The year 2000 was a revolutionary year, not just for Google themselves, but for the search industry as a whole. It’s strange to think that before this point, the term ‘Google’ meant nothing to most people. Unless you were a mathematician, then, of course, you would have known that Google derived from the term ‘Googol’. This is the pretty sizable number 10100. In case if you’re wondering what that looks like…
10 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 – A Googol.
Anyway, that’s enough maths for one day.
Google’s Ranking Revolution
Although Google came to the forefront of the search industry in 2000, it was actually founded in 1998. Google’s founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin had this revolutionary idea that instead of just relying on ‘on-page’ factors to rank sites, why not take into account ‘on-page’ and ‘off-page’ factors? At that time, no other search engine had managed to develop an algorithm so advanced that it could rank sites based on ‘off-page’ factors, bar one. In 1997 a search engine by the name of Backrub was founded. (If you read our ‘Birth of SEO’ post, you probably know what’s coming here.) Backrub ranked sites based on the volume and relevancy of backlinks. The greater the number of inbound links to your site, the higher you would appear in the Search Engine Ranking Pages (SERPs).
This algorithm had a name. It was named PageRank. Now you may be thinking “Hang on, I’m sure I’ve read something somewhere about Google and PageRank”. Well, you probably have! It just so happens that the two guys who were behind Backrub were the same two guys who gave birth to Google. Which is an awfully big baby to give birth to may I add.
PageRank was the keystone in Google’s ranking revolution. Larry and Sergey established a completely new way to rank websites. Their new algorithm took into account domain names, breadcrumbing, keywords, meta tags; all of these factors that webmasters at that time were aware of and could control themselves. But it also heavily relied on websites’ PageRank to determine where they would rank in the SERPs. So much so, that PageRank became the most important ranking factor. As soon as people cottoned on to this, it was just a matter of time before that was taken advantage of. Before you knew it, just like X Factor adverts in the winter, backlinks were EVERYWHERE.
The External Link Exploiters
The first decade in this millennium saw, what was commonly referred to as the “Link Race” in full throttle. Once webmasters had caught wind of this PageRank business, they turned their attention from keyword cramming to backlink bombardment. The two most common methods were ‘link buying’ and anchor text manipulation. People were buying and selling links like they were going out of fashion. If you had a website that ranked well, you could sell backlinks to websites that weren’t doing so well and make some good money from it. Likewise, if you weren’t doing well, it seemed like a good investment to buy some backlinks to get more traffic. A no-brainer from both angles! Nowadays, the buying and selling of backlinks is classed as ‘black hat’ SEO.
One quick tip; don’t try buying or selling backlinks. If you do, then make sure you say bye to your website from us as well.
It was commonly known as the ‘Google dance’, but I thought, well the tango is a dance and Google fits nicely onto the end… Maybe it’s acceptable?
I have to admit, there were and still are very mixed opinions on the TanGoogle in the office.
Anyhow, more to the point ‘What was the Google dance?’ I hear you ask. In the early 2000’s, Google updated their indexed pages around 10 times a year. Every time they performed one of these updates it resulted in some serious ranking fluctuations. This made it very tricky to consistently rank high on Google during this period of time. The Google dance was something webmasters had to tackle on almost a monthly basis all the way up until August 2003. It all came to an end then because Google introduced quite a major update which was dubbed the ‘Florida’ update.
Also in 2000…
In this second chapter of the story of Search Engine Optimisation, we wanted to focus on the rise of Google. Need we really explain why? However, aside from Google’s ‘Ranking Revolution’, as we have branded it, there were a few other things that took place in 2000 and we think it’s only right and proper that we make you aware of these.
- Yahoo’s Bad Move – Yahoo made the terrible mistake of allowing Google to power their search engine. That is basically like you saying to your biggest competitor “No please, I want you to take all of our business”.
- Google’s Toolbar – The Google Toolbar was a plugin that web users could download as an add-on for their web browser. This toolbar enabled users to perform quick searches and most importantly, view the PageRank of any web page.
- AdWords Arrived – Google introduced a new feature to their search engine called AdWords. AdWords provided people with the opportunity to pay for an ad for their site to appear above, by the side or below organic results on the first page. This feature would make Google A LOT of money in the years to come and still does to this day.
- Pubcon – It was the year 2000 when a group of people decided they should get together, in a pub and just talk about all things SEO. If you’re a webmaster and you like beer, it doesn’t get any better. Pubcon is still going strong today. However, unless if you live in the US, you probably won’t make it to any conferences and time soon. Until 2020 that is, when it is returning to London (where Pubcon was born) for its 20th anniversary!
Cue the next chapter in the story of Search Engine Optimisation…