A Decade in Search – 2003

Dec. 11, 2009 | by Dan Goodwin

2003 was a busy year for Google. Adsense was released and became the world’s largest advertising and search monetisation network, they also purchased Pyra Labs, the creators of Blogger.com. An experimental program called Google Print attempted to index excerpts of books, later becoming Google Book Search.

By far the biggest news in the SEO world was the Florida update, this update hit around 16th November 2003 and for a lot of high ranking sites it was catastrophic.

Since the first update announced by Google at SES Boston, the popular webmaster forums had started to use the same naming convention as hurricanes, this was especially apt for this particular update.

The popular forums were full of theories about what had happened, as well as webmasters reporting the extent of visibility, traffic and revenue that had been lost. The theories ranged from the use of Adwords Data, to Topic Sensitive PageRank. In the end it looked as though a large part of the update came down an algorithm created by Krishna Bharat, this algorithm was called The Hilltop algorithm.

This algorithm was designed to find topic relevant documents for a particular keyword topic. The PageRank algorithm on the other hand was not topic sensitive, the introduction of this new topical sensitivity meant that purchasing high PageRank off topic links became far less effective over night, and results became more relevant.

In other search news:

  • Yahoo! purchased Overture Services Inc., the largest provider of pay-for-placement online search results, this dealt a further blow to MSN which had been relying on technology from Overture and Inktomi, which was  also purchased by Yahoo! in late 2002.
  • MSN announced it would be creating a prototype crawler to index the web, the plan is that this will help with the development of a future search program. At the time MSN’s organic results were powered by Inktomi and LookSmart, and it’s paid results supplied by Overture, two of which had been recently acquired by Yahoo!
  • ASK selects Google as the provider of its sponsored results and reveals version 2.0 of its Teoma search engine, this new version would have the facility to spell check search queries as well as offering search term refinement and improved result relevancy.
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    Comment (1)

    • Tim Aldiss

      Fond memories!

      I remember coming back into the Spannerworks office at the time (intergen House in Hove) the day after the Florida update, and thinking that the world had ended!

      Back then the updates were massive annual events and we'd gotten used to the cvhanges (usually just after Christmas). This time it was different. With our usual laissez-faire Brighton agency approach we contacted all of our clients reassuring them that the results would return, and indeed within a fortnight they mostly did.

      This was a sign even back then of the quality SEO solution our small team was capable of delivering.

      Thanks for a great series iCrossing dudes. here's to the next 10! :)Dec 11, 2009 01:50 pm

    Please note: the opinions expressed in this post represent the views of the individual, not necessarily those of iCrossing.

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