A history of SEO Prezi timeline.

By June 10, 2014 August 3rd, 2016 Content Strategy, Presentations, SEO
Nivedya.'s history of SEO timeline infographic

The evolution of search engine algorithms and what this means for your content.

Using Prezi, we take you through an animated history of SEO focusing on the most iconic years in SEO development. Seeing the evolution of SEO is a great way to understand and foresee the future of content marketing strategy.



1994– The first crawler to index entire pages created.
1997– ‘Excite’ search engine created. First search engine to provide only crawler based listings.
1998– Google beta uses PageRank and creates Link Juice: starts the relationship between search engines and links.
1999– Altavista search engine creates and implements new algorithm, indexing and ranking sites. Many sites disappear. Known as Black Monday.
2000– Google launches AdWords CPM (cost-per-thousand impressions). Users paid for ads per set of one thousand views.
2003Florida update. This update penalizes keyword stuffing.
2005– Google Analytics launch- enables users to track and modify their content based on traffic.
Big Daddy update: Google changes the handling of redirects, 301/302, canonicalization of links and technical issues.
2006– XML Sitemaps launch. This makes search engine indexing easier.
2008– Google Suggest launches: helps SEO with keyword research.
2009Caffeine update. Massive infrastructure change- designed for speed crawling, expanding index to rank in real time.
2010– Google and Bing confirm social media platforms Twitter and Facebook affect search engine ranking.
2011Panda Farmer update – punishes websites that have thin and low quality content; forces SEO to focus on higher quality content.
Schema.org launches; Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft announce support for structured data.
Google+ launches; Google determines signed in users will have encrypted keywords. Websites lose ability to track incoming keyword based searches.
2012Penguin update: Google punishes websites that build low quality links, engage in keyword stuffing, and web spam.
2013Hummingbird update. This represents the largest algorithm update. Hummingbird focuses on content context versus individual keyword match ups by approaching search engine queries intelligently.

What this means for your content.

Advertisements, link building, and all the other tricks of the trade come in second to genuine content. The years represent a steady climb towards this. A large takeaway here is to see the evolution from the keywords equaling content to questions equaling content.

Google’s algorithm updates represent the steady move towards the future of spoken search queries. Essentially, the internet will be cleaned up, pushing low quality content aside for genuine context based search results that bring the user closer to what they are looking for.

The focus has moved away from keywords and towards content that answers queries. In 2011 when Google revealed that their signed in users’ keyword searches would be invisible to analytics, there was a major content marketing meltdown. A website could no longer modify their content based on incoming keyword traffic. But they could track stats for each individual page urls. This was a great push forward towards forcing websites to push genuine content and focus on business results versus keywords.

It must be practiced now, for content creation to revolve around answering organic search queries. This moves us all towards a world wide web of content that is great, not just good, and satisfies our search queries with real solid data and answers.

Google is getting smarter. They are finding ways to determine which content is created solely for traffic, and which content is verifiably aiming to reach an audience they can be a benefit to.

Anyone who creates content has to have a purpose; a purpose other than gaining traffic. Blog posts have to be written on a topic relevant to someone’s interest. Copywriting must be written with an intent to educate a user, never to sell to a user. Video, web design, and audio content needs to be cohesive and universally relevant to the website’s pertinence.

Google is forcing you to market to your consumers in a better and more natural way. Content must always be placed with care and evaluation as to its importance and significance to an overarching brand in order to remain consistent with current and future SEO trends.


Judson Abts

About Judson Abts