Google posted a video this week of a presentation from Matt Cutts at the 2012 Korea Webmaster Conference. He talks a bit about “the evolution of search”.
He starts off talking about Yahoo in the early days, which he says is “a little strange” to call a search engine, “because Yahoo started out as a hand-compiled list of links. So, an individual person would decide what category to put things in, and they would decide whether it deserved to be in a certain category or not. The problem with that is that it doesn’t scale very well. You need to find a search engine that can work across the breadth of the entire web, or else it isn’t going to be as useful for every kind of query that people get.”
The whole first section is really a history lesson in search, but it’s interesting to hear him talk about his early days with Google.
“Whenever I joined Google, we were a start-up, so there was less than 100 people, whenever I joined Google,” he said. “And at the time, I was worried that we would be crushed by Altavista. Google was a tiny company. Altavista was a huge company. But Google has something that the other search engines at that time did not do. We looked at the links pointing to web pages.”
He later said, “I remember whenever I started out at Google, I went and I talked to another company. And they had a list of results that they called featured, and they had a list that they called partnered. And I said, ‘What’s the difference between a featured result and a partner result?’ And the company said, there’s no difference at all. Everything is paid for. And that didn’t seem fair at the time.”
“I’m proud that even to this day, you can’t pay to get a higher ranking on Google,” he said.
It’s a 45-minute-long presentation, so you may want to check it out if you have a bit of time to kill.