The History Of Internet Marketing

The digital age has led to new opportunities for business owners around the world. 

As of 2021, there are over 4 billion active internet users. With this many potential customers, businesses have increasingly focused on internet marketing to bring potential clients to their websites. 

But what is the history of internet marketing? This post will help you understand the history of digital marketing, and give you insight into internet marketing decisions from the past that have shaped the industry today.  

What Is Internet Marketing?

Before diving into the history of internet marketing, it is important to first understand the definition of internet and online marketing. Internet marketing is the process of advertising a brand or business online and promoting that brands’ products or services. Goals of internet marketing can include getting more traffic to your website, sales, lead generation, gaining subscriptions to emails and newsletters and much more. 

With the advent of the internet, digital marketing has become one of the most important forms of marketing. 

According to recent statistics, 49% of internet users say they use search engines like Bing and Google to help them find a new product or item and in 2020, ecommerce accounted for 18% of all retail sales worldwide. 

Important aspects of online marketing include the fields of SEO and PPC advertising. With the increasing competition between online businesses, it is vital that you optimize your website so that more internet users see it. 

Luckily, digital marketing agencies like WebFX can help your website gain more traffic than you previously thought possible. 

Developments In Online Marketing

The Internet

Internet marketing would obviously not be possible without the internet. The theoretical origins of the internet can be traced back to 1962 when J.C.R. Licklider of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology proposed in a series of documents that a globally interconnected set of computers could be used to retrieve information and data that could be accessed by anyone. This was known as Licklider’s “Galactic Network” concept. 

January 1st, 1983 is considered by some to be the “birthday” of the internet. Before this date, computers did not have a way to communicate with each other. This all changed when a new protocol called the Transfer Control Protocol/Internetwork Protocol (TCP/IP) was introduced. With TCP/IP, different types of computers on different networks could now “speak” with one another. 

The next great development in the history of the internet came in 1989 when Sir Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web.  The World Wide Web, or just “The Web,” is an information system where online resources are identified by URLs and made accessible over the internet.

Founder of World Wide Web


Google is the most important resource for internet marketing. This search engine is how businesses advertise and how customers look for products and services. 

The story of Google began in 1995 when Larry Page and Sergey Brin met at Stanford University. Soon after meeting, Page and Brin started working on a search engine that used links to determine the importance of pages on the World Wide Web. This initial search engine was called Backrub but later changed to Google. Google officially became a company in 1998, and today the search engine processes over 3.5 billion queries per day.

Internet Marketing And Google

As previously mentioned, Google is by far the most important resource for internet marketing. Google is the most popular search engine, and many businesses place advertisements on Google. Google offers several tools to business owners and internet marketers such as:

  • Google Adwords: An advertising platform where advertisers bid to display advertisements, products, services or videos to users.
  • Google Analytics: An analytics service that tracks and reports website traffic
  • Google My Business: Allows business owners to list their business on Google..

In recent years, two of the best ways to perform internet marketing using Google is through Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Pay-Per-Click (Techniques).

Search Engine Optimization

History of SEO

Search engine optimization is the process of improving the quantity and quality of traffic to a website from search engines. It is important to note that SEO targets unpaid traffic. 

The practice of SEO has been around since the first website and the first search engine were created, but the term “SEO” was not coined until 1997. In the early days of search engines, web designers used what are considered today to be underhanded tactics to get their websites to rank higher in the search results by doing things like keyword spamming, spam links, and other black hat techniques that no longer rank as high. 

This began to change when Google decided to create algorithms that reward websites that featured high-quality and relevant content to users. 

SEO Internet Marketing Techniques

Search engine optimization is one of the key ways that internet marketers optimize websites to increase unpaid traffic. There are many techniques that can be utilized when performing SEO. Below are a few examples:

  • Keyword Research
  • Producing Quality Content For Your Site
  • Including Keywords In the Alt-Text Of Images
  • Internal Links
  • External Links
  • Improving Page Loading Speed
  • Blogging 
  • Including Videos And Infographics
  • Additional Techniques


History of PPC

Along with SEO, Pay-Per-Click (PPC) is one of the most important internet marketing strategies today. 

The first PPC advertising model was launched in 1996 by a company called Planet Oasis. This was a revolutionary idea, but some companies in the early days of PPC marketing were hesitant to pay a fee for running ads online. This hesitancy slowly began to fade and by 1997, over 400 companies were using the services of Planet Oasis.

The next big development in PPC came in 1998 with the launch of Goto differentiated itself from Planet Oasis with their model of having advertisers bid on keywords. 

Google joined the world of PPC in 2000 with the creation of Google Adwords. By this time Google was receiving over 18 million queries per day when they decided to monetize certain ads. 

In 2003, Google created a new system named Google Adsense. Adsense was unique because it allowed Google and internet marketers to advertise on websites and not just the search engine. 

By 2004 Google gained over 1 billion dollars from advertising revenue. Other important developments in PPC in the following years include the launch of Local Business Ads, Google Analytics, and Google’s acquisition of YouTube.  

PPC Today

PPC has become one of the biggest tools for internet marketers and business owners. Listed below are statistics that reflect the importance of PPC to online marketing.

  • Over 7 million advertisers invested a total of $10.01 billion into PPC ads in 2017.
  • Paid advertising returns $2 for every $1 spent – a 200% ROI rate.
  • 79% of marketers say PPC is hugely beneficial for their business.
  • In 2018, 62% of marketers stated they will increase their PPC budgets for the following year.
  • 65% of users click on ads when making a purchase.
  •  Google Ads’ Display Network reaches 90% of internet users via 2 million websites.
  • 41% of clicks in Google searches go to the top three sponsored ads.

Internet Marketing For You

This post has covered the history of internet marketing dating from the creation of the internet to strategies utilized in online marketing today like SEO and PPC. If you would like to improve your website’s internet marketing capabilities, contact WebFX here.

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