History of SEO Introduction

Chris Reece takes a look at a history of search engine opimisation


Ever since University of McGill student Alan Emtage created 'Archie', the very first true search engine in 1990, it has become an ever-evolving secrecy how websites are ordered when performing a query. In the mid to late nineties it was fairly straightforward to manipulate the engines to achieve such a lofty position using special techniques and tricks made to a web page. But as time passed Search Engines evolved, and one by one each technique became extinct and in some cases were regarded as 'spam' and pages were discriminated for using them.

Resultantly as the search engines changed, a new movement in the world of web development evolved, continuingly focusing on finding new ways to optimise webpages. Today, this movement is known as SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and has become a huge and lucrative side of the web.

However, the main issue with researching more contemporary SEO is that no-one, aside from the search engines programmers themselves, knows exactly how they work and subsequently there is no set method for optimising a webpage [Wall 2004]. This is because just as SEO developers find new tricks to manipulate the search engines, the search engines themselves are constantly evolving their technologies making it nowadays almost impossible to uncover. Therefore the majority of the review will focus on papers which are primarily ideas and theories on suggested SEO guidance rather than direct facts.

The review will study SEO in chronological order, starting with an extensive look on how the search engine evolved from its beginning, followed by a look at several SEO techniques and finally a look into the possible future of SEO.

Papers Studied

Caution must also be taken when assessing the integrity of the articles researched. As mentioned, SEO is big business and with lots of money being spent by top companies, a lot of information, especially that found on the Internet is fabricated from a commercial point of view. To illustrate this, an article about SEO is available on the Internet by Tim O'Reilly, which offers new ideas and guidance on Web 2.0 SEO. O'Reilly is commercially strongly associated with this recent 'Web 2.0' ideology, which is currently being spouted as the next generation of the World Wide Web. However, many experts regard Web 2.0 as merely a marketing slogan bashed out by organisations trying to re-brand the web to attract new customers and so his paper may not necessarily represent an accurate and impartial viewpoint. .

To that end, the three main papers focused on this review, by Aaron Wall, Wes Sonnenreich and Lee Underwood, all appear not to be affiliated by any commercial organisation. It is hoped that these papers and snippets from other independent sources will give a correct and balanced overview of SEO - void of any commercial bias..

Next part - the first search engines

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