At the dawn of the development of the Internet, few could have imagined that very shortly, SEO would play such an essential role in everyday Internet life. In just a quarter of a century, SEO has evolved from evaluating the simplest signals to a complex and constantly evolving “organism.” Today it is an entire industry in which billions of dollars rotate around the world.
So, let’s get into the history of SEO development together.
The first signs of life (1991-2002)
On August 6, 1991, the first website in the world was launched, which, by the way, exists to this day. Since then, the Internet has flooded millions of websites that can offer users any information.
The rapid increase in the number of sites required to begin their structuring. This is how the first search engines appeared to help you find the right sites for specific keywords. Among these “pioneers” were well-known to all Yahoo (1994), and Google (1997).
Initially, in the process of working with search engines, SEO promotion was based solely on keywords, tags and external links. The more there were, the higher the ranking of the site. So, for example, if you needed to promote a site on the request “pizza,” then you just had to place the following text on the main page: “Our pizza is the most popular pizza restaurant in the world” and drives the site away from free ad catalogs. And since the updates occurred only once every few months, this tactic guaranteed long-term success.
The first days (2003-2005)
Later, giants such as Google began to work hard on search quality and introduce new search algorithms that took into account an increasing number of factors. At the same time, standards for the appearance and internal content of sites began to appear, which were supposed to contribute to the achievement of the coveted ranks. Another significant event is also related to this time: when it detects the use of “black methods” in the process of promoting websites, Google starts lowering them in the issue.
The next step was the launch of personalized delivery mechanisms based on the user’s search history and allowing to improve its quality. Additional local SEO services also appeared: maps, search by addresses, first mobile search, etc. It should be noted that penalization in the search was used mainly for texts sent by keywords. As for the promotion of links, it took a leading position, although at that time little was cared about their quality: optimizers were more concerned about their number.
The middle Ages (2006–2009)
There is a development of search engine algorithms. There are more and more websites; the need to improve the quality of search results is higher. Search engines begin to search not only for texts but also for pictures, videos, and news. Updates are happening more often, and in services such as Google News, Twitter and the like, updates are already happening in real time.
In 2008, hints appear in the search lines. When generating search results, Google begins to take into account data obtained from Google Analytics, generates search queries through Google Trends and actively takes into account the search history, dividing users into specific groups.
In turn, optimizers begin to shift their interests towards content and usability optimization, as the frequent appearance of new content provides more frequent site scans, while usability increases user conversion and the percentage of returns.
The Age of Enlightenment (2010-2012)
This period is considered a turning point in the transition to today’s SEO, since it is at this time that the issue of site quality comes to the fore, and behavioral factors begin to occupy leading positions.
Google’s algorithms now pay even more attention to the quality of the content and spamming with keywords. Questions of site attendance and even the time of its formation — age — no longer matter in principle: if a younger, less well-known site copes better with quality and purity issues of content, then it will most likely be ranked higher in search.
In the same period, signals from social networks start to play an important role, as well as the speed of downloading sites. The results of search results are also changing: Knowledge Graph appears in Google, which, according to a number of queries, allows users to get the necessary information without going to specific sites.
Today, SEO and search engines are in a rather difficult situation. On the one hand, there is personalization of the search, and on the other – the privacy of user data. Personalization improves the quality of the search, and this is an immutable truth, but at the same time it violates the right to privacy. Increasingly, users complain about surveillance by Internet services and overly personalized advertising, which is simply annoying. What will lead this confrontation, it is not clear.
In the meantime, SEO’s attention is shifting towards optimizing sites for mobile issue. And here the most important role is played not only by links and content, but also by the adaptability of the design. In other words, those sites that, according to Google, are poorly displayed on the screens of mobile devices, simply fall out of the mobile search.
As for optimization, the promotion of low-frequency and long-tail requests comes out on top positions, since on high-frequency (especially in commercial topics) TOP has been busy for a long time, and statistics show that most sites have an overwhelming number of users (especially high-conversion ones) Comes on bass and long-tail requests.
In the future, SEO will have to be targeted to narrower audience segments. The search will begin to become more personalized, and behavioral metrics and high-quality content will get the most significant role. It remains an open question about transitions to sites from organic delivery: the demand from users for getting answers directly from search results is growing, and search engines are trying to satisfy it with all their might.