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The Search Engine Update - Number 154

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In This Issue

+ Search Engine Watch News
+ Early Bird Deadline For SES San Jose Tomorrow!
+ LookSmart Opens Deep Listings Option To Small Businesses
+ Search Engine Resources
+ SearchDay Articles
+ Search Engine Articles
+ About The Search Engine Update

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Search Engine Watch News
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Hello Everyone--

I've updated the comScore Media Metrix Search Engine Ratings page (http://searchenginewatch.com/reports/article.php/2156431) with figures showing top search engines in the United States for May 2003 (the latest available).

As for Europe, the Nielsen NetRatings European Search Engine Ratings page (http://searchenginewatch.com/reports/article.php/2156441) has been updated with figures showing top search engines in various European countries for June 2003.

You may also recall that last issue, I'd mentioned difficulties I'd had getting in contact with anyone from the Open Directory Project to follow up on problems people were having with submissions. After the newsletter went out, I heard back from the Open Directory's managing editor. He emailed:

"All is well with the ODP. This week we are doing a massive upgrade to the ODP's backend, which includes the addition of several new servers. These technical enhancements will make the ODP tremendously faster, more efficient and reliable. In addition, we've added a research server for editors to assist in building editorial tools and features. We are pretty excited about this change in particular. It represents a huge leap toward the ODP's self-governing ideal by further engaging editors in developing editorial and management tools that will make the whole system more robust."

Hopefully later this month, I'll bring you further details of the changes. In the meantime, the system upgrade apparently is continuing and running past the July 21 scheduled completion date, as per this notice: http://dmoz.org/editors_outage.html. More details as they emerge.

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Early-Bird Deadline For SES San Jose Tomorrow!

If you're thinking of attending the Search Engine Strategies show in San Jose from August 18-21, act by tomorrow, if you want a discount on the admission price.

This is the first four day Search Engine Strategies show that we've ever had, and you'll find it packed with sessions that I've programmed for people of all interests and levels. Whether you're new to search engine marketing, advanced, interested in organic listings or paid advertising, there are panels designed for you.

Three of the days will have keynote talks: one by me on the state of search engine marketing, a keynote "conversation" between me and Google cofounder Sergey Brin and a keynote presentation by Jeff Weiner, Senior Vice President of Search and Marketplace, Yahoo

I'll also be moderating sessions every day. I'll be joined by Search Engine Watch's associate editor Chris Sherman, as well as over 50 different search engine marketing experts. Speakers from major search engines are also involved, including confirmed panelists from About.com/Sprinks, Ask Jeeves/Teoma, Google, LookSmart, Lycos, MSN Search, Overture (AltaVista/AllTheWeb) and Yahoo/Inktomi.

Session itineraries, daily agendas, registration information and more about the show can be found via the URL below:

Search Engine Strategies San Jose 2003
http://www.searchenginestrategies.com/sew/summer03/

Search Engine Strategies also comes to Munich from November 10-11 and Chicago from December 9-11. Agendas for these shows are not ready, but you can follow the links listed on the page below to get location and registration information or to leave your email in order to be notified when more details have been posted.

Search Engine Strategies
http://www.searchenginestrategies.com/

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LookSmart Opens Deep Listings Option To Small Businesses

LookSmart has expanded its LookListings paid inclusion program so that small businesses can purchase "deep listings" previously only offered to large businesses with big budgets. The article below looks at the changes, as well as the role LookSmart plays in powering search at MSN and elsewhere.

LookSmart Opens Deep Listings Option To Small Businesses
The Search Engine Update, Aug. 5, 2003
http://searchenginewatch.com/_subscribers/articles/article.php/2244851

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Search Engine Resources
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SEMPO: Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization
http://www.sempo.com/

The Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization (SEMPO) is a new group for companies and consultants in the SEO/SEM space. It aims to promote the value of search engine marketing to clients, agencies and marketing managers and provide support to those offering SEM services. The non-profit group is opening itself to member sign-ups for the first time during a meeting from 6pm-7pm at the Search Engine Strategies conference in San Jose on August 20 (see the bottom of http://www.searchenginestrategies.com/sew/summer03/agenda3.html). The meeting is open to anyone -- you don't need a conference pass to attend it. Not going to be in the area? Then look for the SEMPO site to lose its "temporary" status around the same date, providing information on how to join.

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Google Synonym Command
http://www.google.com/help/refinesearch.html#tilde

Want Google to look up words related to a keyword you've entered? Now there's a new synonym command that you can try. Just place a tilde character (˜) in front of the word. For example, while a search for "gardening tips" would look for pages relevant only to both of those words, "gardening ˜tips" will make Google look for synonyms for tips, such as "help," "guide" and "techniques." A bit more information on the command is provided by Google at the URL above, and we'll probably take a closer look at it in the SearchDay newsletter later this month.

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High Rankings Search Engine Optimization Forum
http://www.highrankings.com/forum

New forum for search engine marketing issues created by High Rankings newsletter author and SEM-expert Jill Whalen.

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Yes Wacked
http://yes.wacked.us/

A new all-in-one search page. Select your search engines from the many choices offered, and even more are promised. The results will all appear within one page, side-by-side. It's a great way to compare results, though a bit hard to read with more than two search engines selected.

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Waypath.com
http://www.waypath.com

Allows keyword searching against blog material or provides the ability to see posts from blogs that are related to a particular URL.

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AllTheWeb Last 10 Queries
http://www.alltheweb.com/recentqueries

See the last 10 searches conducted on AllTheWeb via this live display.

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Microsoft Research Netscan
http://netscan.research.microsoft.com/

Got tipped to this by an article from the Inquirer (http://www.theinquirer.net/?article=10848) suggesting its Microsoft's attempt to take on Google Groups. The service lets you keyword search to locate newsgroups. By default, it already is set to bring back newsgroups containing the word "windowsxp" in them. But you can replace that with, say, "dogs," and you'll get a list of newsgroups that are probably about dogs, such as rec.pets.dogs.behavior and alt.animals.dogs. You are also shown the number of posts, posters, replies and other data for each group -- giving you an at-a-glance view of what might be most popular or active. Click on a particular group, and you'll be shown the same data graphed over time. Interesting -- but the inability to keyword search for posts definite does NOT make this a Google Groups replacement.

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Google Watch Watch
http://www.google-watch-watch.org/

Google Watch (not associated with Search Engine Watch) was created last year to monitor how Google's "monopoly, algorithms, and privacy policies are undermining the web." Now Google Watch Watch has been established, featuring an article that takes exception to the motives of Google Watch. In short, site owner Chris Beasley views Google Watch's complaints as being driven out of the fact that Google Watch doesn't feel it has good rankings with Google, rather than any actual wrong-doing by or serious problems with Google.

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SearchDay Articles
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Here's a recap of recent articles from Search Engine Watch's daily SearchDay newsletter:

Behind the Scenes at the Daypop Search Engine, Part Two
SearchDay, Aug. 5, 2003
http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/article.php/2236401

In May, SearchDay published the first part of an interview with Dan Chan, founder and sole proprietor of Daypop, a specialized search engine focusing on weblog and news content. Today, we present the second part of our conversation with Dan.

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Searching for Corporate Milestones
SearchDay, Aug. 4, 2003
http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/article.php/2235371

A unique feature from the MSN Money portal provides a list of the major milestones and historic events for publicly traded companies.

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Search Engine Forums Spotlight
SearchDay, Aug. 1, 2003
http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/article.php/2243041

Contains links to these topics from search engine forums across the web: Pay Per Inclusion - Is There Still a Reason? - Writing Copy and Content for the Web - How Important Is HTML Validation? - dmoz Lists webPAGES or webSITES? - Boss Questioning My SEO Abilities - How to Handle Picture Names for SEO - I Know Nothing About Gimpsy...Help!

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Search Engine Milestones for July 2003
SearchDay, July 31, 2003
http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/article.php/2241621

The month in review: abstracts from selected press releases and announcements made during the prior month related to web search and search engine marketing.

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A Closer Look at Yahoo News
SearchDay, July 30, 2003
http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/article.php/2239521

Yahoo has fortified its news service in recent weeks, offering both increased depth and powerful search tools that make it a compelling choice for finding online news.

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Changes Afoot at HotBot
SearchDay, July 29, 2003
http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/article.php/2241301

HotBot has renamed three of the four engines it searches, but search results are still provided by the original sources.

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A Google-like Portal of the World's Leading Scientists
SearchDay, July 28, 2003
http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/article.php/2223941

ISIHighlyCited.com calls itself 'an expert gateway to the most highly influential scientists and scholars worldwide,' using similar techniques to Google's PageRank to identify these intellectual leaders.

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Search Engine Forums Spotlight
SearchDay, July 25, 2003
http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/article.php/2243041

Contains links to these topics from search engine forums across the web: The About Directory - Report: Google Adsense - Another New Search Engine With Interesting Ideas - AdSense Temporarily Changes Shape of Inventory - Is Google the New Microsoft? - In-House Web Hosting or Outsource?

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Will Search Engines Slay the Yellow Pages?
SearchDay, July 24, 2003
http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/article.php/2239511

The success of Overture and Google's paid listing programs has many industry experts speculating about the future survival of printed yellow page telephone directories. Search Engine Watch members should follow the link to a special members-only version of the article.

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Copernic Agent: Jack of All Searches
SearchDay, July 23, 2003
http://searchenginewatch.com/sereport/article.php/2237971

Copernic Agent is a meta search engine, invisible web explorer, online research assistant and extensive tool box, all combined into an elegant, easy to use program.

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Searching for Search Engine Personalization
SearchDay, July 22, 2003
http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/article.php/2237961

A newly published study shows that despite a high degree of interest in web personalization, most search engine web sites offer few options that can be tailored to individual needs.

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Lycos Offers "Second Opinion" Search Results
SearchDay, July 21, 2003
http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/article.php/2236241

Lycos is rolling out a new utility that automatically displays Lycos search results in a side panel next to search results from Google, Yahoo or most of the other major services.

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Search Engine Forums Spotlight
SearchDay, July 18, 2003
http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/article.php/2243041

Contains links to these topics from search engine forums across the web: Should we continue to use Dmoz? - Removing a redirected URL - Breaking Google dependency - Mozilla Foundation, impact on ODP? - H1 versus font size +3 - Yahoo to acquire Overture - Disappointed with targeted Adsense ads.

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Yahoo and Your Personal Information
SearchDay, July 17, 2003
http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/article.php/2226961

Yahoo's public records search offers very basic information, but for a fee, you might be surprised at all of the information about yourself that can be found online.

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Want to receive SearchDay? Sign-up for the free daily newsletter from Search Engine Watch via the link below:

SearchDay
http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/

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Search Engine Articles
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If You Liked the Web Page, You'll Love the Ad
New York Times, Aug. 4, 2003
http://www.nytimes.com/2003/08/04/technology/04ECOM.html

A look at the rollout of contextual ads from Overture and Google. Mentions how targeting isn't perfect, as when Google placed a luggage ad on a New York Post article about someone who was murdered and packed in a suitcase.

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Overture Chief Sees Clear Sailing Ahead
The Street, Aug. 4, 2003
http://www.thestreet.com/tech/georgemannes/10105570.html

Overture CEO Ted Meisel says that being owned by Yahoo doesn't mean Overture will lose relationships with other partners. Sure -- not for some partners, but certainly it's going to eventually cost Overture the MSN deal. Of course, Yahoo is purchasing Overture primarily for use on its own needs. So, any relationships that Overture retains really will be icing on the cake. Meisel also comments on plans to roll out geographically-targeted ads by the end of the year and that work to combine AltaVista and AllTheWeb will take through the end of the year -- at which point Overture and Yahoo will have to then figure out how to combine everything with Inktomi.

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Battle of the blog
News.com, Aug. 4, 2003
http://news.com.com/2009-1032_3-5059006.html

When I did my story on RSS feeds (http://searchenginewatch.com/sereport/article.php/2175271) earlier this year, I stumbled across the debate and contention over the various formats that go by that name. This article delves into the rivalry that continues to no one's benefit. RSS, by the way, is not a technology solely behind blogs, as the article suggests. Many blogs distribute posts via RSS, but non-blog content is also sent out in this way.

The article positions Dave Winer as the "gatekeeper" of RSS. In reality, he's behind of one type of RSS, the version that stands for "Really Simple Syndication." Another version of RSS, "RDF Site Summary," is not something Winer controls, has "frozen" or given to Harvard. That version can evolve any way it likes, with or without Winer's participation. And people are also free to use it -- in fact, some RSS readers can deal with either format.

When I looked at both formats, I suggested that my readers try the most current version that Winer promotes, RSS 2.0. Why? It is relatively simple to understand. The non-Winer version, confusingly called RSS 1.0, is much more complicated to dive into (because it is more ambitious in its aims). Ultimately, the best decision will be to use the format that's most widely supported. As my article points out, that also turns out to be the version that Winer has promoted. Should this change in the future, obviously, you'll want to switch formats.

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Overture to upgrade analytics software
News.com, Aug. 1, 2003
http://news.com.com/2100-1024_3-5059162.html

Overture's planning to roll out an ROI and ad analysis tool later this month, which will also be available through 20 resellers.

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Best Search Practices for E-Tail
ClickZ, Aug. 1, 2003
http://www.clickz.com/search/strat/article.php/2243101

General tips to consider if you are an etailer going into search engine marketing.

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Google 'key word' ads undercut eBay
Bloomberg, Aug. 1, 2003
http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/business/133251_onlinestores01.html

Is Google the eBay killer? If you run your own web site, certainly getting traffic from search engines (including Google) may be cheaper than going the eBay route. However, if you are a home seller with no transaction ability, eBay probably will continue to be a great route for you.

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Hackers turn to Google to find weakest links
New Scientist, Aug. 1, 2003
http://www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99994002

Hackers can use Google to locate pages that have inadvertently been placed on the web and which reveal usernames and passwords. Further, by making use of the Google cache, they avoid generating activity that make provoke suspicions. It's not just a Google problem, however. Any search engine could be used to locate these pages. Yahoo even offers caching, currently powered by Google but which will probably remain when Inktomi takes over. Solution? Don't place sensitive information on the web, and make efforts to ensure this isn't accidentally happening.

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At Jupiter: Search by the Numbers
up2speed, July 31, 2003
http://www.up2speed.com/archives/2003/07/31/at_jupiter_search_by_the_numbers/

Jupiter Research says paid search will generate $4.3 billion in 2008. That's lower than the $7 billion figure released earlier this year by US Bancorp Piper Jaffray. Kevin Lee looks briefly at differences in the numbers, including the role paid inclusion plays.

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Observers drool for Google IPO, but it's unlikely until 2004
San Jose Mercury News, July 31, 2003
http://www.siliconvalley.com/mld/siliconvalley/business/columnists/6425365.htm

Why won't Google go public this year? It promised not to in April, for one thing. It gains many advantages from staying private, for another. More members of the Google board of directors would also be needed.

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Ask Jeeves UK improves search results
NetImperative, July 31, 2003
http://www.netimperative.com/cmn/viewdoc.jsp?cat=news&docid=BEP1_News_0000055688

Ask Jeeves UK has changed its search results. Unlike the US site, human-powered answers are still being compiled for selected queries. Some ads have been removed, and finally, sponsored links get labeled.

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Search Powers Online Ad Revival
CyberAtlas, July 30, 2003
http://cyberatlas.internet.com/markets/advertising/article/0,,5941_2242141,00.html

Jupiter Research estimates that paid search listings will total $1.6 billion by the end of this year, making up 25 percent of total online advertising spending. Two years ago, it made up only 10 percent of spending.

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Changes and Other Happenings at AltaVista
ResourceShelf, July 30, 2003
http://www.resourceshelf.com/archives/2003_07_01_resourceshelf_archive.html/#105951275450777140

AltaVista has dropped Moreover in place of its own system to gather content (that system, by the way, is largely using the AllTheWeb news crawler). Prisma refinement links are also offered with news searching (and have been moved to the right-hand side of the screen for ordinary web searching).

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MSNBC taps start-up for ad technology
News.com, July 29, 2003
http://news.com.com/2100-1024-5057236.html

Another contextual ad deal -- this time involving start-up WebRelevance placing ads at MSNBC.com

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ConversionRuler
High Rankings Advisor, July 29, 2003
http://www.searchengineguide.com/whalen/2003/0729_jw2.html

Jill Whalen documents using ConversionRuler to track visits and conversion at her web site. Article is in two parts -- this leads to the second, which links to the first.

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The Future of Human Knowledge: The Semantic Web
TechNewsWorld, July 28, 2003
http://www.technewsworld.com/perl/story/31199.html

In this article, we learn that in a few years, the Semantic Web will help search engines know if two different sites have related content. Well, search engines have been able to do this already for years (and users don't make use of the feature). Search engines have also been able to use natural language for ages -- in fact, they generally do not want you to try Boolean searching.

I like the part that says the Semantic Web will allow someone to enter "I want to buy a first edition copy of Gone With The Wind at a store in Beverly Hills this afternoon." Yeah, I'd like to see that -- I assume every rare book shop in Beverly Hills will be online, right?

How about just, "I want to buy a first edition copy of Gone With The Wind." I can enter that into Google right now, and the first ad for BookFinder.com led me to some promising results. In Google's editorial results, a link also led to a really good article on how to identify a first edition (and first printing, if that's also what you want) of the book. Maybe the non-Semantic Web is actually better than Semantic Web proponents think.

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Overture, Knight Ridder Ink Search Pact
InternetNews.com, July 28, 2003
http://www.internetnews.com/IAR/article.php/2240941

Overture will be providing paid and editorial search results, as well as contextual ads, to 32 newspaper web sites operated by Knight Ridder, including the Philadelphia Inquirer and the San Jose Mercury News. It follows on a deal with Canadian portal Sympatico, which Overture has won away from Google.

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Averages Can Kill Your SEM Campaign
ClickZ, July 25, 2003
http://www.clickz.com/search/strat/article.php/2240031

Averages can be deceiving, when measuring performance. Look further into your data, to avoid costly mistakes.

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Searching Google Where's Jeeves?
Forbes, July 24, 2003
http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/fo/20030724/bs_fo/f51f7fbade2a8bb992664548a127678d

Ask Jeeves is dropping its butler mascot in an effort to get consumers to understand the site has changed.

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Overture counts cost of partner deals
NetImperative, July 24, 2003
http://www.netimperative.com/cmn/viewdoc.jsp?cat=all&ct=news&docid=BEP1_News_0000055449

Overture's net income was down from $17.5 million in the second quarter last year to $7.6 million for the same period this year. Overall revenue was up 74 percent, however. The drop in profits was due to Overture having to share more with its partners.

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Gwyneth, the Grateful Dead and Google
News.com, July 24, 2003
http://news.com.com/2010-1071_3-5053312.html

Gwyneth Paltrow's just one of the latest famous people who have paid a visit to the Google headquarters.

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Lessons in Failure - The Top 10 Ways to Ensure Your Search Marketing Strategy Sucks
Marketleap Report, July 24, 2003
http://www.marketleap.com/report/ml_report_45.htm

Good top ten list of things NOT to do if you want to get found by search engines.

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Can Google save America Online?
News.com, July 24, 2003
http://news.com.com/2100-1024_3-5053461.html

Paid listings have stood out in a bright spot for revenues with Yahoo and MSN but revenue from AOL's deal with Google didn't get a mention in recent financial reports. AOL doesn't break out figures, but one financial analyst guesses AOL will make $28 million off of Google this year and that by 2007, Google (or presumably paid listings from someone) will make up 33 percent of AOL ad sales.

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Insider tips for your Google ranking
Promotion Data, July 23, 2003
http://www.promotiondata.com/article.php?sid=442

Nice summary of tips that have been posted by GoogleGuy (who is indeed a real Google employee) at WebmasterWorld.com about improving listings with Google.

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Do Blogs Spam Google Results?
Microdoc News, July 23, 2003
http://microdoc-news.info/home/BloggerNews/2003/07/23.html/1

Is Google blog-clogged? Not according to a test using 5,000 queries. It found only 2.1 percent had blog content showing up in the first page of search results.

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Google, Weather.com Ink Content-Ad Deal
InternetNews.com, July 23, 2003
http://www.internetnews.com/IAR/article.php/2239081

Google's contextual ads have been added to the Weather.com site, which follows on another recent deal with Switchboard.com

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DentalPlans.com Gets 20% of New Customers via PPC Search
MarketingSherpa.com, July 22, 2003
http://www.marketingsherpa.com/sample.cfm?contentID=2408

DentalPlans.com used some of its email marketing budget to fund paid search listings. This article shares tips, such as to depend on resources other than search term suggestion tools, fight back to explain why rejected listings may be relevant to a term, track conversions in the long-term to better understand success and to try second-tier paid listing players but watch conversions closely. Also has stats on clickthorugh rates (generally 8 to 10 percent) and conversion rates.

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Verity, iPhrase Hone Search Intelligence
eWeek, July 21, 2003
http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,3959,1200183,00.asp

Upgrades to enterprise search software from Verity and iPhrase have been released.

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Amazon's new online plan: a little more of an open book
New York Times, July 21, 2003
http://www.iht.com/articles/103542.html

Amazon's trying to make it possible to search the full-text of tens of thousands of books. Not quite certain where this article comes up with the idea that Google is "cutting in front" of Amazon when shoppers want to buy things. In fact, I'd say it's the opposite. If you don't know Amazon has a particular product, you'll probably search at Google (or other search engines) just as people always have. But if you know Amazon has something -- say you want a particular book -- you're likely to go right to Amazon.

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Deep links are legal in Germany. Official
The Register, July 20, 2003
http://www.theregister.co.uk/content/6/31838.html

A German court rules it was legal for search engine Paperboy to provide deep links to web sites.

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Effectiveness Study Confirms SEM Power
ClickZ, July 18, 2003
http://www.clickz.com/search/strat/article.php/2236931

Research commissioned for the Internet Advertising Bureau's search engine committee finds that conversion often happens weeks after the initial clickthrough from a search engine. Sponsored search results apparently generated what I assume is an average 18.3 percent clickthrough rate, compared to a 4.3 percent rate for free organic listings. The figures are surprising to me, and not having yet seen the actual report, I can't comment further on the methodology used. Sponsored listings also were found to have a greater conversion rate, which isn't surprising to me. With paid listings, you have the ability to deliver people to a very targeted landing page that can constantly be refined to improve conversion. You can't do that well with organic listings.

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Overture to a patent war?
News.com, July 18, 2003
http://news.com.com/2100-1024_3-1027084.html

Overture has a variety of patents relating to web search, with lawsuits about paid listings already having been filed against Google and FindWhat. One reason Yahoo wanted Overture was for those patents, certainly to protect itself against suits and perhaps to go after others. But Google also has search patents, as does Microsoft (and others, see http://searchenginewatch.com/resources/article.php/2156541#Patents)

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DealTime Launches ROI Tool
InternetNews.com, July 17, 2003
http://www.internetnews.com/IAR/article.php/2236531

Shopping search engine DealTime is providing a new, free tool so that advertisers can track conversions.

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Overture would owe Yahoo on merger breakup-filing
Reuters, July 17, 2003
http://biz.yahoo.com/rc/030717/media_overture_yahoo_1.html

The Yahoo-Overture deal isn't done yet. A third party could always try to steal Overture away from Yahoo. However, Overture would then have to pay Yahoo $65 million.

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Overture extends HP deal
News.com, July 17, 2003
http://news.com.com/2100-1032-1026765.html

HP will continue to make Overture the default search provider for those who purchase its computers. Don't like it? Too bad -- last year when I wrote an article about changing Internet Explorer search defaults (http://searchenginewatch.com/sereport/article.php/2164691), I heard from an HP user who discovered that making changes had apparently been disabled by HP. Imagine!

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Digging for Googleholes
Slate, July 16, 2003
http://slate.msn.com/id/2085668/

Google's not perfect (nor is any search engine, for that matter), but some believe it to be. Steven Johnson points out flaws to dispute this myth, though there are some flaws to his flaws.

For example, Google's top results are claimed to be heavily skewed toward shopping sites, if you are looking for something that is sold online. To prove this, a search for "flowers" is shown to bring up mostly online florists at Google (same is true for AllTheWeb, Teoma and Inktomi, by the way).

Well, if you are searching for flowers, there's indeed a good chance you'd like a florist. If you want information about flowers, then trying "flower information" brings back much more general, non-commercial information. And if you are doing research on tulips, then typing something specific like "tips on growing tulips" works great and is what you should do.

You wouldn't walk into a library looking for tips about growing tulips and simply say to the librarian, "flowers." Nor should you do the same with Google or any search engine. Certainly, though, it's good if a search engine tries to help you along. An example of this is at Teoma, where a search for "flowers" suggests "flowers gardens" as an alternative in the Refine section of the page. Google is notable among the major search engines for not offering search refinement assistance like this.

The synonym problem described, where "apple" is dominated by results related to Apple Computers, is true enough -- and true on AllTheWeb, Teoma and Inktomi as well. But refinement at Google certainly would help for the odd person interested in apples you can eat. Do a search for apples at MSN Search, and you'll see "apples (food)" suggested as a topic. Select this, and you'll get a list of much more relevant sites.

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FindWhat Finds the Spotlight
InternetNews.com, July 16, 2003
http://www.internetnews.com/IAR/article.php/2235781

With Yahoo buying Overture, second-tier paid listings provider FindWhat is suddenly attracting attention as a possible MSN purchase.

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Is Google broken?
Google Watch, June 9, 2003
http://www.google-watch.org/broken.html

Article suggest that Google's current system can handle the number of web pages that it is trying to process. FYI, the official Google response is that it has no such problems.

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