The Question that Won't Go Away

Ever since the early days of the Web, one question has persisted longer than all others: "how do I get my site to the top of the search engines?" There are numerous sites dedicated to this very topic. We've written several articles on it ourselves. So, rather than rehash an old topic, we thought we'd link to a little search engine history.

When the search engine question first came up, people were talking about WebCrawler, Lycos and AltaVista. Now, it's Google, MSN Search and AOL Search. Of course, Lycos is still kicking around, but now it uses the Fast index, the same one used by AlltheWeb. MSN uses Inktomi, but since Yahoo just bought Inktomi, Microsoft is building its own, brand new search engine. Oh, and AOL is really just Google with a few extra ads.

It starts to get confusing, doesn't it? Whoever said the dot-com bubble had burst wasn't talking about search engines. Well, maybe their stock price, but not innovation. After all, that list of search engines only contains the major players. There are numerous little guys vying for attention with new wrinkles in the search landscape. Teoma and WiseNut take the Google PageRank algorithm one step further, analyzing "communities" of links and link context, respectively.

Of course, the current search engine incumbents aren't just sitting idly by. Besides releasing several new beta services, Google Labs has some fresh search ideas. Though Microsoft may have bought its way to the top, no one leverages a larger bank account when it comes to research. Several of the projects are featured in this News.com article.

But that's now. What about then? This history of Internet search engines details, well, the history of Internet search engines, as well as the story behind some of their names. However, for just a quick run down of search engine names and their meaning (or lack there of), check out this Search Engine Watch article, What's In a (Search Engine's) Name?"

For more information about search engines, their history and current innovation, we recommend…searching. Having trouble wading through search engine promotion pages? Need a few ideas of how to get more life out of your old search engine? Have a look at "Power Searching for Anyone".

Though search engines have evolved significantly beyond their primitive ancestors, the trick to searching is still the same -- knowing how to ask the right question. Now that I think about it, maybe this is the question that won't go away. Before people were convinced that they need to be at the top of the search engines, they generally had to first figure out how to use one themselves.


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