My Memories Of SEO Back In 2002…


It was easier, messier, unpredictable and – from my experience – expensive too!

Posted by Henry Dalziel  |  January 23, 2020  |   Questions / Comments 0

My Memories Of SEO Back In 2002…

Growth Hacking SEO
Henry Dalziel
Henry Dalziel | January 23, 2020

- C|EH, Security+, MSc Marketing Management;
- Based in Hong Kong for the last five years;
- Cybersecurity Pro & Growth Hacker

TL;DR
I've been in the SEO game since 2002. This post is to really just memorialize my experiences for myself as much as to share with you.

Was SEO Easier Before?

Yes and no.

Yes, because there was less competition, and by the way, I am referring back to around the 2002-2006 era when I first got into SEO, but it wasn’t all plain sailing.

Let’s look at the “easy” bits of SEO almost twenty years ago and then take a look at the harder bits.

How Was SEO Easier Back Then?

You’d really just have to do a few things and just do them well.

The “three things” you’d have to do were:

    • Just write a bunch of semi-decent keyword intense pages (WordPress didn’t exist until 2003) in your CMS;
    • Pump your meta-descriptions and meta-keywords tags with your prime key phrases;
    • Procure IBL (In Bound Links) in whatever way possible.

Done. Rinse and repeat the above, and you’d rank. It was really that simple.

For example, in one online business, we got to rank on page 1 of Google for a very competitive keyword was the result of us paying for Inbound Links from the Hindu Times! There was no related niche or relevancy, it was just a simple outright link from a high ranking website, that’s it, i.e. very basic and simple.

The other growth SEO hack we used to do was to, on purpose, write a bunch of typos for popular keywords we were trying to rank for! So simple and it worked!

Social Media Didn’t Exist

And, of course, Social Media didn’t exist! It was really all about content and Inbound Links, but primarily it was really about publishing a ton of spammy keyword-intense pages just rammed full of what it was that you were trying to rank for.

So, What Changed?

Well, it was kinda obvious, Google got smart. Google wasn’t the first game in town, Ask Jeeves used to be a very popular search engine for example and everyone was using Explorer and Windows.

Here’s what changed: Google began to dominate search because of its’ simplicity and “easy on the eye” search results UI/UX (i.e. its’ SERP was clean, easy and simple). Yahoo! which was very likely larger than Google back in those early days was selling advertising on its’ homepage, which I am sure made perfect sense back then but it was an opportunity that Google snapped up.

However, back to SEO, what changed was that Google (once it had secured itself as the cool, upcoming search engine) was becoming smarter and smarter and through the millions that poured into its’ coffers they were able to hire the brightest and best minds from MIT, Stanford, Yale and other leading STEM Universities around the world: my point being that they were able to rapidly evolve their search algorithm to be smarter and detecting spammy sites.

What has changed is that Google is now delivering a ton more value for its’ users than it used to. I’m sensing that Google is really now answering questions for you without you even needing to click into a site. Take for example if you want to find out the opening times of a shop, check the weather or check on a flight, it’s now all there ready and waiting for you top of the fold.

In Summary

Really, this post is just a place for me to dump some of my thoughts having been online and involved in the digital marketing space since 2002. Drop your thoughts too if you have any to share regarding the History of SEO!

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