search engine optimization


Remember You’ve Got Mail? That 1998 romantic comedy starring Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks? Kathleen and Joe, respectively, meet online and let their online relationship flourish as their personal one essentially crashes and burns.

An entire movie based around AOL e-mail, THE vehicle for online communication in the late 1990s. “You’ve Got Mail”…a term I now think of as synonymous with middle school and high school years (trust me, I’ve still got–and use–the screen name to prove my adolescence), at a time when I thought the internet was IT and there was nothing else that could surpass it.

Kathleen: We only know each other – oh, God, you’re not going to believe this…
Joe: Let me guess. From the Internet.
Kathleen: Yes.
Joe: You’ve got mail.
Kathleen: Yes.
Joe: Three very powerful words.

And weren’t those words powerful?! I really mean it. They came to symbolize at least part of my generation at the time. Maybe that’s a strong statement but I know that when we got AOL in our household it felt like a new world unfolding before our very eyes.

But…then what happened? POOF! be gone, AOL was out and Google was in.

Or was it?

We shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that John Battelle mentions in The Search that Google pretty much took over AOL’s search in 2002. Search for something on AOL.com and then search for it on Google–you’ll come up with remarkably similar results, thanks to the takeover of AOL. Battelle asserted that “Not only would AOL begin employing Google’s search technology; it would also be using Google’s paid listings.” (pg. 144). But, as Battelle argues, “the AOL deal was a major risk for Google.” (pg. 145)

If you ask me, AOL definitely paved the way for Google. With AOL, we could all start personalizing our login accounts with information that we wanted to explore. Sports? Entertainment? Any of those things could be personalized for specific AOL accounts.

Google took AOL…and then some. I wrote back in June (check it out–it definitely supplements this blog) in my class blog for Digital PR about the sheer power of Google. The idea of “Just Google It” speaks true now more than ever. Here’s a list of some ways I used Google today–without even really realizing it:

  • Gmail
  • G chat
  • Google texted for weather
  • Google texted a phone number
  • Google texted movie times
  • Google maps
  • Gmap pedometer
  • Google News
  • Google Search
  • Google Picasa for uploading pictures
  • Google Notifier
  • Google Calendar
  • Google Homepage
  • Google Reader

And…that’s no exaggeration. I pretty much live and breathe Google–don’t we all? They have managed to perfect the practice of vertical integration and diversifying their portfolio by truly tapping into every field they could think of–something that AOL never managed to fully accomplish.

Today, AOL announced they will be cutting 2,000 jobs; meanwhile, Google employee numbers continue to grow more than ever before. AOL claims that cutting jobs is their way to focus on online advertising rather than being an internet provider. Looks like that “ding ding ding” of my Google Notifier for Mac has officially replaced that void where “You’ve Got Mail” used to be.

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The answer to all unanswered questions: Just Google It. Almost as infectious as Nike’s Just Do It, saying “Just Google It” is the easy out for most queries. Don’t know how to get somewhere? Just Google it! When is next installment of Harry Potter coming out? Just Google it. How to kill your wife??!! You guessed it..Just f*%$^@ Google it.

Google’s surging popularity
Google has truly boomed in popularity over the last few years and is now considered the most popular search engine in the world. Google is a crawler based search engine. Google and other popular engines rely on “robots” to rank pages and link them to searches. This differs from human powered directories, which relies on the website owner to submit information about their site to the search engine. Google gathers information through Googlebot, indexes, and processes information found on the web. This makes the entire experience extremely user friendly and easy.

Survival of the fittest
Most people look to the 10 results of the first page of Google, and rely on those outcomes. As we’ve discussed in class, googling “art” listed the National Gallery of Art as one of the first links just a few years ago—now it’s on the second page. For websites, appearing on the first Google home page has become a competition, almost a survival of the fittest. SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is a way to ensure that search engines will find a website and list them in the search results. Linking, tagging & bookmarking, inbound links, submitting content to other sites, and mashups are all ways to prevent a static website.

The others just don’t stack up
Other search engines seem to pale in comparison, especially with Google as the forerunner with customizable home pages linked to e-mail, calendars, and pictures. Google is fast, easy to use, and thorough. Search engines seem to be popping up all over the place; however, and they all try emulate Google in one way or another.

The New Wave
Is there something out there that could trump Google? Google, which can be viewed as a traditional search, is always in Beta mode. This means it is constantly changing and improving. Search 2.0 includes the third generation of search engines like Swicki and Wink. These search engines use the power of Google and Yahoo!, but also incorporate “user preferences, collaboration, collective intelligence, a rich user experience”. I think it’s just a matter of time before Google attempts to use these same methods–chances are they are already working on it.

The Google brand
Google has become more than a search engine—it’s become a multi-billion dollar empire. Google Earth and Google’s purchase of YouTube are both examples of Google’s omnipresence on the web. With no sign of slowing down any time soon, Google continues to be the leading example of a search engine. Even with the Search 2.0 and third generation competitors creeping onto the web, Google’s perpetual Beta format will allow it to trump its competition.

With every trend sweeping the internet, Google maximizes its presence by participating in it somehow. Gmail and Gmail Chat have become instant phenomenons, and the Google Blog Search was created as a Technorati alternative. Latching on the Google name to almost anything will give it instant popularity.

So what’s next in the world of Google? Just Google It.