ON THE INTERNET
In the nineties, search engine results for the term "Halloween" yielded
a few quality web sites and a multitude of personal web sites.
As the World Wide Web became more mainstream, more and more
spooky sites began popping up, some with useful information, but most with little or no usable content.
As the new millennium dawned, you could receive
targeted and relevant results from the major search engines.
If you typed in the term "Halloween", the best and
most helpful Halloween web
sites and web pages that contained actual content would be listed at the top of the
first page. Unfortunately, that is not the case today.
Another variable that has clouded
the results are paid advertisers. While the major search
engines claim that paying them for an advertising program will not effect
their general ranking, we have noticed in the last two years that
companies with large "paid" advertisements also have much higher
ranking. An example would be a business
that had previously been listed on the sixth page, suddenly
appears on the first page when they begin an advertising
program. While this might help people who are searching for
products to purchase, it does a great disservice to those
who are looking for actual Halloween related information,
articles and help.
Yahoo (http://www.yahoo.com), rated number two for
Internet based searches, made some charges to their software
as well. Unfortunately, these changes have resulted in
terrible search returns. Yahoo owns Alta Vista
(http://www.altavista.com), so the results you receive are
To make matters worse, sites
that use unethical and deceptive methods such as generating
hundreds or even thousands of duplicate, redundant and
cloaked web pages in an attempt to trick the search engines into giving
them higher ranking don't appear to be flagged for using
these tactics. In the past Yahoo would incorporate algorithms in
their search engine to discourage, and even penalize this
type of search engine spamming, but they no longer seem to care
if this type of behavior is used or if their results are
relevant or not.
One such site that is listed
near the top of a Yahoo or Google search of the word "Halloween", has
used literally thousands of useless and cloaked (hidden) web
pages to achieve its high ranking. And yet, both search
engines have rewarded them with this higher ranking, rather
than penalizing them. For the time being we can no longer
consider Yahoo the viable resource for Internet based
searches that it once was.
Another example of how Yahoo no
longer generates relevant results would be what happened
October (2007). If you searched the word "Halloween",
half the results on the first page were for the remake of
the movie "Halloween". This would be fine if we had searched
for "Halloween movie", but that's not want we were searching
for. This kind of problem makes it hard to do a viable
search for anything using Yahoo since you don't know what
you'll get anymore.
The Yahoo! Directory that once
had well targeted results is now all but gone. If you remember,
this was completely separate from their regular search
engine and was actually reviewed by Yahoo! staff to list the
very best web sites for a particular search. Searching the
http://dir.yahoo.com simply displays the same
results as their general search engine. To get to the "good
stuff", you will need to go to:
Google (http://www.google.com), the Internet's leading
search engine changed the method that their
search engine software ranks web sites and turned things upside-down, and not in a good way.
Searches seldom yield
the relevant and/or useful results we were so used to, and since
AOL, Netscape Search and possibly others use the Google
database, you won't fare any better with them.
Other Search Engines
All the Web (http://www.alltheweb.com) and MSN Search
(http://search.msn.com) do a fair job, but like the rest,
their results suffer from unrestricted search engine
(http://en.wikipedia.org) is not a search engine, its
relationship to the search engines does deserve mention
here. There's no question that Wikipedia is a great site for
general information. However, having a single page or even a
couple of pages dedicated to a particular topic, such as
Halloween, does not deserve, nor should receive extremely
high search engine ranking, particularly when there are so many web sites
that provide large amounts of valuable Halloween related information.
Halloween Link Sites
Some web sites are dedicated to listing other Halloween web sites
entirely. Below is a great example of a site dedicated
entirely to listing Halloween web sites.
Halloween Links Pages
Most non-commercial Halloween web sites include a links page that list favorite
sites. Like Halloween Links Sites, these can be an excellent
source for sites that have quality Halloween information. An example of this is the
"links" page on this site:
Unfortunately, most content
driven and personal Halloween web sites have been ranked so poorly,
that you will spend a lot of time clicking through
page after page of search engine listings to find them.
The future of finding, much less expecting to receive
targeted results for useful, content rich Halloween web sites through
most of the search engines
is very much in doubt, particularly with Google. Unless they make the needed changes
in their policies and software, we can only expect things to get
worse, not better.
Your best bet is when you find a
web site or page that is helpful, bookmark it immediately.
It's sad that after all these years, when things should have
improved on the Internet with search engines, they have
taken giant steps backward. If you want to find quality information
you'll have to look long and hard to find it.