The History of SEO

The history of SEO is not very long, as search engine optimization, more commonly known as SEO, first originated in the 1990s. Since then, it has become the most powerful way to market a business. SEO gives businesses the ability to reach more customers and potential customers than ever before. Multiple corporations, small businesses, and every business in between can use SEO to increase their customer base and promote their website. This article will tell you about the history of SEO, and why it is important for all businesses.

history of seo

Basics of SEO

Before talking about the history of SEO, it’s important to talk about the basics of SEO. At its core, SEO stands for search engine optimization. This is the process of improving your site. The purpose of this is to increase its ability to be found when people search for products or services related to your business in search engines. The better visibility your page has in the search results, the more likely you are to garner attention and attract respective and existing clients to your business. Everyone wants their website to be first on the search page. It isn’t possible for every person to be first, but it depends on what people search for! If you want to improve your SEO, there are many ways to do so.

Process of SEO

Search engines such as Google or Bing use bots to crawl pages on the web. These bots go from site to site and collect information about those pages. Then, they take that information and put it in an index. Algorithms analyze in the index, taking into account hundreds of factors or signals. This determines the order each page should appear in the search results for a given question.

You Can’t Pay for SEO

Unlike paid search ads, you can’t pay search engines to get higher organic search rankings, which means SEO experts have to put in the work. SEO is a fundamental part of digital marketing because people conduct trillions of searches every year. Almost all of these searchers have the  intent to find information about products and services. Searching is often the primary source of digital traffic for brands and companies. Their marketing channels try to create greater visibility and higher rating, which could lead to more search results. Unfortunately, the competition could have an impact on your ranking, if they are better than you. The history of SEO shows the foundation of a holistic marketing ecosystem. When you understand what your website users want, you can implement this knowledge across your campaigns, website, social media properties, and more.


Search Engines

In order to understand the history of SEO, it is first important to understand search engines. These search engines provide the basis of the creation of SEO. Without search engines, sites like Google would not exist. Without sites like Google, SEO may not be what it is today.

The Early Search Engines

In the history of SEO, the first major search engines was Archie, which began in 1990. In Archie, it was possible to search within a file directory. This was quickly followed by Veronica, a service from the University of Nevada System Computing Services that tried to provide Archie-style searches for plain text files. An even bigger advance from these two was Gopher. This early search engine made it possible to search online databases and text files.

The World Wide Web

While Gopher was being built in 1991, The World Wide Web was also being created. The Web quickly knocked out early internet search programs, as well as online services like Prodigy, CompuServe, and GEnie. While these still exist, they are rarely used anymore. After these early search engines came Infoseek, Lycos, and WebCrawler. The significant web search engines to arrive at this time were Altavista and Ask Jeeves, now known as These search engines brought about the creation of many more, which led us to Google.


Now you may be wondering what happened to all of the different search engines. With such a seemingly concentrated search engine market, it’s hard to believe that these aren’t being used anymore. Well, what happened to all of these was Google. Google simply did a much better job than its rivals and made searches easy and comprehensive. Today, Google is used for more than 64% of all searches while Bing holds 23% of the market. The once-popular search engine Yahoo continues to decline with only 12% of searches, and  is barely hanging on with 1.4% of the market. Google made some major changes in the way search engines crawled websites, sorted their directories, and more. Now almost all websites focus their SEO efforts on Google’s search algorithms so they can get the best possible chance for web traffic.

Primary Functions of Search Engines

Search engines work through three primary functions: crawling, indexing, and ranking. Crawling is the process of looking through the Internet for content. This includes looking over code and content for each URL they find. Indexing is the storing and organization of the content found during the crawling process. Once a page is in the search engine index, it is in the running to be displayed as a result of relevant queries. Ranking is when the search engine provides a piece of content that will be the best answer to the searcher’s query. This means that the results are listed in order from most relevant to least relevant.

yellow pages

Creation of SEO

The first recorded usage of “SEO” dates back to 1977. Although this was before Google or other search engines we now use on the web, this was a form of SEO. Prior “search engines” were more like directories or indexes. You might have seen these for malls or larger stores and companies. Some owners of companies noticed that they were ranking higher or lower in the directories or indexes depending on their store. Basically, the Yellow Pages were created as a way for larger companies to pay for ads within these directories. They could pay to have half of a page dedicated to their service, even though every company was listed. More people would pay attention to the larger ads and the company would get more customers. This is a simpler, more focused form of SEO.

Search Engines and SEO

Search engines and SEO go hand in hand. Each search engine, and the company behind it, work hard to sort and prepare things properly for their users. They want to produce the most relevant and credible answers to their questions. Businesses use SEO in order to optimize their content to be as high on the search engine’s list as possible. The higher an article or website is on a search engine, the more traffic they will get for their content. SEO is a leading factor in any digital marketing strategy. It is an arena that will maintain dependability in the future, as people continue to search for things on the internet.

Three Reasons to Invest in SEO

While it is true that SEO can increase website visibility, it can also provide countless benefits as shown in the history of SEO. There are 3 main reasons why you should invest in effective SEO practices.

Organic Searches

The first of these is organic search engines. Organic search engines form the majority of online traffic. Those with internet access are more likely to turn to search engines for answers. SEO involves enhancing an experience that for many, occurs daily.


SEO is quantifiable. Through analytics and trend trafficking, you can actually measure the impact that SEO has on your website. Between higher traffic metrics and revenue to an increase in search result rankings, there are ways to observe the positive changes from SEO in measurable avenues.


The third is increasing trust and credibility. Earning trust from search engines is not easily acquired. When building trust and credibility, positive user behavior or machine-learning signals are useful to take into consideration. Through patience and precision, SEO can help you earn the assurance of consumers and help develop brand awareness.

seo happy

Why Learn About the History of SEO?

If you want to understand how SEO works, it is important to see where the need for it came about. Through the history of SEO, you can see why people have a great need to have an organized source of information. This means that when people search through a search engine, they believe that what they find will be relevant and help them. You can use SEO to help your business become what they find. SEO is a great way to bring your company to people all over the world, at the touch of a button.


  • What is the history of SEO?
  • Why is SEO important?
  • What is the process of SEO?
  • Why should I invest in SEO?
  • How do I optimize my SEO?

Contact Us Today!

Call Now