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The Search Engine Update, April 17, 2002, Number 123

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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.

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In This Issue

+ Search Engine Strategies Tour Dates Available
+ LookSmart Changes To Cost-Per-Click Listings
-- (full story online, link provided)
+ Overture Files Patent Lawsuit Against Google
+ SearchDay Articles
+ Search Engine Articles
+ List Info (Subscribing/Unsubscribing)

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Hello Everyone--

In many ways, this issue is pretty much the LookSmart issue, given the significant change in how the service is now accepting listings. The article was simply too long to include in the newsletter, but you'll find it online via the link listed further below. In addition, I'm busy working to update the How LookSmart Works page within the Members-Only Area, so that those of you new to LookSmart -- or who want a procedural refresher -- will be well briefed. A link to that page is at the end of this issue's article about LookSmart changes.

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Search Engine Strategies Tour Dates Available

It's a real first -- we've got dates for all our Search Engine Strategies events through the end of the year. As a reminder, the Search Engine Strategies conference focuses on how to market your site on search engines. I program sessions that involve both search engine marketing experts and speakers from major search engines themselves. Sessions are designed to bring beginners up to speed and provide advanced marketers with tips, news and advice that they also can put to use.

Next week, the show comes to London on April 23 & 24, featuring speakers from AltaVista, Ask Jeeves/Teoma, Espotting, FAST/AllTheWeb, Google, Inktomi, LookSmart, Lycos Europe, MSN Search, the Open Directory, Overture and Yahoo.

On June 11 & 12, Search Engine Strategies comes to Sydney. On Aug. 12 & 13, it arrives in San Jose, California. We also expect that a third day, Aug. 14, is to be added, with a particular focus on enterprise search. On Oct. 17 & 18, Search Engine Strategies comes to Munich. The year will end in Dallas, with a show on Dec. 11 & 12.

I'm sometimes asked which show people should go to, or do you need to go to every one? For many people, one per year is probably enough. That's why we do them in different locations, so that those who live in different regions can more easily attend.

In addition, our non-US shows usually focus in some way on the location where they are being presented. The UK show has sessions on marketing in Europe. The Sydney show will have sessions focusing on Australia and New Zealand, just as Munich will feature sessions on the German market.

Of course, you are more than welcome to come to as many shows at you like. Some content always changes, and to help those who come often, each show usually has an "itinerary" shown in the FAQ area to help those who've "Been Here Before." Similarly, there are suggested itineraries for beginners to search engine marketing and more advanced people.

Links to all the shows can be found via the Search Engine Strategies site below except Dallas, which will be posted soon. Agendas for the London and Sydney shows are both available, and the San Francisco agenda will be available within two or three weeks. For the other shows, you can sign-up to be informed when the programs are ready.

Search Engine Strategies
http://searchenginestrategies.com

There's also going to be a special "Search Engine Strategies Forum" in Singapore on June 17. This is a much different from the usual two-day, multi-track Search Engine Strategies conferences. It's a half day event that begins with an overview on search engine marketing from me, followed by a forum session with panelists from major search engines. More about the forum can be found below:

Search Engine Strategies Forum: Asia 2002
http://www.intmediaevents.com/sew/asia02/

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LookSmart Changes To Cost-Per-Click Listings

Pay -- and keep paying -- or don't appear, LookSmart told existing and new listing customers this month, in a significant change to how the human-powered search engine lists web pages from commercial web sites. LookSmart previously allowed web pages to be included in its commercial listings by paying a one-time review fee, through its "Basic Submit" and "Express Submit" submission programs. These have now been eliminated, replaced last Tuesday by a new cost-per-click "LookListings Small Business" program. All full rundown on the changes can be found below:

LookSmart Changes To Cost-Per-Click Listings
The Search Engine Update, April 17, 2002
http://searchenginewatch.com/subscribers/articles/02/04-looksmart.html

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Overture Files Patent Lawsuit Against Google

Overture filed a lawsuit against Google this month, claiming that Google has infringed on its patents that applied to bid-for-placement search ranking and for account management tools.

It seems unlikely that Overture is going to win, given that Google doesn't have a bid-for-placement product that Overture claims is protected by its patent. To understand this, let's look at a key part of the patent's abstract:

"The system and method of the present invention then compares this bid amount with all other bid amounts for the same search term, and generates a rank value for all search listings having that search term. The rank value generated by the bidding process determines where the network information providers listing will appear on the search results list page that is generated in response to a query of the search term by a searcher located at a client computer on the computer network. A higher bid by a network information provider will result in a higher rank value and a more advantageous placement."

Nothing at Google operates in this way. The Google AdWords Select program does use bidding as a component of how people are listed, but the results are absolutely not ranked by bid amount. Instead, they are ranked in order of bid amount multiplied by clickthrough rate.

A thread at the Webmaster World forums also points out another interesting twist. The Overture patent covers search results, and Google's supposed infringement takes place within its advertising area. Again, from the abstract:

"A system and method for enabling information providers using a computer network such as the Internet to influence a position for a search listing within a search result list generated by an Internet search engine."

Just a technicality? Maybe not. When Overture launched, the company was very proud that it had a technology to order its search results, that of using bid for placement. To this day, it still refers to its results as search listings, rather than ads.

In contrast, Google makes a clear delineations between what its search listings are as opposed to its advertising. And in no way are Google's search listings influenced by bidding.

The suit also claims infringement over account management technology, but one would suspect that the differences in how Google operates and Overture operates will make this a tough fight, as well.

Overture sues Google over search patent
News.com, April 5, 2002
http://news.com.com/2100-1023-876861.html

Google responds that it hasn't infringed on Overture's patents and more about the case.

Overture Files Patent Infringement
Webmaster World, April 5, 2002
http://www.webmasterworld.com/forum33/744.htm

Thoughts from site owners and promoters.

System and method for influencing a position on a search result list generated by a computer network search engine
United States Patent 6,269,361, July 31, 2001
http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PALL&p=1&u=/netahtml/srchnum.htm
&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1='6,269,361'.WKU.&OS=PN/6,269,361&RS=PN/6,269,361

So how about that patent? Read the text for yourself.

FindWhat.com Takes on Rival's Search Patent
InternetNews.com, Jan. 24, 2002
http://www.internetnews.com/IAR/article/0,,12_960971,00.html

Overture has also filed suit against competitor FindWhat, which does use a pure bid-for-placement ranking system. However, FindWhat is challenging how Overture obtained its patent.

Search Engines and Legal Issues: Patents
http://searchenginewatch.com/resources/legal.html#Patents

Patents have been raised as an issue in search technology before, but the Overture cases are unique, in that they are the first time patents have actually been used to challenge a major search engine and competitor.

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SearchDay Articles
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Here are some recent articles that may be of interest, from Search Engine Watch's daily SearchDay newsletter:

Winners Don't Take All: Link Popularity for the Rest of Us
SearchDay, April 17, 2002
http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/02/sd0417-nec-winners.html

Though a small number of sites get the majority of inbound links and traffic, a new study reveals a previously unknown pattern of web page connectivity and shows how new, poorly connected sites can compete.

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AltaVista Testing "Paraphrase" Tool
SearchDay, April 16, 2002
http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/02/sd0416-avpara.html

AltaVista's new query refinement tool offers suggestions for improving your search terms. Also, the search engine is adding new content on a more frequent basis.

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The Best of the International World Wide Web Conferences
SearchDay, Apr. 11, 2002
http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/02/sd0411-w3c.html

Each year, the International World Wide Web Conference provides a showcase for innovative web technologies. Here's a chronological list of significant papers over the past decade focusing on searching and search engines.

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Curling Up with a Good Book Search Engine
SearchDay, Apr. 10, 2002
http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/02/sd0410-bookse.html

Looking for an interesting read? These book search engines can help you find new titles and authors based on your personal tastes and preferences.

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To Or is Human
SearchDay, Apr. 9, 2002
http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/02/sd0409-or.html

Perhaps no other "advanced" search technique causes more trouble than the incorrect use of the Boolean OR operator. Here's why this simple little world can wreak havoc on your search results.

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Open Directory Project Launches ODP Public Forums
SearchDay, Apr. 8, 2002
http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/02/sd0408-odp.html

A group of editors from the Open Directory Project have started an unofficial public forum to discuss issues and share information about the web's "third" directory.

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On the archive page below, you'll find more articles like those above, plus have the ability to sign-up for the free newsletter.

SearchDay Archives
http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/archives.html

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Search Engine Articles
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Google protects its search results
News.com, April 16, 2002
http://news.cnet.com/investor/news/newsitem/0-9900-1028-9719424-0.html

About 100 Comcast cable modem surfers were locked out from using Google for a few hours because of automated queries happening on the same IP block that they used. Revisits the long-standing dispute between WebPosition Gold and Google, over rank checking on the service.

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E-Mails Open Window on Wall St.
Washington Post, April 12, 2002
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A34557-2002Apr11.html

Interesting article explaining allegations of how Merrill Lynch was apparently bullish on Overture when it was to gain banking fees from the company but not so hot when the company sought a stock sale through Merrill Lynch competitor Credit Suisse First Boston.

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Lycos France axes jobs again
Europemedia.net, April 12, 2002
http://www.europemedia.net/shownews.asp?ArticleID=9982

Brief on Lycos France cutting 71 jobs or nearly half of its staff.

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Win-XP Search Assistant silently downloads files
The Register, April 11, 2002
http://www.theregister.co.uk/content/4/24815.html

Covers how Internet Explorer's Search Assistant connected to Microsoft even for a local search of a computer's hard drive.

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PFP search engines boost offer to beat off growing competition
New Media Age, April 11, 2002
http://www.newmediazero.com/nmz/story.asp?id=233733

Short look at how third-party tools to analyze paid listing performance is prompting Overture and Espotting to develop their own, in-house solutions.

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Yahoo Posts Loss, Sees Light at End of Tunnel
InternetNews.com, April 10, 2002
http://www.internetnews.com/IAR/article/0,,12_1007521,00.html

Yahoo posted its sixth-straight quarterly loss, $54 million, but revenues of $193 million were above analysts' expectations.

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Google Gets Down to Basis for Chinese
Boston.internet.com, April 10, 2002
http://boston.internet.com/news/article/0,1928,2001_1006911,00.html

Google has licensed technology from Basis to help it understand Chinese.

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Yahoo/CEO: Google Is Possible Paid-Listings Supplier
Dow Jones, April 10, 2002
http://biz.yahoo.com/djus/020410/200204101846000879_1.html

Yahoo's CEO said that when the contract with Overture for paid listings expires in June, the company could still move ahead with prior plans to run its own program, outsource to Google, outsource to other companies or stay with Overture. Interestingly, the expiration of Overture's deal should also coincide with the expiration of Yahoo's deal with Google to provide some of its editorial search results. That deal was signed in June 2000, and though terms weren't disclosed, Yahoo ran previous deals with Inktomi and AltaVista for two years.

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HP, Overture ink search engine deal
News.com, April 9, 2002
http://news.com.com/2100-1023-878757.html

Those with new Hewlett-Packard computers will have one-button access to paid listings from Overture, in a new deal. When HP users want to search the web, they'll be directed to Overture's ad-dominated results. From the press release on the deal: "HP is committed to delivering Internet solutions that make customers' computing experience more productive and efficient." Yeah, HP did this for their customers, not because it represented a way for them to make more money off their customers.

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Cash from clicking
Guardian, April 8, 2002
http://media.guardian.co.uk/mediaguardian/story/0,7558,680403,00.html

Profile on how Overture and Espotting have been successful in the UK

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Google's Toughest Search Is for a Business Model
New York Times, April 8, 2002
http://www.nytimes.com/2002/04/08/technology/ebusiness/08GOOG.html

Looks at Google's prospects to take on Overture, with an interesting quote from MSN saying they do see Google as a competitor. See the nice breakout graph showing visitors to Google.com versus Google-powered results at Yahoo.

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The search engine: a mix of partners
Europemedia, April 4, 2002
http://www.europemedia.net/shownews.asp?ArticleID=9808

A look at future plans for leading search engines, for mobile searching, in the UK and Europe markets.

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Search Engines Home In
Washington Post, April 4, 2002
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A58309-2002Apr3.html

After Teoma's official launch out of beta earlier this month, there was no end to articles written about the service. This one by Leslie Walker is unique in that she actually ran queries pitting Teoma against Google. Google won about three-quarters of the time, but she liked Teoma's refine feature, something Google lacks.

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Search Google Service Menu Item Now Available
Mac Observer, April 3, 2002
http://www.macobserver.com/article/2002/04/03.7.shtml

Mac OS X users can now search Google by selecting text, through a new background service.

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Statement Of The Search Engine Marketing Standards Committee
WAIM, April 3, 2002
http://www.webmama.com/waim-statement-apr02.htm

The World Association of Internet Marketing committee is charged with developing search engine marketing standards for its members, and it takes its first step by outlining some general areas for dialog.

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Travel Web Sites Say Airline Deals Don't Affect Searches
Washington Post, April 3, 2002
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A54377-2002Apr2.html

Expedia hid United Airlines fares for about a day in a dispute over commissions, highlighting concerns over whether travel search sites are biased.

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