About The Update
The Search Engine Update is a twice-monthly update of search engine news. It is available only to Search Engine Watch members. Please note that long URLs may break into two lines in some mail readers. Cut and paste, should this occur.
In This Issue
+ Site News
+ Conference News
+ Paid Inclusion Program Coming To FAST
+ LookSmart Readies Paid Placement Program
+ New Tools For Managing Paid Placement
-- (full story online, link provided)
+ WordTracker Upgrades Search Term Research
+ Microsoft Smart Tags May Be Coming To Your Web Page
+ Search Research From The WWW10 Conference
-- (full story online, link provided)
+ SearchDay Articles
+ Interesting Search Engine Articles
+ List Info (Subscribing/Unsubscribing)
By Tuesday, a fully updated How MSN Search Works page will be posted to the Members-Only area. I'd hoped to have this up last week, but I needed some more time to finish it.
I also promised in the last newsletter to post an updated How AOL Search Works page, but I'm still waiting on some additional information from AOL. At the moment, you will find a fairly complete page for AOL Search online. However, I do expect to have some additional information to post later this month. I will let you know when this is ready.
To know when both pages are updated, watch the What's New page, below.
Members-Only What's New
SES Comes To San Francisco
Coming to San Francisco on August 16th and 17th, the Search Engine Strategies conference features a day devoted to search engines and promotion issues and a second day with panels on promotion, sessions for web developers, and two tracks featuring panels designed to help Internet searchers better understand how to use the search tools available to them.
Already confirmed are speakers from FAST Search, Google, GoTo, Inktomi, LookSmart, MSN Search and Netscape/The Open Directory. Exhibiting companies include Web Ignite, EasyAsk, WebSeed, Inceptor, Position Technologies, LexiQuest, LingoMotors and WebGenius.com.
Those interested in sponsoring or exhibiting should contact Frank Fazio Jr, [email protected], for more information. Attendees can find the agenda or sign-up for the conference via the URL below. Do so by July 18th, in order to save up to US $200 on registration.
Search Engine Strategies: San Francisco 2001
Paid Inclusion Program Coming To FAST
FAST Search is launching a trial version of its paid inclusion program in July. It becomes the second major crawler-based search engine to offer such a program, following Inktomi's lead, which started offering paid inclusion last September.
Called "PartnerSite," the program guarantees that submitted pages will be included in FAST's web index. They will be revisited and reposted to the FAST index every 24 hours. Ordinarily, changes to pages may take up to two weeks to appear in the index.
PartnerSite pages are not guaranteed to rank well for particular terms, nor are they given a ranking boost. However, as with all paid inclusion programs, having more pages listed means that site owners are likely to see a traffic increase, as they have more opportunity to rank well for a wide variety of terms.
Unlike Inktomi's program, FAST's program will also provide some useful statistical tools. During the trial, participants will be able to see how people found their web site from FAST's results -- both the terms used and the particular FAST-powered service that generated that visit.
In addition, PartnerSite will also provide webmasters with site search functionality. This will allow users to search your site for content by adding some simple HTML code to your web pages. FAST also promises the ability to customize the look of your search results and reporting tools to let you understand what people are searching for.
Pricing begins at $500 per month to index up to 4,000 pages. That is far less expensive than Inktomi's program, where self-serve pricing for 4,000 pages would cost around $50,000. Of course anyone submitting thousands of pages to Inktomi is generally routed into a program that offers volume discounts. Similarly, FAST will be providing custom quotes to those with more than 4,000 pages, with pricing based on the number of pages, expected query load and marketing budget.
FAST's pricing is also lower because the company's distribution isn't as broad as Inktomi's. In the US, FAST's biggest partner is Terra Lycos, which uses some of FAST's listings on its main search results page. FAST listings are also distributed to sites in Europe, especially through World Online, Wind and the networks that Terra Lycos and Scandinavia Online operate.
Of course, FAST also makes use of its listings on its own site, which is also known as AllTheWeb.com. This is primarily a demonstration site for FAST's technology and doesn't have near the traffic of other major search engines.
PartnerSite is currently accepting applications those who wish to participate in the trial program. You can apply using the URL below. After the trial, FAST will make adjustments to the program and pricing. The program is set to open to the general public in September.
FAST has also been working on a number of changes to its index, which are scheduled to go live in early July. I'll be looking at these in more depth, as plans are finalized and are near release.
How Inktomi Works
More about Inktomi's paid inclusion programs can be found here.
LookSmart Readies Paid Placement Program
In the next few weeks, LookSmart expects to unveil a new "LookListings" program to the general public that will give the company the ability to sell paid placement listings -- rather than paid inclusion -- for the first time.
LookSmart has operated a widely-available paid inclusion program since September of last year. However, paid inclusion can be a harder sell than paid placement, where the money you spend actually guarantees a prominent position. In contrast, paid inclusion only guarantees that you will be listed, not that you will rank well for particular terms, though you probably will see an overall traffic rise.
LookListings aims to make LookSmart's paid inclusion program more attractive to advertisers. In it, advertisers who want to appear at the top of LookSmart's results for certain terms will appear there, guaranteed. Currently, three paid links are planned to appear in a "Featured Listings" area. In addition, if all the slots haven't been sold, then anyone with paid inclusion listings might appear in this area, even though they didn't explicitly pay for placement.
The changes would happen on LookSmart's site plus other sites that rebrand LookSmart's results for their own use. These include a wide number of ISPs, such as Prodigy. The changes would not happen at LookSmart-partner MSN Search, however. This is because MSN Search uses its own ranking algorithm to sort through LookSmart, Inktomi and editor-compiled data to produce its own unique results.
Pricing is still being determined, but the initial idea is that advertisers would agree to purchase "buckets" of words and phrases they want to appear for and pay a flat rate per click (well below US $1, LookSmart says) for traffic received for any of these words. They would be entitled to appear highly ranked for these terms over a set period of time, rather than be liable to losing their position in bidding systems as used by GoTo. However, cost per impression pricing is also being considered.
I hope to take a closer look at the program in the next issue, assuming it is ready to go live and open to the general public. It is currently operating in beta, with selected LookSmart advertisers having been invited to participate.
Paid Inclusion At Search Engines Gains Ground
The Search Engine Update, Nov. 3, 2001
More about LookSmart's existing paid inclusion program can be found here.
An example of how an ISP makes use of LookSmart's results can be seen here.
New Tools For Managing Paid Placement
The ease of getting a good position via paid placement has become well known to many marketers. However, managing those paid listings poses new challenges. Coming to the rescue is a new breed of tools, especially designed to help you optimize your listings on paid placement search engines. The review below takes a close look at one of these, PPCMax, and summarizes some other tools you might find helpful.
New Tools For Managing Paid Placement
The Search Engine Update, June 18, 2001
WordTracker Upgrades Search Term Research
The WordTracker service now offers the ability to research what people are searching for via the popular meta search services of MetaCrawler and Dogpile. It provides access to query logs stretching back for two months, which amounts to 350 million queries or 40 million unique search terms. The database is also kept constantly updated, with new data added each week.
Previously, WordTracker relied upon mining "live" search displays to gather its data. The shift to using MetaCrawler and Dogpile data, made possible through an official partnership with Infospace (which owns the meta search services), should provide a much more accurate way to determine the popularity of particular search terms.
I'm working on a longer review of the service, which I hope to have ready for the next newsletter. Until then, feel free to explore WordTracker yourself. It's a valuable tool that should be in your search term research arsenal.
Microsoft Smart Tags May Be Coming To Your Web Page
Microsoft is readying its next version of Windows for release in October. Called Windows XP, it will also have a new version of Internet Explorer that supports what are called "Smart Tags."
What apparently will happen is that Internet Explorer will turn certain words on a web page into links, if it believes Microsoft has content available for them. Click on the link, and you'd be taken to Microsoft content. Add-ons would allow others besides Microsoft to establish Smart Tags.
Hate the idea? Microsoft will apparently let you block the links by inserting meta tags into your web pages, and the feature will also apparently be off, by default. Expect coverage from me on this in the future, should the plan move forward.
Microsoft's Smart Tags threaten Web
San Jose Mercury News, June 14, 2001
Columnist Dan Gillmore takes issue with Smart Tags.
Microsoft Smart Tags: Changing the Nature of Hyperlinks?
BrowserWatch, June 11, 2001
Summary details on Smart Tags.
New Windows XP FeatureCan Re-Edit Others' Sites
Wall St. Journal, June 7, 2001
This article from the Wall St. Journal provides much details on the Smart Tags plan. It's only available to those with WSJ subscriptions.
Search Research From The WWW10 Conference
A number of technical papers relating to indexing the web and searching were presented at the recent 10th International World Wide Web Conference, which was held from May 1 to 5 in Hong Kong. In the article below, I've highlighted some presentations that seemed particularly interesting. Be warned -- many of these are highly technical documents.
Search Research From The WWW10 Conference
SearchEngineWatch.com, June 18, 2001
Here are some recent articles that may be of interest from Search Engine Watch's daily SearchDay newsletter:
+ Teoma Tackles the Web: Teoma is a new search engine born in the computer labs at Rutgers University that looks like a serious contender for joining the major leagues.
+ Pass Me the Blog, Please: "How in the world did you find THAT?" The answer, quite often, is by searching through blogs, the web's equivalent of a sophisticated early warning system.
+ The End of 404s?: There's nothing more frustrating than clicking a link only to see '404 - Page Not Found'. Two U.C. Berkeley professors have proposed a solution that could banish aggravating 404s from the web forever.
+ A Search Engine of Your Own: If you think that adding search to your site means rolling up your sleeves and hacking together a crawler, indexer and database system, think again. A number of companies offer "plug and play" services that provide a powerful search engine for your web site -- and best of all, some are free.
+ Super Searchers on Wall Street: The techniques and tricks used by professional investment researchers to score winning returns and avoid financial disasters.
+ Orbitz Takes Flight: A new travel site that uses some seriously powerful search technology, capable of instantly analyzing more than two billion options to help you find the best possible flights for a trip.
You can find all of these articles and more via the archives page, below. You can also sign-up for SearchDay on that page to get more articles like these during the workweek, along with search engine headlines from across the web.
Search Engine Articles
Industry Standard, June 18, 2001
Focus on attempts to mine information located in the "invisible" or "deep" part of the web.
Fees and Concerns of Professional Search Engine Optimizers
Academy of Web Specialists, June 13, 2001
Good overview of the challenges in hiring a search engine optimization company, given the wide range of models available. By the way, one of the most popular questions I'm asked is, "How do I know if a company is any good?" As you would with any professional, ask for references. Talk to others that have used the company you are considering and understand what their experience has been.
New Directions in Optimizing Page Content
ClickZ, June 13, 2001
Overview of top issues in attaining search engine traffic.
AltaVista Unveils New Software
AP, June 12, 2001
AltaVista has upgraded its search software for intranets, with one of the key enhancements being new support for email formats. It can also work with AltaVista's "personal" software that runs on employee desktops, so that employees can search beyond just the information available on the company's shared network servers. This development has some privacy advocates concerned, suggesting that it will be easier for management or fellow employees to find personal information of other employees. This could certainly happen, but this isn't a software problem, it's a legal problem. Employees may be surprised to discover that "personal" email on company computers actually belongs to the company. Solution? If you don't want someone to see something personal, don't store it on your company computer, because intranet searching is going to continue expanding onto employee desktops. Alternatively, find out what your rights to privacy are according to company policies and your local jurisdictions.
Three Site Types Dominate Surfing Habits
SiliconAlley.internet.com, June 11, 2001
Nine out of ten web users visit a search engine, portal or community site each month. They also revisit frequently, nearly five times per month.
Reverse Search Inside Out
About.com Web Search Guide, June 11, 2001
How to do reverse lookups on phone numbers, web pages, IP numbers and other items.
Designing Web Usability - Search
Web Developers Virtual Library, June 8, 2001
Usability guru Jakob Nielsen shares his tips on improving search at your own web site.
Search Engine Compares Terms
ResearchBuzz, June 7, 2001
Review of a tool that lets you compare how many listings appear for different words on various search engines.
Visual Search Engines
WebDeveloper.com, June 7, 2001
Review of eVision Java-based toolkit, which is designed to improve visual searching.
Search Engine Optimization -- FREE!
WebMonkey, June 5, 2001
In-depth article on the most important things you can do to attain good placement with search engines.
Susan O'Neil, Search Optimization Pioneer
About.com Web Search Guide, June 4, 2001
Profile of long-time search engine optimization specialist Susan O'Neil, with tips relating to SEO and a review of the book she cowrote, "Maximize Web Site Traffic."
The High Price of Search Technology
eCompany, May 31, 2001
Review of the Charles Schwab web site deploying new search software from iPhrase, which can assemble information from multiple web pages into a single answer.
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Meet Your Favorite Search Engine Watch Contributors
Many of SEW's leading expert contributors will be at ClickZ Live, the new online and digital marketing event kicking off in New York (March 31-April 3). Hear from the likes of: Thom Craver, Josh Braaten, Lisa Barone, Simon Heseltine, Josh McCoy, Lisa Raehsler, Greg Jarboe, Dan Cristo, Joseph Kerschbaum, John Gagnon, Eric Enge and more!