all sites that said that they “optimise” or “promote”. Hordes of newly formed companies collapsed like a house of cards.

What is more, rankings of all clients who were linked to the website of such an SEO company came crashing down. So, clients adopted a method called cloaking, which protected their websites from suffering fall of ranks because of being linked to inappropriate websites. Link pops appeared all over the place. Towards the end of 1999, the Internet and SEO was characterized by dog-eat-dog kind of competition.

The new millennium: 2000 – 2005

Google emerged as the new force with a very strong search algorithm. Simultaneously, black hat grew bigger and stronger as well with pseudo directories, forums and guest books. Money began to flow into SEO. Organic optimisation took a back seat and paid listings, paid ads and paid links ruled the scene. Adwords, PPC (Pay per Click) and PFP (Paid for Play) evolved.

Directory submissions came into force. Google Blogger and WordPress were launched. 301 directs grew in popularity. Towards the end of 2005, Google brought out no-follow pages and made enhancements on its search algorithm. Search engine marketing companies strengthened their footing in the industry.

2006 – 2010

In 2006, designers began incorporating XML sitemaps for SEO.  Google strengthened its stand against paid links and banned any website that incorporated black hat techniques. Universal search was launched.

In 2008, social media became the center of SEO. Every SEO company offered SMM (social media marketing) and SMO (social media optimization). Guest blogging and comment posting became major link building tools. Google brought out two updates, Vince and Caffeine for faster and more efficient ranking. In 2010, importance of exact match keywords reduced. LSI technique of using keyword variations developed.

2011 – present

Google brings out more updates in the form of Panda and Penguin. Ranking follows human thought process. Social media gains importance. Emphasis is on quality content. Today, SEO has done a full circle and is back to the basics – organic optimisation. This is what every professional SEO company Toronto aims to achieve.