Search Engine Optimization History


The practice we know as SEO began within the 1990s. The Search engine optimization (SEO) today largely revolves around Google. However, the practice dates back to the world’s most popular search engine, co-founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin.

While one might argue that SEO and everything related to search engine marketing began with the launch of the first website in 1991, or perhaps with the launch of the first web search engine, Search Engine Optimization History “officially” begins a bit later, around 1997.

You see, he was quite upset that Starship’s official website ranked on page 4 of a search engine at the time, instead of #1 on page 1.

Granted, we will probably never know if this story is more historical revisionism or 100% fact, but all indications are that the term SEO originated around 1997.
If you look around a little more, you’ll find that John Audette of Multimedia Marketing Group was using the term as early as February 15, 1997.

High search engine placement was still a fairly new concept in 1997.

It was also very directory oriented.

Before DMOZ boosted the original Google classification, LookSmart was powered by Zeal, was its own directory, and Yahoo Directory was an important part of Yahoo Search.

If you are not familiar with DMOZ, the Mozilla Open Directory Project (remember, Mozilla was a company and Moz was a brand long before SEOMoz existed), it was basically a business directory for websites.

That’s what Yahoo was originally founded on: the ability to find the best websites shared by editors.

I started getting involved with SEO in 1998 because our clients had created great websites but were not getting many visitors. Little did I know that this would become a way of life. On the other hand, the World Wide Web was still a fairly new concept for most people at that time. And today? Everyone wants to dominate the search engine results pages (SERPs).

Search Engine Optimization vs. Search Engine Marketing
Before the SEO became the official name, other terms were used:

-Search Engine Placement.
-Search engine positioning.
-Search engine ranking.
-Submission to a search engine.
-Search engine submission.
-Website promotion.

What is Search Engine Marketing?

Sometime in 2001, a prominent industry writer proposed search engine marketing as the successor to search engine optimization.

While SEO as a termisn’texcellent – on balance, we tend to not be optimizing search engines, we tend to area unit optimizing our internet presence – it has been the popular term in our business for quite twenty years and can doubtless stay therefore for the predictable future.

And what about search engine marketing?

The term is still used, but it’s now more associated with paid search marketing and advertising. Search engines have changed the way we find information, research, store for products and services, entertain ourselves, and connect with others.

Behind almost every online destination – whether it’s a website, blog, social network, or app – is a search engine.

The Beginnings of SEO: The Era of the ‘Wild West’.
In the last decade of the 1900s, the search engine landscape was highly competitive.

By Sarah Kuhn

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