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History of Search Engines and Directories

  • 1993: The first widely acclaimed search engine, the World Wide Web Wanderer, appears. Created to measure the growth of the Web, it performs its job through 1997. Statistics that this search engine compiled are still available on the Web today.
  • 1994: WebCrawler comes on the scene. The original WebCrawler database contained just 6,000 websites. AOL bought WebCrawler in 1995 but sold it just two years later to Excite. Infospace, its current owner, bought WebCrawler when Excite declared bankruptcy.
  • 1994: Another powerhouse, the Lycos search engine, launches with 54,000 indexed documents. The Lycos search engine is still a player today, but it’s changed hands several times. Currently, it’s a subsidiary of the Indian-based company Ybrant Digital.
  • 1995: AltaVista is the first search engine to include multilingual search capabilities. AltaVista eventually becomes the property of Yahoo. (We’ll discuss Yahoo a bit later.) AltaVista is the search king until the rise of Google. In 2013, their service shuts down and the domain now redirects to Yahoo’s own search site.
  • 1998: Larry Page and Sergey Brin introduce the world to Google, which quickly shoots to the top of search engine rankings. (The name comes from the word googol, which is the name for the number 1 followed by 100 zeros.)
  • 2006: Google becomes such a part of our culture that several dictionaries, including Merriam-Webster and the Oxford English Dictionary, add “to google” as a verb.
  • 2009: Microsoft launches Bing, which introduces the use of suggested searches along with search results.
  • 2014: For the first time in history, more searches are performed using mobile devices than using desktop browsers.
  • 2015: Over half of Google searches are performed using mobile devices. Google announces that they’ll start using mobile-friendly factors in its mobile search results, meaning they actively list sites that aren’t mobile-friendly lower in mobile searches.

That’s where things stand now, with Google by far the most-used search engine on the Web. Google now enjoys greater than 50% of total search engine traffic. This means that a top Google ranking will yield more traffic to your site than a top ranking with any other search engine.

Google’s popularity is due largely to speed and quality of search results. Both are possible because of a worldwide network of more than 1 million servers, which house Google’s index. The sheer number of servers and the speed at which they communicate with each other is unparalleled in the search industry. However, companies are constantly buying, selling, creating, and improving search engines. As a result, you’ll want to keep tabs on which search engines are gaining or losing popularity.

In the Supplementary Material section of this lesson, you’ll find information about excellent search engine research companies that will provide their findings to you for free.

Search Engines Versus Directories

Are you wondering why we didn’t talk about Yahoo in the last section? That’s because Yahoo began as a directory, not a search engine.

Computers compile search engines’ indexes, but humans compile directories, which are categorical lists of websites. Before listing a site in a directory, someone (or a team of people) scrutinizes the site and places it in a specific category.

Some people argue that directories are limited because they offer fewer search results than search engines do. However, I think you’ll find that directories’ results can often be much more useful than search engines’, depending on the type of information you’re interested in.

Until recently, one of the most popular directories on the Web was Yahoo, which David Filo and Jerry Yang founded in 1994. They started Yahoo on a couple of computers in a campus trailer at Stanford, initially using it to track their own interests. It surprised them by taking off quickly, and they incorporated it in 1995 with an initial investment of almost $2 million. By the way, Yahoo is an acronym for Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle—but I promise not to test you on that!

In an effort to diversify, Yahoo decided to use Google’s engine to supply users with primary search results. Then, in 2004, Yahoo unveiled its own crawler for organic search results. In 2010 (for reasons that remain unclear to many) Yahoo allowed the Microsoft search engine Bing to supply its primary search results. Today, Bing still supplies search results to Yahoo, but Yahoo continues to develop its own search engine technology.

The Open Directory Project is the most popular directory on the Web today. Technically, AOL owns the project, though it’s compiled by more than 90,000 volunteers who’ve indexed over 4 million sites. The directory contains just over 1 million categories, all of which you can search by keyword or category.

BriscoWeb Investigates Google’s New Apache Module

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Google Chrome Browser of Choice

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Google Chrome is gaining ground on Internet Explorer and Firefox, and it is showing no signs of stopping. Google Chrome has many benefits, which makes it a good choice for casual Internet users and more advanced users who use the web for work or research. Comparing traffic data from the month of August for two consecutive years, Chrome shows nearly a 200% increase in traffic, while Firefox and Explorer lost users. When comparing traffic from August 2010 to August 2011, Google Chrome rose from 6.46% to 12.64%, an increase of 196%. Internet Explorer dropped from 63.13% to 50.62%. Firefox, which has long been the favorite browser of web savvy users, dropped from 20.83% to 18.90%. Safari and Android browser both saw slight increases due to Chrome for its features and ease of use.

Both Explorer and Firefox are clunky browsers that use a lot of your valuable system resources. Chrome was built for speed, and it outperforms other browsers in speed tests. It launches within seconds of double-clicking the icon, so you’re ready to start browsing before other browsers even open.

 Pages open quickly thanks to WebKit rendering engine, an open source program built into Chrome. Chrome runs a faster JavaScript engine, so web applications open and run faster than they do on other browsers. Google is continually updating the JavaScript engine, so Chrome gets faster with each update. Search and browse faster with the Omnibox. Now you can search directly from the browser without going to Google.com. The Omnibox will suggest sites and search terms based on your history, favorites and user data.

Google has many free services available to users, such as Google Maps, Gmail, Blogger and more. Google Chrome is designed to work seamlessly with these applications and web pages. Chrome can even translate a web page within the browser without the need to navigate to another web site.

Web apps and extensions make it easy to customize Google Chrome. One of the main advantages of using Firefox is the ability to add extensions to customize the browser. Now, users can install extensions in Chrome to make their browsing faster and customized to their needs.

Responsive Website Design in Charlotte

 by: Brian Holzberger

In the 90’s, learning to create your own website would involve learning HTML. At that time, HTML was quite the beast to tackle, but today it is much more simplified, but if you really want to reach a wide audience, you will need to employ responsive website design.

Web Platforms Today

Right now, there are plethora of platforms in use, most of which are mobile. For example, many people are employing iPads or Android tablets for their everyday web surfing needs, while others prefer to use mobile phones. The way we access the internet is changing rapidly, and with that being the case, the way we design our websites also needs to change.

Responsive Website Design

By looking at the different mobile devices, it is easy for you to see that different resolutions are being employed. 

You will essentially need to create alternate version of your website for the following devices:
  • iPad
  • iPod
  • iPhone
  • Windows Tablet
  • Windows Phone
  • Android Tablet
  • Android Phone
  • Android mp3 Players

This of course is only a basic outline, and as new devices enter the market, you will need to consider your various design options. For example, how will the menus work on a smaller screen? Will all of the website’s content be available on the mobile version of the website? It is well known that websites like Facebook provide mobile versions but with scaled back functionality. Will your website fall to the same fate? If you want to have a successful launch, you will need to design several versions of your website, and if you cannot offer certain functionality, make sure you can offer alternatives that accomplish the same thing. Also bear in mind that mobile version of your website will need to be touch friendly. The vast majority of mobile devices no longer use keys to navigate, so your links will need to be easy to touch. This is definitely something to consider when you are creating your website and employing responsive website design.

The Bottom Line

2013 is going to be a new era for web design. As people move away from the desktop computer, they migrate toward mobile devices, ensuring that they are always connected. It is important for web designers to adapt and explore different technologies as they become available. This is a new world, and it’s time for a new web.

SEO – SEM – Internet Marketing Explained

 by: Brian Holzberger

In recent years, search engine optimization, or SEO, has become a familiar term to many in the business world, especially for website designers and content writers. Alongside SEO, there has evolved another term, known as SEM, or search engine marketing. Search engines use keywords to tell it what a particular site is about, and categorizes it accordingly. If a particular site is for a company selling custom furniture, then it might use the keywords “custom built table.” Web developers and content writers take advantage of the search engines by inserting keywords in the site content. These keywords, relevant to the site, snag the search engines so that they come up in results when someone does an internet search for those terms. This is known as “search engine optimization.” SEM takes it a step further, actively using keywords and search engines to market the website. Search engine marketing, sometimes shortened to simply “search marketing,” works to publicize a website and make it more visible so that it gains more traffic. Search engine optimization is the first step.

Used effectively, SEO can noticeably increase a website’s traffic. Internet surfers perform a search using a particular set of terms, which bring up a list of relevant websites. Proper use of SEO increases the chances of a particular website to not only show up in the results, but to appear high in the listings so that the user is more likely to see it.The second part of SEM has to do with paid advertising. It still takes advantage of internet searches, but this time the website shows up as a paid advertisement alongside the search results. The business pays the search engine, such as Google, to allow a site link to appear high up in the results, making the site more visible to customers. These ads are not a part of the actual search results, but are instead set apart, perhaps above the results or to the side of the page.

There are two types of SEM paid advertising, referring to the way that advertisers pay for the ads. These are PPC and CPC. PPC stands for pay-per-click, while CPC is written out as cost-per-click. These same type of ads also often appear on websites similar to the product or services being advertised. In the search engine results, they are usually clearly set apart from the “organic” listings, in the interests of keeping the search results natural.

While it is possible that a business can grow and gain traffic without using any SEM techniques, the growth is minimal, and far short of what it could be with proper use of SEM. In today’s technologically-driven world, an online presence is a must. Phone books and paper business directories are quickly becoming outdated as more and more businesses move online. It is more than just having a website for your business. What is the point of a website that no one sees? SEM drives traffic to your site, increasing your overall business growth.

SEM is important for a good online presence, but poorly done, it can in fact do just the opposite. A poor keyword density, such as keyword stuffing, can lower a site’s page rankings, decreasing traffic. A good SEO company is not focused on just the keywords, but on making the business grow. This includes adding just the right amount of keywords, placing them so they are relevant to the site content. The success of a good SEO company is seen in your site’s increased rankings and traffic.