Ten years ago today, I first starting writing publicly about search engines.
If we had blogs back then, I suppose I would have been a search blogger. But we
didn’t. We hand-coded our HTML, walked through the snow for eight miles to FTP
files to our web servers, and we liked it 🙂
My involvement with search engines goes back to my first year as a student
at the University Of California, Irvine in 1983. No, I wasn’t part of the
university’s highly regarded information and computer science department.
Instead, I was an English major — and a pretty bored one for my first two
months, when I had to commute until getting on-campus housing.
I spent some time exploring the library, having been a big library user since
I was a child. The library had a magical electronic card catalog called
for Melvil Dewey, who created the Dewey Decimal System). For fun, I’d do Melvyl
searches for broad topics such as history, art or love, to see how many matches
would come back. I could routinely crash the search routine by doing this.
The system would diligently try, telling me it would take 50, 60, 80 search
cycles, and then the countdown would begin. Some searches would eventually get
through all cycles and give me a matching results count. Often, the system would
just give up as the countdown approached the teens.
My 1996 Study
Search engines remained fascinating to me when I reencountered them in 1995.
I’d left working as a newspaper reporter to go into web development, since I
didn’t want to miss out what was obviously going to be the future of publishing.
As the general manager of Maximized Online, my job was to help get people in the
Orange County, California area online. We’d build web sites, get them publicized
to search engines and other publicity venues, plus host them.
One of our clients was upset at the end of 1995 that his OC jobs site wasn’t
ranking tops for a search on “orange county” in WebCrawler. We didn’t have a
good answer to give him. We’d done the submission, made use of the meta tags the
search engines said to use, but why exactly a site would rank well wasn’t well
known. So I decided to look into it.
I spent January through April 1996 making changes to the InfoPages directory
that my company maintained, a search engine just for Orange County web
resources, to see if it could rank better in a search for “orange county.” I
tried putting those words in the body text, the title tag, in the meta tags and
also checked to see if spamming helped, if repeating the word over and over
would have an impact.
I published the results online, and 10 years on, a lot of the advice remains
exactly the same. Don’t depend on ALT text. Don’t fixate on only one or two
terms, because there are many ways people will seek you — a long tail before we
had talk of long
tails. Build links, because links can send you traffic. And don’t fixate on
getting traffic just from search engines. The conclusions from that study are below for those
really interested; others can jump past for the rest of this article.
There don’t seem to be any magic methods that will make a page appear at
the top of every search engines’ listings. There’s too much fluctuation on the
web for any page to claim a foothold, and all the engines handle relevancy
slightly differently. However, there are some general tips that do help a page
appear more relevant.
- Have text on your home page: Search engine catalogs contain the
text read from the various home pages the engines visit. If a page lacks
descriptive text, then there is little chance that page will come up in the
results of a search engine query. It’s not enough for that text to be in
graphics. It must be HTML text. Some search engines will catalog ALT text
and text in comment and meta tags. To be safe, a straight HTML description
- Pick your keywords: Focus on the two or three keywords that you
think are most crucial to your site, then ensure those words are both in
your title and mentioned early on your web page. Generally, most people will
already have those words present on their pages but may not also have them
in page titles. Keep in mind that the keywords you consider crucial may not
be exactly what users enter. Our study focused on making the InfoPages
directory appear high on lists if keywords “Orange County” were entered. The
lack of success with some search engines does not mean that the site isn’t
being found. Many people find the site by entering more words, such as
“Orange County California” or “Orange County Web.” The addition of just one
extra word can suddenly make a site appear more relevant, and it can be
impossible to anticipate what that word will be. The best bet is to focus on
your chosen keywords but to also have a complete description.
- Have links to inside pages: If there are no links to inside pages
from the home page, it seems that some search engines will not fully catalog
a site. Unfortunately, the most descriptive, relevant pages that are often
inside pages rather than the home page. You can also try sending search
engines directly to your lower levels, if they don’t ordinarily go there.
- Forget Spamming: For one thing, spamming doesn’t seem to work
with every search engine. Ethically, the content of most web pages ought to
be enough for search engines to determine relevancy without webmasters
having to resort to repeating keywords for no reason other than to try and
“beat” other web pages. The stakes will simply keep rising, and users will
also begin to hate sites that undertake these measures. Efforts would be
better spent on networking and alternative forms of publicity described
- Network: If your site fails to make the top ten lists, then get
together with those that do. Perhaps some might be considered “competitors,”
but others might be happy to link to your site in return for a link back.
After all, your site may appear first when slightly different keywords are
used. Links are what the web was built on, and they remain one of the best
ways for people to find your site.
- Relax: Search engines are a primary way people look for
web sites, but they are not the only way. People also find sites
through word-of-mouth, traditional advertising, the traditional media,
newsgroup postings, web directories and links from other sites. Many times,
these alternative forms are far more effective draws than are search
engines. The audience you want may be visiting to a site that you can
partner with, or reading a magazine that you’ve never informed of your site.
Do the simple things to best make your site relevant to search engines, then
concentrate on the other areas.
A Webmaster’s Guide To Search Engines
Along with the study, I also published a collection of documents called “A
Webmaster’s Guide To Search Engines.” My goal was to help site owners better
understand the essentials of being found plus identify which search engines really
mattered. Knowing who mattered was crucial when you’d have some search engines
like Galaxy forcing your through a three part, multiple question submission
process to be included in their directory. Was spending all that time worthwhile? (For
Galaxy, the answer was no!).
The guide provided links to the FAQs of each search engines, along with my own
observations about whether how each search engines said it worked actually lived
up to reality. There was a guide to which search engines I considered to be
“major” or most important to site owners and searchers alike. I had a
“Strategic Alliances & Victories” chart to show which search engines had deals
with the Netscape or Internet Explorer browsers and which had gained positive
reviews in magazines.
The information I published quickly generated a lot of positive feedback,
both from site owners and searchers such as librarians. At the same time, the
web development company I worked for closed, so that the parent firm could
concentrate on web software development. I hung out my internet consultant
shingle and kept maintaining the Webmaster’s Guide on a part time basis, sending
out a newsletter update (The Search Engine Report)
year, along with making further site updates.
In 1997, I moved to the UK from California, so my wife could be closer to her
family. I also began spending more and more time on the site, as well as writing
freelance articles on search for various publications. In the middle of the
year, I rebranded the site as Search Engine Watch, which generated more
attention. By the end of the year, Mecklermedia purchased the site from me, and
I continued on as editor of it.
The Search Revolution
Ten years on, I remain as fascinated with search engines as ever. I’ve been
fortunate to help chronicle the birth of an entirely new advertising medium.
Equally important has been the birth of an entirely new way for people to seek
I knew search engines were important when I decided to write about them. The
journalist in me could see they were a good story, especially when you realized
that under the hood, they weren’t doing things like crawling as often as people
widely believed. But a
Keen in 2001 especially resonated with me. Search engines (as a whole — we
weren’t Google obsessed yet then) were the single most likely way people would
The study was small, but the findings were still stunning. In only about five
years, search engines had ousted things like friends, family, books, magazines,
libraries and other perfectly good resources for seeking answers.
Some of this was bad. I’d personally watched people when doing search
training spending ages trying to find a phone number, when a call to telephone
information would have found much faster. Old but still useful search strategies
were abandoned in favor of the magic search box.
Lots of this is good. Search engines remain amazing tools that get us the
right answers quickly in many circumstances.
Will I still be doing this in 20 years? Almost certainly not, at least not in
the daily grind format I’ve been doing. I’d like to keep writing about
search issues, but eventually I’ll move away from the regular day-to-day
coverage to perhaps focus on less frequent but deeper looks at particular search issues.
I’m also thinking a lot about doing a book these days. I’d always wanted to do a book on search, indeed the exact type of
John Battelle did a
with in The Search.
Since that’s come out, I’ve thought more and more about
doing a more personal retelling of web search history — the evolution, developments and trends
I’ve seen from having been in the trenches of covering them over the years.
also like to do a separate one talking to various search marketers, spotlighting
them and focusing on how that medium has evolved over the years and where it
will be going. The most fascinating book idea remains the impact of search on our
everyday lives, how people make use of them, how habits have changed, our
laws are starting to account for the power of search and many related issues
Someday! What I can say is that for the near future, I expect to remain
working on the site and coverage as I have, bringing some of our standing
content back up to date, which I know has been neglected due to the need to
cover the news that continues to flow in. My original Webmaster’s Guide helped
many understand search engines, and I very much want to
ensure Search Engine Watch remains as a leading resource doing that in the years
I don’t have a succinct list of big picture items or “high order bits” to offer.
A lot of this has already been covered in things I’ve
written, so instead I’m going to spend some time recapping pieces I think are
most important below. These are either big trend pieces I’ve done or big shifts
in the search landscape I think worth noting.
I know — I KNOW — I’ve left some things out. My apologies, if so. It’s a
bit easier for me to cover all the things I’ve written that what me or Chris
Sherman both have done, and he’s clearly covered tons himself. Plus, skimming
through 10 years worth of writings means I’ll accidentally miss stuff. If you
want to go poking yourself, I’ll give more tips after the summary.
The biggest overall theme in doing the recap is how that big old wheel keeps
spinning around and around, with people often buying hype because they don’t
remember things have come before — or marketers making errors because they
don’t understand issues that were explored already in the past.
I’ve definitely felt myself getting more and more jaded. Part of that’s bad,
because there are cool, new things that I don’t want to be blinded to. But then
again, you go through the list below and tell me if you don’t emerge feeling a
big jaded about some ideas and concepts that are retreads.
- The Alta
Vista Size Controversy: The Google-Yahoo spat over index size in 2005 was
only the latest in long standing issues over page counts.
Planning Own Search Engine? &
To Launch Search Engine: Microsoft’s going to wipe out Google? Nine years
ago, it was wondering if they were going to wipe out Yahoo, Open Text and
- What A Top
Listing? Become A Content Partner!: Since paid links weren’t going to fly
back all those years ago, search engines had to pimp space in other ways.
Delays Expected: Forget being in Google, which didn’t exist. Back years
ago, it was Yahoo that everyone worried about, to the degree I did an entire
special report on listing issues and problems.
Over Meta Tag Keywords: The new medium of search collides with trademark
law, for the first time.
Light’s Custom Search Folders: Clustering and query refinement is
something Google’s still experimenting with today, but it’s been in place and
used by others for years. Northern Light was a pioneer.
AltaVista’s Refine Feature: The next time someone pitches you that we’ll
be flying through search results and using flashy query refinement tools, ask
them why AltaVista Refine didn’t take off. The answer is that the 10 results
on a page metaphor is familiar, and though it could be better, it still works
pretty well for lots of people.
- Welcome To
SearchEngineLand: Enter the portals and a detraction from search that gave
Google’s its shot, though ironically years later, Google itself is now a
portal, just a different one —
- Lycos Adds
Predetermined Listings: Build a walled garden and watch how your users
seek another place to search.
- The New
Meta Tags Are Coming — Or Are They?: Tagging is going to completely
change search! Um, meta tagging, and it didn’t.
Engines Are Dead Discussion: Some marketers believed search was overblown
as a publicity venue and would soon go away. Hmm — I still hear this, yet
they still seem to be important.
- News Robot
Leads To Linking, Indexing Dispute: Book publishers upset with Google’s
library scanning program are just the latest in groups upset with being
indexed by search engines.
Users Into Members: Search engines decided that users needed to become
members. Google’s only the latest of the search engines to do this.
- A Bridge
Page Too Far?: The debate over doorway pages and cloaking begins!
Tabs On AltaVista: What to do about tabs was an issue eight years ago, and
it’s still not solved today.
- GoTo Sells
Positions: Enter a second shot at selling listings, one that finally
worked and paved the way for Google itself to become successful.
Changes Direction: AltaVista decides belatedly to become a portal, leaving
no one focused on search, a grand opportunity for Google.
- Life After
Yahoo Discussion: Discussions about life after being banned on Google kind
of make me chuckle, since search marketers already have been through this once
before with Yahoo.
Yahoo Built By The Masses: You know what would be hot? A search engine
that scales by having lots and lots of people be involved! It worked for a
Going, Go.com-Gone: Uh oh, maybe we should have kept the Infoseek name
and not tried to be a portal, thinks Disney.
Clicks and Looking at Links: Meet Google and the second generation of
- Ask Jeeves:
Asking Questions To Give You Answers: Meet Ask Jeeves, which seriously
challenged Google with relevancy. It’s just that those pesky editors to review
results cost so darn much.
- He Said
What? Clinton Video Search Available: Video search that uses transcripts
or audio conversion isn’t some Web 2.0 thing.
GlobalBrain To Offer Profile Searching: Personalized search is going to be
hot! And it will — but not in 1998.
Launches Local Search, Plans Directory Expansion: You know what would be
hot? Local search.
Listing Support Address Available: Yahoo inches closer to making life
easier for site owners.
To Go Public, Partner With Microsoft: Alas, they didn’t go public, and
last long, either.
Away From Words-On-The-Page Relevancy: Revisiting second gen ranking
- Is The
Lycos MP3 Index Legal?: Lycos quickly finds that offering MP3 search is an
easy way to get sued; others take note, and decent music search has to wait
until pricing models for purchase emerge.
Search Gets Rebuilt: Google lands a partnership with Netscape, a milestone
for the new company that helps prove it’s worth taking seriously.
Netscape Sued Over Banner Ads: The first precursor to today’s battles over
keyword-linked textual search ads.
- FAST Aims
For Largest Index: New search engine and want some street cred? Trot out
the “we’re bigger” argument.
Live Looks-Up Answers: Let’s harness people to answer questions. Yeah,
that’ll be hot. Not.
- FTC Steps
In To Stop Spamming: Turns out that some types of search spam might get
the US government involved.
- More Evil
Than Dr. Evil?: The beginning of looking for funny things ranked tops on
Google and making a big deal over them.
Loses Virginity But Gains A Virgin: Larry and Sergey start making money by
selling ads on Google
Harnessing Bookmarks For Search: So here’s the deal. We’ll get people to
share bookmarks, and that will make a kickin’ search engine. Perhaps it would
have worked better if the name was ho.tli.nks.
Domain Names Arrive: And with them, a billion questions and debates on
over whether you should have keywords in your domain name. Yes. Try to have
about seven of them, all linked by hyphens. No, please read
Covers Europe, Reaches To The US: You know, what Europe and France in
particular needs is a good search engine to counter US dominance of the
industry. Oh, yeah, they had that.
- iWon Wins
Users: If we give away a lot of prizes, then we’ll get lots of users. And
iWon did, at first.
- Ask Jeeves
Asks Direct Hit: Ask decides it needs search technology that scale — IE,
not a bunch of human editors — so Direct Hit makes a bundle. Meanwhile, Ask fails to capitalize on the new technology and buys Teoma the following year.
Vortals Are Coming! The Vortals Are Coming!: Vertical search will be hot.
That was my message in 2000. But the dotcom downturn slowed things down until
the renaissance we’re seeing today.
Pagejacking Complaint Involves High-Profile Sites: Big brands discover
that what your SEO firm does might reflect badly on you, plus we get a new term for SEO: pagejacking.
Partners With Google: Google cements its stature in the search world by
getting search kingpin Yahoo to carry its results.
Engine Optimization Firm Sold For $95 Million: If you needed proof that
search was a money maker, an SEO firm going for nearly $100 million should
have been enough for plenty.
Redevelops, Reaches Out: GoTo realizes that to succeed, it needs to
partner with search engines, rather than try to capture searchers directly. In
short order, the company then captures virtually all of the major search
players except for Google.
Gets Paid Links, Quotes and More Languages: Seeing GoTo’s success, Google
unveils its own self-serve ad program, AdWords, where pricing is on a CPM
For Liv In All The Wrong Places: Google’s vaunted link analysis shows it
might have its own weaknesses as
looking for Liv Tyler nude are sadly disappointed. Who was looking, by the
way? Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.
Inclusion At Search Engines Gains Ground: Hey, if paid links above unpaid
results make money, perhaps indirectly selling the “unpaid” results will work.
And so the search engines try it.
Drops Free Submit For Commercial Categories: Yahoo closes the free
submission point for commercial listings.
- iWon Gets
Factual: Here’s a thought. When people search, let’s give them
direct answers. Good thought, and search engines are doing more and more of
it. But they also could have done this long ago.
Search Rage Study: Study sez we depend on search engines so much
now that we’ll get enraged if they don’t give us the right answers quickly.
Dubious Victory At Google: Google’s link system takes another blow as the
number one result for motherf***r is the official George W. Bush campaign web
- The End
For Search Engines?: A look at why so many search engines were on the
ropes or dead by this year but how paid listings gave hope and life for new
Top Information Resource, Study Finds: Search engines and the internet
found to be the top information resource.
Search Boxed To Death: Google and other search engines today are
struggling with how to best tell people about the many vertical search results
they have. It’s a long-standing problem, as this story looks at.
Acquires Deja Newsgroup Service: Google gets its first real heavy dose of
criticism after Deja junkies freak out when Usenet features get lost
temporarily after the acquisition.
Engine Marketing Finally Getting Respect: Despite search being an
essential marketing strategy for years, finally more traditional outlets begin
to “get it” and give search marketing some resepct.
The Search Gap: Search is one of the most popular web activities, yet most
sites don’t get the majority of their traffic from search? What gives? It’s
the search gap and key to understanding how search makes an introduction that
can lead to a lifetime of visits.
Time Lucky For AltaVista?: “AltaVista could give Madonna a run for her
money in the changing your image game. Earlier this month, the service once
again significantly changed its look and feel, the fourth such redesign in
just over a year.” That was 2001. And in 2000, there were another four
designs, rather than just improving the results. Perhaps they should have
changed the name to MSN Windows AltaVista Live Search.
- Make Room
For Teoma: A different twist on link analysis, but more important, a new
search voice worth taking seriously — and Ask Jeeves did,
it later that year.
Group Asks FTC To Investigate Search Ads : Perhaps those “featured
listings” popping up everywhere through payment should be better labeled as
ads, the FTC is asked.
Desperately Seeking Search Engine Marketing Standards : Another push for
standards in SEO falls into issues of knowing what exactly the rules are.
Engine Marketing: You Like It, You Really Like It -: I suggest the term
“search engine marketing” as an umbrella term to encompass search engine
optimization (the act of getting better free listings on search engines) and
search advertising (paying for listings). Readers like it. FYI, today I use
the term “search marketing” a bit more.
Over Paid Placements To Define Search Engines: The first lawsuit over
keyword-linked text ads gets filed.
Rulings On Image Search & Meta Tags: Rulings come down that give relief to
image search engines and some uses of trademarked terms in meta tags.
Takes On Overture With Pay Per Click Ads: Google relaunches AdWords on a
Bombs Aren’t So Scary: Got a bunch of friends? How about getting them to
help you “bomb” a word into the top search results by donating links?
Embroiled In Scientology Debate: Pulling pages the Scientologists said
violated copyright lands Google in hot water. It restores some but keeps
others out according to US law. Later, laws in Germany and France also come to
light in getting material
- Overture &
Inktomi Out, Google In At AOL: First a Netscape deal, then Yahoo, then
Google scores again by landing AOL. The share of search voice they control is
now well above 50 percent.
Hit With Potential Class Action Lawsuit Over Submission Program: What part
of one-time fee don’t you understand, some advertisers ask LookSmart, after it
threatens to pull listings if they don’t continue paying.
Recommends Disclosure To Search Engines: The FTC decides it would be a
good idea if search engines called ads, umm, ads. Or maybe sponsored.
“Featured” ain’t cutting it, in their books.
Engine Standards, Please!: Greg Boser nearly brings search marketers to
their feet when he turns the tables to suggest that search engines themselves
need better standards when dealing with marketers and web sites.
Google: Can The
Marcia Brady Of Search Stay Sweet?: A long look at
whether Google’s growth and dominance makes it inevitable to send the company
down a Microsoft-like path of being hated or feared.
Great Wall Against Google And AltaVista: It really was China censoring
Google without Google’s help back then. Today, of course, Google cooperates to
do the Chinese government’s censorship.
- Death Of A
Meta Tag &
Meta Tags: The meta keywords tag loses further support.
Sued Over PageRank Decrease: Google finds itself sued over reducing the
reported PageRank of various sites. A court later rules PageRank is a opinion,
and that Google can say whatever it wants.
- In Search
Of The Relevancy Figure: Long look at the difficulty in measuring
relevancy and how without the relevancy figure, bad surrogates such as size
and freshness are used instead.
- Yahoo To
Buy Inktomi: Hmm. Maybe Google’s not our friend and we should own our own
crawler-based technology to protect ourselves. So thinks and acts Yahoo.
To Buy AltaVista: Hmm. Maybe Google offering both paid and unpaid results
really is an advantage and we should own some technology to produce
crawler-based editorial results. So thinks and acts Overture.
To Buy FAST Web Search Division: Hmm. Maybe we should by FAST as well and
keep competitors from getting the technology.
- Ending The
Debate Over Cloaking: Perhaps we could skip past defining spam by
techniques and look instead at intent and results? Techniques like cloaking
doesn’t always indicate a harmful results for search engines — and some of
them certainly allow it with approval.
Throws Hat Into The Contextual Advertising Ring: Later to be called
AdSense, Google starts an entirely new economy of bloggers and publishers
depending on its ads — plus ironically begins funding a lot of the same spam
that screws up its search results.
- Google And
The Big Brother Nomination: Is the Do No Evil company really evil in terms
of spying on us? A long, long look at accusations and verdicts.
Privacy At Google & Other Search Engines: Search privacy wasn’t (and
isn’t) just a Google issue, as this article explained.
With GDS, The Google Dance Syndrome: An entire generation of search
marketers was now online knowing nothing but Google Google Google and freaking
over each “Google Dance” that altered the results.
- Yahoo To
Buy Overture: Hmm. Maybe we should own our own search ad system, thinks
and acts Yahoo.
Microsoft’s MSN Search To Build Crawler-Based Search Engine: Hmm. Maybe
Google’s going to eat us for lunch, so we should own our own search
technology. So thinks and acts Microsoft.
With Invisible Tabs: How search engines are going to automatically deliver
the right vertical search results, even if you don’t click on the right “tab.”
Google Dance Resources: A huge Google Dance shakes the results for site
owners large and small, and an entire new generation of search marketers gets
reeducated about how search engines are fickle creatures that you should
never, ever build your entire business around.
(and Inktomi’s) Miserable Failure: Looking at the now famous query for
“miserable failure” and how it brings up the official President George W. Bush
biography on Google and elsewhere.
Launches Personalized Social Search: Personalized search, long promised as
a third generational jump for search, gets a new kick-off with Eurekster.
Birth of a New Machine: From Chris Sherman, Yahoo finally unveils its own
search technology (and gives Google the boot).
Launches Gmail, Free Email Service: Google hits portals coming at it from
the search side where they thought they were safe, by offering free email, a
core portal feature. Tons of storage and fast searching changes the email
- Welcome To
The Google Desktop?: What if Google changes the rules further by offering
tons of storage space for all your applications, making your computer be
wherever you can reach Google from. It wasn’t a reality then, but it’s one
that’s approaching now.
Rules Require Effective Spam Police: Debates among marketers of what’s
search spam continue, but the search engines themselves aren’t exactly helpful
in clarifying things.
Wars: Battle Of The Search Superpowers: Everyone’s been arming themselves
to take on Google. A recap of how the major players staked out new positions
and what’s at stake, plus how I see it as more a TV network model rather than
winner-take-all result that will happen.
IPO To Happen, Files For Public Offering: Long awaited, the Big G finally
- Return To
The Sad Days Of More Than A Search Engine?: Unbelievable — could we be
heading back to the days of portals forgetting about search quality!
Search Gets New Look; Microsoft Gets New Search Engine &
Unveils its New Search Engine – At Last: One from me; one from Chris
Sherman on MSN finally releasing its own search technology.
- The Paid
Inclusion Dinosaur: Why we got paid inclusion, how it started to develop
and why it really should be put out of its misery.
Reflections On SEMPO: Search marketing’s first major organization survives
its first year with a bumpy anniversary.
Partners with Oxford, Harvard & Others to Digitize Libraries: Google
decides scanning books from libraries makes sense; copyright holder freak out
Back, Looking Ahead: Developments With Consumer Search: On how web search
will morph into consumer search, where major search companies will offer a
robust range of ways to search for information in specialized areas and on
- Google, Yahoo,
MSN Unite On Support For Nofollow Attribute For Links: The first
cooperative move for nearly ten years, where the major search engines unveiled
a new indexing command for web authors designed to help reduce link and
- New Google
Maps Now Live: Finally, the search results metaphor gets a real change as
Google Maps makes it easy for people to mix location results with maps.
- Google SEO
Support Given To Advertisers: How increased editorial listings support
being given to large advertisers was raising concerns with search marketers
and threatening the “church and state” division between ads and editorial
results that Google has long sought to maintain.
Worthless Shady Criminals: A Defense Of SEO:
SEO is not all about link spamming and trickery. It’s something any site owner
should want to know about, something designers should welcome. A look at the
flavors of SEO and why the entire industry gets unfairly written off.
Proposed Search Engine Standard For Titles & Descriptions: A proposal on
how search engines might better for titles and descriptions for web pages that
can please site authors as well as searchers.
- New “Google
Sitemaps” Web Page Feed Program: In a major and welcomed change, Google
invites site owners to help it discover their content.
Relaunches Personal Search – This Time, It Really Is Personal – Google
releases a new version of Google
Personalized Search, this time in a format intended to constantly monitor
what people select from search results and shape future queries based on their
choices. More on the service and how it puts spam facing a war on thousands of
Caught Spamming After Enlisting To Fight Spam: The debate over search spam
takes a new twist as the site of popular blogging software WordPress is found
to be hosting search spam.
- Yahoo My Web:
An eBay For Knowledge – Whether tagging works is beside the main point.
What deserves the most attention, the real key development, are the trust
networks for knowledge Yahoo hopes to create — and how trust networks are
playing a role in changes at Google and MSN, as well.
- Screw Size! I
Dare Google & Yahoo To Report On Relevancy: Once again, too much focus put
on search engine index sizes takes away from the real figure we need, a
Now A “Prank” And Not Web’s Opinion, Says Google: The miserable failure
query once defended as relevant and the web’s opinion by Google flip-flops
into prank status.
We Agree Automated Comment & Link Posting Is A Bad Thing?: A proposal, a
plea, for one of the most aggressive SEO tactics done by some to end.
- End Of
Size Wars? Google Says Most Comprehensive But Drops Home Page Count:
Perhaps an end to the size wars, as Google finally drops the index count off
its home page.
- Problems With
Splogs & Time-Based Searching: News search is great and generally not
overrun by spam. Better blog search is desired, but spam is a serious problem
because unlike news search, sources aren’t limited. A look at the role limited
sources can play when sorting results by time.
- The Difference
Between Google Book Search & Google Library &
Caching & How Google Print Doesn’t Reprint: Just the other day, yet
another publisher accused Google of reprinting copyrighted material from books
online. They don’t. There’s a huge difference between the library indexing
program and actually reprinting material in Google Book Search. These two
articles try to clear up misconceptions, some that are purposely made by
- Moving To
Trusted Links & The Link Election Model: Link analysis is going through
yet another change to help prop up its value, this time to weighting of
Base Live, Accepting Content: Google launches an entirely new way for
people to submit content, what’s going to become a centralized collection
point for publishers, Google Base.
- Yahoo’s Jeremy
Zawodny Caught In Link Selling Debate – Yahoo blogvangelist Jeremy Zawodny
was the latest in a string of high-profile people and sites to be accused of
selling link and subverting search results in the process. He pushed back. A
look at that situation, encompassing situations elsewhere, as well.
2006 (To Date)
As I said earlier, I know I’ve missed stuff. Unfortunately, there’s no easy
way for me to see everything written on Search Engine Watch over the years in
one single list. For those who wish to explore, the
Report archives are probably the best thing to review. Each month, there’s
an issue of the Search Engine Report that recaps virtually everything of
importance that was published on the site. You can also see the
and the SEW Blog
archives, though material from both of those places is integrated into
Search Engine Report mailings.
Finally, some thanks….
- Ken Spreitzer, my college
friend who brought me on to do his web development company, getting me firmly
going along a path that led to Search Engine Watch. Plus thanks to all those I
worked with at Maximized Online: Tom, Joachim, Steve, Geeman (5 minutes!) and
Michelle. I learned tons from all of them.
- Glenn Fleischman,
former moderator of the now defunct Internet Marketing Discussion List that
helped educate me and many others about internet marketing when it was just
- Eric Ward, who freely provided
guidance to many people looking to learn more about link building in the early
days, including myself. Plus, he was Search Engine Watch’s very first
subscriber, coughing up a donation when I asked people to consider the site as
shareware and help support it.
- Jupitermedia (which acquired
the site as Mecklermedia, changed into Internet.com, then INT Media until
taking its current name). Having someone take over the advertising and
technical side of Search Engine Watch was a huge relief, allowing me to focus
firmly on the editorial. Chris Elwell in particular was a rock of support and
wisdom over the years. Incisive Media now owns the site, of course, and
remains as welcomed in leaving me to focus on the editorial.
- The search engines, and in particular the many employees who I’ve spoken
with over the years, who have shared ideas, thoughts, theories and more. I
won’t name any individuals, simply because I fear I’d inadvertently leave some
off — plus it would be a huge list. You all play such an important role in
this still developing field; keep doing great stuff.
- The search marketers, who remain largely unsung heroes. You get people
found; you get held to unbelievably high measuring standards yet still
deliver; you help subsidize and make possible the search engines we all depend
on. You also serve as a check-and-balance on the search engines. If they’re
playing favorites or doing something odd, you know it and spread the word.
- The searchers, and in particular those who read the site to learn to
search better. Your questions have inspired articles; please keep them coming.
You’re also what this is all about — delivering up content to serve you
- Search Engine Watch readers. There have been plenty of long days when I’ve
written a long piece about some issue, then wondered if anyone cares. Then out
of the blue, I’ll get a word of thanks — and that means the world to a
- Search Engine
Watch members. For the longest time, I asked people to consider SEW as if
it were a shareware site. A few sent in donations, then even more did when I
opened a special members-only area. During the dotcom downturn, members helped
ensure the survival of the site. We thrived because you helped fund us
directly. Thanks to all of those who’ve shown support in this way, and I look
forward to expanding benefits for you in the coming months.
Search Engine Watch team.
Sherman’s been my partner in search crime here on SEW since 2001, and I
couldn’t have been luckier in having him come aboard. He’s been a great person
to work with and produces wonderful content day in and day out.Elisabeth
Osmeloski helped build our SEW Forums up from nothing to nearly 10,000
members now, and I’m excited to have her launching into doing more with the
site overall. Gary Price is no longer part of our line-up, and we do still
miss him — but Barry Schwartz has been welcomed and doing a fantastic job.
Plus my thanks to Jennifer Slegg and now Brian Smith for picking up their
areas on our SEW Blog, along our many SEW Forums
who help keep things running over there.
- My wife and my boys, who’ve missed me through too many dinners while I’ve
had to finish and article or a newsletter or had to see me disappear to take a
call about some last-minute product launch.
Want to comment or discuss? There’s a
going at our Search Engine Watch Forums.