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History Of Search Engine Marketing

A Brief History of Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

It hardly seems new, but the concept of what a search engine is has only been in the public consciousness for a little over two decades – Google was launched in 1998, became a public company in 2004, and the term “google” didn’t make its way into the dictionary until 2006. While Google is the most popular search engine today, it wasn’t even the first search engine – that honor belongs to Archie, released on September 10th, 1990. Despite how recent this technology is, there exists a rich search engine history of the different things that search engines have made possible and how these things have evolved themselves. Search engine marketing, a strategy that that many businesses rely on today, perfectly exemplifies how so much change can happen in such a recently created space in so little time.

One of the earliest forms of search engine marketing is pay per click, or PPC. PPC refers to the ads consumers see on Google when they search for a product or service. This marketing channel is used by businesses to drive traffic to their websites and connect with consumers at the right time. Surprisingly, the first PPC model in search engine history actually predates Google. At a time when Yahoo dominated the search market, Planet Oasis launched the very first flat rate PPC model on July 8th, 1996. At this point in time, Google had just been released as a research project.

History of Digital Marketing

When Google arrived on the scene two years later, PPC had already gone through significant changes. Rather than paying a flat rate for an advertisement on a search engine, companies could now bid against each other on keywords. Advertisers who bid the most would have their ads show up higher on the page while, lower bidders would see their ads display towards the bottom of the page. This was the first auction based bidding system in search engine history. It was introduced by a search engine called GoTo, and it opened up a whole new world of competitive PPC strategies. 

1999 is an important year in search engine history because Google started processing over half a million queries per day, and by the turn of the century, Google had launched its own advertising system – Google Adwords. To better encompass the types of ads they work with, Google Adwords was rebranded to Google Ads in 2018. Initially, Google Adwords was sold as a monthly service to advertisers but in 2005, Google, along with Yahoo! and Bing Ads accommodated a manual bidding system. As it had in the past, this manual bidding system allowed for large companies to price out their smaller competitors. This made search engine marketing more appealing and greatly contributed to its growth. As early as 2006, SEM was growing faster than traditional forms of advertising and continued growing as new advancements in technology like the iPhone and iPad made the internet more accessible. The rise in mobile technology meant SEM was no longer tied to a desktop, opening up a whole new world of opportunities for search engine marketing.

As the way people were searching evolved, so did SEM, and some of today’s common strategies like geo-targeting and segmenting between devices were born. To accommodate these changes, Google launched Google Smart Bidding. Many other bid optimization platforms followed.

In under just two decades, paid search has come to hold the largest share of digital ad spend in America. In 2020 advertisers spent an estimated $59.22 billion on paid search ads, and this growth shows no signs of slowing down, so there will be many more chapters added to search engine history for years to come.

With how search engine marketing strategies continue to evolve, businesses need a reliable partner in their paid search efforts that doesn’t remain complacent in their efforts. At SocialSEO, our SEM experts are constantly testing, evaluating, and implementing new strategies and take part in cutting-edge training to become familiar with the latest and greatest digital advertising tools before widespread adoption. We know our search engine history too, and use that knowledge  Contact Us to learn more about our SEM services and how we can maximize your ROI!

SocialSEO Team