2005 in Review: The Top Search Industry Stories of the Year

Search caught fire last year, with new tools, services and virtually constant activity. Here’s a look back at some of the most memorable themes and trends of the past year year.

Your Search Utility: Looking Back, Looking Ahead: Developments With Consumer Search covers many of the things I said would be coming over this year which have gathered pace, especially the idea of the major players being our “search utilities” or “search providers” that we turn to for any search need, not just web search.

Search Advertisers Deserve Better: Search Engine Ad Reps: Friend or Foe? covers a crucial issue of those who helped build up the search market feeling like the search engines themselves now want to push them aside — and the danger the search engines themselves may face in doing so. Google Separates Bids For Search & Contextual Ads illustrates how Google took three years later, to finally do what advertisers asked it to do from the very beginning. New Google AdWords Site Targeting Allows Advertisers To Pick & Choose is another long desired feature that finally came — but even more control is still needed by advertisers from both Google and Yahoo, the industry leaders. Google AdSense For Domains Program Overdue For Reform — And Yahoo & Microsoft Should Also Take Note also shows this, as well. Yahoo Apologizes For Ad Management Problems; Issues Case-By-Case Refunds covers the company that kicked off paid search — Yahoo-absorbed Overture — needing to make improvements. Meanwhile, Click Fraud Suit Names Google, Yahoo & Other Search Companies covers some old concerns not having gone away and instead entering the courtroom.

SEOers & Webmasters Get Perks, Need More: Google Base Live, Accepting Content, Google Sitemaps Expands To Give Query & Indexing Stats!, Yahoo Site Explorer Live: New Way To See All Your Pages, Links, Yahoo Bulk Submit Now Live, New “Google Sitemaps” Web Page Feed Program, Yahoo Search Issues Index Weather Report and Google, Yahoo, MSN Unite On Support For Nofollow Attribute For Links all cover the pretty phenomenal moves this year for the search engines to give site owners more control and new tools over how they are indexed. But there’s much more that needs to come as Revisiting Hijacking & Redirects: Moving To A Solution and Proposed Search Engine Standard For Titles & Descriptions show as only two examples.

SEO Isn’t A Criminal Activity: Worthless Shady Criminals: A Defense Of SEO covers why there are so many reasons everyone should embrace SEO yet it’s become so twisted and disrespected in some quarters especially by those who should embrace it. Related is Can We Agree Automated Comment & Link Posting Is A Bad Thing? which covers a tactic that even some of the most aggressive search marketers hate and how a more common voice against it, even if it doesn’t stop the tactic, might help the SEO reputation problem.

Search Gets Personalized: Google Personalized Search Leaves Google Labs and Yahoo Integrates Personal & Social Search with MyWeb 2.0 both show how personalized search results aren’t just talk but here and now on the major players, real new third-generation leaps after on-the-page and link analysis. But search ads will also get personalized, as AlmondNet Debuts “Post-Search” Search Behavioral Ad Network covers as one example. As search engines learn more about us, Better Search Privacy Needs Addressing Overall covers why more reassurance of protection is needed.

The Link Economy: Yahoo’s Jeremy Zawodny Caught In Link Selling Debate, Google’s Matt Cutts On Link Selling: Sites Might Not Pass Reputation; Buyers Might Get Targeted More, O’Reilly In Debate Over Link Selling, Stanford Daily Removes Paid Links cover how the “no no” tactic of buying links has probably become more acceptable as the “link economy” the search engines themselves built won’t be denied.

Establishing New Trust Signals In Search: Moving To Trusted Links & The Link Election Model, MSN Search Gets Neural Net/RankNet Technology & (Potentially) Awesome New Search Commands, Yahoo My Web: An eBay For Knowledge all cover how if the link economy means you can’t take links at face value, search engines are looking at new ways to develop trusted links or other trusted sources to know what’s best and good on the web.

Moving Toward Better Search Metrics: End Of Size Wars? Google Says Most Comprehensive But Drops Home Page Count covers a move that maybe, just maybe shows that we’ll finally be moving on to seek new metrics to assess search engines by.

Terrible Misunderstandings Of Google Book Search: The Difference Between Google Print & Google Library covers the fundamental differences that many people are simply overlooking between Google’s cooperative, voluntary programs with publishers and the controversial library scanning program. They are entirely different creatures, and anyone commenting on them should understand this. Sadly, too few do. Google Book Search “Hack” Just Normal Operation covers even more common confusion.

Book Search Enters New Era: Microsoft Announces MSN Book Search; Joins Open Content Alliance, A New Digital Library Alliance Makes its Debut, Germany: Publishers Plan Online Book Service, Details about Europe’s i2010 Digital Libraries Program Emerge and European Libraries Back Alternative To Google Library Project are all examples that cover how despite some controversial parts of Google Book Search, the service has spurred unprecedented and welcomed renewed activity on digitizing the world’s knowledge that remains mostly locked up inside of unsearchable books. But France, Google & The Need for Digitization Project Cooperation covers how sadly, perhaps more cooperation rather than competition is in order.

Google Doing Too Much? They’re doing print ads, Google Publication Ads Site & More On Print Ads; WiFi, Google Bidding To Provide Free Wi-Fi To San Francisco; building the stealth portal, Google’s Philosophical Ten True Things Not So True Anymore? & Google Launches My Google-Style Personalized Home Page and much, much more. But all this activity makes people wonder if they are finishing things properly or losing focus on the core search that made them what they are. Google Regains Its Hijacked Listing; This Was A Big Deal, Folks!, Major Security Flaw With Google Sitemaps Stats, Google Losing Consistency As It Continues To Experiment With Results and NYT On Yahoo’s US Gains & Google’s Endless Betas are all examples of that. Others worry that to build deals or grow revenue they are going to sell out or step upon the rights of others as Google SEO Support Given To Advertisers, Google SEO Support Given To Advertisers, Google Toolbar’s AutoLink & The Need For Opt-Out, Revisiting The “No Banners On Google” Declaration and Google Base Switches To Force All Searchers Through Jump Pages all illustrate.

Year Of The Map: New Google Maps Now Live covers what ushered in a new chapter of search, the idea that maps can be cool, fun and a useful new way to find local information rather than the standard ten links on a page. Google Debuts Satellite Images upped the stakes with imagery that while isn’t that crucial sure can be fun. Windows Live Local Beta is Now Online; Some Global Imagery Also Added has MSN meeting the challenge, and Yahoo Local Expands With City Pages & More User Reviews taking high quality local info into maps as well. Saturday Night Live Skit Mentions MapQuest, Yahoo Maps and Google Maps is a great way to close out the year — maps so cool they make a SNL skit.

Search Duoism Ends: Google and Yahoo have been the big two voices in search. MSN To Launch Its Own Paid Listings Program & MSN Search Officially Switches To Its Own Technology cover MSN solidifying itself as a new voice of its own. Ask Jeeves already had its own voice on the editorial listings side but New Ask Jeeves Sponsored Listings Program Lets More Advertisers Buy Direct covers it staking out its own paid listings. The year started with two major places to buy search ads; it ends with four. It started with three major editorial search voices; it also ends with four.

Where’s The Blog Search?: Google Launches Industrial Strength Blog Search and Yahoo Integrates News, Blogs & Flickr Search Results cover the two major search engines finally getting blog search going, yet the entries are suprisingly light. Problems With Splogs & Time-Based Searching covers some of the challenges good blog search faces. Will the majors step up more?

Search Gets History Books: Search as the New Great Game covers a first landmark book to finally cover the incredible industry of search and what certainly will be the start of many histories and tellings of this important new medium that’s lacked that until now.

We Write A Lot: Search Engine Report #100; SearchDay #1000 covers some Search Engine Watch milestones of our own hit at the beginning of this year!

Search Headlines

NOTE: Article links often change. In case of a bad link, use the publication’s search facility, which most have, and search for the headline.

Search Engine for Economics Information
ResearchBuzz Dec 29 2005 12:00AM GMT
Boosting Website Lead Conversion With Pay-Per-Click Landing Pages
Search Engine Guide Dec 28 2005 11:55PM GMT
Ford Explorer Teaches Me to Ignore Google AdWords Ads
SEO Book Dec 28 2005 11:47PM GMT
Mamma.com Buys Copernic for $22M
BetaNews Dec 28 2005 11:45PM GMT
SearchTHIS: Open Letter to Steve Ballmer
iMedia Connection Dec 28 2005 11:43PM GMT
Hitwise Debuts New Report on Search Engines and Directories
dmnews.com Dec 28 2005 11:41PM GMT
Revisiting The ‘No Banners On Google’ Declaration
Search Engine Watch Dec 28 2005 11:41PM GMT
Full Text of Complaint Filed in Jews for Jesus v. Google Case
Search Engine Watch Dec 28 2005 11:39PM GMT
Google Acquisitions : Papers, Employees & Patents
Search Engine Journal Dec 28 2005 11:38PM GMT
Google Diverts Links on Google Base
ClickZ Today Dec 28 2005 6:37PM GMT
Good and Bad SEO Information
Lockergnome Dec 28 2005 7:35AM GMT
Ask Brands Ask France Without Jeeves
Search Engine Round Table Dec 27 2005 9:55PM GMT
New Microsoft Patent Apps Discusses the Building of Personalized Portals
Search Engine Watch Dec 27 2005 9:51PM GMT
AdCenter Pilot Yields High ROI, Calls for Expansion
dmnews.com Dec 27 2005 9:48PM GMT
Pay for Performance Might Not Work, Part 2
dmnews.com Dec 27 2005 9:47PM GMT

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