The History of Search Engine Optimization

history of seo | ContentOro

Hello, I’m Andreas, and I’ve been doing search engine optimization since its invention. A lot has changed since then, and ContentOro has asked me to share some SEO insight from time to time. I hope you’ll find it useful.

A little bit of SEO history…

Web 1.0 was just a collection of websites, webpages, and search engines. People used search engines to find web pages. That was important, because people used search engines to find pages. A search engine offered only ten results, so if your webpage was at the top, you got pretty much all of the traffic for that search. So you had to do everything possible to get your webpage to the top. You used SEO to show up at the top of search engine. Hundreds, if not thousands, of companies offered SEO services. Tens of thousands of people work in SEO.

But the web is changing:

  • Google slowly realized their original search algorithm was easy to spoof. They had to develop a new approach to bring the best sites to the top and block the scams.
  • Google is also adapting to mobile, which will change it into something that you may not even recognize as a search engine.
  • Google isn’t the only search engine. Baidu, the leading search engine in China, is #2 and Yandex in Russia is #3 (Bing is #4). Chinese and Russian are difficult languages, so both of them developed ways to index and search. In some features, they’re better than Google. China’s eCommerce market is larger than the USA. If your organization wants to be found on the web around the world, you must consider Baidu and Yandex.

It’s no longer a simple matter of a few keywords, meta-tags, and links to be at the top of Google. You need to understand quality SEO. You need a unified approach that includes business strategy, branding, and digital marketing.

Using SEO

seek and ye shall find...and be found online

My blog posts will show you how to use search engine optimization (SEO) to increase traffic, leads, and sales. I’ll show you what search engines are looking for and how they rank pages. I’ll also cover how to deal with social sites and content marketing.
First, what is SEO? This stands for search engine optimization. In short, you make changes to a webpage so your visitors can find it in a search engine.

The Traditional Approach: Faith-based SEO

In the beginning of the web, search engine optimization was about getting to the top of search engines. Why was number one so important? There was basically only one search engine, and if your site was #1, it got most of the traffic.
To be #1 was also the easiest way to measure success. Everyone could type their favorite keyword, look in a search engine, and see the ranking for the page.
There was also the lack of information from Google. Aside from Zen advice to “build better pages,” Google didn’t help, which led to confusion and misinformation. SEO forums were filled with bad advice. Scammers took advantage of Google’s silence to offer useless services.

The Main Search Engines

There are hundreds of search engines, but only a few matter. Look in your analytics package to see which ones send traffic to your site. You can ignore the ones that don’t bring visitors.

search engines | ContentOro

In most of the world, Google, Bing, and Yahoo! are the main search engines. Chinese use Baidu, Russians use Yandex, and South Koreans use Naver.
Google has the most advanced search ranking process, so you can optimize for Google and you’ll be fine with the others.
The exception is Baidu, which is different due to the Chinese language. Baidu also has a number of requirements for a site to appear in its search engine (okay, you’ll have to speak Chinese 🙂

Specialty Search Engines

There are also specialty search engines (also called vertical search engines or portals). Nearly every market has its own portals and search engines. For example, is a portal for wealthy consumers. By being listed in portals, you get traffic that doesn’t depend on search engines.
If you buy links in those types of sites, use URL tagging so you can track the results in analytics. If a portal has a fee, you can see if the site sends you enough traffic and conversions to justify the fee. When you talk with the portal, ask for a free month so you can see if they produce profitable traffic.
Don’t depend on search engines for all of your traffic. Search engines constantly change their rules and many websites that had been at the top for years suddenly drop down. If your pages aren’t findable, your sales will collapse. Try to diversify as much as possible.

The Links in the Search Engines

A user sees two types of links in a search engine results page: unpaid links and paid links, as shown in my next blog. The unpaid links are the result of the search engine’s technology. They scan the Web, find the websites, and rank the results. The paid links, which are paid advertising, usually appear at the top of the page with an indicator that it is an ad.

Here’s an example of a Google search results page (as shown June 20, 2016).

koi google search | ContentOro

At the top, there are four ads (denoted by the green Ad button). Below are the organic search results. Most people don’t realize the results start with ads. They think the first item is a search result. Most of the clicks are going to happen on the first page. If your page is not in that space, it may as well not be in the search engine.
Unpaid links are also called natural or organic results. This is misleading because there’s nothing natural about it. Search engines use complex rules to rank pages, they modify the results, and people use SEO to improve the ranking. We will talk a lot about how to get your page listed on the first page of search in future posts.

In my next blog, I talk about SEO and Social Media.

Visit my guide: Content Marketing Central, full of insight and actionable tips to improve your content marketing strategy.

Andreas Ramos

3 Responses to “The History of Search Engine Optimization

  • Stella Claire
    1 year ago

    Nice blog. Thanks for sharing about SEO.

  • Hey Andreas,
    I am just building my own SEO Berlin site but I didn’t even consider to optimize for other search engines as Google. Thank you for the advice and history lesson! 🙂

  • Abbey Jackson
    9 months ago

    Excellent post very useful. Thank you!

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