Persian Kitty and the Yahoo! experiment

I only got one result from Yahoo! for a search on "persian kitty", one of their most popular search terms. Pretty remarkable, since usually I get 1000's of results, or nothing at all.

After checking the html and making sure that it wasn't a truly unique site, I had a look at how Yahoo! works. As it turns out, Yahoo! indexes on the name of your site and the 20 word description that you provide when you give them your URL. So, I thought that I should test what I had found out.

I will put this message up as a web page, list the site at Yahoo! and see if my page comes up too. If it doesn't, I've got it all wrong. Come back around the 19 June 1997 to see the result.


Some time after I posted this experiment, I recieved an e-mail from an anonyomous source at Yahoo!. He explained that I only found one result for Persian Kitty because it was his job to make sure that I only found one result for Persian Kitty.

Persian Kitty had paid Yahoo! a large amount of money to make sure that you only got their page when you searched on that particular search term. In effect, Persian Kitty had purchased that search term. I understand that it is a fairly widespread and well understood practice now. Back in 1997, this was not so well understood, especially by me.