Gaming the search rankings through keywords has always been around. Some sites used to place a hundred repetitions of the same keyword at the bottom of the page and make it the color of the background, so users would never see them but search engines would.
In 2001, Google revolutionized search engine relevance by looking at inbound links to determine quality and significance of any web page. The concept was modeled on the academic notion that the number and quality of citations for an article was a good measure of the article’s significance.
Which led to a whole lot of link swapping, link buying, link trading and all other kinds of link shenanigans until the search engines became more savvy over the quality of links.
Ever since Google and other search engines have constantly been refining their search algorithms to stay one step ahead of SEO experts.
In 2009, Google released an update called Vince that marked a significant philosophical shift toward biasing large and well-known brands in the search result.
Think of this as the moment Google jumped the shark. The moment it ceased to be an open search engine but rather a closed advertising medium. (It’s not just Google. This eventually happens to all technology, all media.)
That’s why when we enter ‘chocolate’ into Google, the first search page will show related well-known brands in our particular part of the world.