Search Engine Roundtable Is Five Years Old - December 2nd

Dec 23, 2008 - 2:30 pm 17 by

Search Engine Roundtable Five Years OldI totally forgot to write a special article for this site's fifth birthday, which took place on December 2, 2008. We have been writing here for five years! We have written over 9,000 articles, and over 2,300 just this year alone. That makes for over 8 articles per work day this past year and just about seven articles per work day over the course of these past five years. I could not have done it with out our contributors and a special thank you to Tamar Weinberg. This article will be my 6,270th piece at the Search Engine Roundtable - hard to believe. But it is not all about the numbers.

This year we were voted the top SEO blog and also the top conference coverage in the industry. A huge honor, which means a ton to me. I also started doing a weekly SEO video podcast, which I am pretty committed to and gets a nice number of subscribers. Yes, that also takes a lot of time, but I am enjoying it right now - so I will keep it up. Oh and I experienced waiting in line for the iPhone, the night before it went on sale - something I likely would not have done, if I wasn't blogging for five years.

I thought instead of sharing the most visited articles written here over the past year, I thought I go through each post and pull out the most important ones, at least to me. Below, you will find these posts grouped as logically as possible. For me, it helped me look back at the year in search and see what really happened and how significant each change was.

So continue reading below by clicking through:Search Industry 2008: Since search industry coverage is what is unique to this site over the other sites in our industry, I thought I would start off with the most significant industry specific events that happened.

Although we did win the top conference coverage award, I was deeply hurt by some of the folks who felt our conference coverage was worthless. I got over it by now, but honestly, it will drastically change how we do conference coverage in the future. I was also fairly upset to see the industry itself not respecting each other, especially since I find respect to be a top code of conduct we adhere to here.

A phenomenon that has been slowly happening over the course of the past few years, is the melting of hats in our industry. I am not sure if it is related to the perception of link building companies or the fact that Google and the search engines are more transparent. Or maybe it has to do with better communication within the industry. Or maybe the industry is growing so fast and people are just getting tired. No matter what the reason, it is wonderful to see the industry coming together, as one, and having an open and respectful dialog.

SEMPO, the organization that is the face of our industry, has made huge strides this year. The most significant event was that SEMPO rang the bell at the NASDAQ a few weeks back. I am still in awe that an organizational body within our industry actually did that. I know, we are huge and growing, but just looking back at the past five years - I am so delighted and happy for this industry.

Let's talk about Google and our industry. A major event in 2007 was the acquisition of DoubleClick, which owned Performics, an SEM company. We all knew Google owning Performics was a conflict of interest. And Google stood up and did the right thing by selling off Performics. Google turned ten years old this year and it seems like nothing is stopping them. But there are signs that the economy may be taking a toll on Google. Finally, I caused a bit of a controversy, during election times when I ran a poll which showed 55% Said Schmidt Should Not Have Endorsed Barack Obama, good times.

Finally, I am excited for Search Engine Land's new design - very excited.

Search News & Business 2008: It is true that I try to not write much about search news over here. I do that at Search Engine Land, where I do the news editing. But there are many stories that are so important, they need to be both at Search Engine Land and over here.

To me, the most significant search news this year is around Yahoo. It started off with them laying off hundreds of workers, which is now well over a thousand workers. Yahoo was struggling, which encouraged Microsoft to place a bid to buy Yahoo. Yahoo delayed the process and eventually got Microsoft to drop the hostile take over. Yahoo was happy because they thought they had a deal with Google but that turned out to go bust and Yahoo is in really bad shape now. In fact, Yahoo announced that Jerry Yang will step down as the CEO.

Outside of that, Google's search share continued to climb. But they did get in trouble for aiding in United Airlines stock price dropping - that was funny. Google made the front page blog search more like news search. Google launched Knol, but you don't hear much about Knol these days anyway. Yahoo launched Search Monkey, which I hope makes more stride in 2009, not that it is not doing well already - it is.

Microsoft is really pushing Live Search, by launching cash back which basically pays people to use Live Search. I hear it is helping Microsoft gain some traction, but the main question is, will it stick?

Yahoo is testing a new front page, most the comments on our blog post are not overly happy with the new design. But many were not happy when Google changed their favorite icon, it caused a major uproar, believe it or not.

Google did struggle with keeping inappropriate images such as explicit pornography in the web search results. Mostly due to universal search allowing more images into the web results., well, what can I say about They killed the soul of the company, lost the support of their die hard fans and fired the smartest assets they had. They then stopped focusing on core search and stopped investing in their technology, which took me over the edge. I then found out Jeeves became a porn star, but then briefly came back for an appearance on - so maybe there is some hope?

And let me end of with mentioning two new search engines that were all talk and no show. We got Cuil and Wikia Search - enough said.

Search Marketing Topics 2008: Let's talk search marketing, search engine optimization and paid search. There is so much to write about in 2008, but let me start with what I think is the most important change.

Google launched SearchWiki, but honestly, I don't think the average search is ready for it. And when Mayer said they may use SearchWiki signals for ranking results, that kind of made SearchWiki one of the most important changes in search for me in 2008. 2007 was more about Universal Search, but 2008 is more about the user tailoring the results and that impacting on search referrals.

Links have played a huge role in SEO for a while now. Starting in 2007, but really towards December 2007, Google declared war on paid links. It has changed the way SEOs do their job. In fact, some link building companies are no longer link building companies. That was huge and you'll see more of it in 2009, especially internationally.

Another significant Google change was that they said they no longer prefer URL rewrites. In fact, they said, they prefer dynamic URLs for dynamic content. To be honest, that announcement caused a big discussion but since then, no one really talks about it. Same thing with Google and Yahoo indexing Flash files better than ever. It was a big news item in the SEO space but little discussion after the announcement. And towards the very end of 2007, Google said goodbye to the supplemental index, same thing, big discussion - huge discussion, but we only hear little buzz throughout the space since the announcement.

Another topic that caused a major stir in the community was when WebPosition Gold was rumored to be blocked by Google. It caused Google to clarify opinion on rank checkers and it finally ended up being that, yes Google doesn't like them, but they were not specifically blocking the tool. WebPosition Gold finally patched the software and the community was silenced, for the most part.

Talk about silence... Live Search greatly improved their webmaster tools product and no one gave "a hoot." That was a bit shocking to me and I am shocked, a bit, until today.

We talked a lot about some of the changes Google made this year. But there are tons of them, all potentially impacting the SEO game and the search landscape. From search suggestions becoming the default at, to them testing PageLinks, reviews and enhanced spelling suggestions. They started adding addition snippet attributes that are turning out to not be too accurate. Google tested skip intro links in the SERPs, a way to see what is being personalized, to increase or decrease the length of the snippets, testing video layouts, the 4th position universal search spot, new related links in the snippets, weird dated results, and finally a site search box in the Google results. All of these tests were real and I am sure I am missing a few. Some of these tests are now the default, while some are still being tested and some have been removed. This shows us that Google is constantly trying things and we need to be on top of it, so we can adapt.

On the paid side, Google released their new dynamic quality score, which is a major change to how quality score worked in the past. They now have first page bids and the quality score is out of 10. In addition, this year, the page load time factor was brought into the quality score - but by far, CTR is still king. if you missed it, Google accidently leaked AdWords scores in the wild, we are still trying to decipher the meanings, even today.

Let's talk more about ads. As I did at Search Engine Land, I exploded with distaste at Google for monetizing everything and anything they can get their hands on. From ads on images, YouTube and Google Finance, to allowing hard liquor ads, ads in search suggestions, to product links in AdWords, to allowing gambling ads. Plus showing ads on YouTube, AdSense on Google Maps, ads at the bottom of the search results, or testing different colors of ads. How about video ads in search results or local ads in web search. I can go on and on - is it enough already? Yes, Google have us great new tools, such as search based keyword tool and Insights for Search and a new Ad Planner, but they all result in one thing - more money for Google. Which I am okay with, but it just seems 'in your face' now.

I guess it came at a good time, cause Yahoo killed the Overture tool, which was a historic SEM tool. But Yahoo also reduced the number of ads they had in their search results, at one point in time.

What is scary is that there is a huge increase in AdWords phishing attempts leading to more and more advertisers getting hurt. To make things worse, AdSense screwed up on exchange rates, not once, but three times in the past year - all resulting to publishers getting paid less.

On a bright note, Microsoft seems to be passing Yahoo's search ad system in both volume and advertiser satisfaction. Of course, those are subjective opinions based on what I personally see in the forums.

Google hosted one, two and three live webmaster chat sessions. All of them were huge successes and I hope they do even more in 2009. I know they did a fourth session, but that wasn't in English. Also, Google added an API for Webmaster Tools, which is nice to see.

You may also want to check out the SEM polls we ran this past year.

To round things out, let me bullet point the following three sections. That includes 2008's Google, Yahoo and Live Search updates. It also includes the logos from the search industry and the conference coverage we did this past year.

Search Engine Updates 2008:

  1. Christmas & Holiday 2008 Google PageRank Update?
  2. Live Search December 2008 Holiday Update?
  3. Minor Reports of Google Search November Update
  4. Was There a November Yahoo Update?
  5. Mid-November Google Search Update
  6. Webmasters Report November 2008 Google SERP Changes
  7. Google Search Update Blows Up, Google Reverting Back Now
  8. Google Image Search October 2008 Update
  9. Official Yahoo October 2008 Search Update Now Being Noticed
  10. Google Rolls Back Last Toolbar PageRank Update?
  11. Small Live Search Update or Hiccup?
  12. Yahoo Search Rosh Hashanah 5769 Update
  13. Google Rosh Hashanah 5769 PageRank Update
  14. Live Search September 2008 Update Underway
  15. Google Toolbar PageRank Update? Probably a Fluke
  16. Yahoo September 2008 Search Update
  17. Google PageRank Update Observed
  18. Major Yahoo Search Ranking Changes in Early August
  19. Google Announces PageRank Update - Thank You
  20. More Yahoo Search Changes in July? Oh, Also Google
  21. Google Continues to Yo-Yo the Search Results
  22. Major Live Search July 2008 Update
  23. Yahoo Search Begins To Update
  24. May 2008 Yahoo Search Subtle Update
  25. Google Search Index Update: May '08 Update
  26. Possible Search Update?
  27. Google Updates Toolbar PageRank: April 2008
  28. Microsoft Live Search April 2008 Update?
  29. Yahoo Search April 2008 'Tax Day' Update
  30. Google Directory PageRank Update: Directory PageRank Now Matches Toolbar PageRank
  31. Google's Cutts Asking for Feedback on March/April '08 Update (The "Dewey" Update)
  32. Google Search Index March '08 Update Underway?
  33. Microsoft Live Search March '08 Update
  34. Yahoo Search March 2008 Update?
  35. Possible Google PageRank Update?
  36. New Round of Google PageRank Penalties on February 15th
  37. Possible Microsoft Live Search Update
  38. Confirmed: Google Position 6 Penalty Being Reversed
  39. Yahoo Search January 2008 Update
  40. Google Directory Updated: Penalized PageRank Scores Not Visible
  41. January 2008 Google Toolbar PageRank Update
  42. Google Downgrades More Site's Visible Toolbar PageRank Scores?
  43. Google December '07 PageRank Update?
  44. Yahoo Search December 2007 Update

Special Logos from the Search Industry 2008:

Search Engine Roundtable Conference Coverage 2008:

So that is the past year of news from the Search Engine Roundtable. I am pretty sure I missed some important points, but for the most part, I hope I mentioned everything.

For our past birthday posts, see the fourth birthday, our third birthday, then our second birthday and our first birthday. Happy fifth birthday to all our readers!

To end off in classic Search Engine Roundtable style, forum discussion at the Search Engine Roundtable Forums.


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