SEO – a brief history

Posted on by Wikimotive LLC
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Search engine optimization is the process of setting up a website so that it ranks well for specific keywords with in the SERP (Search Engine Results Page) of the major search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc). Unlike search engine marketing (SEM), also called PPC (pay-per-click) which requires that you pay for every click sent to your website from a search engine, traffic that is sent via SEO is free.

In the early days of SEO things were MUCH easier! Search engine algorithms were easy to crack. All you really had to do was include the keyword you wanted to rank for in the title tag of your webpage and sprinkle it throughout the content of the page and presto, like magic, you’re on page 1. Since those golden days of SEO, however, things have become increasingly more complex. This is the reason you are here learning and it is also the reason that most of you will opt to hire a company like Wikimotive to do it for you.

Long before (around 1996) Google, Yahoo and Bing, the search world was ruled by AltaVista and InfoSeek. Of course the results were far less relevant than they are today, but more and more people used them to search for content on the web.

As the WWW grew, AltaVista and InfoSeek gave way to many other search engines that came and went. Until…


Google was cofounded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin, while students at Stanford, it came about as part of a research project they had begun in 1996. The key to its success was that their search engine algorithm was drastically different than those before it. Based on their experience with academic research, they posited that webpage authority and relevance could be derived by indexing the entire web and then analyzing who links to whom.

They took the process of citing in academic research and hypothesized that webpages with the most links to them from other highly relevant webpages must be the most relevant webpages associated with a particular search. Thus PageRank (named after Larry Page) was created, not only to count how many links point to a given page, but also to determine the quality of those links.

Beware the Snake Oil Salesmen!

The majority of SEO experts are ethical professionals who understand the complex dynamics of search engine algorithms and offer their expertise on how to maximize your placement on the SERP. There are, however, a small group of people who sell “guaranteed top-ten placement” and “instant success” formulas for getting on page one for important terms. Watch out for people who guarantee success or placement. The truth is there are no guarantees in SEO. If anyone promises otherwise, run away!

SEO requires great skill and is not quick. You must have patience. SEO should be viewed as a never-ending, ongoing process which will allow you to maintain/increase your placement in the SERP as part of a long term strategy.

My next article will detail the process of getting started with your own SEO campaign. Please remember to comment and REMEMBER: There are NO stupid questions!


  1. Great Question Aahna! There is actually some debate about this. Technically, during the early development of the web, there was a list of webservers edited by Tim Berners-Lee and hosted on the CERN webserver.

    The very first tool used for searching the internet was “Archie”. The name stands for “Archive” without the v. It was created in 1990 by Alan Emtage, a computer science student at McGill University in Montreal.

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