[Updated June 20, 2018]

SEO began not too long ago in the grand scheme of time. In this article, you will read about what SEO is, the history of SEO, and how you can keep up with this constantly evolving industry.

What is Search Engine Optimization?

Search Engine Optimization, or “SEO,” is optimizing a website for both search engines and users in order to gain visibility and quality traffic in natural, or un-paid, search results.

SEO evolves frequently, so it’s important to understand its trends and how it can impact your website and online visibility.

The History of SEO and Google

Believe it or not, search engines really aren’t that old. Before search engines, we were using the Dewey Decimal System in libraries for most of our research! In 1996, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, students at Stanford University at the time, were exploring to understand the World Wide Web and developed a PageRank algorithm.

A few years later in 1998, Google was founded by Brin and Page. As websites were starting to boom, people and companies began to realize the value of having websites rank highly in the search engine result pages (SERPs). This was the beginning of “white hat” and “black hat” SEO.

Google began growing due to its simple design. Google also set themselves apart from other search engines as they considered off-page factors, such as hyperlinks, of a website rather than just on-page factors such as keyword frequency and website structure.

In 2007, Google stated that they used over 200 signals for ranking factors; This enabled the industry of search engine optimization to be both a science and an art in understanding and grasping the complexities of how search engine ranking signals work.

In 2009, Bing was born, but along with Yahoo!, these search engines had a difficult time competing with Google’s market share. In 2011 and 2012, Google began rolling out algorithm updates called “Panda” and “Penguin,” which helped combat spam and awarded high-quality websites.

In 2013, Google introduced the “Hummingbird” update, which was designed to understand the user’s search intent. Content strategy is more involved with the Hummingbird update. Because of Hummingbird, we saw content marketing really start to boom.

As time went on, more and more updates rolled out.

Staying up to date with SEO changes

SEO has changed a lot of the years. What worked to rank well 5 years ago may not work well today. Google has always had a huge emphasis on websites providing quality to its users…after all, we are Google’s customers. Thus, it’s important to have an emphasis on optimizing your website for your ideal users and search engines.

It’s important as SEO evolves, to keep educating yourself in this industry. Google’s SEO history goes all the way back to 2003! You can see how much SEO has evolved over time by reading and learning about Google’s algorithm updates history.

Google makes thousands of changes per year, so it’s important to be informed with how these updates can affect your online presence.

Have questions about the history of SEO? Leave them in the comment section below!