Search Engine Predictions for 2004

Posted on January 7, 2004

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Search Engine Predictions for 2004
by Mike Banks Valentine

After being asked to contribute some predictions for 2004 to a search engine newsletter, I found it so much fun to make my search cynicism tangible that I took it seriously.

What follows is at once silly and deadly serious as it simply follows the trends we've all seen over the past year. It is apparent that if things don't change these things WILL happen. This is really just an excuse to talk about Google in a long- winded way. ;-)

1. Yahoo integrates it's purchases of Overture, Inktomi, AltaVista from it's buying spree in 2003 in an attempt to become a true competitor to the ailing (Florida ravaged) Google. First attempts look something like AskJeeves with 15 paid results dominating the screen, both top and bottom and right side of the SERP's. Then they realize that people want more organic (free, non-sponsored) search results and drop back to the simple Google-like screen for search with Inktomi results. But then the Overture results go to a new 250x800 skyscraper box incorporating flash based blinking, spinning borders on the left side of the screen. Every remaining search engine not already owned by Yahoo will be purchased by Yahoo, including Google (see prediction #3).

2. MSN officially launches MSN search based on their own technology (mid to late 2004). After some AskJeeves-like attempts to show paid results for the majority of the SERP screen real estate, they realize nobody trusts this model and decide to go to a Google-like spare screen with only Overture results on the right and two paid results clearly labled at the top of the page. Since dropping Looksmart paid results in January, they announce they've been developing their own PPC engine and will spend 6 billion dollars in developing it over the next ten years, incorporating search into the Longhorn operating system - delayed again year-end to make security upgrades.

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3. Google's IPO fizzles after the new non-relevant search results cause searchers to stop using them entirely. When they announce they've gone back to the pre-Florida algorithm, they gain back their die-hard fans. But it seems like too little, too late for most of the remaining public. Then suddenly, open source search engine "Nutch" launches a massive campaign to become the Google replacement. is an overnight success and becomes the new worldwide favorite. Yahoo makes a buyout offer for Nutch and MSN announces they'll develop their own . . . oops, not open source - it'll incorporate .Net, be called .Netch and will be tied to Longhorn. Yahoo buys Google data centers and hardware at firesale prices after hiring the star staff right before a Google Bankruptcy is announced.


The last prediction is heretical to search afficianados but I contend that Google has reached the end of their useful life when they go public with that IPO. The much beloved "Don't be evil" of Sergey Brin and Larry Page will go right out the door when they begin answering to the stock market rather than their consciences. Take a look at the famous "Don't be evil" reference from the founders of Google at:

Comments have been tossed about that the Google "Florida" update in November was a conspiracy to gain Adwords customers. I don't believe that one for a minute, but two theories I've seen do seem credible. One says that Google is incorporating the technology from the recent acquisition of Applied Semantics into search results. More at:

Another theory says that Google's PageRank patent is owned by Standford University and NOT Google, so they had to pull it out of the algorithm before going public. That would surely explain some poor search results if it were true!

The PageRank patent, #6,285,999 can be viewed here:

Whatever follows in 2004 will certainly be entertaining.

The upstart notwithstanding.

May your search results bring you happiness!

About the Author

Mike Banks Valentine is a Search Engine Optimization Specialist practicing ethical SEO for Online businesses

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