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55 Ways to Have Fun With Google. Go to Table of Contents. Visit Gifcom.

1995-1997: Dot-Com Rising

More and more search engines appear. There’s Metacrawler, Excite (in late 1995), AltaVista (late 1995), Inktomi/ HotBot (mid-1996), Ask Jeeves and GoTo. Yahoo, actually a directory, is the leader, but AltaVista – meaning “a view from above,” and being a wordplay on (Palo) Alto-Vista – launched in 1995 and brought some fierce competition. In 1997 AltaVista was bought by Compaq and we have some right to assume this and a resulting lost focus brought its downfall.

1998-2002: Google et al

It’s late 1998. Stanford’s Larry Page and Sergey Brin reinvent search ranking technology with their paper “The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine” and start what some time later becomes the most successful search engine in the world: Google (Larry misspells “Googol,” which is a really large number, and Sergey draws the colorful logo on his own using the free GIMP painting software). The uncluttered interface, speed and search result relevancy were cornerstones in winning the tech-savvy people, who were later followed by pretty much everyone looking for something online. Other contenders, like MSN, are left in the dust. In September 1999, Google leaves Beta.

Search engine optimization in the meantime becomes a bigger and bigger business, with experts and amateurs alike trying to boost rankings of websites, more often than not for commercial reasons.

In 2000, Yahoo and Google become partners (Yahoo is using Google’s search technology on their own site for a while). In late 2000, Google is handling over 100 million daily search requests.

In 2001, AskJeeves (which dropped the “Jeeves” in the meantime) acquires Teoma, and GoTo is renamed to Overture.

2003-Now: The Dawn of Search Engine Contests

It’s hard to tell which search engine contest truly was first. People have been competing to get on top of search results for commercial reasons pretty much since the invention of search engines, and the employed tactics are called “Search Engine Optimization.” But so-called “SEO contests” are created mostly to have fun, and to shed more light on Google’s ranking secrets – and potential methods for abusing those