The idea for Search Engine Watch began with a complaining client at the end of 1995, who grumbled that he couldn’t find his site in WebCrawler and wanted to know why.
At the time, among many web designers and developers, the assumption was that you created a site, submitted it to the search engines, and eventually all your pages would be listed. Why a site might come up first for search terms was a mystery. Some people were saying it all had to do with meta tags, but there was nothing definitive to guide web developers.
The Search Engine Study involved making changes to a site and tracking how it performed over the course of three months in the major search engines. The result was an understanding that not all the search engines worked the same. In fact, for many reasons, they might not index web pages at all. The study included a comprehensive chart of major search engine features and an alliance chart to indicate which search engines were worth worrying about, from a traffic point of view.
The study went online in April 1996 as “A Webmaster’s Guide To Search Engines.” The site was kept updated, and a summary of search engine news called the “Search Engine Report” was delivered to subscribers.
As time passed, the site expanded to cover issues relating to how search engines work, how they index web pages, and various issues that web developers need to take into account. The site was being used by people other than webmasters, web designers and online PR people. Search engine users were coming to visit, including librarians, researchers or anyone who wanted to know more about search engines.
It made sense – search engines and search services are among the most popular sites on the web. People want to know what’s out there, and they want to know more about the tools they use for searching.
Search Engine Watch was launched in June 1997, as an extension of “A Webmaster’s Guide to Search Engines”. Since then the site has remained grounded in the technical. Search Engine Watch continues to provide tips and information about searching the web, analysis of the search engine industry and help to site owners trying to improve their online visibility.