Looking at the SEO timeline, search engines and search engine optimization techniques have evolved almost in a reciprocating fashion, and the growth of one was almost always closely followed by some development in the other. Over the course of SEO history, the methods adopted by webmasters have broadly limited themselves to two categories: those that are a part of the design structure and considered good, and those that are moot and looked down upon by search engines. SEO techniques earlier used to try to play hide and seek with search engines, trying to avoid their knick knacks in hopes of tricking the bot into giving it a merit rank. On the other hand, search engines have faced the challenge of overcoming the black hat techniques of webmasters to keep the results clean, correct and uncorrupted.
During the 90s, SEO was largely on-page, relying on factors like keyword density, while links were not a major factor considered for ranking. Banner ads were considered the best way to pay for ad traffic and PPC engines let you bid based on current bids without consideration for a quality score algorithm.
The time when search engine marketing really kicked in was when webmasters realized that they could work their way to the top by playing with Meta tags provided by them to search engines. Meta Tags served as a guide to each page’s content and webmasters could potentially use inaccurate data to represent a site’s actual content. Because the credibility and success of a search engine largely depends on its ability to generate relevant results, search engines started using more complex ranking algorithms that were difficult to manipulate with. Google was the first search engine to consider quality and strength of inbound links to determine what we call ‘Page Rank’. Once again, webmasters tried to work their way around it by putting into force black hat SEO techniques, most blatant of which was link farming.
Over the years search engines have tried to spruce up their algorithms to best counter spammy SEO techniques, most recent of which is the Google’s Panda update. This one practically takes care of link farms and spammy websites that bullied good quality websites into oblivion. Thanks to the policing act taken up by search engines, a quality driven SEO environment has been encouraged where focus is put on developing good quality content, meta tags and a quality overall design, that stands to quench the thirst of information in the best possible way with the shortest possible effort. With calculation of SEO ROI now acquiring whole new dimensions, it is a challenge for internet marketing guys to keep pace with the evolution and progress of SEO techniques.