A Decade in Search – 2006

Dec. 16, 2009 | by Randip Dhesi

So the year was 2006 – I was at Aston Uni (or “up north” as my colleagues would describe L ) studying for my post-grad.  Looking back now, that year was pretty significant for my future career choice as that was the first time I’d ever heard of SEO.  My group was randomly assigned a report topic for an e-marketing module – you’ve guessed it – SEO. We thought we had drawn the short straw at the time as it sounded complicated and way too techy even for the average nerd (erm….)

Anyway, I wanted to share one of the examples we used in the report to describe “black hat” SEO – one I still refer to today – the case of BMW Germany.

The German BMW site was penalised for cloaking (showing one thing to a user and a completely different thing to a search engine)/ creating ‘doorway pages’.  Danny Sullivan called it a “poor man’s cloaking” – When users click on the URL in search engine results, a JavaScript redirect would occur taking users to a slick looking page.

Search engines however would not follow this redirect and instead see this:

The German word for “used car” repeated numerous times.

That was also the first time I heard of Matt Cutts, as he promptly took them to town on his site (along with a nice ban from the search index) in a post about international web spam. So blackhat was a big no-no, and that Matt Cutts bloke might be a big deal within the search community? (Although judging by the spammy techniques of some websites I’ve seen go unpunished, I’m starting to lose a little faith here Matt!)

Anyhoo, that wasn’t the only “controversial” thing that happened in 2006 -

Google censor results for China -

This is something I remember vividly reading about. The best example of what this meant was best seen in an image result as this post by Danny Sullivan highlighted

A search for “Tiananmen” saw two very different results in China and US versions of Google.

Enough said.

Microsoft lures searchers with prizes. Desperation?

The premise was this: Over 1200 predefined keywords were initially selected by Microsoft. If you searched with the MSN toolbar and happened to have searched for one of these keywords, you were with a shot of winning a prize – including a potential £10k donation to charity in your name. I suppose it wasn’t a terrible idea – if Google had done it, perhaps people would’ve perceived it differently.

Hey, it wasn’t just all about controversy, other news included:

Google’s Big Daddy update complete:

Although it began in late 2005 but it wasn’t until March 2006 that this was fully rolled out to all data centres. What was an infrastructure change also resulted in reciprocal links being devalued and sites with “bad” inbound and/or outbound links dropping in visibility (those bad neighbourhoods eh?). Unfortunately some apparently legitimate sites suffered during the initial stages with webmasters finding that some of their pages had been dropped into the supplemental index – although this problem was largely rectified by March.

Google acquires YouTube :

Although they might not be making as much money from it today as they would like, the acquisition of YouTube was a big deal (not to mention, expensive). I believe at that point it had already surpassed 1bn views a day. Today it has been incorporated into universal search results and they’re slowly trying more ways of monetising the platform (shared ad revenue, brand user profiles/channels etc)

Google launches search trends:

Google Trends is something I use on a day-to-day basis – in a nutshell it provided a great visual representation of search popularity over time – easily accessible insight that we’d never really had before.


Should Google have seen the credit crunch coming??

“bebo” and “myspace” might have been the top searches in 2006 but the top “how to” search was “how to refinance” – Maybe some alarm bells should’ve been ringing at that point?! (As it should’ve with the top ‘definition’ search term “define promiscuous”) Brown, Cameron and the other guy [Clegg] – take note!

This was just personal opinion so I’m sure there are a lot of important moments I have missed, so I’d be interested to hear what others have to say. Let’s have some suggestions folks!

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    Comments (3)

    • Randip Dhesi

      Thanks guys.

      @Tolumi - Follow this tag to see what we've done so far. Other team members will take us up to the end of the decade and perhaps make some bold predictions for the future!

      There were a few things that didn't make the final cut but were still important, for example the rise/update of Technorati. Have I missed anything that you think is obvious?Dec 16, 2009 06:08 pm

    • Ben Adam

      Great post Randip, most interesting year so far, a dodgey year for search indeed. Sphinn it hereDec 16, 2009 03:43 pm

    • Tolumi Adamson

      As long as the BMW story has been mentioned, I think you are good. It was *THE* story of 2006 in my opinion even though it happened at the beginning of the year.

      Nice write up though... are you going to be doing one for each year?Dec 16, 2009 02:14 pm

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

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