Recently, a friend of mine bought a new car. Buying a car can be extremely stressful with an enormous array of important numbers, specifications and comparative measurements to consider before purchase. Now I was raised in the downtown core of Toronto which is a megalopolis stretching around the northwestern quarter of Lake Ontario. Growing up with a highly efficient public transit system and a decidedly urban lifestyle, I never even considered the need for a vehicle until I was in my mid 20’s. Ten years later I am still at the “this moves me where?” stage in my relationship with vehicles. Taking me to a car-dealership is sort of like asking another city-kid which mushrooms are safe to eat in the forest. “Hey that one looks cool…” Things can get pretty Mickey Mouse from here eh? Read more…

The past year saw immense growth in the search sector. Search is bigger today than it was twelve months ago in every respect. With the Internet becoming a larger part of people’s lives and broadband access becoming the norm around the world, 2004 was the year that big business fully recognized the full impact of search. Read more…

Wednesday, December 15th, 2004

MSN Desktop

MSN held a massive telephone news conference earlier this week to announce its version of a desktop search application. Like Google desktop, MSN’s offering spiders and indexes various files found on your computer’s hard-drive such as Word documents, Acrobat files, PowerPoint presentations, and spreadsheets. Unlike Google Desktop, this program catalogs a wider variety of files such as Email attachments, photos, music, and even software packages. Read more…

Wednesday, December 15th, 2004

2004 – A Year of Search in Review

This is the last edition of the StepForth Weekly News for 2004, making this the perfect time to write a retrospective before moving into the new year. The past year will be remembered as the most interesting year in the history of search, that is until this time next year. 2004 witnessed the end of the search engine cold-war and the beginning of what is likely to be an intense rivalry between Google and MSN. It also showed a clear demarcation between who’s hot and who’s not in the business of search. Read more…

Innovation in the world of search seems to come in waves with the major search engine firms appearing to follow each other’s lead in the development of new products, tools and services. Witness today’s introduction of a desktop search/toolbar by MSN. Search engines are standardizing their services around the basic business model of contextual ad delivery and introducing new products and features designed to win the loyalty of new users and retain the loyalty of old ones. The past year has been one of the most expansive and interesting in the world of search since day one. Two major trends, personalization and localization, combined with the competitive necessity to gain users and advertisers provided the foundation for development of desktop search applications and the immense number of toolbars available now. The goal of all major search firms is to offer results that are relevant to an individual searchers’ profile in the least steps possible. User adoption of toolbars and desktop search are major steps in accomplishing that goal. Read more…

Google “…is big. Really Big. You just won’t believe how vastly hugely mind-bogglingly big it is.” (excerpt from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy)

Google is the most powerful information resource humans have ever constructed. The power of any major search tool boggles the mind but considering the vastness of Google’s complex simplicity can truly hurt one’s brain. With over 8-billion references in its rapidly growing, organically generated index, Google sets the standards other search engines follow. Benefiting from a three year reign as the undisputed leader of search, Google has had a very good year and looks poised to make 2005 an even better year. Read more…

It has been a full year since the infamous Florida Update rewrote Google’s rankings with a massive pre-Christmas purge of previously well placed sites. The update, which caught virtually everyone by surprise is assumed by most to be the introduction of semantic contextualization software added to a variation of the Hilltop Expert Document Algorithm. It took Google about six to eight weeks to re-establish stable listings and they took a savage beating in the SEO press during that period. For a short time it looked like the shift was a failure with spammy sites and “big-box” stores dominating the Top listings but after a while Google’s listings began to make sense again. Read more…

I love New York City. More than any other city on the planet, New York is exciting, expansive and always interesting. As Earth’s unofficial capital city New York is home to many of the world’s largest entities, some even bigger than Donald Trump’s ego. No other city has captured the world’s imagination or harnessed its wealth to the degree of NYC. New York is also the home of over8-million people. As one of the most multicultural cities, every cultural group in the world is represented within its 301 square mile area. New Yorkers aren’t just city-folk, they define what is hip in urban living in the early part of this century. Unlike their counterparts in cities like LA, Rome or Tokyo, New Yorkers don’t fall for fads, set trends, or get giddy over the next new thing, ever. They are one of the most jaded and cynical populations and in their East Coast way, take great pride in their worldliness. That’s what makes them the perfect test market for Yahoo’s local-search engine. Read more…

Wednesday, October 20th, 2004

Desktop Search News

It is expected that AOL will be integrating its own desktop search technology into the AOL Browser Beta; AOL’s latest push to compete against rival Microsoft. The technology they will be implementing will allow users to search for files on their own computer as well as the Internet. Files such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and just about any other textual format will be searchable including the user’s browser cache, allowing the viewing of sites already visited.

Microsoft’s desktop technology has been touted again and again without a lot to go on other than the ability to search the desktop and the Internet in one tool. Fortunately, we can offer you a glimpse of the technology that will be integrated because it will be taken from one of Microsoft’s recent company purchases – Lookout Software. Lookout offers “lighting-fast search for your email, files, and desktop integrated with Microsoft Outlook” according to Microsoft. You can try this rather cool software by accessing the MSN Sandbox web site . There are also other technologies available that they are working on.

Wednesday, October 20th, 2004

What? More Search Engines?

The search engine industry has received massive attention over the past few years including incredible increases in gross profit. The fact is, the search engine industry is extremely hot these days and many investors are leaping at the chance to enter into the market and take their piece of the pie. The following are a sampling of the new search engines on the block:

Another Idealab creation, Snap appears to have some truly winning concepts in place; namely that the search engine reveals a great deal of its user data to the public. This data is normally treated like gold on search engines because it can provide valuable information on user habits and referrer data. In this case though, Snap shows all of this data front and center on its home page for all to see. This combined with a unique method of sorting results by popularity, satisfaction, web popularity, web satisfaction and domain has really shone a spotlight on this entry engine. We will be sure to keep an eye on it for you. In the meantime, try taking a tour of its capabilities. And I can’t help but to mention… what a great name!

Touted as “The Men’s Only Search Engine”, MaZaZZ is a meta search engine with a few gadgets that appear to be created for men. This search engine retrieves its result data from: HotBot, MSN, Alta Vista, AlltheWeb, Teoma and Yahoo!. Personally my first impression of this site is lackluster; I think the concept is relatively sound but there just does not seem to be enough that sets it apart from other search engines. It doesn’t help that it looks just like Google used to look.

Ahh! There is that frightening name again. Last weeks article on this search engine pretty much sums it up: an excellent resource with a very bad name. no longer valid)

Dubbed the first “Cost Per Action Search Engine”, offers advertising based on commission. Advertisers on this search engine do not pay per click but pay a percentage for every sale or lead they generate. Here is a press release with some more information.