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Looking Back at Search Engine Optimization

Larry Stopa
by Larry Stopa on Jun 29, 2007 12:04:00 PM

Anyone can see the road that they walk on
Is paved in gold
And it's always summer
They'll never get cold
They'll never get hungry
They'll never get old and grey
-- The Way by Fastball

The Way seemed to be playing everywhere in the Summer of 1998. Then and now the song seems like an allegory for the dreams that search engines sent soaring high.

That Summer E-Power Marketing started offering search engine marketing. The nine years since leave me older, and I have a few grey hairs. The rewards of figuring out the search engines and making them work for E-Power's clients give me satisfaction beyond the monetary. And the challenges never stop.

While working for a Web developer, I saw that marketing the Website was - and is - the challenge that fulfills the promise. So I made up my mind and started packing to launch E-Power Marketing on July 2, 1998.

Organic search engine optimization was quite different nine years ago. That was before Google.

Yahoo ruled. Establishing a keyword-filled description in Yahoo Directory was a giant step toward driving search engine traffic. E-Power Marketing successfully listed our clients with keyword-rich directory descriptions, while many others were failing. They failed because they used automated software to submit to Yahoo directory. This often resulted in a Yahoo Directory listing that had a blank description. The keywords in the description generated Yahoo search positions. Other Webmasters submitted too frequently, causing Yahoo editors to ignore the too-frequent requests.

To make AltaVista rock, write 100 words using the target phrase 4 or 5 times, then repeat the target phrase in meta keywords up to 1,024 total characters, but not over. Voila! You are on the 1st page!

Infoseek was the best place to test search optimization. In two weeks if Infoseek did not reward your site with top search positions, then you knew you had to go back and try again.

Voyeur was a Website that allowed you to watch real searches on Magellan, one of the first Web search engines. I learned people searched a lot of dirty words.

Techies loved HotBot because Wired Magazine started the search engine.

Excite would soon sell for something like $7 billion to AT&T while generating about $40 million in revenue, thus setting off the Internet Frenzy.

What a wild ride! I loved it all! Even when the Internet Bubble burst, though that created challenges.

Today E-Power Marketing is stronger than ever, which is more than we can say about many of the big players of 1998.

Yahoo is still a Player. But it is a weak #2 to Google. Yahoo Directory has more influence on Google than on Yahoo search results.

AltaVista missed launching an Initial Public Offering before the Bubble burst. Today it is still a good search engine, but enjoys a fraction of the search market share it once owned.

Infoseek is now Go.com. It has not been its own search engine for years. Today it picks up search results from Yahoo.

Voyeur and Magellan are long gone.

HotBot uses search results from Ask. Hard to say whether many techies use it anymore.

Excite search results are a mix of paid and natural search from different sources. Excite never came close to paying back $7 billion. Today it is owned by IAC Search & Media.

Today Google rewards search positions because of strong, relevant content with links pointing to the pages. The algorithm generates far more relevant search results than the search engines of years past.

Still, it was fun copying and pasting meta keywords for AltaVista to hit the 1,024 characters without going over.

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Larry Stopa
Written by Larry Stopa
Since establishing E-Power Marketing® in 1998, Larry has grown it to become a highly successful business focused on generating the results that impact our clients' bottom line. Larry oversees all client programs, new business initiatives and leads the team to continued growth and ongoing education.

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