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The History of Search Engine Optimization Part 2: 2002 to 2013

 Renew Marketing    Internet Marketing

The History of Search Engine Optimization Part 2: 2002 to 2013

The early days of the SEO industry were just as tumultuous as the SEO industry is today. The more things change, the more things stay the same. You’ve read Part 1 of the History of SEO. Now it’s time for Part 2.

2002 – Google Bombing becomes more than just a prank

In 2002, the world began to take note of ‘Google Bombing’. For those who don’t know, Google Bombing is when you trick Google into displaying a website for an unrelated search term. For example, searching “miserable failure” returned the biography of President George W. Bush for several months.

People created Google Bombs by spamming thousands of links across the internet. This not only told the world that search engines could be manipulated, but it also told the world that Google was a ubiquitous force in the search engine world.

2003 – Google launches AdSense and changes the game again

In 2003, Google got into contextual advertising by launching AdSense. Website owners would place AdSense code on their sites and the code would display advertisements based on the content of that page. In response, internet marketers begin developing MFA (Made for AdSense) websites designed solely to generate AdSense revenue.

A few months after launching AdSense, Google’s infamous Florida algo update destroyed almost all of the SEO tactics used in the 90s, like keyword stuffing and over optimization.

As the years move forward, you’ll notice a trend with our history of SEO: it starts to be less about the rest of the internet and more about Google. Google led the way on revolutionary concepts like AdSense, and that’s why they are the kings of the internet today.

2005 – ‘NoFollow’ tag helps SEOs funnel link juice

An update that was designed to combat SEO link spamming actually ended up helping SEOs in the long run. Google allowed websites to add a ‘nofollow’ piece of code to their website that would tell spiders not to follow the link. SEOs began to use nofollow to funnel link juice. Instead of sending link juice to all websites linked on a page, SEOs would put nofollow links to other websites and save all of the valuable link juice for their own links in order to increase PageRank. By 2008, Google had closed this ‘loophole’.

Google Analytics was also launched in this year. Analytics was a gift to SEOs and made it easy to track the success of advertising campaigns on AdWords while also monitoring your own website activity.

2006 – Google fights back

BMW, of all companies, was the first major company to be fined for ‘cloaking’, which is where the website displays one version of the site to Google’s search spider and another to visitors. This same year, XML sitemaps began to be supported by all major browsers. XML sitemaps allow SEOs to tell Google’s spiders exactly how to scan a website.

2009 – The launch and explosion of social networks

Prior to 2009, dozens of major social networks had already risen and fallen. MySpace, Nexopia, Friendster, and online forums had millions of users. Facebook already had millions of users at this point. However, it wasn’t until 2009 when search engines realized the power of social media for searching.

Google’s Caffeine Update allowed the search engine to display tweets and news stories alongside search results (a feature that ended in 2011 when Twitter and Google’s agreement expired). At the same time, SEOs began to realize that a website’s popularity on social networks on Facebook and Twitter could significantly affect its search engine rankings.

2011 – Google launches Panda

Between 2009 and 2011, Google made fighting online misinformation its primary goal. JC Penney received a harsh 3 month penalty for manipulating search results. In 2011, Google launched its Panda algo update in an effort to combat widespread ‘gaming’ of its search engine. Panda was designed to prevent sites with low-quality content from acquiring top-tier rankings.  It made good content nearly as valuable as good links.

2012 – Google launches Penguin

Google’s Penguin update followed in the footsteps of Panda and harshly punished websites that used artificial linkbuilding tactics, like blog spam, article spinning, and directories. Many websites disappeared from Google’s rankings and SEOs were mad. Fortunately, Google also released its Disavow tool at the same time, which allowed SEOs to remove backlinks from poor-quality websites.

2013 to 2014 and beyond – Inbound marketing, social media, and more

What does the future hold for SEO? What will happen next in the world of search engine marketing? Only time will tell.