The History of Search: Insights from the Record-Keeper of Search Marketing
Are you a new search marketer looking to learn about the history of search? Do you want to stay updated on the latest search marketing news? If so, there’s only one person you need to “follow” to know 90% of the interesting changes in the industry.
This individual has a website; his first blog post was published on Dec. 2, 2003. The site’s Google Analytics (GA) code is tellingly short: UA-67314-1. Several months ago, after a brief interaction on Mastodon, I was given access to his GA account to see if I could tell a story about the history of search through his work as the record-keeper of search marketing.
Looking at his posting patterns, it is clear that volume is no challenge. For the last 20 years, this person has posted, on average: 3.81 times per day, 26.67 times per week, 116.20 times per month, and 1,437 times per year. I am sure you have guessed it by now, but I’m talking about Barry Schwartz and his website, Search Engine Roundtable.
Search Engine Coverage through the Years
Since we had data from 2003 and a prolific poster, we thought it would be interesting to look at the topic coverage that mentioned various engines in the titles of posts. This figure tells the same story that we all know, Google is the most-covered search engine in the last two decades. But it’s also interesting to note Yahoo’s death and the resurgence of Microsoft Bing.
Looking at one person’s perspective of covering the “interestingness” of these products is a unique way of understanding their history. Notably, most major U.S. search engines received minimal mentions over the past 13 years, except for Microsoft Bing.
The Impact of Google Updates
One important part of search engines is how frequently they improve their results. The impact and popularity of Google updates in the search community are evident. We labeled roughly 20 named Google updates. The eight shown below are the top eight by overall sessions. Interestingly enough, seroundtable.com had a manual action from Google from roughly 2007 through March 2013.
Top Google Employees Mentioned in Posts
We identified 10 Google employees mentioned in the titles of posts. Of the 10, we restricted the list to show only those regularly communicating information to the SEO community. This is my favorite view as it clearly shows the Matt Cutts vs. John Mueller eras.
Mentioned Tool Companies
Reviewing Schwartz’s posts, we can see that he has mentioned a wide range of tool companies over the years. Below, we can see the frequency of coverage in posts since 2003. Historically, we can see the benefit to tool vendors of creating aggregated ranking metrics like Mozcast. Frequent and growing mentions with each ranking fluctuation. It is also clear here the staying power that Moz has.
Top Posts by Year
The following table shows the top post for each year by unique pageviews. There is content with broader appeal (outside of the SEO community), and content that is more narrowly targeted to search engine marketers.
Comments and Interaction
Seroundtable.com has, as far as I know, always allowed comments, and the SEO community loves to share opinions about Google’s shenanigans. This view, suggested by John Mueller, shows posts over time by unique page views and comments (bubble size).
All in all, Barry Schwartz and Search Engine Roundtable have played a significant role in documenting the history of search marketing. If you’re looking for expert guidance and unmatched SEO services, Bridgewell Marketing is here to help. Visit Bridgewell Marketing to learn more.