The History of SEO

In a world where search engine optimization (SEO) is becoming the pinnacle of web presence and brand awareness, fresh and evolving content is crucial for keeping brands afloat in a sea of competitors (it seems we really like our fish metaphors over here). Whether we like it or not, search engines impact our digital world and dictate how marketers work each and every day. Most businesses can’t afford to let their web content go stale. So where do you start?

With search engines.


Where, oh where would we be without the web browsers we use for online searches—Yahoo, Bing, and the great giant, Google? Get this: Google alone has reported an average of 2.3 million searches per second, with 1.17 billion searches per month. Though our brains can barely comprehend numbers this staggering, they do paint a picture of the amount of time people are spending online.

In the early days of search engines, businesses could get noticed by going into the back end of their websites to “keyword pound,” or enter every conceivable keyword even remotely related to their business. When consumers typed one or more of those keywords into their search engine of choice, that business popped up. Easy.

It doesn’t work that way anymore.

What happened? What changed, and why? The short, very simple answer is “oversaturation.” At some point, everyone realized having a website was important. Considering there are currently over one billion websites on record, search engines could no longer operate efficiently based off the “keyword pound” principle. This method simply became inefficient at generating relevant and correct information for users, which to be fair, was frustrating for them. Now search engines actually penalize websites that contain a high volume of keywords per page. How? By shoving them way down the totem pole in organic rankings. Tricky.

“That’s when search engines did something unprecedented … they manipulated their algorithms to reflect how people interacted with websites.”

In 2015, there was a big push for “exact keywords” to nudge search rankings in the desired direction. This meant each unique page on a website included just one or two keywords that were very specific to each page’s content. As a result, every business owner, blogger and entrepreneur started changing their website’s SEO to avoid getting a slap on the wrist.

This was a good start, but it turned out it still wasn’t good enough for the end user. That’s when search engines did something unprecedented: They stopped defining a functioning website by how many clicks it gets. Instead, they manipulated their algorithms to reflect how people interacted with websites.

This is amazing, because now data can determine something previously intangible—user satisfaction. Now we know how long a user stays on a page and therefore whether or not that user found what s/he was looking for. Thanks to algorithms, Google knows how much time your target audience spends on your site and when and how often they return.

Other details the new algorithms measure to determine your site’s functionality:

  • How long does it take your site to load a page?
  • Have you compressed your image files?
  • Are there meta tags* ingrained in all of the pages of your website?
  • How much content is on each page?
  • How often is your content updated?

*Meta tag – the snippet of content in a page’s code that tells search engines what the page is about.

And this brings us to the present, where website functionality and content relevance have become the biggest factors to consider for search rankings.


If users leave your site because it takes too long for a page to load, or they find stale or outdated content, the fact that they clicked in the first place no longer matters. Even if your website functions seamlessly, your content still needs your love and attention. Think of it this way: Why would someone visit a website to see content that never changes? If a person wished to be informed, why would they return to your site if they always knew exactly what to expect?

Good organic content strikes a balance between being informative, engaging and helpful to users. And it should be generated often.

The most popular solution is blogs. When it comes to blogs,

  • Strive to be specific and informative.
    Don’t keyword pound. Don’t add fluff just to hit a certain word count. Search engines are too smart for that now!
  • Be thoughtful in your messaging.
    Think about YOUR users. What are they looking for when it comes to your industry? This is your opportunity to expand your business services or products in a new vein.
  • Feel free to use industry terminology—just explain.
    If someone is new to your product or service, s/he may not understand your lingo. Don’t talk over anyone’s head. Be user-friendly.
  • Be a source of information, even if means no immediate sale.
    A trusted business with high user return rates brings your organic search engine ranking up. And that’s good.

Was this topic useful to you? There’s more where this came from.

If you struggle with a specific marketing question or topic, let us know and we can 1. Write a blog about it and 2. Meet for coffee this week and see what we can do to help.


Smith, C. (2016, May). 100 Amazing Google Statistics and Facts. Retrieved May 24, 2016, from