Everyone today takes the existence of SEO companies for granted, but few people remember just how easy SEO was back in the early days. Before we had Google, the monster powerhouse that was determined to produce the best possible results for the searcher, there was a plethora of search engines that were rather content to just show people whatever page had the most backlinks and happened to have the search phrase on it.
SEO in the ’90s was a very fast and unclean affair, with major companies swapping links and starting linkrings and sometimes outright buying placement (before the existence of the now-ubiquitous “Sponsored Links” blocks!). In many cases, if you were an Internet startup competing with another Internet startup for a cialis online generic keyword, it literally came down to which one of you could find more directories to submit a backlink to. SEO companies were named things like “Yahoo”, and they did things like sell you places on their highly-ranked directory — which virtually ensured you a first page placement, even on search engines that didn’t belong to Yahoo.
Then, along came Google. A simple, clean search engine that focused on exactly two things: speed and accuracy. Google came up with results that were completely different from it’s competitors, and amazingly, most people found that the results Google gave were less commercial and more of what they wanted to see! Within three months of the company’s formation, when it was still operating out of a garage in southern California, PC Magazine recognizes the search engine’s “uncanny knack for returning extremely relevant results.”
Suddenly, the game was afoot. SEO companies scrambled, because Google’s algorithm was proprietary, so no one knew exactly how it worked, and it was consumer driven, meaning that Google deliberately spurned the usual SEO techniques of the day and relied on information outside of the ken of the then-modern SEO company.
Since then, as Google’s market share grew from “lots” to “overwhelming”, they have continuously updated their algorithm to account for every clever new move the SEO community has taken to ‘cheat’ their way onto the front pages of the popular search engine. In a way, it’s been good for the SEO experts, because without Google, we’d all still probably be searching for new directories to add to our list.