[This article accompanies previous article: Tagging in Hardin MD]
Soon after the launching of Hardin MD, in 1996, we began adding keywords in the hidden META keyword field (The first pages for HMD in Internet Archive [Dec, 1998] show them on all pages checked.) We began checking to see if HMD pages were appearing in search engine results in about 2000, and found that meta keywords didn’t seem to have much effect.
So, in late 2000, we began experimenting with putting keywords (aka tags*) at the bottom of the page, where most users wouldn’t notice them. At first we didn’t see much effect in search engine results, when using the tags mostly for variant spellings or terminology (e.g. on the Hematology page: blood diseases, haematology).
In 2001, as Google rose to prominence, and Search improved, we began using tools that gave the ability to see the popularity of specific words (HitBox, ExtremeTracking, WordTracker). We learned that using mis-spelled word variants as tags worked very well in drawing SE traffic. It was also during this time that links to pictures were being added to HMD, and we discovered the power of the word “pictures” in drawing SE traffic.
Time-line of tagging in Hardin MD
Based on invaluable help from Internet Archive — Starting from here: Internet Archive for Hardin MD, 1999+
The first HMD pages in Internet Archive in Dec, 1998 have meta keywords, but not tags on the page. Example of meta keywords (Hardin MD: Cardiology): health, medicine, medical, nursing, nurses, nurse, disease, diseases, best, list, lists, consumer, cardiology, cardiac, heart, stroke, cardiovascular, cardiothoracic, pacemaker, defibrillator, attack, arrest
Tagging for misspellings – Ophthalmology, I’m sure, would have been one of the first pages on which misspellings would have been used. Internet Archive pages show clearly that the first implementation was in early November, 2000. …
Ophthalmology, Nov 7, 2000 – No misspellings in meta keywords. There are no tags on page.
Ophthalmology, Nov 15, 2000 – Has misspellings in meta keywords and on page: [ophthamology]
This fits my memory of events — I was especially motivated to look for ways to draw Web traffic, because Google was just becoming prominent, rationalizing the search process, and making it easier to predict the effects of changes on page traffic.
Other examples of pages with tags on the page, with variant spellings, from about the same time: Orthopedics Nov 16, 2000 [orthopaedics] and Hematology Nov 29, 2000 [blood diseases, haematology]
Use of the word “pictures,” in tagging and in page titles
First use: Genital Warts Jun 10, 2002
First widespread use – Several pages linked on Hardin MD Index page Sept 30, 2002
Eric Rumsey is at: eric-rumsey AttSign uiowa dott edu and on Twitter @ericrumsey