SEO as we know today has had a long history. The many changes that are in effect today has reasons that you may not understand – if you don’t look back to what happened in the past. In order to have a better understanding of SEO, it is always important to look back to its history.

Stone Age of the Internet

Search engines didn’t always exist. In the past, there was not much demand for it as the Internet was pretty small and only a few could access and use it (mostly for highly technical research purposes).

Site Directories

The earliest form of indexing the World Wide Web came in the form of site directories. These were basically lists of links grouped by topic, not unlike a bookstore or library. Yahoo functioned this way at its start on 1994. The Yahoo list increased so they had to create a search function within their database. But this was before the concept of web crawling came to be. The model was link submission only. By today’s standards with billions of pages being constantly created, this old system is not going to cover a significant part of the Internet.

WebCrawler’s Birth in 1994

The first big names in web crawling were AltaVista and Lycos. The first project of crawling the entire Internet started in 1994. This was the start of a pioneering age in Internet search. The year after 1996, Google was born. It started out as a Stanford University project by founders Page and Brin. What eventually became a mammoth company started with these humble beginnings.

The Start of SEO: Link Juice

With so many pages, the question of which websites should came up first became the issue. Searchers wanted to find reputable websites; so how can search engines determine which sites were “reputable” or “authoritative”? The competition was tough at first. Yahoo was on top of search. But was Google’s brilliant idea of using links to find out how to rank webpages that made Google eventually leave competitors in the dust. Incidentally, this is also the true start of SEO.

Eventually, the top 3 search engines became Google, Yahoo, and BING (which is formerly MSN search). Yahoo was one of the first search engines and had a big lead, but Google’s precise search results was what eventually won. MSN had always trailed behind but continued to survive because it was the default in the default web browser (Internet Explorer).

Each of these search engines is still being used. Each has it’s own algorithm. But the most basic SEO practices can apply to all of them.

In the end, SEO is rooted in the way search engines have wanted to deliver great results. SEO techniques have been, in many ways, a cheat. Many techniques that were considered White Hat back then are now considered Black Hat. This is because those techniques have been created to “game” the system. Google has eventually released major Algorithm changes that have helped to combat these spammy techniques. And this is what all SEOs should keep in mind when thinking of creating new techniques.