Infographic: A Timeline History of SEO and Web Copywriting

infographic timeline history of web copywriting


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Express Writers is pleased to introduce our first infographic, A Timeline History of Web Copywriting. Our CEO penned the text and some team designers made the graphics happen. It’s pretty cool to discover what SEO and web copywriting entailed throughout the decades starting from 1999, and what it is today. It’s not surprising that content is valuable today, and Google favors quality content.

With that said, here’s the timeline!



When the web was first taken over by website owners and builders, Internet marketers, and young Internet moneymakers, web content didn’t matter. It could be duplicate, spammy and messy, and it would still rank for its keyword term.

Let’s look at an example domain and keyword in existence back in these “medieval” Google days: Want a payday loan UK? Buy it here. We have solution for you. No matter where you located, we have the payday loan UK you need to make it right. We have solution to fit your need for payday loan UK.

Your readers didn’t like it, but they couldn’t avoid it. Google ranked it. You could hire anyone at $1-2 per article and sneak by. Sometimes this was called black hat SEO.

November 2003

Webmasters were furious. The first significant algorithm change that put the SEO industry into existence (and power) happened. Named “Florida,” it cracked down on overstuffed keyword content and late ‘90s SEO tactics that were spammy. Now, people needed to hire SEO experts to get their rankings back.

January 2005

Nofollow” hit the rankings. This attribute, introduced by Google and all web search engines, cleaned up spammy blog contents and hideous, spammy content that had gone unchecked to date. Google began to penalize suspicious backlinks.

October-December 2005

“Jagger” and “Big Daddy” rolls out. Two of Google’s updates that targeted link farming and other suspicious activities that turned into de-ranking activities for websites overnight.

August 2008

Google’s “Suggest” function, where you type in the search bar and a long string comes up, hits the SERPs. Long tail keywords for website content copywriters to wield are in existence.

May 2010

No one knew what to call it, but a foreshadow of the big Panda came into play and lots of website content gets suddenly de-ranked.

February 2011

People freaked. Webmasters cried. Google Panda 1.0 occurred. 12% of all search results were affected for USA users, and bad content was heavily de-ranked. Site owners lost thousands to millions of dollars in traffic value. Today, it’s estimated that just 7 out of 98 sites have fully recovered from the Panda update.

Google Panda has completely changed the name of the game for website content. Content now changed focus over from keywords to informative readability factors for human eyes. Duplicacy was a no-no.  You actually needed a real writer for your website, one who was fluent in English and worth what you paid.

April 2011

The Panda update hit Europe. People around the globe felt the consequences of bad content de-ranking their websites, and Webmasters went broke overnight, losing heavy streams of traffic from their lost ranking positions.

April – December 2011

No less than 9 versions of Google Panda rolled out. Each version made it more impossible to rank duplicate, spammy or poor quality website content.

May 2012

Penguin 1.1 rolls out. Over the next few months, about 1% of search results get affected. Longer web content seems to rank better. This is the first version of the heavy Penguin changes.

August 2012

The Google DMCA Penalty exists. Content that violates copyright will be taken off Google’s search engine results, and now copywriters who are not paid can wield a powerful tool by filing a DMCA for stolen copyright.

May 2013

Penguin 2.0 launches. Moderately impactful, this version of Penguin makes it necessary to blog (and not just around your keywords, but for your readers), socialize on Twitter, Facebook, and Google +.


Web content must be relevant for your audience. It must not be centered on your keywords. Instead of counting the appearances of your keyword in the content, count how many readers like it and look for feedback. Don’t get discouraged easily if you put out a few blogs a week. To get real rankings that will permanently hold, consistently blog. Utilize a great writer who knows how to appeal to your audience and always Copyscape your content to ensure it’s 100% original. Consider having press releases written and published for all your events. Get your web content rewritten if it’s outdated by over 5 months, and redo a SEO keyword analysis. Content must be fresh and steady to win the race these days.

The final word is that web copywriting for good rankings in SEO has improved through the ages. With the continual updates made, a progression toward quality has occurred. Real writers and web readers are enjoying (and reaping) the benefits of these improved changes from around the world. Good going, Google!

6 replies
    • Julia McCoy
      Julia McCoy says:

      Hi Brett, thanks for your comment!

      I enjoyed reading your blog and all your points were right on. A skeleton for keywords is never a good idea. I will always frown on it and my team won’t produce it. We know quality, unique content should be the focus–never keywords. That’s why we don’t even use a keyword density checker. We simply write and keep it flowing, natural, and original.

      I think the content writers of today are rising up the match this need. If they aren’t, they have to–Google is soon going to catch up to all the slackers.


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