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The SEO series: back to the basics, what is the origin of SEO?

This article aims to educate complete beginners who don’t wholly know what SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is and how it works. If you have a bit of understanding of SEO, I doubt this article will be valuable. But, if you would like to refresh your mind, please continue reading. And if you are an expert in digital marketing, maybe you might pick up important information that I might have omitted about the history of SEO.

Let’s start with what this SEO thing is and then delve into its origin. So, the abbreviation SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation, as mentioned above. In its simplest form, SEO is the process of making your website rank as high as possible on popular search engines such as Google and Bing by Microsoft. Basically, when people search for a particular keyword (usually one that is related to your business or the products and services your company sells).

The higher your site ranks on these search engines, for the related keywords, the more visible your business becomes, and the more traffic comes to your website, and then your business will generate sales.

In terms of the origin of this SEO, from my desktop research, I believe it originated in 1991 when Tim Berners-Lee launched the world’s first-ever website, which is still active even today. But, back then, there weren’t any search engines available when the first website got launched. In 1993, search platforms like Excite revolutionised how the information got catalogued on the internet, which made finding information on the web seamless by sorting results based on keywords found within content and backend optimisation (AKA on-page SEO).

Later, competitors like Yahoo (1994) (God bless their soul ☹️) and Google (1997) entered the search engine world to improve and simplify how data is indexed and delivered on the SERP (Search Engine Results Page).

Between 1993 with the first-ever website to, around 2000, 2001, and 2003, SEO specialists worldwide (well, primarily the United States, because that where the world wide web originates from) were having the time of their lives abusing this newfound technology.

Why you may ask, well, because algorithms by search engines such as Google were not as advanced as they are today. SEO specialists back in the day would take advantage of keyword stuffing, excessive tagging, and (often spammy) backlinks to generate high rankings in search results pages.

But, after the year 2003 onwards, search engines such as Google started to see the opportunities for connecting internet users to more valuable and relevant content. They worked to implement the rules and regulations, which included penalties for none compliance with poor SEO. However, their efforts were worth it because they gave birth to the SEO we see today.

Since this article covers the origin of SEO, in my next article, I will be continuing with the SEO series to delve deeper into the evolution of SEO beyond the year 2000 to what SEO is today.

One topic worth touching on is blackhead SEO, which has a sister called (Yep! You’ve guessed it right) white head SEO.

SEO is essential for attracting potential customers and retaining existing ones. When coupled with a good content strategy, your business moves from optimising its website and content for search engines and optimising it for people and their search intent.

Keep an eye for my next article on the evolution of SEO, but to get real-time updates for each article published, subscribe to my newsletter here.