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Search Engine Beginnings
The History:
Part 1
Part 2

Future of Search Engines

Browsing Safely?

Firefox Safe Browsing

Firefox 1.0 released

Where is the Industry Headed?

Future of Computers


Search Engine Beginnings: {part 2)


In the early part of the 1990s, people were just beginning to learn about the World Wide Web and what it could offer. I remember hearing excited news reporters announce that through the Internet people in America could connect in real time with those from Australia, Asia, or Europe. A wealth of information would be at our fingertips and the entire world would virtually be our backyard.

Fast-forward to 1995. Inktomi (which owns the Hotbot search engine) was created by Eric Brewer and Paul Gauthier of the University College of Berkeley. When it launched, Inktomi claimed to have an impressive index of over 1.3 million documents - the largest at the time. By 1996 Inktomi went commercial and in the late 90s launched a paid inclusion service. It later went on to power big name companies such as MSN and Looksmart. Just last year, it was bought out by Yahoo.

Ask Jeeves, also founded in Berkeley, launched in 1997. The thing that set Ask Jeeves apart from other engines was that searchers could ask the engine a question in plain English and (theoretically) get an answer. Just ask: "Who sang 'In the Air Tonight'?" Search results show that Phil Collins was the singer. "The beauty of Ask Jeeves is its simplicity," wrote Internet columnist Jim Brooks, calling the engine a good starting point.

By the time Ask Jeeves signed its syndication deal with AltaVista in 1998, it had reached 300,000 searches per day. A shopping advisory channel and kids service were soon launched and in 2000 Ask Jeeves' butler went down in history that year as the first 'Net character to appear in Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade as a balloon.

Meanwhile, Stanford University graduate students Larry Page and Sergey Brin were interested in relevant search results. They began working on a search engine project called "Backrub" in 1996, which analyzed backlinks. A server was slowly built out of low end PCs and Larry's dorm room was used as a data center. In 1998, Google (named after Milton Sirotta's term for 10 to the 100th power) opened its doors - or I should say door. A garage door, because the Google office at the time was based out of a friend's garage in Menlo Park, California. Who could have guessed that Google would one day power big names such as Yahoo! and AOL?

Google's Movin' on Up
With the turn of the millennium, Google dominanted search. By May 2000, Google had become the world's largest search engine, indexing over 1 billion pages - a number that has grown to 6 billion. Google allows its users to search images, Usenet, and news stories in addition to websites and other documents, including PDF and SWF files. According to WordSpy, some people now refer to searching as "googling."

And that brings us to where we are today. Everyone wants a piece of the search pie.

So what's next?
Critics wonder how long Google will be able to remain on top. Google claims to be concerned with relevancy, not money, but some believe the company is adapting a corporate attitude that may damage the trust some searchers place in Google. More than just a search engine, Google now offers blogging, free email, and an online community, among other services. But Google must stay focused on search to avoid making Yahoo's mistake of becoming a top portal rather than the top search engine. "At birth Google was worried about only one thing, search - and that focus is why it became successful," writes Aaron Wall. "As Google spreads out many are wondering, are they doing it too fast? Are they letting quality slip?"

For now, Google's clean layout focuses on drawing visitors to the search bar, strategically placed in the center of the page. Since Google was voted the most outstanding search engine four times by Search Engine Watch members, the engine must be doing something right.

Although Google has surpassed Yahoo! in search, Yahoo! continues to have the advantage of being a well-branded online company. Alexa lists Yahoo! as the most-visited site on the Internet. Perhaps this is because Yahoo! has become such a popular one-stop shop for online services. Since dumping Google for Inktomi in February, Yahoo! has also been working on its own search technology. But does Yahoo! have what it takes to rise from the ashes? At least one Google designer has openly criticized Yahoo's search.

Meanwhile, Microsoft, which is currently powered by Yahoo's Inktomi, is also developing its own search technology. And Ask Jeeves is trying to rebuild itself by upgrading search features, moving to a new office and appearing yet again in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

With everyone trying to knock Google off the top rung, what do you think will happen next?

On to the FUTURE of Search Engines. Back to Search Engine Optimization page.

Originally posted: webpronews.com - article

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