When it comes to Search Engine Optimization (SEO), the pace of change has been and still is, mind-boggling. Emphasizing this is Google who says that last year alone, they made more than 400 changes to their ranking algorithm.

Let’s take a quick walk through the history of SEO:

In the late 90’s

The late 1990s saw 90% on-page SEO and only 10% link popularity. Having said this though, link popularity quickly spiked simply because most traffic in the 1990’s came because savvy marketers and business owners linked and traded links freely with related sites. Banner ads were also really popular at this time.

In the Early 2000’s

The popularity of linking continued to soar. In fact, this is often seen as the era of the dawn of link popularity, with linking becoming more important than on-page work. Many websites started the practice of interlinking and using subdomains. However, on the flip side of the coin, it was also the dawn of shady SEO firms and unscrupulous tactics.

In the Mid 2000’s

Depending on the industry, link popularity was already hitting 75%. This period saw the advent of Social media sites, which no surprises here, helped boost interlinking. In addition, Search and of course SEO, started to empower more businesses around the world, even replacing Yellow Pages for many. This was also the time which saw Google seal itself as Number One in the Search Industry.

In the Late 2000’s

SEO has now become mainstream. Link popularity sees no abating, reaching 80%-90% in some industries. In fact, link building surges and links have become a commodity, often being brokered. The PageRank toolbar continues to lose much of its value for ranking purposes but is still in existence for public viewing.

The Future

Regional control and browser based search results (via cookies) will control the search results. Google will continue to dominate the scene. Link popularity will still be a heavy practice, but the valuation will make it even more complex as new algorithms and link determination factors will be utilized. On-Page will have more value and site size will continue to spiral downwards. Informational sites may devalue in comparison to exact match sites and sites that are not blogs. Video search will continue its phenomenal rise (it’s already the No.1 marketing tactic in the US according to eMarketer).

By Shanti Anne Morais