As part of their 10th anniversary, Google have brought back an their oldest available index, meaning that we can search results as if we were back in January 2001.
I love the old school interface that you can search from, but its amazing how little this differs from the one they are employing today.
My first search was of course a vanity one, I Googled my own name first. I was nowhere to be seen, but considering that I was still in college at the time I suspect that my web footprint was virtually nil at that time.
My next search was for “search engine optimisation“, just to see what sites used to rank here:
I’ve been in the SEO business for well over 2 years now, but I have to confess, none of the sites listed here are names that I am aware of nowadays – certainly none of these are top 10 when I search now, but then again, in 2001 there were 12,300 pages competing for the top 10, whereas now when I search there are about 77,700,000 relevant pages… just slightly more sites for us to compete against now.
Add to that all the GeoTargeting that goes on behind the scenes, and its hardly suprising the results are quite different to 7 years ago.
One of the things I liked best was the link to see the site on the Internet Archive in its 2001 incarnation. Whilst the Google interface hasn’t changed a great deal in 7 years, the vast majority of the websites I looked at were incredibly different from their current appearance. Web design has moved on a lot in recent years, which makes it so astounding that the Google interface has worked as well as it has for so long.
Simplicity is a sound approach it seems!