That's what AltaVista said...until Google came around and you didn't hardly have to refine your search any more.
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Utterly Disillusioned With Seo
Posted 02 September 2004 - 11:36 PM
That's what AltaVista said...until Google came around and you didn't hardly have to refine your search any more.
Posted 03 September 2004 - 12:01 AM
But Jill, you have been doing SEO from pretty much the beginning. What were those "good old days" like?
Posted 03 September 2004 - 04:45 AM
Jill is quite right in her post above - SEO is only one part of the internet marketing armoury - and really if you're sole reason for existing in business is to capture a few search terms then your business is built on sand. This is something Brett Tabke has also emphasised before.
But if anyone's SEO company seems to be failing them, then simply find a new SEO company. There are so many cowboys out there working with autosubmission tools it's unreal.
And a good SEO won't simply rank you for highly search terms, but instead focus on more commercially viable search terms. Generic terms are out - you need to rank for search terms that better match the profile of a prospective client.
Posted 03 September 2004 - 08:15 AM
Posted 03 September 2004 - 09:14 AM
Not Jill, but...
They were interesting times to say the least Peter.
From the design side of things you had two major browsers, each of whom controlled a significant share of the market and who made it very difficult to produce a site that was cross-browser compliant. Oh the tricks we used to use... Just thinking about the stuff we were forced to implement still makes me shudder.
On the SEO side of things, there wasn't any real competition between commercial web sites at all. At least not as we know it today. Back then the trick was simply to get each of the available search engines to recognize you had a site and what the site was about. If you managed that you would almost assuredly rank well.
One major difference was that there were several different search engines (Excite, Yahoo, Lycos, Alta Vista, Infoseek, Inktomi/Hotbot, Ask Jeeves and eventually Northern Light and Google) all of which required very different bases to be covered if you wanted to be found in any of them.
In the early days, very few engines even looked at the text on the page to decide what you should rank for. Webcrawler, which became AOL's Search and eventually was sold to Excite was the first engine to index the entire page. Many other engines back then didn't give the actual text any weight at all. They didn't even look at the text on the page. Instead, they opted to put all of their eggs in Title and Meta tag content.
This is where the whole concept of creating doorway pages came from. For awhile there, people would create duplicate pages that were constructed to rank well in each specific search engine. It was thought to very difficult, bordering on impossible, to create a single web page that ranked well across all of the available search engines. Especially since we didn't know what we were doing and not yet applying simple marketing techniques to our pages.
Heck, back then there was no such thing as natural language querying, which we today call Search. If you typed in a search phrase like most do today you would very likely get an Error page returned to you. You had to be a true geek to search and find anything at all!
NLQ is what made Alta Vista such a hit when it came upon the scene. They were the first to allow Natural Language Queries back in late 1995. They were also the first to allow advanced searching techniques, inbound link checking and even the first to allow a method for users and webmasters alike to add or delete their pages from the A/V database.
So there were a lot of differences to be sure.
All of that aside, the biggest difference between then and now IMO is that there simply was no place like the HR Forums, no SEO Newsletters or anything else to help someone new to the game. You ended up having to do everything by trial and error, based solely upon your own personal experience back in the old days. There was nobody else with more experience you could ask for help!
Posted 03 September 2004 - 08:14 PM
You sure about that, Randy? I don't ever remember a time when that was true. It was always apparent to me way back even in '94 that the text on the page mattered a whole lot.
It was also apparent to all of those who were already using text the same color as the background!
There were 6 - 9 month periods where engines such as Lycos simply never updated.
Excite once went through their own "Florida" where their results were simply horrible. Relevant sites were gone, sites were shown instead. And this went on for probably a good 6 months too. All of a sudden once day, it was all better (basically back to how it used to be)!
I remember hearing about AltaVista actually in my local newspaper. It was created by Digital Equipment Corp (DEC) which was a local Massachusetts company. I remember checking it out (it didn't have it's own domain name then, but was on the digital site. Heheh...years later they paid I think it was $1 mil. for the altavista.com domain).
AV was a great engine for its day. You could find things a lot easier than you could with Excite or Lycos which were probably the other 2 popular ones then. Yahoo began to use AV for it's backfill at some point too. They had used Inktomi first and then switched to AV (I believe that's the order, but I may have that mixed up). I remember being on vacation at my parent's house in NH one day when I noticed Yahoo's big switch when I snuck away to use my Dad's computer!
I also remember one day when one of my daughter's friend's mother had emailed me about something, and asked if I had ever heard of this new search engine, Google. I think it was still on the Stanford site at this time. I had heard of it and had looked at it once or twice, but that was about it. It wasn't until it got a little bit more mainstream when I started to take it seriously.
I'm not positive, but in the old days, I could have sworn that Google was getting a lot of it's results by spidering the Inktomi database! If you got yourself in Ink, Google would usually find you. So much so that I at first thought they were related.
At this point it was apparent that you could find what you were looking for nearly every time with the first search, if you used Google. You'd tell other people and they wouldn't believe you until they actually tried it themselves. My husband used to have a heck of a time finding certain sites he needed for work, and finally he relented and tried Google and was utterly amazed. (Of course, nobody cared about them back then, so nobody was spamming 'em!)
All the articles that eventually started coming out about Google talked about how links were so important, but back then, it really didn't take much in the way of links to be considered important. Competition just wasn't even close to what it is today.
People used to write in to the lists I was on (email discussions) about how eventually all sites would be optimized and then it would be impossible to get your site in the top. Back then, I agreed, but said that we were a long way off from that. Hardly anyone knew anything about SEO and those that did still thought that it had something to do with Meta tags.
Today, we're lucky that there are still people out there who still think it's about Meta tags, but it's changing very quickly. You can partially blame me for pounding it in the masses heads, and sometimes I wish I had just kept my mouth shut all these years. We truly are getting to the point where more sites are at least somewhat SEO'd than not.
That's a good thing for most sites, but not so good for SEOs.
Who knows what the future holds. I for one sure don't!
Posted 03 September 2004 - 08:49 PM
I think search technology is going to leap forward again like Google did many years ago. I also think that the new Google will be,.... Google. Last November they tried and though things seem to have returned to normal, I think they actually are using new technology that is now pretty good adjusted.
The next real leap will not be links, it will not be anchor texts, it will be something new and that is "understanding text the way humans do". Why is one text that uses a keyword phrase 5 times in all the right places considered very related and another text that uses the same keyword phrase 5 times in all the right places considered a lousy text? A human can tell you right after reading it. A search engine doesn't have a clue and can only try to figure it out based on indirect evidence.
The next step will be interpretation of text.
Of course that is just my opinion, but is based on the tremendous efforts of Google trying to match ads to text. And they´re pretty good at it too, if given enough text. You also see some evidence of this in the link: command.
Posted 07 September 2004 - 05:42 AM
It seems MSN are working on a prototype for search based on interpretation as reported in The Economist
The article outlines how the search phrase can be matched by
It appears correct to label this "interpretation" rather than semantic as it does not rely on models of artificial intelligence...
The project is named
The same researcher, Eric Brill, is working on "“Beyond the Factoid”. It describes his efforts
Underneath all the details both projects still rely on statistical techniques of analysing text so I reckon best practise for the future of sites wanting good organic search results is still based on the content is king model paired with user centered design rather than trying to game the search engines algorithms.
Edited by Jentotaltravel, 07 September 2004 - 05:49 AM.
Posted 07 September 2004 - 07:14 AM
Yeah, I'm sure Jill.
Depends upon what you allow to fall into the category of Search Engine. I tend to side with the faction that the "first" search engines were those that had a spider zipping around to gather information. The first of those were born in '93, even though some precursors had been around since '91.
Plus, you're talking about '94 and Webcrawler (the first to look at page content) was released in April of 1994. It was apparently one of those Lightbulb moments, because then everybody started looking at more than just the Meta's. And within a year we saw the birth of Lycos, OpenText and Infoseek.
I remember when Webcrawler first came out and quickly became so popular with the Geek Nation that you couldn't even use it during daytime hours. It didn't have enough processing power to handle the searches until AOL bought it and housed it.
Here's a real throwback for you...
Did you know that two of the first true spidering search engines (JumpStation and World Wide Web Worm) listed search results in the order that they found the sites? They had no such thing as a Ranking Algorithm.
In other words, if your site was the first they found with your chosen search terms in the Title and/or Header (Jumpstation) or Title and/or URL address (WWW Worm) you were guaranteed to be the #1 site in both engines. Forever. Even if the engines found a better site the following day, you would never get knocked off of the top spot because you were there first.
Kind of gives you an idea of how far the technology has advanced in the last decade, eh?
Posted 07 September 2004 - 07:33 AM
I do have to question this one though:
If memory serves, Webcrawler was bought by Excite, not AOL.
Posted 07 September 2004 - 07:41 AM
Eventually ('96 or '97 I think?) Excite bought Webcrawler from AOL, and AOL started using Excite's NetFind for their search engine.
Randy - the really old geek
Posted 07 September 2004 - 08:54 AM
Sometime I should do a write up or some blog entries about the early days on the web. Before I forget it all.
Does anybody else remember using Archie and Gopher and Veronica and Jughead? And being amazed at all of the information you could find out there? Those were sort of like the grandparents of Search.
How about when The World Wide Web Wanderer (grandparent of today's spiders) made its initial runs around the web trying to gauge the size, scope and growth of the Internet?
Did anybody else get excited when Lycos announced in '95 having a "massive" total of 1.5 million documents indexed. Then less than 2 years later had 60 million in their index?
Ahhh, the good old days. When development was fast and furious. And there was a new technological leap every few months.
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