Search Engine History – Web Search Before Google

Did Google always dominate the web search market? In the second of three posts on the history of the Search Engines, I look at the pioneers of the early search market, including the very first web crawler, WWW Wanderer. Did you know that Disney used to be one of the biggest players in the business? Or that Altavista was more technically advanced, in many ways, in 1998 than Google is now? Read on!

The pioneering Web Search Engines

Really, the point at which modern search engines first begin to appear is after the development and popularisation of the MOSAIC browser in 1993. In 1994, Internet Magazine was launched, together with a review of the top 100 websites billed as the ‘most extensive’ list ever to appear in a magazine. A 28.8Kbps modem was priced at $399 and brought the internet within the reach of the masses (albeit slowly)!

At this point and for the next 4-5 years, it was just about possible to produce printed and web-based directories of the best sites and for this to be useful information for consumers. However, the rapid growth in the number of www sites (from 130 in 1993 to over 600,000 in 1996) began to make this endeavour seem as futile as producing a printed yellow pages of all the businesses, media and libraries in the world!

Whilst WAIS was not a lasting success, it did highlight the value of being able to search – and click through to – the full text of documents on multiple internet hosts. The nascent internet magazines and web directories further highlighted the challenge of being able to keep up with an internet which was growing faster than the ability of any human being to catalogue it.

In June 1993, Matthew Gray at MIT developed the PERL-based web crawler, WWW Wanderer. Initially, this was simply devised as a tool to measure the growth of the world wide web by “collecting sites”. Later, however, Gray (who now works for Google) used the crawled results to build an index called “Wandex” and added a search front-end. In this way, Gray developed the world’s first web search engine and the first autonomous web crawler (an essential feature of all modern search engines).

Whilst Wanderer was the first to send a robot to crawl web sites, it did not index the full text of documents (as had WAIS). The first search engine to combine these two essential ingredients was WebCrawler, developed in 1994 by Brian Pinkerton at the University of Washington. WebCrawler was the search engine on which many of us early pioneers first scoured the web and will be remembered with affection for its (at the time) attractive graphical interface and the incredible speed with which it returned results. 1994 also saw the launch of Infoseek and Lycos.

However, the scale of growth of the web was beginning to put indexing beyond the reach of the average University IT department. The next big step required capital investment. Enter, stage right, the (then huge) Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) and it’s super-fast Alpha 8400 TurboLaser processor. DEC was an early adopter of web technologies and the first Fortune 500 Company to establish a web site. Its search engine, AltaVista, was launched in 1995.

Founded in 1957, DEC had during the 1970s and 1980s led the mini-computer market. In fact, most of the machines on which the earliest ARPANET hosts ran were DEC-PDP-10s and PDP-11s. However, by the early 1990s, DEC was a business in trouble. In 1977, their then CEO, Ken Olsen, famously said that “there is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home”. Whilst somewhat taken out of context at the time, this quote was in part symptomatic of DEC’s slow response to the emergence of personal computing and the client-server revolution of the 1980s.

By the time Altavista was being developed, the company was besieged on all sides by HP, Compaq, Dell, SUN and IBM and was losing money like it was going out of fashion. Louis Monier and his research team at DEC were “discovered” internally as the ultimate PR coup; the entire web captured – and searchable – on a single computer. What better way to showcase the company as an innovator and demonstrate the lightning fast speed and 64-bit storage of their new baby?

During 1995, Monier unleashed a thousand web crawlers onto the young web (at that time an unprecedented achievement). By December (site launch) Altavista had indexed more than 16 million documents comprising several billion words. In essence, Altavista was the first commercial-strength, web-based search engine system. AltaVista enjoyed nearly 300,000 visits on its first day alone and, within nine months, was serving 19 million requests a day.

Altavista was, indeed, well ahead of it’s time technically. The search engine pioneered many technologies that Google and others later took years to catch up with. The site carried natural search queries, Boolean operators, automatic translation services (babelfish) and image, video and audio search. It was also lightning fast (at least in the beginning) and (unlike other engines) coped well with indexing legacy internet resources (and particularly the then still popular UseNet newsgroups).

After Altavista, Magellan and Excite (all launched in 1995), a multitude of other search engine companies made their debut, including Inktomi & Ask Jeeves (1996) and Northern Light & Snap (1997). Google itself launched in 1998.

Of these early engines, each enjoyed its own enthusiastic following and a share of the then nascent search market. Each also had its own relative strengths and weaknesses. Northern Light, for example, organized its search results in specific folders labeled by subject (something arguably still to be bettered today) and acquired a small – but enthusiastic following as a result. Snap pioneered search results ranked, in part, by what people clicked on (something Yahoo! and Google are only toying with now!)

In January 1999 (at the beginning of the dotcom boom), the biggest sites (in terms of market share) were Yahoo!, Excite, Altavista and Disney, with 88% of all search engine referrals. Market share was not closely related to the number of pages indexed (where Northern Light, Altavista and a then relatively unknown Google led the pack):

Search Engine Share of search referrals (Dec 99)

Yahoo! – 55.81%

Excite Properties (Excite, Magellan & WebCrawler) – 11.81%

Altavista – 11.18%

Disney Search Properties (Infoseek & Go Network) – 8.91%

Lycos – 5.05%

Go To (now Overture) – 2.76%

Snap / NBCi – 1.58%

MSN – 1.25%

Northern Light



Source by David Viney

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Earth Day Google doodle offers up conservation tips to help save the planet



Google is using today’s doodle to promote conservation efforts and support the World Wildlife Fund, The Ocean Agency, and The Jane Goodall Institute.

The post Earth Day Google doodle offers up conservation tips to help save the planet appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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How Strategic SEO Helps Small Businesses In A Big Way

The SEO market in the world has become extremely lucrative for small businesses that want to expand their reach and grab a wider audience. SEO companies offer unbeatable advantages because they offer reasonable rates and excellent brand management strategies. Cost-conscious small business owners can now access value for money advertising and marketing.

Here are the real benefits of opting for quality SEO solutions providers, if you want your small business to flourish:

#1 Create an SEO optimized, user-friendly website to access a wider target audience

SEO will help you to create faster, better and more intuitive websites for users. Search engine optimization is not only about high search engine rankings, but increased user reach as well. Following excellent on the page and off page optimization strategies will create many advantages for your small business.

#2 Strong prospect and lead generation become really easy

The main reason to have an official website in the first place is to expand and diversify your clients. Small businesses that grow always have web optimization that meets their needs. A web optimized site using SEO friendly content will get you more traffic and targeted visitors which then translates into more customers.

#3 Expand your company’s reach, explore new markets

Despite so many geographical barriers, SEO has made it possible to transcend boundaries, cultures, and nationalities while offering your products and services for sale. Web and SEO solutions have made it possible for the Internet to become a global marketplace. A successful SEO campaign can help you to access fresh markets and new economies. With social media channels and mobile-only marketplace booming thanks to rising smartphone sales, SEO has become the modern-day marketing must-have tool.

#4 Get better conversion rates

What makes an SEO friendly website a company asset? Fast speed, easy usability, and compatibility with mobile as well as tablet devices make such websites a real plus point for small businesses. What does this mean? Well, customers will find it easier to access your products and services leading to better conversions or visiting traffic ready to make purchases, which will then boost company growth and profits.

#5 Build brand awareness, get higher search engine rankings

A real advantage of ranking high on search engines is that creating a powerful brand story becomes easy. If your small business or startup is aiming for instant brand recognition, SEO can help in many ways. People will come to your site and trust your brand, thanks to SEO content that will inspire confidence through keyword, competitor and ranking analysis as well as strong lead generation and increased market visibility.

Having an SEO friendly website is the virtual calling card your small business needs to access large gains. Prosperity, better prospects, increased ROI, phenomenal sale volume- these are just some of the many positive milestones your small business can access through SEO.



Source by David Jhon

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How to Unsubscribe From Your Hosting Service

Even the best and biggest hosting companies can sometimes provide you with such bad service that you may want to cancel or unsubscribe your hosting service. But how to go about it and, and what are the consequences for your website?

Remember that no matter who your web hosting company is, things can, and regularly do, go wrong. This is just business as usual, but a competent hosting company should fix any problems with minimum delay and keep you informed about any problems and the solutions that have been applied.

Understand why things might have gone wrong

Before you unsubscribe from your current hosting service, it is important to understand the reason why things have gone wrong. You need to know the real reasons for the troubles to prevent the same situation from happening again with another host. Chancing your hosting provider can be a real hassle and you can save a lot of time by really thinking about how to match your needs with the services the hosting provider offers. These are example of the problems you may face:

– Recurring service outages: The hosting service is having persistent technical problems with your website, or the website has repeated and lengthy periods of being off-line. If your website does not use any special features of technologies that might cause the problem, then your hosting company appears not to be able to provide technically competent service. If this is the case, you can try to resolve the problem by talking to their technical support. If the problem persists, it might be time to consider unsubscribing from your host and finding a better one.

– Your website is over-using its allocated resources: The most usual kind of hosting account is called a shared hosting account. It means that there are hundreds or thousands of websites hosted on the same physical server, and each website competes with the shared CPU, memory and bandwidth resources. This is true even for the “unlimited” accounts currently offered – in reality they are not unlimited at all, but only appear so.

If you website is hosted on a low-end hosting plan, and uses a lot of resources, you may experience slow performance or service outages. You might also be in breach of your Terms of Service agreement with your web host. Consider upgrading your plan to a more suitable one, or if your web host does not offer high-end plans, you may have to unsubscribe and find a more suitable host.

– Your web host provides lousy service: Lousy service is something you can do nothing about. Don’t make a judgment based on one technician’s response, rather try again with another service agent. The first one just might have just had a bad day. On the other hand, if your web host is on the budget end of scale, they may not spend enough money to provide decent service and to maintain good infrastructure. Remember that in web hosting you get what you pay for. If bad service persists, its time to vote with your feet and find a better hosting service for your website.

How to get out of your web hosting agreement

Every web hosting company has different policy in regards to termination of service. Most companies offer a better price per month for a longer commitment with the company. In other words, if you wanted to buy and pay for your hosting on monthly basis, you might pay $4.95 per month. However, if you committed to a year (and paid it in advance), you would pay $3.95 per month. Over the course of the year you would save $12.00.

Attached to these conditions, each company offers a money-back period that varies in length from hosting company to hosting company. The money-back guarantee periods range from 30 days in the short end to “any time” within the subscription period. Typically you can expect to have a money-back period from 30 to 60 days.

If you want to cancel your subscription after the money-back period has ended, you might be out of luck. According to the terms of the agreement, you have no recourse of action and your commitment stands until the end of the subscription period. If you want to cancel your hosting because the hosting company is in fault without any doubt, you might be able to negotiate a refund, but usually you are wasting your time. It is time to cut your losses and move on to a better host.

How to avoid problems with your web host

Even before committing to your web host in the first place, consider these steps to avoid any troubles in the future:

– Only commit to shortest possible period at a time. Most hosting companies offer monthly commitment and billing periods. If they don’t, choose the shortest period possible. It will cost you a little bit more per month, it gives you the flexibility to change your hosting company at any time without causing you a larger loss than having committed to a super-long agreement.

– Never, EVER get your domain name from the hosting company. If you run into trouble with them, they may use the domain name as leverage to keep you in control. They might not transfer your domain name to a new registrar, or even refuse to change the DNS information of the domain to point to your new host. No domain name, no website.

– Always keep an up-to-date backup of your entire website on your own computer. Do not trust the web hosting company to do that for you. Most Terms of Service agreements specifically protect the hosting company against data loss in case the server crashes. Most hosting companies do their very best to keep data safe, but they have no obligation to keep the back ups indefinitely, or even to hand the data over to you in case of disagreement.



Source by Markus J

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Images: Your easiest page speed win



Page speed is important for both rankings and user experience, yet columnist Kristine Schachinger notes that many companies are missing an easy opportunity to improve in this area: image optimization.

The post Images: Your easiest page speed win appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.





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