Search Engine Study – part 3: The Great Search Engine Era

Posted by: Rea Maor In: Search Engines - Saturday, July 14th, 2007

This is the age of the search. If it is the information age, then search engines are our portal to travel to where the information is. They are the cars for our roads of (WARNING: barfy 90’s metaphor ahead:) the Information Superhighway. They are the automated librarians for our global library. And it all started with “Jerry’s Guide to the World Wide Web”, which was started in January 1994, by two Stanford graduate students named Jerry Yang and David Filo. You know them as the founders of Yahoo!

Yahoo became one of what we today call the Big Five search engines. The Big Five are widely agreed to be Google, Yahoo, MSN/Live, Ask, and (depending on who’s talking) either AOL or Alexa. Not all of the early engines survived the dot-com bust of the turn of the century – or at least they fell out of favor. Lycos and Netscape, for instance, still survive, but in a struggling form. Excite was bought out by AskJeeves, which became Ask. Inktomi was bought by Yahoo. Nobody’s heard from Infoseek in years. And so on. Visit “A Brief History of Search Engines” for the details and postmortems.

If you want to popularize your website (and who doesn’t?) by submitting to search engines, you really only need to submit your site to about five places. They are:

  • Google… of course.
  • Yahoo… Note that you need to have a Yahoo ID to submit here.
  • MSN.
  • DMOZ… Now, DMOZ is NOT a search engine in itself. It is a web directory, aka “the Open Directory project”, but it is used by many search engines such as Netscape and AOL as a starting point of sorts. Don’t take it personally if your submission doesn’t go through; I’ve discovered that the site is sluggish for everybody. There’s tons of political fighting going on behind the scenes right now: see the Wikipedia coverage of the controversy and criticism of DMOZ.
  • Alexa.
  • Why not submit to Ask? Because you can’t submit your URL to them directly.

    Even submitting to all five is a bit redundant. Remember, search engines need users. To get users, they have to deliver results. To get results, they have to work hard to discover every possible corner of the web. If a single link to your page is to be found from any other indexed site, the spiders should be all over you like ants on a donut, if they are any good at their job. Besides, search engines also crawl each other’s directories as well.

    Focusing on the Big Five may, indeed, leave out some tiny little search sites like Joe Blow’s Search Shack. But if nobody uses Joe Blow, why should you care? Case closed. If you really lose sleep over it, here is another free web submission site that covers the top 50. There, instead of a fifteen-minute job with the Big Five, you have now worked all day to get an extra twelve hits per year.

    And for God’s sake, whatever you do, don’t pay somebody to submit your site to search engines – like many of the sites do here: $34.95/month? I just told you how to do the same job for free. Save your money and buy me beer instead.

    Coming up next, let’s tackle every web-master’s fa-a-avorite subject, Search Engine Optimization. Except that we’ll go after it with an Uzi…

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