On The Web, February 2004

There are growing shifts and controversies on the Internet these days among the almighty search engines. Some search models return unadulterated results; some place advertisers unmarked within the results; and others only include paid participants in their lists.

Columns From: 2/5/2004 Modern Machine Shop, ,

There are growing shifts and controversies on the Internet these days among the almighty search engines.

Some search models return unadulterated results; some place advertisers unmarked within the results; and others only include paid participants in their lists. Add to this the emergence of formidable competition to the omnipotent Google, as well as Google’s own commercial ambitions for 2004, and the potential for change is great.

But consider these emerging developments that will alter the returns search engines provide in the months to come.

Google Going Public? Up to this point, Google has made its name by developing a platform hard on results but rather soft on commercialization, at least to the eyes of the manufacturer searching for information. But once Google goes public as expected in the first half of the year, the scales may tilt toward a more profit-focused model that serves shareholders over searchers.

Paid Placements. These are currently being done by some search engines in a grab for profits. Paid positions are “mixed” in with legitimately indexed returns so that the user finds them indistinguishable from one another, thus enhancing the chance that the paying site will get visited more often.

Competition. Yahoo! is expected to try to regain its once-dominant search position by coming right at Google in the first half of 2004. Last year, Yahoo! purchased Inktomi (a search technology) and Overture (a technology platform for managing paid placements in searches). Yahoo! is about to “dump” Google as its search technology provider and roll out its own new search model based on those recent acquisitions.

Why is this so important to those of us in and supportive of the machining professions? You have precious little time to determine the relevance or validity of resources in this hypercompetitive, information-rich environment. Worse, when the very validity of a source is questionable or fails, the overall number of useful online machining resources that are linked to is reduced—then, we all loose.

There is an old Internet adage that says, “the Internet routes around trouble,” meaning that if a model doesn’t work, people will choose not to use it, and it will simply cease to be a viable entity. But the trouble with these emerging search engine developments is that they may make it very difficult to decide who to trust or where the “trouble” is.

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