Ghost Sites of the Web

Web 1.0 history, forgotten web celebrities, old web sites, commentary, and news by Steve Baldwin. Published erratically since 1996.

December 22, 2008

New Mediapost Article: Small Business to PPC Search: Drop Dead

New Mediapost Article: Ten (Highly Cynical) Predictions for 2009I've written a new MediaPost article discussing a new Microsoft study showing that the majority of small business owners want nothing to do with PPC search. Frankly, there are some very good reasons for their caution: PPC search can be one of the fastest guaranteed ways to lose money.

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December 08, 2008

New Mediapost Article: Ten (Highly Cynical) Predictions for 2009

New Mediapost Article: Ten (Highly Cynical) Predictions for 2009Putting on my clairvoyant tinfoil Pundit Hat, I predict ten major developments in Search Marketing for the coming year.

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September 29, 2008

New Mediapost Article: Crisis of Confidence Threatens Everyone in SEM

New Mediapost Article: Crisis of Confidence Threatens Everyone in SEMMy latest Mediapost rant discusses why (Search Engine Marketing) will self-destruct unless the industry somehow manages to reform itself. Frankly, I think that it may be too late to save it, because there are too many people making money from incompetence, waste, and greed (kinda like Wall Street before its big fall).

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September 10, 2008

New Mediapost Article: Is The Ad World Finally Taking SEM Seriously?

New Mediapost Article: Is The Ad World Finally Taking SEM Seriously? Advertising Week is an annual ritual in New York that often brims with self-congratulatory silliness, and I tend to avoid it like the plague. Advertising -- at least in my mind -- is largely based on lies, spin, the creation of false needs and false consciousness. Frankly, if we as a nation spent less on advertising and more on improving products, we'd all have a better world. Still, as I write in this week's MediaPost, there's a bit of good news: this year's Advertising Week appears to be paying more attention to SEM (Search Engine Marketing), a far less wasteful, less obnoxious, and more profitable form of marketing that deserves its day in the sun.

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July 30, 2008

Even More Reasons to Laugh at

Even More Reasons to Laugh at Cuil.comGoogle Blogoscoped's Phillip Lenssen has compiled a hilarious list of graphical errors encountered today at - the dizzy-headed Britney Spears of Internet Search Engines. I wonder who's going to be insulted more by this: Eric Schmidt or Steve Ballmer?

Go Phillip!

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July 29, 2008

Fun With Search Engines: "Tarnished Internet Portal" Proves Google is Best

Fun With Search Engines: Tarnished Internet Portal Proves Google is Best
After seeing Yahoo referenced as a "tarnished Internet portal" today in a news article, I examined the search engines to see which of them properly associated this characterization. Neither nor nor nor newcomer had any data, but Google, in its infinite wisdom, correctly revealed a smiling picture of Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang, along with a bunch of stock charts in decline. Does anyone need additional proof about Google's superior search prowess?

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Even With Bugs Fixed, Cuil Doesn't Cut It

Even With Bugs Fixed, Cuil Doesn't Cut ItI revisited today after Blogging very negatively about it yesterday, and the results were a little better than those reported ealier. But after doing several searches, it appears that the results are still easily bested by Google. I don't think this is a technical glitch: just a direct result of an algorithm which doesn't properly take into account site popularity. Yes, popularity isn't a perfect proxy for site worth, and it can be gamed by SEOers. But factoring popularity (PageRank) out of the picture has serious consequences that unfairly discriminate against site publishers. For example, another site I run,, hardly even makes an appearance for the keyword search "wild parrots in Brooklyn." My site FYI is the only site that deals with this topic systematically, has been up for more than three years, and has excellent rankings in Google and the other engines. But for some reason thinks it's completely irrelevant. I'm sure there are thousands of other site owners who've been pushed off the page one SERPs on This hardly serves the needs of users or publishers.

Search results do matter, and the mere fact that claims to index more pages than Google doesn't necessarily translate into increasing accuracy. Cuil's failure to provide accurate results isn't a bug: it's a feature that was designed in from get-go. For this reason alone users should shun it, and I expect that once all the PR dust has settled, we'll all quickly forget that even exists.

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New Mediapost Article: An Open Letter to Steve Ballmer

An Open Letter to Steve BallmerI wrote a new opinion piece entitled An Open Letter to Steve Ballmer in which I argue that Microsoft must restructure its entire approach to search and online advertising. While it's a serious topic, I tried to inject as much humor as possible into this piece, which was published Monday, July 28th, in Mediapost.

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July 28, 2008

Cuil Isn't Kewell: It's Ridiculous

Cuil Isn't Kewell: It's Ridiculous

I was expecting something special when I test-drove this morning. As you prolly know, Cuil was developed by a couple of former Google employees, and it's being positioned by the press as a Google killer.

Hey - I'm not asking for top rankings in Cuil. But what the heck does it tell you when Cuil can't find ANY results for Ghost Sites? This site has been up here for 12 years already, and has hundreds of backlinks. What's the matter, Cuil: is your crawler really that slow?

What a joke.

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June 23, 2008, The Lookup Portal That Nobody Used, Now Goes to Verizon Property

InfoSpace, The Lookup Portal That Nobody Used, Now Goes to Verizon Property
Interesting story in the New York Times about Infospace, a formerly high-flying Silicon Alley wunderkind once valued at $31 billion. While Infospace is still in the meta-search business (, only the shedding of assets, including its once popular lookup portal, is the only thing keeping it profitable today.

Today, if you go to, you'll find yourself at, which belongs to Verizon, which recently bought the property from Infospace. But there are still a couple of domains around that haven't been moved over (yet); one of them is Here you can see the way looked in its pre-sale prime.

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June 02, 2008

Microsoft Cash Back: Why It Matters

Microsoft - Yahoo: A Big Gaudy SideshowI've written a new MediaPost article on Microsoft's new "Live Cash Back" program. As I note, whether it kills Google isn't the point: what matters is that Cash Back gives marketers a powerful new way to avoid the traditional "search engine as (insanely profitable) middleman" model.

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