July 2008: Search Engine Land’s Most Popular Stories

Below are Search Engine Land’s 10 most popular stories from July 2008:

1) Cuil Launches – Can This Search Start-Up Really Best Google? – Can any start-up search engine "be the next Google?" Many have wondered this, and today’s launch of Cuil (pronounced "cool") may provide the best test case since Google itself overtook more established search engines. Cuil provides what appears to be a comprehensive index of the web, offers a unique display presentation, and emerges at a time when people might be ready to embrace a quality "underdog" service. The big questions now are how does the relevancy hold up and can word-of-mouth really still build significant share? [Note: The Cuil site was supposed to be live for searches at of 9:01pm Pacific time on July 27, but so far I'm still seeing only a holding page. I'd expect this to change fairly soon].


2) The Day After: Looking At How Well Knol Pages Rank On Google – We’ve been assured that just because content sits on Google’s Knol site, it won’t gain any ranking authority from being part of the Knol domain. OK, so a day after Knol has launched, how’s that holding up? I found 1/3 of the pages listed on the Knol home page that I tested ranked in the top results. I came away feeling that being on Knol does indeed give pages an advantage they might not get if they’d been hosted on some other brand new web site.


3) Cuil Fast Test - Relevancy Isn’t A Google Killer – Now that Cuil is live, I wanted to do a few fast queries to get a sense of how it seems to stack up against Google. With the huge caveat that nine queries are far from letting anyone conclude anything, I still didn’t come away with a sense that Cuil has Google-beating relevancy. Instead, it has some flaws though is better than many start-up search engines appear out of the box. Queries I tried:


4) Google’s Knol Launches: Like Wikipedia, With Moderation – After six months of testing, Google has formally rolled out Knol, a service designed to let people create pages of knowledge on any topic they choose. While Google says Knol is not designed to compete with Wikipedia — and there are good arguments to back this up — I still think the easiest way to describe the service is Wikipedia with moderation. Below, more about this, the service in general, and some of the issues it may raise for Google.


5) Google Maps Walking Directions Now Live – Earlier this month, I reported that Google Maps was testing walking directions on a small subset of users. This morning, I noticed that Google Maps now is offering walking directions for all Google Maps users. For example, conduct a search for 200 Madison Ave to 200 Lexington Ave and you will see the option to take "Walking" directions as opposed to driving directions. Here is a picture:


6) Google Trends Showing A Swastika (卐)? – Dave Shaw notified me of a weird character being displayed as a "hot trend" on Google Trends this morning. It appears that Google is displaying a swastika as 卐. This appears to be some sort of Chinese character, but the swastika is well known for its usage in Nazi Germany and has been a very controversial symbol since. Here is a picture of Google Trends at the time I write this:


7) Search Volume Comes To Google Keyword Tool & Live Search Updates – I reported at the Search Engine Roundtable that Google has added search volume numbers to the external keyword tool. The volume numbers are approximations, and I would guess are from the same sources Google obtains data for Google Ad Planner and Google Trends for Websites. Here is a screen capture of a keyword research search on [seo]:


8) Google Ranking (Partly) Explained – Google has historically been criticized for being a black box. But for the past couple of years the company has been trying to be more transparent in key areas (Matt Cutts in particular has been very helpful here). As the latest in a series of such posts, Amit Singhal, who runs the Google "ranking" team in search quality, discusses the "philosophies" behind Google ranking.


9) Yahoo! Lets You "Build Your Own Search Service" – Yahoo! has just unveiled the next phase in their plan to spur search innovation by providing search-related resources to developers. The Yahoo! Build Your Own Search Service (BOSS) enables developers to access Yahoo! search results, combine them with other sources, rerank them, and define their appearance. Yahoo! says they are making BOSS available in an attempt to spur innovation in the search space and disrupt the market. They point out that unlike with other web companies, a search startup has many obstacles: from cost (it takes a lot of machines to process all the web’s data) to expertise (some of the world’s smartest PhDs work at the major search engines) to historical data (which search companies can only get a hold of by that old-fashioned method of waiting). Below, more on what Yahoo! is making available through BOSS and how likely it is that the launch will really create the next Google.


10) SEO For Semantic Search Engines – A new generation of search engines is starting to become publicly available, so it’s time to start thinking about how it will affect SEO efforts. The new search engines I’m talking about are the semantic search engines, meaning they are search engines that can be queried using natural language (not keywords like when using Google). Behind the scenes, these search engines try to understand the meaning behind the text web pages and so when you query them, they map what your query means and find answers based on the meaning they’ve extracted. It’s all very neat, and there are many examples: Powerset (which Microsoft recently acquired), Hakia, [true knowledge], Cognition, and a few others.

To see all of our most popular stories over time, visit our Most Popular Stories page.

Related Topics: Channel: Other | Most Popular Stories


About The Author: is a Founding Editor of Search Engine Land. He’s a widely cited authority on search engines and search marketing issues who has covered the space since 1996. Danny also serves as Chief Content Officer for Third Door Media, which publishes Search Engine Land and produces the SMX: Search Marketing Expo conference series. He has a personal blog called Daggle (and keeps his disclosures page there). He can be found on Facebook, Google + and microblogs on Twitter as @dannysullivan.

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