That one sentence that birthed OptiLink

You almost never know how important something is while’s it happening.  This was one of the biggest moments of my life, but I wouldn’t know that until much later.

It had been a couple weeks since I sent review copies of OptiText to the people Michael recommended.  I’d gotten feedback from several of them, but there was this one guy I really wanted to talk to.  I finally got him on the phone.

“I don’t really like it.  Sure, I suppose it’s a better keyword counter, but that’s not much to write about.”

Right.  Not exactly the review I was looking for, and if the call had ended there, you would not be reading this post.  You’d most likely not even know me at all.  But knowing that OptiText sucked was not an epiphany – it was what “Mr X” said next:

“What you ought to be looking at is anchor text.  There’s something going on there, but we’re not sure what.  You should start by reading the original Google paper.” [emphasis mine]

Wow, was I stupid.  The founders of Google had actually written about their new-fangled search engine while at Stanford.  Maybe if I spent some time studying the source instead of buying into the B.S. from other software vendors I might learn something actually useful.

By the time I went to bed that night – to mostly lie awake – I had read, highlighted, and scribbled on Page and Brin’s original paper a dozen times.  All of this set in motion by one clue, from one reviewer, of a tool that didn’t stand a chance of working, because Micheal suggested I get feedback, and I followed his advice and didn’t give up.

You might be wondering… who is Mr X?  That’s John Heard, the owner of Beyond Engineering and best known for (so-called) search engine “cloaking” software.  There’s more to that story, which we will get to, but in tomorrow’s episode…

The specification for OptiLink was plain as day – right in Page and Brin’s very own paper!

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