The history of SEO is short in terms of years, but it is long in terms of development and evolution. In fact, to those who earn or steal their living from the industry, it might seem like SEO strategies change so often that entire livelihoods can be made and destroyed overnight. While this isn’t generally true today for those who abide by the guidelines of the major search engines, it was a serious problem in the recent past that caused the rise and fall of hundreds of search professionals.
But unlike studying the history of other things, it’s unlikely that we’ll learn much about the future of this industry by studying its past, considering the rapidly changing state of technologies and software involved in organic search. And ultimately, what IS likely is that the search engines will continue to prefer to keep us guessing.
The history of SEO begins with the birth of search engines the earliest of which would not be recognizable today as a search engine at all. These were primarily text based programs that compared files on a shared system the very beginnings of FTP or File Transfer Protocol. The most famous of these search programs was a student project at McGill University in Montreal that achieved some success, but even this example didn’t provide enough functional features to catch on with the public. It wasn’t until these text based programs were expanded upon significantly that this changed, beginning with the launch of Wandex.
Wandex was the first real search engine in that it had a spider that collected information and an indexer that categorized it, and a GUI or Graphic User Interface that allowed users to conduct searches and sort the resulting data. This is the basic premise of how nearly all search engines operate today, and led to the development of early SEs like Excite!, Yahoo!, Lycos, AltaVista and in 1997, Google.
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