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A World Without Search Engines


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#1 bwelford

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Posted 17 October 2008 - 01:09 PM

Perhaps others can help me in some brainstorming/reflecting I am doing.

Suppose the Internet existed but there were no search engines, particularly Google.

What would you stop doing that you do only for the search engines?

What would you do more of, in the absence of search engines?

Do your answers give you some insights on how you might handle things better, given that there really are very powerful search engines.

#2 eKstreme

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Posted 17 October 2008 - 01:14 PM

From a webmaster (SEO, usability, coding, etc) point of view or from a net user point of view?

#3 bwelford

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Posted 17 October 2008 - 01:18 PM

I was thinking from the website owner pov. However it would also be intriguing to look at it as a separate 'chapter' from the individual surfer's pov. That might give some further food for thought for the website owner. (customer-centric thinking and all that good stuff. ;) )

#4 joedolson

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Posted 17 October 2008 - 01:30 PM

An additional question on that subject might include: What do I do now, because of the search engines, which I might not have thought of otherwise?

Working with accessibility, machine-accessibility of the site data is a constant question; so many of the issues I deal with for search engines I would do regardless. However, I suspect I would never do anything with an xml sitemap, I probably wouldn't even think about robots.txt. Meta robots tags, similarly, would be out. I doubt that I'd spend much time on meta descriptions; but then, I also imagine that in a world without search engines meta data could become very important on some other levels...so maybe I would. Hard to say without a more detailed scenario.

I'm not sure I'd worry very much about whether or not pages were returning the right HTTP codes; although I'm sure I could come up with a reason that would still be important.

I would work a LOT harder at link building, though. Being completely dependent on links for traffic would make that aspect of web site ownership even more important.

On the whole, not a lot of what I do as a developer/designer would change, but the nature of site promotion would change radically.

#5 iamlost

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Posted 17 October 2008 - 02:09 PM

The absolutely biggest difference would be link development. 99.99% of linking is actually SE driven because that is viewed as the primary factor in their web view and weighting factors.

The link page would come back - remember when, much like a blogroll, every site had links the owner thought interesting?

Webrings, ad hoc niche linking organisations, would return.

Yahoo would own the web ;)
Directories, like dinosaurs, would rule a primeval world where SEs never evolved...

The Lost World by Barry Welford...would it be as fantastic a read as that by Arthur Conan Doyle?

#6 rynert

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Posted 17 October 2008 - 02:20 PM

Not a lot would change. The page content would be the same, the Title tag would be the same. No point in desription tag though (unless some directories used this for their own snippets of course)

In terms of getting links, I guess you would have to rely more on your own gut feeling an knowledge of your niche to find the sites that may send you the most traffic - rather than using this in conjunction with the sites place in the SERPs - but essentially you still have to get people linking to your site.

#7 DonnaFontenot

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Posted 17 October 2008 - 03:46 PM

I agree with iamlost. It would just go back to the way it was. Directories, Best Of pages, and webrings would rule again.

#8 bwelford

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Posted 17 October 2008 - 04:03 PM

Presumably website designs can be much more visually attractive with lots of Flash. There's no need to have more text content than is visible to the human visitor. From that aspect, it would appear that some website designers are still living in that world and do not add anything 'behind the scenes' to help the search engine spiders. What you see is what is there. ;)

#9 Ron Carnell

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Posted 17 October 2008 - 04:47 PM

I probably wouldn't even have any web sites.

I'd, uh, be too busy trying to write a search engine. ;)

#10 joedolson

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Posted 17 October 2008 - 05:07 PM

Presumably website designs can be much more visually attractive with lots of Flash. There's no need to have more text content than is visible to the human visitor.


I'd disagree, on that point. Accessibility would still be just as important; just (at a guess) much less popular than it is now. As far as text visibility goes (or, more accurately, "content availability"), blind users would still be unable to use most Flash, the hard of hearing would still struggle with audio, requiring text alternatives, and keyboard users could still be unable to use mouse-dependent resources.

Right now, the world of SEO has, on the whole, made the web a much better and friendlier place for the disabled. So much of what SEOs do has spillover for accessibility that it's been a huge benefit. If those things were lost in a search-engine free world it would be a huge disaster.

Edited by joedolson, 17 October 2008 - 05:07 PM.


#11 A.N.Onym

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Posted 20 October 2008 - 10:44 PM

I don't think anything would change, because I already try to do stuff, as if the SEs don't exist. Even more so, I create stuff as if humans exist.

Maybe I wouldn't need to explain people how SEs read things, but that's about it. I'd still educate them on how to create effective websites, ofc.

Edited by A.N.Onym, 20 October 2008 - 11:14 PM.




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