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Old 06-03-2004   #1
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Arrow Who Invented the Term "Search Engine Optimization"?

Because it is a relatively Unusual Term - it would be interesting to trace the earliest use of it -
and who either Invented it or managed to make it "stick"


Last edited by David Wallace : 06-03-2004 at 12:34 PM.
 
Old 06-03-2004   #2
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I'm looking all over to try to find who used the term "search engine optimization" first. Although, I have a good feeling it will be Danny Sullivan, as I remember well when Cheryle Pingel mentioned in the session The Future of SEM in SES NYC 2004, "I can't wait to see our children's green history text books to refer Danny Sullivan as the 'Father of SEO'". I hope I got the quote exact.

Although Danny has been writing before 1994 where he worked for the Los Angeles Times, the first article on the archive I could find was The Search Engine Report - July 23, 1996 Number 1. Then comes the "History of Search Engine Watch" back in November 20, 1997.

Kimberly Krause describes it as "During the middle to late 1990's the popular term for getting web pages into search engines was "website promotion" instead of today's search engine optimization" in this article.

I'll keep looking, but hope this helps.

Last edited by Nacho : 06-03-2004 at 03:20 AM.
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Old 06-03-2004   #3
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I honestly don't know who coined it first or when it first came into usage. I was thinking about this the other day, wanting to dig through some archived stories I have from around the web published in 1995 and 1996. I'll see if I can spot something in those next week.
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Old 06-03-2004   #4
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Question What is interesting it that it STUCK

What is interesting it that it STUCK - accoss continents. (A colleague of ours first used it in the middle 90's)

that is the REAL MYSTERY

Search Engine Placement
Search Engine Ranking

seems like more intuitive terms and would seem MORE LIKELY to stick!!

Also, it seems to have STUCK in Great Britan - but Optimisation is used.

Last edited by David Wallace : 06-24-2004 at 12:53 PM.
 
Old 06-03-2004   #5
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I remember just over a year ago at SES Boston Danny Sullivan said everything was starting to move toward the phrase "search marketing."

I see lots of big businesses are using that term, but it hasn't really filtered through to everyone.
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Old 06-04-2004   #6
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Probably you want people to search for it, Since you are ranking No.1 for that phrase, LOL Just kidding,
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Old 06-04-2004   #7
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Exclamation Web Site Marketing

Search engine optimization or search engine marketing though common, I don't think really accuratly depect what SEOs do. You tell that to Joe Blow and they still dont' know what you do. I think Web Site Marketing is the most accurate portrayal of the business.
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Old 06-04-2004   #8
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Question a Post one of us made 6 months ago

interesting to compare the results - still no knows

http://www.webmasterworld.com/forum31/1164.htm

Last edited by David Wallace : 06-04-2004 at 05:32 PM.
 
Old 06-05-2004   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by powerofeyes
Probably you want people to search for it, Since you are ranking No.1 for that phrase, LOL Just kidding,
it was the basis for my domain name.

i still need to rewrite most of that site though. takes forever

blogs are way cooler. no need to update old stuff
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Old 06-14-2004   #10
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Did some poking around. Here's what I see:

1996: SEW started in April 1996 under a different name. Can't find any references within archived versions of SEW relating to SEO or "optimization."

Jim Rhodes's site also started near this same time. Honestly don't know if it was before or after. He may or may not have used the term -- I have no archived versions of that site.

Northern Web's Search Engine Tutorial for Web Designers site came in a bit later in 1997 -- no idea if they used it and I have no archives of that site.

Web Week, Cnet, Inc and the NYT all ran stories about search engine optimization that year, though the last three definitely did not use the words "search engine optimization" or make reference to "optimization." I no longer have a copy of the Web Week article, so I can't say about that. Interestingly, they did comment about things like "spamming" and "stuffing" back then.

May 1997: First reference I find within SEW to the exact phrase "search engine optimization," but only within a meta tag. It was on a page called "Search Engine Design," which I used to summarize resources about what we'd now call search engine optimization, getting listed better in a search engine's editorial results. It suggests that something was going on to make me think of using this term, though I don't see myself using it within body copy. I may have seen it in logs or posted elsewhere, perhaps in some mailing lists.

July 1997: First reference I can find in newsgroups to the phrase "search engine optimization," from a company pitching these services.

October 1997: First reference I find to the word "optimization" in the body copy at SEW. It was on the former Search Engine Design page. I renamed that no doubt because something made me think that "Search Engine Positioning" was a better term. Reference was:

Quote:
Web Ranking Tools
Bruce Clay provides a page outlining his optimization strategies.
I copy I have of his page from that time has a quote from someone saying to him:

Quote:
Then, last week, I took your advice step by step. I optimized my <META> tags to take full advantage of their use.
That page from Bruce doesn't use "optimization" as a word at all. However, there's a very good chance that I drew my description from an email Bruce may have sent me about the page, so certainly making him one of the first to be popularizing it.

December 1997: First reference I found to entire phrase "search engine optimization" was in an ad that ran this month for ClientDirect, which was Paul Bruemmer's company.

August 1998: I ran an article called Promoters Call For Certification that uses the term "optimization" several times in reference to companies. That was about an effort being led by Paul Bruemmer. Also this month, I renamed that Search Engine Positioning page to be "Search Engine Optimization."

September 2001: SEO was being used plenty by this point, but some felt it was too limiting. I suggested "search engine marketing" to encompass both SEO and search engine advertising, and that got a good response from my readers. I'm sure others had used the term before this suggestion. I was simply pointing out that I found it a good one.

So that's what I could find -- still no definitive first reference, but I think it's fair to say that it seemed to come into play around early to mid-1997. Love to hear what others can find/recall.
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Old 06-14-2004   #11
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That's an awesome research Danny!

The exact term "search engine optimization" may or may not have been used by someone else before you. However, as Cheryle Pingel very well pointed it out to all of us, I also strongly believe YOU are the "Father of SEO" and/or the "Father of Search Engine Marketing" (if you want to call it that). Why? I think that who comes up with terms is no where near as valuable as the one who actually dedicates his/her life to teach us (the many marketers/webmasters/managers, etc.) the meaning of these techniques related to increase traffic for any given website on the Internet in via the search engines. Weather we make money from that or not (ie. ecommerce vs. non-profit) does not matter. To do it right, it does very much.

Thank you Danny, for everything you have taught us and helped us have a better direction in our professional careers for marketing in the Internet industry.

Saludos,

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Old 06-14-2004   #12
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Question July 1997

http://groups.google.com/groups?q=%2...=1997&filter=0


We have been aware of these posts for several years, and have studied them along with several other earlier "invisible web" materials...

However - a couple of our founders for what would become the prototype for our website - recalls posting several analogous terms in 1995 / 1996 on the Web


internet marketing ... Webcrawler, Excite, Altavista

optimizing HTML code for Webcrawler, Excite, Altavista ...

optimize web sites for search engines

optimization of web sites

optimize for search engines

and finally

search engines optimization / search engine optmization
and search engines placement & positioning

They insist that they had read that "optimiztion" term somewhere before ...

- prior to - trying to come up with some established defintion for what was attempting to be done by webmasters, who had not yet found a common
agreed-upon term




But why did "OPTIMIZATION" STICK - defying all probability?
"search engine placement" seems so much more likely and intuitive and it
was being used as frequently as "optimization" - until a few years ago.

http://groups.google.com/groups?q=+%...=1997&filter=0

Last edited by David Wallace : 06-24-2004 at 12:47 PM.
 
Old 06-14-2004   #13
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I like the term "search marketing" better too for the average person that is not used to such marketing lingo, but there is a nice weird ring to "search engine optimization" or for the Europe folk "optimisation. Ever try to say "search engine optimization" to a friend or relative, only to be met with absolute confused blank stares as if you quoted something in latin.

I think one reason "optimization" stuck for one reason was that when you talked to a client, saying I "optimized" your page is a better description then saying we are marketing your page for the search engines. If you work in the HTML or code, then you are optimizing.

Nice research Danny, thanks for info.
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Old 06-15-2004   #14
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It might have had to do with the time period too. The word "marketing" was getting a trouncing back then because of "tele-marketers". Since it was a relatively new practice in it's infancy, people probably tried to avoid the term altogether. They needed a new "buzzword" for a new medium and optimization was it ... kind of high-tech sounding also.
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Old 06-16-2004   #15
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I have always questioned why it caught such a large following, especailly when it is a misnomer. I rationalized the stickyness to the anacronym SEO. Then I wondered why we capitalize it, and answered good marketing that's why!

Last edited by steve sardell : 06-16-2004 at 10:29 PM.
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