The History of Search Engine Optimization
Search engines were originally designed to assist users in navigating files and web servers across the Internet. In general, search tools use algorithms to collect, organize, and rank information on the web site. At this point, web site designers and developers began to recognize the importance of placing high in this system of ranking.
In an effort to increase the number of visitors to a web site, developers began to study the ways in which web sites were ranked and how they could improve upon those rankings. This discipline became known as the study of Search Engine Optimization, or SEO.
How Search Engine Optimization Works
Information for search inquires are found through relevant keywords, web page links, web site codes, and URL’s. The process of collecting this information is done by an agent called a crawler, spider, or robot. These agents gather information points on every web site URL, then store these in a search engine database. Each search engine has a database that catalogs and indexes each URL.
When a website is established in a database as a reliable source for relative information, Internet users are more likely to see it and choose it in their searches. Web designers began to learn how to modify site information in order to be noticed in these databases. Web programmers were enlisted to develop methods that could influence positive search results. All this involved an understanding of the components and processes of search engines.
The Beginnings of Search Engine Optimization
The earliest search engine was a text-based index of archived and shared FTP files, created in 1990. In 1992, Gopher became the first search engine with a hypertext paradigm. Others to follow would be Excite! (1993), Yahoo and Lycos (1994), AltaVista (1995), Ask Jeeves and Google (1997). The study of SEO grew as these search engines, and the new field of Internet marketing, evolved.
Internet marketing refers to the marketing of products or services over the Internet. It includes all the creative and technical aspects of design, development, advertising, and sales. These are catered to suit the interests of Internet users, or potential customers. The prospect of online profits made companies realize the importance of quality web pages and site promotions. Search Engine Marketing (SEM) came from this focus to increase market popularity via search engines.
Optimization was born in the early days of search engine directories like Yahoo. This was at a time when people could simply submit their website information to Yahoo and be ranked in their directories. As people began to recognize the importance of SE ranking, they started exploring the best ways to get there. The concepts of keyword density and keyword placement became known as critical SEO tools. Later, techniques like text matching and link baiting were discovered.
Web Users Get More Involved
As web users started to manipulate search results, search engines started to write trickier algorithms. In the late 90s, decoding algorithms became a very sophisticated business. Web programmers were hired to write more efficient algorithms and to decode even harder ones. During this time, site theft became a problem. Top ranking sites listed on search engines could be stolen or copied. Submission spamming of search engines was also common. These problems were later resolved when search engines stopped accepting submissions.
The arrival of Google sparked interest in link popularity. SEO was being viewed in different terms; off-the-page associations were becoming more important than on-the-page content. The number of links to a site became a measure of its ranking on search engines. This developed into Google’s PageRank which ultimately secured its success.
Due to the entirety of this one search engine system, decoding algorithms became too complicated to be practical and SEO became more of a dubious technique than an exact science. By the new decade, most search engines sites were abandoned. Google became the primary search engine for Internet users. SEO diverged from a study of how search engines worked to a practice on how to work them.