In the beginning, there was Netscape Navigator, a web browser, which brought forth the dawn of the internet as we know it. That was January 1993.

SEO in the 1990s

In the mid-1990s, search engine optimization (SEO) was a simple matter. Webmasters needed only submit a website to a search engine and add keywords to articles. Unfortunately, a few opportunists found that search engines will show their content even if key words were irrelevant. Search engine designers took notice. These “opportunists” would later become known as spammers.

By 1998, engines began seeking page rank and anchor text. Page Rank refers to seeking out links on a web page to determine a page’s credibility. Anchor text allows webmasters to insert links to add to a page’s credibility. (Adam)

Also in 1998, Google launches, a search engine which will eventually become number one worldwide, thanks largely to their innovation and new algorithms which are used to find more relevant articles. Google also takes an active role in trying to help their users find the most relevant articles possible.

SEO in the 2000s

In 2002, Google’s algorithm begins to consider a domain’s authority as part of the relevance of the website. Domain authority is a prediction of the strength of a website’s domain when it comes to page ranking. If a domain has a high domain authority, then the articles within the domain will also rank high.

Spammers have also evolved over the years, and in response Google pulls a surprise move in November 2003 with the “Florida update”. This update is so thorough, it actually winds up removing some genuine websites from search results. This side effect is a common complaint for future updates as well.

Also around 2003, link context is considered in search engines, placing importance on link placement and the overall context in which a link is placed. This caused SEOs to be more wary about their articles, and not to be more conscious of the usage of their links.

In 2009, Google’s “Caffeine update” analyzes user signals(like click rates, time spent on page, etc) to determine how useful a site was to its users. (Adam)

The Future of SEO

Most recently, in 2011, Google rolled out its “Panda update”, which has actually leveled out (for the time being) and made honest again the profession of internet article writing. Unfortunately, many genuine websites suffered under the Panda’s thumb.

As Google currently holds the lion’s share of search engine market, is actively evolving to counter spam, and is constantly seeking ways to give its users the best search results possible, it is likely that Google will still remain the search engine king for the foreseeable future.