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You: Programmer and
Search Engine Marketer
Googling
for information on the World Wide Web is such a common activity these days that it
is hard to imagine that just a few years ago this verb did not even exist. Search engines are now
an integral part of our lifestyle, but this was not always the case. Historically, systems for finding
information were driven by data organization and classification performed by humans. Such
systems are not entirely obsolete — libraries still keep their books ordered by categories, author
names, and so forth. Yahoo! itself started as a manually maintained directory of web sites, organ-
ized into categories. Those were the good old days.
Today, the data of the World Wide Web is enormous and rapidly changing; it cannot be confined
in the rigid structure of the library. The format of the information is extremely varied, and the
individual bits of data — coming from blogs, articles, web services of all kinds, picture galleries,
and so on — form an almost infinitely complex virtual organism. In this environment, making
information
findable
necessitates something more than the traditional structures of data organiza-
tion or classification.
Introducing the ad-hoc query and the modern search engine. This functionality reduces the afore-
mentioned need for organization and classification; and since its inception, it has been become
quite pervasive. Google’s popular email service, GMail, features its searching capability that
permits a user to find emails that contain a particular set of keywords. Microsoft Windows Vista
now integrates an instant search feature as part of the operating system, helping you quickly find
information within any email, Word document, or database on your hard drive from the Start
menu regardless of the underlying file format. But, by far, the most popular use of this functional-
ity is in the World Wide Web search engine.
These search engines are the exponents of the explosive growth of the Internet, and an entire indus-
try has grown around their huge popularity. Each visit to a search engine potentially generates busi-
ness for a particular vendor. Looking at Figure 1-1 it is easy to figure out where people in Manhattan
are likely to order pizza online. Furthermore, the traffic resulting from non-sponsored, or organic,
search results costs nothing to the vendor. These are highlighted in Figure 1-1.
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