Nowadays, its hard to use the Internet without hearing something about search engine optimisation, many think its all smoke and mirrors and SEO specialists are charlatans. This series of posts is aimed a debunking some of the common myths, SEO is not as simple as it may appear. For a better understanding of SEO, we should look back to a time when the Web was first catalogued/indexed by the first search engines.
Those of us who were using the web back in 1994 will remember the ‘What’s new on the internet’ menu item on the browsers of the day – obviously this quickly became impractical 🙂 and search engines became the way of finding your way around the internet.
Early version of Netscape showing the ‘What’s new’ button
Search Engine Optimisation or SEO, has been around since the mid 90’s when the first search engines appeared, even though nobody knew or talked about SEO. Back in the old days all webmasters had to do was submit a URL of a page to the search engines which would send a spider to crawl the page and index it.
As time passed, the Web grew bigger and site owners started to recognize the importance of having their sites ranked high on the results of searches (SERPs), the first information about search engine optimization begun to emerge on the web.
In those days, the job of SEO seems relatively easy compared to now, with search engines relying on webmasters (SEO specialists) to provide information about their sites through the use of the Meta Keywords tag. But soon enough, some webmasters started to abuse those tags with excessive and irrelevant keywords, like adding their competitors names, making the search results false or irrelevant which forced the Search engine to update and improve their algorithms.
The search engine algorithms became more complex, additional factors were introduced to determine a page ranking and they became more difficult for webmaster to manipulate, even though there were still ways of beating these algorithms, and webmasters continued to manipulate search results.
All that changed when a certain search engine was created, using a simple and catchy design, with an algorithm that considered off-page factors such as the number of other sites that linked to a page as well as on-page factors to improve the quality of results.
An Early Version of Google still running at Stanford University at this point
Google changed the search game completely by combining the information of on-page and off-page factors to determine page rankings. With the analysis of off-page factors came Page Rank, a function to determine the quantity and quality of inbound links, we will be discussing Page Rank in later post.
With algorithms to deliver relevant search results and an exponentially growing number of users, Google soon became the most popular search engine and started to more or less dictate the rules of the search industry.
After Google, search engine optimization turned into another ball game, which lead us to the second part of this post…to be continued.