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Florida, Google and a visit from the Ghost of search engine past

 4:00 am on Dec 6, 2003 (gmt 0)

You would think Google would learn from the many ghosts of search engines past - but I guess not. I was a moderator here when the Earth moved according to Alta Vista. Like Google fortunes were made and lost on every algo tweak and the forums buzzed with every change.

AV ended her time on top when she set out to end spam. Next up to the plate, Inktomi. I loved Ink! Then I was the Mod for the now defunked Inktomi forum here - and she was a thing of beauty back then. Like Google she served up many seach sites, Yahoo for one. And her search results were the cream of the cream.

But Inktomi set out to end spam and basicly killed herself. But not before setting these forums a blaze with rumor, prayer and crystal ball reading. Then Ink took the "if you can't beat'um join'um approach and started selling spam and calling it search results...

And now it's Google's turn at the "spammers plate". Well, through the rise and fall of many search engines the only constant has been "spam" and it's no different with Google.

Spam is driven by money and so search engines may not like it, but apparently the consumer does or they wouldn't keep paying for and supporting it.

I didn't believe anyone could out do AV - I didn't believe anyone could out do Ink and now I look at Google and wonder why they are following in the footsteps of the ghosts of search engines past.

Spam will always rule - but the real question is, which search engine will take Google's place at the top and have the next shot at at trying to end spam?

Where is Florida anyway?




 4:50 am on Dec 6, 2003 (gmt 0)

>but apparently the consumer does or they wouldn't keep paying for and supporting it.

could you explain this statement?


 4:57 am on Dec 6, 2003 (gmt 0)

>>could you explain this statement?

i think its quite self-evident.If spam wasn't profitable noone could be bothered with it.


 2:56 pm on Dec 6, 2003 (gmt 0)

>>>paying for and supporting it.

It's really simple - spam is profitable. (Relevant spam that is) If you set out to buy a widget on the internet and you find a cloaked, redirected, keyword page that bounces you to the widget you are looking for - that search was successful for you.

Like AV and Inktomi did in the past, if Google continues to try to get rid of "relevant spam" they will provide less value to the person searching for widgets.

And in turn that person will move on to another search engine and the rise and fall of a new search engine will begin again just as it has many times in the past.

What is it that makes a search engines forget how they got to the top in the first place?



 3:17 pm on Dec 6, 2003 (gmt 0)

>which search engine will take Google's place?

"For Google to stay permanently ahead of other search-engine technologies is almost impossible, since it takes so little - only a bright idea by another set of geeks - to lose the lead."

-The Economist
Oct. 30, 2003

<added> If Yahoo doesn't pounce on the current opportunity, I'm confident that MSN has many employment openings for "another set of geeks."</added>


 3:37 pm on Dec 6, 2003 (gmt 0)


I couldn't agree with you more.

In the fight against spam Google seemingly has become more concerned with "how" a site made it to the top of their results rather than "whether or not" such sites at the top of their results are relevant to the search query.

Do you remember a few years ago when results from a certain directory (to remain nameless) seemed to dominate Google results. And if you clicked on their listing you would get a pop up ad and you would be like, "oh no I just clicked on another listing from "so and so". and you couldn't hit back quick enough? Then Google seemed to set out to get rid of this site (types of sites) from their results because they were often was not very up to date with their content or recommendations.

Well years later now I'm seeing this site (same types of sites) dominate again. The only real difference is the pop up blocker comes out now.

Furthermore, in my industry, the SERPS are additionally full of sites that have not been updated in years. I try to contact these sites about link swaps, but the e-mail bounces. Many of these sites are not even hosted on their own domain. How relevant :(

I really have one question for Google... If my site was relevant enough for the 2 word search combo to be on top of the results for the past 3 years, and during the past 3 years Google became king of search because its results were so relevant, then why all of the sudden is my site not relevant enough for the top 1,000 anymore? What changed about the meaning of the 2 word search combo that all of the sudden made it so my site no longer stood for what those 2 words meant? Or visa versa, what changed about my site that all of the sudden made it so that my site no longer fit the definition of those 2 words?

What is even more perplexing is that I'm still on top for the 3 word search combos that are synonymous with the 2 word search combos I no longer exist in the top 1,000 for.

Thw whole idea of this "broad match" I keep reading about seems foolish imo. Because a search engine should give me a well defined match for what I'm looking for. And in my industry the 2 word search combos are clear as day (when it comes to the surfer's intent). There was no reason to change the results to broad match. The results were not "broken" in my niche. So why were the results "fixed"?

Certainly there are some types of searches where a broad match is required. But you would think a "human being" should identify those areas first before letting a computer apply broad match across the board.

I can't believe Yahoo hasn't just switched to inktomi. I imagine there are a few frustrated surfers who's first inclination is to turn to Yahoo... But at Yahoo they are finding basically the same results. I think they are blowing a big chance to regain market share.

One last comment. I think this algo change affects the economy quite a bit. Because if it takes more time for Joe/Jane surfer to find what he/she is looking for, they may be inclined to give up before taking the time to learn how to improve their own search queries. So it's not always a case of "someone else will get the sale"... If the search results are not good, no-one may get the sale. I can tell you that in my industry the SERPS are so off base that indeed no-one is getting the sale and surfers are getting stale results that have not been updated in years. Maybe my niche is the extreme case. But if not, then things could get very interesting in search land.


 4:04 pm on Dec 6, 2003 (gmt 0)

>I can't believe Yahoo hasn't just switched to inktomi. I imagine there are a few frustrated surfers who's first inclination is to turn to Yahoo.

Yes, that is the saddest part of all of this. Many people aren't aware that the search results on Yahoo, Aol etc are coming from the same source. People are being forced to eat Google no matter where they go - Spam on the grandest scale:)


 4:56 pm on Dec 6, 2003 (gmt 0)

>which search engine will take Google's place?

It would be good if we had several search engines with no more than 30% of the market. It may not happen, though.


 5:40 pm on Dec 6, 2003 (gmt 0)

which search engine will take Google's place at the top and have the next shot at at trying to end spam?

Ending spam? Impossible. But this is about the worst time for Google to shoot itself in the foot and give another SE a chance to try.

Google's dominance has made the past couple of years the most settled in the short history of search engines -- and has spoiled many a webmaster who started out during this time. The changes within the next few months or so make it clear that G's dominance is going to be at least somewhat eroded -- and that webmasters have to rethink their strategies and maybe brush off some skills.

--MSN is dropping LookSmart. For many of my main terms that rank halfway well on Ink that means moving up at least 8 pages in the MSN SERPs as they are presented now. No doubt it will affect other competitive searches as well and push Ink to more importance.

--Yahoo is testing Ink and will soon make a change, exactly how or when only the tea leaves can tell.

And then there are the longer term issues:

--MS is developing its own search platform.

--AOL is exploring other search alternatives.

And the suppositions:

--Is LookSmart repositioning itselft to again be a search portal? Looks to me like its site got a recent facelift to emphasize user search.

--What if Ask/Teoma ever cracks open the piggy bank to put a few bucks into promotion and users get to find just how good the results are? Just my opinion, I love their drill-down technology.

--The "other set of geeks" with a dollar and a dream. That's all it takes, along with some low-level stealth marketing (and somewhat relevant results), to get to SE prominence. Remember "Design your own Google logo"?

And the big "IF":

--What is Google going to look like post-IPO?

We knew that we were due for a big roller coaster ride a few months ago. Florida just accelerated the timetable a bit.

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