A Brief Evolution of Search & a Glimpse Into Its Future

We live in a world powered by technology that changes every nanosecond, and search is no different. Over the past 25 years, the way we discover information, connect with friends and family, and how we look for goods and services has been transformed by the creation and evolution of the web. Now, let’s travel back in time before the keywords and metatags to explore how search changed over time, and what those changes can tell us about the future.

Query Search

We’ll call the early days of search as query search. Back in the day, early query searches had to match the exact wording of a website’s title in order to appear, since search bots only scanned titles (can you imagine the frustration!?). To find anything, it was a constant game of hit or miss across a huge ocean of content. With time, engines quickly evolved to index entire pages and return a broader array of results.

Over the past 25 years, different search engines appeared with various technologies; pushing search forward with even faster listings and smarter indexing. In 1997, Google launched PageRank to rank websites more accurately. This was based on inbound links, a factor that is still a useful tool today. Once 2000 hit, the search game changed. What happened? Pay-Per-Click (PPC) happened.

Suddenly, a searcher’s quest became this advertising channel that no one has ever seen. Being “found” on the internet turned into a commodity, and a big one at that. The PPC model was fine-tuned, developing self-service interfaces so that advertisers could manage their own campaigns, and with that, the search game changed and a whole new field of marketing was born.

Life After 2000

Around 2005, Google Analytics launched, giving SEO experts a way to monitor and track their sites. A few years after that, different Google algorithms (Panda and Penguin) launched that lowered the rank of low-quality sites and sites that violated Webmaster guidelines.

Fast forward a few years, in comes mobile search. We’ve seen mobile outrun desktop search growth; this explosion led to specific location targeting and device bidding since searchers began to expect relevant results based on their exact location.

What Can We Learn From 25 Years of Search?

  1. The goal of search is the same as it’s always been: deliver the most relevant and quality content to searches when they look for it. Search engines will continue to evolve and black-hat practices will continue to be penalized.
  2. Search engines will continue to evolve and black-hat practices will continue to be penalized.
  3. Quality and unique content will always be rewarded. Don’t stop the investment for great content!
  4. Search is only going to get more complicated and competitive - you need the right tools to properly assess your competition, high ROI keywords, and have the fundamentals of the rules of the web down to achieve success.

At High Level Marketing, we've carefully studied search trends throughout the years and have teamed up with over 1200 business owners to build an optimized website that drives the right traffic and, most importantly, converts traffic into leads and sales. You can fill out a free consultation form here, or simply give us a call at: 866-634-1206.