The first known invention of a search engine existing was back in the July of 1945 by a Dr. Vannevar Bush. He used the concept of hypertext and a memory extension to gather a group of scientists to set out and work together to help build a body of knowledge for all mankind. He not only was a firm believer in storing data, but he also believed that if the data source was to be useful to the human mind, we should have it represent how the mind works to the best of our abilities.
He then proposed the idea of a virtually limitless, fast, reliable, extensible, associative memory storage and retrieval system. He named this device a memex.
A few decades later Gerard Salton and his teams at Harvard and Cornell, developed a program called the SMART informational retrieval system (Salton’s Magic Automatic Retriever of Text). Gerard also authored a 56-page book which he called 'A Theory of Indexing' which explains many of his tests upon which search can be seen still largely based on.
This eventually lead to the very first search engine which was named 'Archie'. The program was created by Alan Emtage, a student at McGill University in Montreal. The first few websites began in around 1993, but most of these came through the use of Archie. The search engine helped with solving data scatter problems by combining a script-based data gatherer, which had a regular expression matcher for retrieving file names matching a user query.
Google didn’t come on the scene until September of 1998 and was originally created by Larry Page and Sergey Brin while they were PhD students at Stanford University, in California.
It wasn’t long after when search engines started becoming a common household name as more families becoming connected to the Internet. It wasn’t until two kids (Page and Brin) at Stanford published a paper called 'The Anatomy of Large-Scale Hypertext Web Search Engine'. The document contained information regarding 'Page Ranking' which is a system that search engines today such as Google, still use to help rank search results based on quality, and not keywords alone.
The early 2000's was where Google slowly began its takeover and begun to set the guidelines of basic SEO.
In 2003 the approach to the web being more than just words, started to really take shape in November 2003 as the 'Florida' update to Google's algorithm happened. Sites began to lose their rankings and Search Engine Watch called the response to Florida a massive 'outcry'. It is important to note that many sites also benefited from this incident as well. It was the first incident where sites were receiving penalties for things like keyword stuffing, signalling Google’s emphasis on solving for the user first -- mainly with quality content.
2005 was a big year for the development of SEO. This was the year that Google united with Yahoo and MSN for the Nofollow Attribute. This was to help decrease the amount of spammy links and comments on websites. In June of the same year, Google debuted personalised search! Personalised search used someone's search history to help make their results more relevant.
Today people are still developing new ways to help improve the use of SEO to make sure that the people who appear at the top of search results are being fairly ranked. Making sure that your businesses website is optimised to its fullest with relevant keywords and content will help you climb the all important SEO ladder and help you receive higher traffic flowing through to your site!