Since movies can wait 10 or 20 years to produce a sequel, I thought that it wouldn't be so out of sorts writing a sequel to a post from 2002. Back then, Google was the rising star, there was a lot more competition in search and GoTo dominated the PPC market. Only a few things have changed since then.

Six years ago I wrote a post about what I wanted from Christmas from the search engines. I thought it would be a good time to revisit what I asked for back then, whether it happened or not, whether I really wanted it (20/20 hind site) and perhaps ask for a few new things.

1. Build your own technology, don't just backdoor another search engine's results into your own.

Back in 2002 Yahoo didn't have it's own algorithm and they, among others such as AOL and Netscape, were using Google's results to power their own searches. They were supposedly placing their own spin on the results but they were just about identical across the board.

So what's different today? Both Yahoo and MSN have developed their own search technologies but they don't have anywhere near the search audience that Google commands. In 2002 we were looking at a Google monopoly as other search portals continued to regurgitate Google's results. Today we see a near total dominance by Google despite the competition.

Competition is good, but something needs to happen. These competing engines need to find a way to cut into Google's lead and steal market share. I won't tell them how to do this, as I'm sure they have teams of people trying to figure it out, but I can certainly see the upside of a Yahoo/MSN merger.

2. Easy spam reporting.

In 2002 I asked for a way to easily report spam to the search engines. Well, we got it. Now I'm not so sure it was a good idea. Honestly, I'm still mixed. Have I reported sites as spam? Sure, I had to test it, right? Actually, I have reported one particular site several times because they were obviously spamming the results with multiple garbage sites. It's been a few years and to date those sites still take up space in the SERPs, even while providing little value to any searchers.

Now where I have real a problem is when Google is asking people to report paid links. I can justify reporting on-page spamming. The site owner, if they want to be found in the search results, has the responsibility to make sure their site conforms to the search engine's guidelines. However, links coming from other sites isn't something that can be 100% controlled. How hard is it to pay for a link campaign for a competitor then simply report them for spamming? There could be good ROI in that.

Furthermore, this is really little more than Google admitting that their algorithm cannot fix the problem with paid links so they want us to do it for them. By getting people to submit link spam reports Google is trying to fix their results without fixing their algorithm.

Well, I wanted it and now I got it and I guess I have to live with it.

3. Clear Definition of SPAM.

I'm not sure we've ever had a clear definition of what spam is, though this may be as close as we'll get. Though by now I think most people have a pretty good idea of tactics are considered spam. You can find a list of such tactics here and here.

At this point, do we need anything more than that? Probably not. I think anybody can figure out what they should and shouldn't do.

4. Don't Sneak Advertisements Into Search Results.

Back when this was requested, PPC was dominated by GoTo which became Overture which became Yahoo! Search Marketing. At the time, GoTo was selling it's paid placements to other engines who were incorporating them into the search results, often without any indication they they were paid for listings. Google was the only one displaying ads in a way that made it clear they were paid ads.

Since then the engines have just about stopped displaying paid results mixed with the natural results, segregating them in a "sponsored ad" section of the SERPs. This is no longer an issue.

5. More Pay-For-Inclusion.

In 2002 I was a strong proponent for Paid inclusion. The spidering and indexing capabilities of the search engines weren't what they are today. Paid inclusion made it easy to ensure that your pages were in the search indexes, but didn't influence the results. You still had to optimize.

Today, paid inclusion is all but dead. If you can't get your pages in the search engine indexes, the fault is likely yours, not theirs. The engines are able to grab new content quickly and revisit older content on a regular basis. It's just a matter of making sure all the pieces are in place to allow the engines to find you and revisit often. I'm very glad that paid inclusion is a thing of the past.

My 2008 Christmas Wish List

So what do I want for Christmas from the search engines this year?

  1. Better segregation of blended results. ASK.com used to do the best job of segmenting the different results on the page, however it looks like they've gone the route of Google, throwing them all into the same pot. I like segmented results because it allows me to skip the type of results I'm not looking for (video or images) or easily move to them if that is what I want.
  2. Let me opt out of new options. I don't like that if I'm logged into Google I automatically get personalized results. I have my gmail open all day but I have to log out if I want my results pure, which means I also log out of my gtalk. PITA! I am also not interested in the SearchWiki. These options are good and all for those who want them, but don't force them on me.
  3. Give me more results per page by default. With the integration of blended results, I'd like to see more natural results per page. This would allow more sites to hit first page and give more options to those who think the second and third pages don't provide anything relevant. C'mon engines, prove that your results are relevant beyond the top 10.
    1. I won't be greedy, three is enough for this year for me. What about you? What do you want for Christmas from the search engines?


      December 11, 2008





Stoney deGeyter is the President of Pole Position Marketing, a leading search engine optimization and marketing firm helping businesses grow since 1998. Stoney is a frequent speaker at website marketing conferences and has published hundreds of helpful SEO, SEM and small business articles.

If you'd like Stoney deGeyter to speak at your conference, seminar, workshop or provide in-house training to your team, contact him via his site or by phone at 866-685-3374.

Stoney pioneered the concept of Destination Search Engine Marketing which is the driving philosophy of how Pole Position Marketing helps clients expand their online presence and grow their businesses. Stoney is Associate Editor at Search Engine Guide and has written several SEO and SEM e-books including E-Marketing Performance; The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!; Keyword Research and Selection, Destination Search Engine Marketing, and more.

Stoney has five wonderful children and spends his free time reviewing restaurants and other things to do in Canton, Ohio.





Comments(49)

I read you loud and clear on opting out of new search engine features!

Nice list. Hehehe. I like number 1 on your list. I too have seen lots of search engines just using results from other engines before and even until now. Looks like they'd rather ride on than make their own.

As for me, my only wish is for the search engines to give low-ranking websites a Christmas break and just turnover the results for one day so that the top placers are thrown out of the results for 24 hours. Hehehe

@ SEM - what you ask for with the 24-hour break was granted back in 2004, I think it was, with the Florida update. That was a disaster and I think Google learned it's lesson on that. Nope, I think sites need to earn their top positions every day of the year. :)

I totally hear you about not wanting thos personalized results in Google. I have to stay logged into my Gmail account, too, but that doesn't mean I want all my results mandated by what I've chosen for my personal settings.

Angela from Aberdeen

I want them (Google) to stop their war against paid links. However I know there is not going to be any Santa Claus for me this year on that one. ;)

1. "is my only wish this year..."

Ask.com were awesome with their 3D search. Mostly I just hate finding PDF's in my SERPs. I think they used to have it spot on. Images, videos, other links and the SERP. I like having things segregated like that. After all, if you are looking for an M&M you don't want to wade through a whole load of jelly beans! :)

Nice list.
positive thinking

"Better segregation of blended results"

Korean search engines Naver and Daum have been doing this for years, they show you video, forum posts, news, articles and other stuff all in clearly labelled sections on the one page. Google is slowly becoming like this anyway, they can learn a thing or 2 from overseas markets.

Yes, I would have to agree with #2 because I get so annoyed that I am fed personalized results when doing a search and I don't have an option to take it off of there. I always get excited when I search and one of my sites is way higher than anticipated, only to realize that its the personalized results that did it. Then I search again and come back down to earth. I wish there were options to turn off custom local results and personalized based on activity results... like you I stay on my Gmail account all day and it is so annoying to have to log out in order to get the results you are looking for.

It seems to me all your wished come true. True Google dominates the searches engine. I was using Yahoo before but when I learned Google I choose it for my searches...yield much better result than other search engines.

I agree with Googlecash kit. I am logged into my account and I always think I am seeing my own pages number one on Google. Then I sign out and wham, back down to page 2.

p.s. The only way Google will ever be beat is if we come up with a faster search engine with less junk. I don't think this will ever happen. Not in my day.

Great Post!!

Just a couple of thoughts to you post. Google takes spam reports and then trys to incorporate them into their algorithm, like you it's almost never worth reporting because there is no manual person to remove the bad guys... unless of course its so egregious that it offends enough people to really bring it to their attention. It's hardly worth the effort to be the internet police unless it is directly effecting your business. I'd like to add something to your list and that's offsite spam that occurs from online vendors. I won't mention the name of the company but I purchased a product online for my business and now I am getting snail mail to my home from their business partners. Why? Because I made the mistake of using a personal credit card. How do I know this? Because I recognized the name on the snail mail was exactly the same as that on this one particular card that I almost never use. Where does it end? How does making a purchase mean I am opting into junk mail?

Good choice. Especially the one with more results per page by default. This will allow more sites to hit first page and give more options to those who think the second and third pages don't provide anything relevant.

I agree with the view that report paid links is terrible. Imagine I am at #2 and I want to climb to #1 for my keyword. The ROI is clearly 3.5 times as stated in almost every popular relevant SEO literature. If I am making $20k per month at my #2 ranking, my competitor at #1 probably makes $70k per month. So if I can move to #1, I gain $50K per month. How hard is it to pay to link farms lets say $20K (total, across a high number of link farms at that price) only for 1 month, report my #1 competition, and still make an extra $30K for it, and then keep bringing in $50K extra from the next month?

So, yes, reporting paid links can damage your competition to no end.

Good choice. Especially the one with more results per page by default. This will allow more sites to hit first page and give more options to those who think the second and third pages don't provide anything relevant.

Ho! Ho! Ho! Maybe this year Santa might apply to the various search engines like Google and Yahoo on your behalf to make your wish come true since, your previous wish list turned into reality. Your list is a very well forecast of what’s going to happen in future with the web technology. Hope all your wishes come true this year.

I wish there would be some way to filter more accurately between different meanings of a keyword. Often what you search for brings up a product that is named that keyword or deals with an entirely different meaning of the word altogther. This can be frustrating!

Number #2 is the most important thing that should be realized ASAP

Thanks

Well, search engines nowadays (especially Google) has been changing a lot. Yet still, no one knows what Google or other major search engine's judgments went off.

Why is it that everybody wants the newest and best but doesn't want to come up with something new on their own? Maybe it's just fear of the unknown. We are all happy in our own skin, but given the chance to push the envelope, most of us would rather play it safe and not take the chance.

If anyone knew how these search engines make the judgments they do, they'd be a millionaire.

I would really like to find out what isthe major thing for good rankings these days. Is it only backlinks or are there still some on page factors involved.

Everywhere you go they all say backlinks, more backlinks and even more...

Can you have to many links pointing to your site or getting them to quick? If that's the case then I can start creating an avalance of backlinks pointing to my competitors?

Was just wondering about this?

Didn't know in the beginning Yahoo & others didn't have their own algo and they were using Google's results to power their own searches.I'd like:
1) more results per page
2) get rid of personalized results

Hey number 2 was a bit of an eye opener for me! I had no idea that search results are impacted by a user's previous searches... I wish they were a bit more clear about that and gave an easy opt out.

I totally hear you about not wanting thos personalized results in Google. I have to stay logged into my Gmail account, too, but that doesn't mean I want all my results mandated by what I've chosen for my personal settings.

Those personalised traffic results are a real bane to my surfing! I want to stay log-inned, but i don't want that biasness clouding my search results!

Actually a merge between Bing and Yahoo has already been announced.

I totally hear you about not wanting thos personalized results in Google. I have to stay logged into my Gmail account, too, but that doesn't mean I want all my results mandated by what I've chosen for my personal settings.

I think that It s time to improve search engine services..Coz there s many way to take people goes around the world.not only publication places but also privacy subject of people too.Many cases not safe to let public know or search. They should have the policy to prevent or protect somethings confident too.

I had no idea that search results are impacted by a user's previous searches. I wish they were a bit more clear about that and gave an easy opt out.

I had no idea that search results are impacted by a user's previous searches. I wish they were a bit more clear about that and gave an easy opt out.

Quite a interesting post. Google has and will dominate the market as far as PPC is concerned...although i am excited about BING...i like their simple and clean look...hope the staff at big Gates don't spoil it.

As for me, my only wish is for the search engines to give low-ranking websites a Christmas break and just turnover the results for one day so that the top placers are thrown out of the results for 24 hours.

That's kinda like saying, let's turn the Superbowl or world series over to team that didn't earn the right to be there. I don't think it would go over so well. In fact, Google did that several years back. Many businesses were hurt because of it.

If you don't want your new searches to be impacted by your previous searches always clear your browsing cache, or if you are using firefox, set it to clear the cache when you close your browser. Works for me.

f you don't want your new searches to be impacted by your previous searches always clear your browsing cache, or if you are using firefox, set it to clear the cache when you close your browser. Works for me.

I guess the 2rd wish is good, by having a personalized and general result options will be much better for user.

Another thing is to log out of all google stuff before checking out real rankings. Spam sites get on my nerves too.

Bing i dont think stands a chance in the ring with google.jdm

Google will continue to change although i doubt for the best. With bing on there

Who knows what Google will do. They are so up and down with everything, perhaps they should just start betting on their own actions in Vegas.

I want them (Google) to stop their war against paid links. However I know there is not going to be any Santa Claus for me this year on that one. ;)

I totally hear you about not wanting thos personalized results in Google. I have to stay logged into my Gmail account, too, but that doesn't mean I want all my results mandated by what I've chosen for my personal settings.

i would like to see less tress on the results from wikis and article directories. thanks a lot.

Good choice. Especially the one with more results per page by default. This will allow more sites to hit first page and give more options to those who think the second and third pages don't provide anything relevant.

Great post. I like your list. Hopefully we will see more relevant searches soon.

The only way Google will ever be beat is if we come up with a faster search engine with less junk. I don't think this will ever happen. Not in my da.y

I totally hear you about not wanting thos personalized results in Google. I have to stay logged into my Gmail account, too, but that doesn't mean I want all my results mandated by what I've chosen for my personal settings.

They are so up and down with everything, perhaps they should just start betting on their own actions in Vegas.

Good choice. Especially the one with more results per page by default. This will allow more sites to hit first page and give more options to those who think the second and third pages don't provide anything relevant.

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