An history of SEO

Webmasters and content providers began optimizing sites for search engines in the mid-1990s, as the first search engines were cataloging the early Web. Initially, all webmasters needed to do was to submit the address of a page, or URL, to the various engines which would send a “spider” to “crawl” that page, extract links to other pages from it, and return information found on the page to be indexed.[2] The process involves a search engine spider downloading a page and storing it on the search engine’s own server, where a second program, known as an indexer, extracts various information about the page, such as the words it contains and where these are located, as well as any weight for specific words, and all links the page contains, which are then placed into a scheduler for crawling at a later date.

Site owners started to recognize the value of having their sites highly ranked and visible in search engine results, creating an opportunity for both white hat and black hat SEO practitioners. According to industry analyst Danny Sullivan, the phrase “search engine optimization” probably came into use in 1997.[3] The first documented use of the term Search Engine Optimization was John Audette and his company Multimedia Marketing Group as documented by a web page from the MMG site from August, 1997.[4]

Early versions of search algorithms relied on webmaster-provided information such as the keyword meta tag, or index files in engines like ALIWEB. Meta tags provide a guide to each page’s content. Using meta data to index pages was found to be less than reliable, however, because the webmaster’s choice of keywords in the meta tag could potentially be an inaccurate representation of the site’s actual content. Inaccurate, incomplete, and inconsistent data in meta tags could and did cause pages to rank for irrelevant searches.[5][dubious – discuss] Web content providers also manipulated a number of attributes within the HTML source of a page in an attempt to rank well in search engines.[6]

By relying so much on factors such as keyword density which were exclusively within a webmaster’s control, early search engines suffered from abuse and ranking manipulation. To provide better results to their users, search engines had to adapt to ensure their results pages showed the most relevant search results, rather than unrelated pages stuffed with numerous keywords by unscrupulous webmasters. Since the success and popularity of a search engine is determined by its ability to produce the most relevant results to any given search, poor quality or irrelevant search results could lead users to find other search sources. Search engines responded by developing more complex ranking algorithms, taking into account additional factors that were more difficult for webmasters to manipulate. Graduate students at Stanford University, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, developed “Backrub,” a search engine that relied on a mathematical algorithm to rate the prominence of web pages. The number calculated by the algorithm, PageRank, is a function of the quantity and strength of inbound links.[7] PageRank estimates the likelihood that a given page will be reached by a web user who randomly surfs the web, and follows links from one page to another. In effect, this means that some links are stronger than others, as a higher PageRank page is more likely to be reached by the random surfer.

Page and Brin founded Google in 1998. Google attracted a loyal following among the growing number of Internet users, who liked its simple design.[8] Off-page factors (such as PageRank and hyperlink analysis) were considered as well as on-page factors (such as keyword frequency, meta tags, headings, links and site structure) to enable Google to avoid the kind of manipulation seen in search engines that only considered on-page factors for their rankings. Although PageRank was more difficult to game, webmasters had already developed link building tools and schemes to influence the Inktomi search engine, and these methods proved similarly applicable to gaming PageRank. Many sites focused on exchanging, buying, and selling links, often on a massive scale. Some of these schemes, or link farms, involved the creation of thousands of sites for the sole purpose of link spamming.[9]

By 2004, search engines had incorporated a wide range of undisclosed factors in their ranking algorithms to reduce the impact of link manipulation. In June 2007, The New York Times’ Saul Hansell stated Google ranks sites using more than 200 different signals.[10] The leading search engines, Google, Bing, and Yahoo, do not disclose the algorithms they use to rank pages. Some SEO practitioners have studied different approaches to search engine optimization, and have shared their personal opinions[11] Patents related to search engines can provide information to better understand search engines.[12]

In 2005, Google began personalizing search results for each user. Depending on their history of previous searches, Google crafted results for logged in users.[13] In 2008, Bruce Clay said that “ranking is dead” because of personalized search. He opined that it would become meaningless to discuss how a website ranked, because its rank would potentially be different for each user and each search.[14]

In 2007, Google announced a campaign against paid links that transfer PageRank.[15] On June 15, 2009, Google disclosed that they had taken measures to mitigate the effects of PageRank sculpting by use of the nofollow attribute on links. Matt Cutts, a well-known software engineer at Google, announced that Google Bot would no longer treat nofollowed links in the same way, in order to prevent SEO service providers from using nofollow for PageRank sculpting.[16] As a result of this change the usage of nofollow leads to evaporation of pagerank. In order to avoid the above, SEO engineers developed alternative techniques that replace nofollowed tags with obfuscated Javascript and thus permit PageRank sculpting. Additionally several solutions have been suggested that include the usage of iframes, Flash and Javascript.[17]

In December 2009, Google announced it would be using the web search history of all its users in order to populate search results.[18]

Google Instant, real-time-search, was introduced in late 2010 in an attempt to make search results more timely and relevant. Historically site administrators have spent months or even years optimizing a website to increase search rankings. With the growth in popularity of social media sites and blogs the leading engines made changes to their algorithms to allow fresh content to rank quickly within the search results.[19]

In February 2011, Google announced the Panda update, which penalizes websites containing content duplicated from other websites and sources. Historically websites have copied content from one another and benefited in search engine rankings by engaging in this practice, however Google implemented a new system which punishes sites whose content is not unique.[20]

In April 2012, Google launched the Google Penguin update the goal of which was to penalize websites that used manipulative techniques to improve their rankings on the search engine.[21]

In September 2013, Google released the Google Hummingbird update, an algorithm change designed to improve Google’s natural language processing and semantic understanding of web pages.

Notes

  1. Jump up^ Beel, Jöran and Gipp, Bela and Wilde, Erik (2010).”Academic Search Engine Optimization (ASEO): Optimizing Scholarly Literature for Google Scholar and Co.”. Journal of Scholarly Publishing. pp. 176–190. Retrieved April 18, 2010.
  2. Jump up^ Brian Pinkerton. “Finding What People Want: Experiences with the WebCrawler” (PDF). The Second International WWW Conference Chicago, USA, October 17–20, 1994. Retrieved May 7, 2007.
  3. Jump up^ Danny Sullivan (June 14, 2004). “Who Invented the Term “Search Engine Optimization”?”. Search Engine Watch. Retrieved May 14, 2007. See Google groups thread.
  4. Jump up^ (Document Number 19970801004204) “Documentation of Who Invented SEO at the Internet Way Back Machine”. Internet Way Back Machine. Archived from (Document Number 19970801004204) the original on August 1, 1997.[who?]
  5. Jump up^ Cory Doctorow (August 26, 2001). “Metacrap: Putting the torch to seven straw-men of the meta-utopia”. e-LearningGuru. Archived from the original on April 9, 2007. Retrieved May 8, 2007.
  6. Jump up^ Pringle, G., Allison, L., and Dowe, D. (April 1998). “What is a tall poppy among web pages?”. Proc. 7th Int. World Wide Web Conference. Retrieved May 8, 2007.
  7. Jump up^ Brin, Sergey and Page, Larry (1998). “The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine”. Proceedings of the seventh international conference on World Wide Web. pp. 107–117. Retrieved May 8, 2007.
  8. Jump up^ Thompson, Bill (December 19, 2003). “Is Google good for you?”. BBC News. Retrieved May 16, 2007.
  9. Jump up^ Zoltan Gyongyi and Hector Garcia-Molina (2005). “Link Spam Alliances” (PDF). Proceedings of the 31st VLDB Conference, Trondheim, Norway. Retrieved May 9, 2007.
  10. Jump up^ Hansell, Saul (June 3, 2007). “Google Keeps Tweaking Its Search Engine”. New York Times. Retrieved June 6, 2007.
  11. Jump up^ Danny Sullivan (September 29, 2005). “Rundown On Search Ranking Factors”. Search Engine Watch. Retrieved May 8, 2007.
  12. Jump up^ Christine Churchill (November 23, 2005).”Understanding Search Engine Patents”. Search Engine Watch. Retrieved May 8, 2007.
  13. Jump up^ “Google Personalized Search Leaves Google Labs”.searchenginewatch.com. Search Engine Watch. Retrieved September 5, 2009.
  14. Jump up^ “Will Personal Search Turn SEO On Its Ear? | WebProNews”. www.webpronews.com. Retrieved September 5, 2009.[non-primary source needed]
  15. Jump up^ “8 Things We Learned About Google PageRank”. www.searchenginejournal.com. Retrieved August 17, 2009.
  16. Jump up^ “PageRank sculpting”. Matt Cutts. Retrieved January 12, 2010.
  17. Jump up^ “Google Loses “Backwards Compatibility” On Paid Link Blocking & PageRank Sculpting”. searchengineland.com. Retrieved August 17, 2009.
  18. Jump up^ “Personalized Search for everyone”. Google. Retrieved December 14, 2009.
  19. Jump up^ “Relevance Meets Real Time Web”. Google Blog.
  20. Jump up^ “Google Search Quality Updates”. Google Blog.
  21. Jump up^ “What You Need to Know About Google’s Penguin Update”. Inc.com.
  22. Jump up^ Laurie J. Flynn (November 11, 1996). “Desperately Seeking Surfers”. New York Times. Retrieved May 9, 2007.
  23. Jump up^ “AIRWeb”. Adversarial Information Retrieval on the Web, annual conference. Retrieved Oct 4, 2012.
  24. Jump up^ David Kesmodel (September 22, 2005). “Sites Get Dropped by Search Engines After Trying to ‘Optimize’ Rankings”. Wall Street Journal. Retrieved July 30, 2008.
  25. Jump up^ Adam L. Penenberg (September 8, 2005). “Legal Showdown in Search Fracas”. Wired Magazine. Retrieved May 9, 2007.
  26. Jump up^ Matt Cutts (February 2, 2006). “Confirming a penalty”. mattcutts.com/blog. Retrieved May 9, 2007.
  27. ^ Jump up to:a b “Google’s Guidelines on Site Design”. google.com. Retrieved April 18, 2007.
  28. ^ Jump up to:a b “Guidelines for Successful Indexing”. bing.com. Retrieved September 7, 2011.
  29. Jump up^ “Sitemaps”. google.com. Retrieved May 4, 2012.
  30. Jump up^ “Submitting To Directories: Yahoo & The Open Directory”. Search Engine Watch. March 12, 2007. Retrieved May 15, 2007.
  31. Jump up^ “What is a Sitemap file and why should I have one?”. google.com. Retrieved March 19, 2007.
  32. Jump up^ “Submitting To Search Crawlers: Google, Yahoo, Ask & Microsoft’s Live Search”. Search Engine Watch. March 12, 2007. Retrieved May 15, 2007.
  33. Jump up^ “Yahoo Search Submit – Closed in Q4 of 2009”. rickramos.com. Retrieved 2014-01-20.
  34. Jump up^ Cho, J., Garcia-Molina, H. (1998). “Efficient crawling through URL ordering”. Proceedings of the seventh conference on World Wide Web, Brisbane, Australia. Retrieved May 9, 2007.
  35. Jump up^ “Newspapers Amok! New York Times Spamming Google? LA Times Hijacking Cars.com?”. Search Engine Land. May 8, 2007. Retrieved May 9, 2007.
  36. ^ Jump up to:a b “The Most Important SEO Strategy”. clickz.com. ClickZ. Retrieved April 18, 2010.
  37. Jump up^ “Bing – Partnering to help solve duplicate content issues – Webmaster Blog – Bing Community”. www.bing.com. Retrieved October 30, 2009.
  38. Jump up^ Andrew Goodman. “Search Engine Showdown: Black hats vs. White hats at SES”. SearchEngineWatch. Retrieved May 9, 2007.
  39. Jump up^ Jill Whalen (November 16, 2004). “Black Hat/White Hat Search Engine Optimization”. searchengineguide.com. Retrieved May 9, 2007.
  40. Jump up^ “What’s an SEO? Does Google recommend working with companies that offer to make my site Google-friendly?”. google.com. Retrieved April 18, 2007.
  41. Jump up^ Andy Hagans (November 8, 2005). “High Accessibility Is Effective Search Engine Optimization”. A List Apart. Retrieved May 9, 2007.
  42. Jump up^ Matt Cutts (February 4, 2006). “Ramping up on international webspam”. mattcutts.com/blog. Retrieved May 9, 2007.
  43. Jump up^ Matt Cutts (February 7, 2006). “Recent reinclusions”. mattcutts.com/blog. Retrieved May 9, 2007.
  44. Jump up^ “What SEO Isn’t”. blog.v7n.com. June 24, 2006. Retrieved May 16, 2007.
  45. Jump up^ Melissa Burdon (March 13, 2007). “The Battle Between Search Engine Optimization and Conversion: Who Wins?”. Grok.com. Retrieved May 9, 2007.
  46. Jump up^ Andy Greenberg (April 30, 2007). “Condemned To Google Hell”. Forbes. Archived from the original on May 2, 2007. Retrieved May 9, 2007.
  47. Jump up^ Matt McGee (September 21, 2011). “Schmidt’s testimony reveals how Google tests alorithm changes”.
  48. Jump up^ Jakob Nielsen (January 9, 2006). “Search Engines as Leeches on the Web”. useit.com. Retrieved May 14, 2007.
  49. Jump up^ Graham, Jefferson (August 26, 2003). “The search engine that could”. USA Today. Retrieved May 15, 2007.
  50. Jump up^ Greg Jarboe (February 22, 2007). “Stats Show Google Dominates the International Search Landscape”.Search Engine Watch. Retrieved May 15, 2007.
  51. ^ Jump up to:a b c Mike Grehan (April 3, 2006). “Search Engine Optimizing for Europe”. Click. Retrieved May 14, 2007.
  52. Jump up^ Jack Schofield (June 10, 2008). “Google UK closes in on 90% market share”. London: Guardian. Retrieved June 10, 2008.
  53. Jump up^ “Search King, Inc. v. Google Technology, Inc., CIV-02-1457-M” (PDF). docstoc.com. May 27, 2003. Retrieved May 23, 2008.
  54. Jump up^ Stefanie Olsen (May 30, 2003). “Judge dismisses suit against Google”. CNET. Retrieved May 10, 2007.
  55. Jump up^ “Technology & Marketing Law Blog: KinderStart v. Google Dismissed—With Sanctions Against KinderStart’s Counsel”. blog.ericgoldman.org. Retrieved June 23, 2008.
  56. Jump up^ “Technology & Marketing Law Blog: Google Sued Over Rankings—KinderStart.com v. Google”. blog.ericgoldman.org. Retrieved June 23, 2008.

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