I have said it before and will probably do so again, it is my belief that the only way to truly succeed in Search Engine Optimization and Search Engine Marketing is to understand their history. Once you understand how they started out, other bits and pieces will soon fall in place.
Now when I say “truly succeed”, I mean that once your site is up and running, and you have optimized it for the Search Engines, you should be getting literally thousands of hits per day. One of the pitfalls that some website owners fall into is to making doorway pages with redirects. These doorway pages may work at first, but once your redirects are noticed by the search engines then chances are you will be penalized or banned. On the other hand if you truly optimize your site then chances are that no matter what changes the Search Engines make to their algorithms you will still be receiving large amounts of traffic.
Let us take a look at part of the Search Engine History and then we will get back to “discussion”:
In the year 1990 a University of McGill student creates the first search tool (called Archie), using FTP (File Transfer Protocol) servers to archive Internet Files.
In 1991 Mark McCahill from the University of Minnesota launches Gopher. This was intended as an alternative to the 1990 Archie.
Now starts the fun…in 1992 Veronica was created by the University of Nevada. This is a search tool that scans Gopher servers for text file.
In 1993 Jughead was created, meant to be an enhancement to the Gopher system by adding both Boolean and Keyword searches.
MIT student Matthew Gray creates the World Wide Web Wanderer in 1993. This is the earliest acclaimed Web Robot.
Galaxy, the first Web Directory, was launched in 1994.
Think that Yahoo was their from the beginning? Guess again, although others started in the early 1990′s Yahoo was started in 1994 by two Stanford University Electrical Engineering candidates to keep track of their personal Internet interests.
WebCrawler was created in 1994 University of Washington student.
Now comes the Lycos Search Engine, started in 1994 a Carnegie Melon student. It originally had 54,000 documents in it’s directory. Webmasters and Website owners started to submit their sites for inclusion in Lycos.
February 1995 Infoseek was released to the public. In December of that same year it received a huge break by becoming the default Search Engine for Netscape.
Starting to notice a pattern yet…?
Excite was launched in October of 1995 by six entrepreneurs out of California in order to manage information on the Internet.
AltsVista was introduced to the public in December of 1995 and gain popularity rapidly due to unique features it had.
SearchSavvy, what is believed to be the first Meta Search Engine, was introduced in 1995 by Colorado State University’s Daniel Dreilinger.
They say that laziness is the mother & father of all inventions. Well, in 1995 automatic Search Engine Submission software was released. For those of you who have not been there yet, this allows you to submit a site to a number of Search Engines all at once with a “click of a button”. Many website owners and marketers quickly utilized this software to submit 1000′s of web pages each day to the Search Engines, in an attempt to gain better positions for their sites. Various Search Engines quickly caught on to this and began to penalize and/or sites that were abusing the software.
During 1995-1996 Web Site owners, Webmasters, and Web Marketers discover that the use of Meta Tags in their HTML code can increase their rankings in the Search Engines.
In February of 1996 a grant was given to Eric Brewer and Paul Gauthier in order to study how the use of clustered and inexpensive workstation computers can create the same computing capabilities as supercomputers. This was the start of Inktomi.
In October of 1996 a categorized directory of Website listings, named LookSmart, is introduced.
In 1996 Search Engine Optimizers begin a game of cat and mouse with the Search Engines. As the Search Engine Optimizers find techniques to achieve better positions for their sites, Search Engines begin to change their algorithms in an effort to respond to this.
AskJeeves is launched in April of 1997 with the intent of emphasizing ease of use and the ability to learn.
Bill Gross Launches GoTo in 1997, the new twist here is that they were auctioning off search results. This is the first Pay Per Click (PPC) Search Engine.
In 1997 a new software is introduced to the industry. This software would automatically check Web Site ranking in the major Search Engines.
In 1998 the Open Directory Project was launched. It’s goal was becoming the world’s most comprehensive directory.
Wondering where and when the Google Search Engine started?
Well in 1998 two Stanford Computer Science graduate students introduce Google, aiming for it to take a unique approach to search results and relevancy.
In September of 1998 Microsoft launched MSN Search. It was originally developed for users of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and the Microsoft Network.
Another big step that the Search Engines took with their algorithms was in 1998 when they started to consider off page considerations for their results. One of the most widely know of these is Link Popularity which is still used both by the Search Engines and subsequently by the Search Engine Optimizers.
This list is not complete, but it can give you an idea as to how and why they started. There are two important themes to consider when Optimizing your site of the Search Engines. The first is that most of the Search Engines started off as University (research) projects, and thus their algorithms are meant to work for the users and not site owners or marketers. The second is that once the various Search Engine noticed that Web Site Owners / Marketers “cracked” their algorithms, the Search Engines updated them accordingly to continue returning relevant search results.