SEO initiated The History of Digital Marketing
Back in the beginnings of the internet or more accurately the inter-web, it started as a way of connection, once it launched for public use, Businesses needed to be found on the internet, therefore the History of Digital marketing began with SEO, it wasn’t defined as a practice or internet marketing discipline yet.
But Search Optimization was there somehow, the web 1.0 was all about displaying information, almost the same information was displayed for all users – hence the only industries that call their clients “Users” are Drugs and Digital Marketing-
Approaching the late 90’s, Google was launched, with a groundbreaking algorithm – Page Rank – thanks to Larry Page, an undisputed search engine that dominated the search market for decades to come, and SEO’s or “Digital Marketers” back then controlled Google, and it was a pretty easy job, all you had to do is optimize page titles, and send back-links, quantity and quality did not really matter.
As the internet evolved, Digital Marketing professional expanded the techniques along with the new platforms, we follow traffic where it might be, and then funnel/convert the traffic to make an action, expand the brand reach, and meet the demand with the supply.
In Arabia, it takes a couple of years to catch up with technology trends, with some disciplines and platforms not picking up simultaneously due to the region’s culture and local trends, but the whole world is going in one direction, multimedia live streaming and predictive search.
FYI, you might find the article bias to SEO, but it was the origin and search marketing will never die as long the internet provide organic results.
The History of Search Engine Optimization
Search marketing was around before Google, Yahoo and MSN search was leading the scene, both were trying to monopolize their market share by creating Yahoo Finance, MSN News and other owned platforms, to keep searchers on their monetized webpages.
Google joined the Search Engines elites in its early days, complaining that competitors are not acting like search engines, by definition search engines are supposed to guide searchers to other websites where they can find the information they seek, supposedly your search should take a couple of minutes to find a website, click it and spend the rest of your time on the other platform.
Over the years, Google used the same manipulative approach to send less traffic away from its own platforms, with Youtube dominating video searches, and Google Maps dominating local search queries.
On a side note, we have to admit that no one complains about Google search results except SEO’s, for the end user it’s almost flawless and reliable, but remember there is no algorithm for truth.
Further to 2006, search engine traffic reported to have grown to almost 6.5 billion searches a month, currently the same number occurs on daily basis, probably increased during Covid-19 lock-down.
Early SEO methods & practices:
In its beginnings until 2010, before Penguin and Panda updates, SEO was considered one of the “Shady” practices, it’s not clear what an SEO does to improve search ranking and traffic, and Google treated all SEO as web-spam, and it avoided addressing the SEO community until Matt Cuts joined Google and shared more openly about the algorithm and ranking factors while applying Google guidelines strictly.
There were endless easy ways to rank, spamming and jamming was common and almost all SEO’s admit going down that route, it was easy and effective, business owners were clueless and paying generously to increase their traffic and even harm competitors, it was messy days.
The history of Local SEO
In 2005, Google Maps was first launched for desktop as a new solution to help people “get from point A to point B.” Today, Google Maps is used by more than 1 billion people all over the world every month.
Local SEO is prior to mainstream Social Media, when talking Local it’s majorly Google Maps listings, it’s astonishing how users rely on it to find local businesses, and to what degree it affects buying decisions, while it’s still majorly neglected by business owners to claim and verify it around the Globe, Arabia is not different, check out : https://mapsofarabia.com/the-state-of-local-search-in-arabia-2020/
for detailed analysis of the current state of Local Search in Arabia.
Website Organic Search – International SEO
Search used to generate more than 90% of internet traffic, with the evolution of Social Media and other Google-owned platforms, it remains the source of over 60% of the internet traffic. It’s still a crucial traffic source for a lot of Online and offline business and entities, some Master SEO’s prefer to call themselves “opinion sculptures” as they do affect public opinion in a lot of ways.
for example, if you searched for disease symptoms you will get the one that has applied the best SEO! It also affected public standpoint towards the US elections, users are consuming content the whole time through traditional media, and when they want to investigate and make their own opinion they turn to search google, and relying on top results as they believe it’s more credible, it’s worth mentioning that SEO experts start searching from the 5th page as they don’t trust top results, they even prefer duckduckgo.com/ over any other search engine.
Social Media joined the story of digital Marketing history with Myspace and Hi5 in the early 2000s, it was clear that it’s here to stay.
The reach Social Media can bring to Digital Marketing is tremendous, I remember working for a publishing website back then when advertising on Facebook took off, news portals were charging fortunes to display ads on their platforms, claiming they can laser target advertisers audience with the rise of Web 2.0, displaying variant types of content format, and relatively updating user layout according to user demographics.
No platform could match Facebook reach and cost, if your campaigns are on a CPM basis, you can reach 50x more users through Facebook advertising, and is also used to convert better – with fewer advertisers competing for the display space – and user’s attention on social media.
The first digital marketers to join Social Media were SEO’s, as it’s a crucial part of the customer’s journey, Facebook and Social Media are essential for brand awareness, search traffic will convert better when users are familiar with the brand when they find it later through search.
The ultimate marketing approach should be 360, targetting audience where ever they are, and the time being spent on Social is incomparable to any other source, the downside beside it’s “Pay to Play” business model, that the competition got so fierce in a way that you can barely get a positive Return on Investment in 2020.
Influencer Marketing History
Until 2014, the term Influencer Marketing could mean to see what influence your audience and try to influence them, on an individual level, search marketing is supposed to be more effective, people deny that their opinions are influenced by social media trends and views, but we all do, it’s marketing 101.
Amazingly, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram influencers are not the only platforms that are used for Digital marketing, due to the high competition on famous apps, 2018 saw the rise of micro-influencers, surely they cant offer the audience of tier 1 influencers, but their niche-specific audience and their moderate advertising rates are making them a great channel for digital marketing professionals.
The History of Digital Marketing in Public Relations
Press releases have been around since printed newspaper, as filler content to leave no blank spaces in the newspaper, while it’s objective for brand awareness and recognition remained the same, it became a natural way to gain valuable back-links for authoritative domains.
In Jordan, we worked with several PR agencies, almost none stressed out the importance of links! their client’s do not ask for it! their main concern was to get their piece of news published hoping for traffic from local sources, no one reads sales letters! at least they better get the links or acquire a valid citation.
According to google quality guidelines, you should never buy links – as if you can acquire them naturally – but you are allowed to ask a PR agency for content distribution and get hundreds of links to your money site! we admit Press links are not as powerful as guest posts but it’s editorial, and what matters is the authority of the publishing domain, relevancy, and placement of the link, all could be easily manipulated!
Thanks, Google for creating the industry of selling and buying links!