20 Years of SEO: A Brief History of Search Engine Optimization
View original article by Search Engine Journal
Search engine optimization (SEO) very much revolves around Google today. However, the practice we now know as SEO actually pre-dates the world’s most popular search engine co-founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin.
Although it could be argued that SEO and all things search engine marketing began with the launch of the first website published in 1991, or perhaps when the first web search engine launched, the story of SEO “officially” begins a bit later, around 1997.
According to Bob Heyman, author of “Digital Engagement,” we can thank none other than the manager of rock band Jefferson Starship for helping give birth to a new field that we would grow to know as “search engine optimization.”
You see, he was quite upset that the official Jefferson Starship website was ranking on Page 4 of some search engine at the time, rather than in Position 1 on Page 1.
Granted, we may never know if this tale is more revisionist history or 100 percent fact, all signs definitely point to the term SEO originating around 1997.
Do a little more hunting around and you’ll see John Audette of Multimedia Marketing Group was using the term as early as February 15, 1997.
Ranking high on search engines in 1997 was still a pretty new concept. It was also very directory driven. Before DMOZ fueled the original Google classification, LookSmart was powered by Zeal, Go.com was its own directory, and the Yahoo Directory was a major player in Yahoo Search.
If you’re unfamiliar with DMOZ, the Mozilla Open Directory Project (remember, Mozilla was a company and Moz was a brand well before SEOMoz), it was basically a Yellow Pages for websites. Which is what Yahoo was originally founded upon, the ability to find the best websites out there as approved by editors.
I started doing SEO in 1998, as a need for our clients who have built cool sites but were getting little traffic. Little did I know, it would become a lifestyle.
Then again, the World Wide Web was still a pretty new concept at the time to most people.
Today? Everybody wants to rule the search engine results pages (SERPs).
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