I started working in the world of search in 2007 (which wasn’t 10 years ago I know, unless my maths are a bit out), but in those 8 years the online marketing world has turned so far upside down it might as well be staring at itself backwards – so much has changed! I remember the good old days of being able to change a meta tag and seeing a quick response in rankings, the days when article syndication was the next best thing, and creating a fair few 3 way link exchanges – a big no-no now! Search engines themselves have also seen big changes in that time, both visually and with the technology used!
Why then, have I decided not only to take a trip down memory lane, but to take one 10 years ago instead of 8? Well, 2007 was a bit boring to be honest. There were only 2 Google updates really worth talking about (Buffy and Universal Search), everyone was quite happily getting on with their text link buying and keyword tags, and the future looked relatively uncomplicated (ha! HA!) 2005, however, was a bigger year all round, and not just for Google! Read on…
We’ll start with the big guys – there were 9, yes, NINE Google updates released in 2005. Even then Google was hot on the heels of spam and outbound link quality, and released 2 updates, Nofollow and Jagger, to combat problems in these areas. If you can’t guess, Nofollow was the introduction of the “nofollow” attribute (still used today) and was also adopted by Yahoo and Microsoft (then using MSN Search). Jagger, released later in October 2005, was rolled out as a series of updates and also went for low quality links, link farms, paid links and reciprocals. Jagger in particular was a precursor of things to come, such as the infamous Penguin update in 2012 *shiver*!
Google also made changes throughout 2005 to integral elements of its search results, such as launching the Local Business Center in March and Personalized Search in June. With the LBC live, Google then merged Maps into it, meaning those doing local SEO had a lot to learn about how Google would list them to local users. Personalized Search also hit hard, as it used (and still uses) individual’s search history to present results. Using this, Google eventually went on to block a lot of the data shown in Analytics, protecting the queries made from users who are logged into a Google account using the frustrating “Not Provided” tag instead!
Other updates in 2005 from Google included the addition of XML sitemap submission in Webmaster Tools (something still widely used today), “Bourbon”, which addressed search quality, and Big Daddy, an infrastructure update that started in October 2005 and carried on until March 2006, addressing issues such as canonicalization, redirects and technical issues.
Oh, and that image up there. That’s the Google logo in 2005! Not that dissimilar to it’s 2015 equivalent, but with all the old links we used to love (note the NEW! tag next to Local as well)
Bing aka MSN Search
Well, Bing didn’t even exist in its current form until 2009, and back in 2005, MSN Search was going strong, having only come out of Beta as a standalone search engine in February! Before then, MSN still existed as an engine, but used search results from Inktomi and Looksmart.
Unfortunately, MSN Search was shortlived, being replaced in 2006 by Windows Live Search. Windows Live was seen as a refresh to the brand, allowing users to use search tabs that included news, media and even Microsoft Encarta (hands up who misses Encarta!)
Yahoo had a fairly quiet year in 2005; their “user created” chatrooms were closed down in the June as a decision to a) prevent internet child predators using the service and b) there were no major ad revenues to be gained from the feature. They did launch Yahoo 360° Beta, however, which was a forerunner to more modern social media avenues, and mixed social networking with blogging.
Visually, Yahoo doesn’t look much different today from how it then did, except the Search button now says Search Web (just in case you weren’t sure!)
Ah, Jeeves, everyone’s favourite valet! In 2005, Jeeves had just turned 10 years old but unfortunately even at this young age he was destined for retirement – Ask.com began phasing him out that year and he disappeared entirely in Feb 2006! I’m not sure if his loss was mourned too much to be honest – Ask Jeeves is a great concept but in actuality can be a real pain in the backside, especially if you’ve unknowingly downloaded the Ask.com toolbar, which is considered unwanted by the majority of users because it’s really hard to remove once installed! Jeeves has come back in the UK, however; as of 2009 he is once again prominently featured on the website, albeit with a 3D makeover!
Ask is a question-focused search tool that relies on users’ typing in whole questions to retrieve specific answers. It does work for one word queries using outsourced search data, but question and answer queries are delivered by Ask’s own technology.
Today’s question of the day? What unlikely material may one day be used to fuel planes? Answer: Tobacco, apparently!
Having started out in this industry with about as much marketing knowledge as a gnat, I have worked my way up from tea-making trainee to Head of Search thanks largely to the staunch support of our director, Stuart, and a lot of late nights, strategy sessions and training. At work I am extroverted, creative and always on the Internet, but behind closed doors I’m happiest with my family, my dogs and a good book (usually accompanied with a good cup of tea!).