A Brief History of SEO
A Brief History of SEO

SEO is one of the most mentioned and sought-after tactics for anyone working in the digital marketing realm. There is a high probability that you already know how SEO works, its importance and various tips and tricks to use it for a high ranking on Google. However, very few know that SEO dates back to even before the inception of Google itself. Read on to know how this mid-1990s practice evolved through the years to become a notable milestone of today.

Early 1990s: The Chaos Before SEO

The 1990s marked the era when the world’s first website was launched. Code libraries were released by the web pioneers to enable participants to create their own browsers and servers. With the World Wide Web increasingly becoming accessible to more and more people, new websites were popping up at an incredible speed. 

However, the lack of proper structure was making it difficult to find relevant information. Such was the case with the then-popular rock band Jefferson Starship. The manager of the famous rock band got rather angry because their official website was ranked 4 on the SERP, lower than the band’s fan pages. 

Similarly, many other businesses realized they weren’t as prominently placed in the SERPs as they should be. This marked the beginning of the SEO revolution.

Late 1990s: The Birth of Search Engines

The first glimmer of the organization came with the search engine that was capable of indexing FTP archives- Archies. But it came with its own disadvantages, and the real breakthrough was marked by directories like Yahoo, which categorized websites for easier navigation. 

Another search engine, AltaVista, was doing rounds on the internet around that time. It utilized web crawling technology to index pages, but it soon became prominent that a much more sophisticated technology would be required in the coming years.

And so, Larry Page and Sergey Brin founded Google in 1998. The PageRank algorithm marked a paradigm shift towards the growth of SEO as we see it today. This algorithm ranked pages based on the quality and number of links. 

The Early 2000s: Evolution of SEO

Now, since both the quality and quantity of links were considered to rank pages, businesses raced to get the best of external links. Later, Google introduced AdWords, which enabled paid search ads to appear along with the organic results on Google. Google started updating its index on a monthly basis, resulting in changes in SERP.

Google later also acquired AdSense and Blogger.com, enabling bloggers to make passive income with their blogs. But, Google soon faced the problem of spammy content. Various businesses also started stuffing keywords, whether relevant or not, in order to manipulate the algorithm and rank higher. This called for a dire need for optimization, and hence, SEO emerged as a profession. Let’s see the growth of SEO over the years:

  • 2004: Local search and personalized SERPs bearing geographical intent
  • 2005: To push back spam content, no-follow tags were implemented
  • 2010: Google Instant was introduced to offer relevant search query suggestions
  • 2012: Google’s Knowledge Graph launched for websites to serve as Google’s knowledge database
  • 2013: Google introduced Hummingbird to redefine conversational search for mobiles
  • 2013: Penguin and Panda algorithms as a response to manipulative content tactics
  • 2015: Mobile-only searches increased far more than desktop searches, compelling Google to initiate the RankBrain algorithm
  • 2016: AMP was launched to load content on mobiles instantaneously

Viewing SEO in the Current Landscape

The previous era had already suffered from stuffed and spammy content. As a result, the search engines kept evolving their complexity in smart ways to serve their users with genuine content. Google developed indexing techniques based on user search intent, their history of web search, personal preferences, geographical location, and many other factors. It led to an increased requirement for websites to put up good content if they wanted to rank higher in SERP. 

With the booming social media, a huge emphasis was also given to engaging yet short-form content. Social media further led to local businesses expanding their audience using local SEO to increase their visibility. The era of machine learning and AI has only begun, and yet there are speculations that AI will be the core driving element of search engines in the near future.

SEO has compelled marketers to prioritize quality and relevance over manipulative tricks to rank higher. The journey of how SEO works is a testament to the fact that long-lasting success eventually depends on ethical optimization techniques. At Foreignerds, we commit to the same values while helping our clients stretch their wings across the digital skies. Visit our website to book a 15-minute, no-obligation consultation with us.   


1. What is SEO in brief?

Search Engine Optimisation or SEO is defined as a strategic process to improve the website’s visibility on the search engine result page. The SERP can belong to any of the search engines like Google, Yahoo, Microsoft Bing, etc.   

2. Who is the founder of SEO?

The founder of SEO, also known as the “Father of SEO”, is Bruce Clay, a world-renowned expert in the field of SEO since the year 1996. Not only SEO, he is credited for introducing the digital world with the first webpage-analysis tool and Search Engine Relationship Chart as well.

3. When was SEO discovered?

The origins of SEO can be traced back to 1997, when the acronym was first used. It is close to the time around which the world’s first website was launched. Essentially, it was formed even before Google and many other popular search engines of today. 

4. What is the best type of SEO?

Several types of SEO are available; however, White-hat SEO is considered the best for creating a successful website. It improves search engines on search engine result pages and regulates the integrity of our website with SERP terms of service.

© 2013 - 2024 Foreignerds. All Rights Reserved