In the starting, there was light. Possibilities are, as the very first signs of Search Engine Optimization emerged alongside the birth of the Internet, a few would have forecasted the huge impact it’d have on everyday life such a little time later.
After a quarter century only, SEO has developed from the ease of single-celled organism in a living, adaptive, and breathing structure utilized to create relevant and valuable relationships. Today, the SEO connects a whole generation of knowledge-greedy individuals to target information through a complete network of engaging, accessible, and personalized content media.
1. First Sign Of Life
In 1991, the world’s very first website was launched by Tim Berners-Lee. Over the years, many more sites emerged offering the users information with basic usability and optimization.
Ultimately, as websites crowded Internet, the search engines filled the need for accessibility and structure. Search platforms such as Excite revolutionized how the information was offered in 1993, and this made finding information simpler by sorting results depending on keywords found in backend and content optimization.
Shortly thereafter, the major competitors such as Yahoo in 1994 and Google in 1997 entered this scene to enhance and simplify how information is indexed as well as delivered.
In this primeval stage of Search Engine Optimization, anything goes. Marketers used to leverage excessive tagging, keyword stuffing, and backlinks to produce high rankings in the search. Often, great algorithm updates took several months to finish, enabling black-hat SEO techniques to stay effective for long stretch of time till 2002.
2. The Early Days
In wake of immoral optimization tactics, Google then took charge on creating a more leveled playing field for content producers and brands to earn higher rankings. This time period brought lots of updates that penalized wrong linking practices and keywords stuffing to enhance indexing.
In continued efforts to improve the relevancy and value of results, the search engines provided a first sight at personalized search as per user history. In addition, the dawn of local SEO assisted to connect the users with helpful information near them like locations, maps, mobile results, and store hours.
In this age, marketing heavily focused on creating inbound links to boost search experience. Google’s slogan of “do not be evil” is clear via its attempts to control search results and guarantee that brands earn great results with its ethical practices. In general, this phase (2003 – 2005) built the base for a more user-focused and personalized internet.
3. The Middle Ages
Recent trends in user and search behavior influenced the needs for a more immediate search experience. The period (2006 – 2009) ushered in features such as Go0ogle Universal Search to provide more appealing content media in the search results like news, video, and images. Real-time update from Twitter, Google News, and newly-indexed contents blended the requirement for optimization with user-focused, timely content.
In the year 2008, Google Suggest launched to enhance usability and provide users more appropriate content by displaying recommended search options depending on historical information. This shift, together with new user insight from keywords research tools, Google Analytics, and Google Trends, made optimization more targeted and focused.
This user-focused and targeted approach to SEO assisted to lay the base for a more personalized and captivating web. Marketers started optimizing new contents media for search in order to boost exposure. They focused mainly on user aim and extended usability as the requirement for immediate gratification became clearer.
4. The Enlightenment
A huge change in SEO took place, forcing brands to gain rankings through user-focused, quality content or face penalty in search.
Main updates from Google forced stricter regulations on content quality, over-optimization and keywords. This considerably impacted how the results were indexed. The brands who didn’t comply with newer regulations had their name dragged through the street to set examples.
Together with new regulations also came search features which targeted the rising expansion of accessibility, curiosity, and social connections amongst users. New features such as Google Knowledge Graph also rolled out to comprise panels in SERPs that offer instant answers without the requirement for the users to dig deep through content.
Enhanced local SEO results were directly listed in SERPs to systematize all local information as well as offer new marketing opportunities. Google’s Instant expanded on the Google Suggest to offer faster results and enhance user experience by showing results as any query is getting typed.
In addition, a generation of rising social media authority brought the social result to search as driving force. During this period (2010 – 2012), Google Plus was born together with +1 button, which played a noteworthy factor in boosting the content visibility.
To optimize a website successfully, marketers developed shareable and valuable content focused towards users. Content which was shared all through the social media and web created helpful backlinks and engagement which built authority. Such trends resulted in the birth of information age — the personalized, fast-paced, and more appealing web we know at present.
5. The Modern Ages
Since 2013 till today, we locate ourselves at crossroads. There’s a clear struggle between privacy and personalization.
As major social and search powerhouses construct an online environment optimized around users intent, we hear the users cry for less invasive marketing and security tactics.
Brands such as Google leverage users’ data to build up their own online presence by personalizing the results based on device, location, and history. This same information is hidden from marketers often and creates catch-22 which requires a more innovative approach to produce engagement through contents optimization.
This age of SEO brought another shift towards appropriate content and convenience with local and mobile search. Today, sites lacking responsive design or mobile optimization have just lost search visibility on Google.
Segmented contents, optimized for user intent and device, offers the maximum opportunity to boost search authority by creating relationships, leveraging the long-tail keyword, and building links. At present, the web demands quality content and personalization to be competitive.