Google processed around 10 000 search queries every day when it launched back in ’98. Quaint, right? By 2012 this number had increased to 100 billion – that’s 38 000 queries per second and a total of 1.2 trillion for the year. With no sign of slowing, staggering figures like these illustrate the unparalleled speed at which search technology and SEO have evolved over the last few years. It’s nothing short of mind blowing and it’s not just Google – major search engines are revolutionising the way we access information every second of the day.
These days Google makes around 500 improvements to its algorithm in a year and searches over 60 trillion individual pages on the web to deliver the best results possible in just a few seconds.
Its main goal is to bring you the most relevant information in the shortest amount of time – a process that’s summed up nicely with this 6-minute video.
Search has been improving since the very first engine, named Archie, was introduced to the world in 1990. By 1993 the world’s first web robot had been invented, but it wasn’t until 1994 when WebCrawler launched that the future of search engines changed forever. By allowing users to search for any word on a web page using crawlers, WebCrawler set a precedent that every major search engine has followed since.
It wasn’t until the mid 90s that SEO started gaining momentum. That’s when webmasters and digi-pioneers started realising that optimisation could be a powerful ranking tool. What started out as a simple technique to get websites to rank better became a global multibillion dollar industry that’s still growing today.
Today, some of the best advice you can get about SEO is to forget everything you know about SEO.
When SEO started out it wasn’t unusual to come across ranking-obsessed cowboys who’d do anything to trick a search engine, even if that meant keyword stuffing to the detriment of the copy; cloaking, spamming, link-buying and more. It all worked for a while, until search engines got a hundred steps ahead and started laying down guidelines and penalties for anyone caught implementing techniques that are now known as ‘black hat’.
Back in the day, when you typed a phrase into a search engine, it would identify keywords in that phrase and only display results which contained them. Now, semantic search algorithms have given search engines the ability to not only make word associations, but to identify context and intent – quite similar to the human brain. For example – Google knows there is a connection between the words New and York, or that when you type the word ‘Jaguar’ into the search bar, you could be looking for the predatory feline or the luxury car.
SEO has evolved along with a number of other digital tools, services and technologies, and today the most effective way to harness its power is to integrate it into a greater plan and keep up to date with what search engines are doing to anticipate the next step forward.
What change do you think has had the biggest impact on the industry?
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Evolution of SEO & Search by MediaVision is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.