A lot has happened since I first started writing the Search Insider. There were two US presidential elections. I met and married my wife. Twitter was invented, as was Sprinkles Cupcakes. It's been a pretty good stretch. Here's the last in the series before a new one begins.
Search 224, Social Media 0
It's time for a short trip five years in
the making. This is the 224th Search Insider I've written for
MediaPost, and most likely my last. As of next week, I'll be switching
over to the Social Media Insider.
My first Search Insider
was published Friday, July 2, 2004, which was mercifully right before
the holiday weekend so presumably no one read it. It was about Web
design, a topic I'm not sure I've ever known anything about, but I had
to start somewhere. Over the years, along with analyzing updates from
the major search engines, parsing research, and covering events, I've
tried to dig up lesser known examples of how consumers search to
illustrate the evolution of the field.
The process required
taking a broad view of search, and much of that focus turned to social
media. It's only fitting that I visited MediaPost.com's search engine
to review all of the Search Insider columns I've written to dig up just
how much social media came up in my search coverage. Here's a snapshot:
- MySpace: 24 mentions, the first of which was a fleeting reference in a
November 2005 column about Google Base. That was followed by six
mentions in 2006, nine in 2007, eight in 2008, and none in 2009.
- Facebook: 27 mentions, the first one in January 2007 describing photo search and tagging on the social network. There were a total of 11 in 2007, 13 in 2008, and three so far in 2009.
- Twitter: 17 mentions, starting in October 2007 with a dedicated column about listening to tweets. Following that one piece in 2007, there were 10 in 2008 and six already this year.
- Social media (exact phrase): 28 mentions, starting in October 2006, nearly a year and a half after the first MySpace mention.
- Social media optimization: four mentions between November 2006 and April 2008.
yes, social media has come up quite a bit, but it's all relative. I
mentioned Microsoft or MSN in 67 columns (30% of the first 223), Yahoo
in 118 (53%), and Google in 188 (84%). If I was biased in my coverage,
at least it was proportionate with market share.
this, I feel that hubristic need to share some words of wisdom with
future Search Insider columnists, words that perhaps other writers will
also appreciate. If you're in this group, you may wonder how to get a
lot of responses to a column. The easiest way is to be a jerk and say
things so devoid of substance that you can guarantee dozens of people
will comment on what an idiot you are. Even more people will probably
say they agree with you, which will undoubtedly feel validating.
I may not have avoided idiocy, I've yet to try to be a jerk here.
Instead, I'll share the three columns that triggered the biggest reader
reaction, based on anecdotal experience that includes the volume of
- "Why Skittles Killed Its Web Site," about the March 2009 branding bombshell (or overhyped redesign, take your pick
- "Braving the New World of Lower Merion," a February 2005 story of visiting a Pennsylvania high school
- "Google Vs. Grandmom,"
the September 2005 epic saga of my grandmother trying to master the
Internet (she has since stopped trying, but she still has an answer for
everything, whether or not you have a question)
None of those are
about search engine marketing or search engine optimization. Two of
them are personal anecdotes, and the other was admittedly a bit of a
stretch for Search Insider coverage. Meanwhile, some of the columns
that I wrote that I thought were so smart they'd lead to Wall Street Journal stories, book deals, and a motion picture starring Hayden Christensen as me
and Kal Penn as Sergey Brin — well, hardly anyone ever responded to
those. I'm still proud of those columns, but the silence can be
I've made a few mistakes in the process and had a
few off weeks, but I've lasted through 224 columns in this series by
following one simple rule: respect readers' time and intelligence. I'm
grateful for everyone who has perused each edition; I read quite a bit
too and appreciate being a part of your reading list.
subject interests you at all, I hope you'll look for my contributions
to the Social Media Insider starting next Tuesday where I'll join the
inimitable Cathy Taylor. What would have seemed like a long journey in
2004 now feels like a logical progression. And after covering Google in
188 columns, expect a regular examination of where search and social
media intersect. I'll have plenty to cover there, which should keep me
busy until Kal Penn returns to acting — and returns my calls.