You might think that the ever-evolving world of SEO was born in the age of the Internet – but you’d be wrong. Search engine optimization grew out of the need to make companies easier for potential customers to find, a problem that predates the Internet by, well, forever. Modern SEO practices exist to streamline the search process, bringing relevant websites to the attention of consumers, but where did it all begin?
Before the Internet was made public, people used a different tool to find the products and services they needed: the phone book. That gigantic, heavy, index filled with thousands of addresses and phone numbers, though archaic now, was quite valuable not so long ago.
Need a plumber? Grab that cumbersome business directory, flip to the ‘P’ section, find plumbing, and call the first number you see. Which begs the question for businesses: how do you get potential customers to choose your company over the competitors listed alongside it?
Easy! Get listed first!
And in the alphabetically listed phone book, that meant that your company had better begin with the letter A… or AA. AAA? Even better.
So began the rise of the AAA Apartments and the AAA Aardvark Storage companies of the world, all vying for the top spot in their prospective industries within the Yellow Pages. With the addition of those extraneous A’s, we see the meager – and undeniably creative – beginnings of what SEO would become.
Though the channel by which consumers search is different, the concept is still the same. And for businesses, the issue of standing out is as relevant as ever. There was a time in the not-so-distant past that companies would do whatever necessary to get their listing to the top of SERPs for broad industry keywords like “apartments” or “storage”. Now, as consumer search patterns shift from keyword searches to specific questions and semantic search, SEO strategy has followed suit.
Although the methods have further evolved, businesses will continue to do what it takes to get noticed. We’ve come a long way from stuffing the letter ‘A’ at the beginning of our company names. We’ve even come a long way from keyword stuffing our website content, and as Google updates its algorithms we will update – and upgrade – the quality of our SEO strategies.