Last Tuesday's horrible tragedy has resulted in everyone taking a step back from everything, taking a long hard look and evaluating their situation on different levels. Earlier this week, after things had settled down a little bit, I began to think about the effects that this horrible tragedy was having on the economy, the Internet, and the search engine optimization industry.

As the attacks on the World Trade Center started Tuesday morning, people scrambled to find information on the radio, television, and the Internet. As most of the country was at work when the attacks started at the beginning of the business day, most of these people turned to the Internet to find the latest information, with most of the Internet users turning to news sites like CNN.com and MSNBC.com. These, and other, websites reported receiving over 1,000 times their regular traffic on last Tuesday according to a New York Times article.

The reason the Internet saw more and more people turning to online news sources over TV stations is the websites are updated more often and accessible upon need. If you are watching at TV news station, you will have to sit down and watch it for a while to make sure that you hear everything, and even then you may have missed something. On the Internet you can access the information that you wanted to see and right when you want it.

This struck me as interesting from numerous viewpoints.

One aspect is that out of this horrible tragedy is that realization that the Internet is a valid informational resource and place to find whatever it is that you are looking for. Many articles have arisen in numerous locations and sources that disregarded the Internet as a tool that will be around for years and years to come, and how the average person does not rely on the Internet as a valuable resource.

This tragedy has proven that people do in fact see the Internet as a valuable resource of information.

I came across an article while reading the news today on Wired, "Online Donations Set Records", which noted, "Last year, for example, the American Red Cross raised $2.2 million online, making it the second largest beneficiary of online gifts, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy. In the last six days, the group received more than twice that amount --­ $5.9 million -- from Amazon's "Honor System" program, which encourages customers to use the company's one-click payment process to make charitable contributions."

This has proven that people do in fact trust the Internet to handle their money and be secure.

Another point that crossed my mind was what the aftermath would look like on the SEO industry and Internet. The Internet, search engines, and website were outstanding in the way that they coped with the enormous amount of traffic that came with the attack on Tuesday. The search engines, realizing the demand for the latest news, posted links to news websites on their index pages in prominent places. The news websites took down most, and in some cases, all of their advertising banners, and unnecessary images so that the pages would load faster. An article by Kevin Elliot entitled "The Attack - How We Searched", is a fantastic article that details how the Internet proved to be a valid place for people to search for missing loved ones, make donations, and get the latest news.

The Internet will continue to see these same users again and again. The users who have been using the Internet for various tasks will continue to do so as the recent happenings and the fantastic way the Internet handled it probably restored their faith in the Internet. The new users that used the Internet last Tuesday witnessed the power of it, and the ability the Internet, websites, and search engines to deal with intense situations.

The search engines reacted in a different way. The search engines determine which websites they will output on their results page with an algorithm, which consists of numerous factors. When the demand for news sites began to arise on Tuesday, the search engines quickly revamped their algorithm for results and rankings. A discussion at Web Master World, about how Google reacted incredibly quick to revamp their algorithm to place news sites like CNN.com at the top of the results pages.

This will have a positive effect on the search engine optimization industry as well. It was reported that the popular news sites received a 1000% increase in traffic to their website. Although we can only estimate, the number would be in the multi-millions of users. Of these millions of users, 90% of them found the websites through the search engines and directories.

This large number of users had to have been impressed with how easy it was to find what they were looking for. This will inspire them to return again and again, but for other purposes. The next time one of these users wants to find concert tickets, or shop for cars, or shop for houses, or plan a vacation, they will turn to the Internet. This is turn will bring the demand for search engine optimization to the forefront.

Search engine optimization is in essence the process of obtaining visibility and rankings for a website within the search engines. This is a very condensed definition.

In the same way that the search engines tweaked their algorithms to have the news websites show up for their users, the search engine optimization industry will optimize websites so that the best results are yielded for each keyword search. The continuous growth of the Internet depends on the users content and elimination of search frustration. This can be done through search engine optimization (SEO). By optimizing web sites for the search engines, the search engine results will be more targeted and relevant to the search. In other words, it is less likely that you will find a website that sells shoes within your search for car dealerships.

This is why the Internet and the search engine optimization industry are going to keep growing.


September 21, 2001





Andrew is the Director of Search Engine Optimization Operations for a market leading company. Since the Fall of 2001, Andrew has served as the moderator of the Search Engine Promotion forum within Webmasterworld.com - a leading online community of web professionals. Andrew's articles appear regularly on informative sites including Search Engine Guide, SEO Today, SitePoint and others.






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Search Engine Guide > Andrew Gerhart > SEO Revelation out of Tragedy