The evolution of Search Engine Optimisation

The evolution of Search Engine Optimisation

Those that understand the power of good SEO know that if it’s worth doing then it’s worth doing well. But how much do you know about it? Do you know how it works? Who coined the phrase ‘Search Engine Optimisation’ and where it all began?

The beginning is as good a place as any to start, so let’s go through the details of how SEO came to be and why it is now the most powerful tool you can have at your disposal.

SEO is and always will be about influencing the search engines to display your website higher in the results (preferably somewhere on the top half of the 1st page), thus getting you more traffic and more sales / readers / sign-ups. The face of SEO changes almost daily as new formulae, algorithms and rules come into play.

In the late eighties and early nineties, is when the internet saw some of the first modern day search engines come online. Yahoo being one of the big players along with long forgotten names like Infoseek and Aliweb. SEO at this time (unbelievably) was based alphabetically, so basically if you had a webpage by the name of 123 or AAAA then you were guaranteed to be displayed on the very first page. Chronological order also came into play, so as you can imagine these rudimentary tactics didn’t last long.

Into the early nineties, we began to see new search engines come on board that used more complicated formulae to calculate the rankings. Sites like AOL and AltaVista. This is when we started to hear the terms ‘keyword density’ and ‘metatags’. SEO enthusiasts everywhere took to stuffing as many keywords as they could into webpages and sites, effectively tricking the search engines into putting their sites at the top of the results page.

In 1998, the mother of all Search Engines was born – Google. PC Magazine reported in December of that year that Google “has an uncanny knack for returning extremely relevant results”. But it wasn’t until the year 2000 that we really started to see why Google’s results were as good as they were. Google were able to filter out the unpopular pages that were appearing on competitors search engines by simply monitoring links. And so a new challenge was born. Link building became big business along with web content optimisation and pagerank sculpting. SEO since then has grown in leaps and bounds and every so often, Google throws another spanner in the works by adding a new rule or algorithm.

So where did the term ‘Search Engine Optimisation’ come from? I wish I could answer this question definitively for you, but I’m afraid there’s no one out there who knows for sure. I’m guessing whoever threw that phrase out there the first time is kicking himself now. I’m sure it must have been worth something! All we know is that the phrase was first coined in early 1997 on an SEO forum (obviously not called SEO at the time) by an unknown contributor.

Now in 2011, we see SEO as being an established and well respected business, that if practiced in an ethical manner can see Companies grow from strength to strength.

Large multinational organisations and global conglomerates now employ full time in-house SEO experts to keep their brands and business names in the public view.

Let’s put it in more practical terms – a search for ‘SEO’ in Google today brings up 925,000,000 results I think that tells it’s own story!

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