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The Search Engine Update, March 3, 2000, Number 72

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THE SEARCH ENGINE UPDATE
March 3, 2000 - Number 72

By Danny Sullivan
Editor, Search Engine Watch
http://searchenginewatch.com/

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About The Update
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The Search Engine Update is a twice-monthly update of search engine news. It is available only to those people who have subscribed to Search Engine Watch, http://searchenginewatch.com/.

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
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News...
+ About The Search Engine Watch site
+ Search Engine Strategies Conference

Features
+ Can You Find Your Candidate?
+ Growing Pains At Volunteer Directories
+ Numbers, Numbers -- But What Do They Mean?
+ AltaVista Unveils New Search Centers
+ Missing Pages At AltaVista
+ From Wedding Photos To Phone Sex
+ About.com No Longer Poster Child For Yahoo Abuse
+ Search Sites Springing Up
+ Wild About WAP

Briefs
+ Atomz Finds Your Flash
+ On My Radar Screen

Search Engine Articles
+ The usual round up of interesting articles relating to search engines.

And...
+ My Reading List
+ Subscribing/Unsubscribing Info

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Site News
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Hello Everyone--

There are no major site updates to report since the last newsletter -- but I'm sure you'll have plenty of reading from within this edition of the Update.

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Conference News
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The next Search Engine Strategies seminar is less than a week away. To be held March 9th, in New York City, this one day conference features experts on search engine marketing issues and panelists from many of the major search engines, including speakers from AOL Search, Ask Jeeves, Direct Hit, FAST, LookSmart, Lycos, Northern Light, The Open Directory and Snap. I'll also be doing two presentations and moderating throughout the day.

If you are thinking of attending, please book now. The last conference sold out before the event day. If you wait until the last minute, you may miss out. Conference details are online at the URL below.

Search Engine Strategies New York 2000
http://seminars.internet.com/sew/ny00/

For those of you based in Europe, information is now available about the upcoming London conference, to be held on April 27.

Search Engine Strategies London 2000
http://seminars.internet.com/sew/london00/

====================

Can You Find Your Candidate?

NOTE: This is a very long article, so I've only attached the top portion. You'll find the rest online via the URL at the end.

If search engines could vote in the upcoming US Presidential elections, it would be a race between Democrat Bill Bradley and Republican John McCain, rather than frontrunners Democrat Al Gore and Republican George W. Bush. After all, a survey of 18 major search engines shows that you are far more likely to find the official candidate web sites of Bradley and McCain than those of Gore and Bush.

The survey, which I conducted on Feb. 28, looked to see whether direct links to candidate web sites appeared in the first pages of results when searching for them by name.

Bradley and McCain were the clear winners. A search for "bill bradley" or "john mccain" brought up direct links to their official web sites on 15 out of 18 search engines, an 83 percent success rate.

Bradley was let down by Excite, AltaVista and LookSmart. The latter two did provide indirect "RealNames" links to the Bradley site that, if counted, meant Bradley was findable on 17 out of 18 search engines.

McCain was missed by Lycos, AltaVista and LookSmart. As with Bradley, the inclusion of RealNames links to McCain's web site from AltaVista and LookSmart would have raised his total count to 17 out of 18 search engines.

Bush could only be found for "george bush" at 11 out of 18 search engines, a 61 percent success rate. HotBot, AOL Search, Lycos, Direct Hit, Northern Light, FAST and LookSmart failed to list Bush's site in their top results in response to a search for his name.

Gore came in last, with his site found for "al gore" at only 10 out of 18 search engines, a 56 percent success rate. Yahoo, Excite, Lycos, GoTo, AltaVista, FAST, Northern Light and LookSmart failed to come through for the Vice President.

Can You Find Your Candidate?
The Search Engine Report, Feb. 29, 2000
http://searchenginewatch.com/sereport/00/03-president.html

The lengthier version of this article. It also covers interesting facts about bids on candidate names at GoTo, and it looks at how the candidates have prepped their sites for search engines -- or not prepped, as the case may be.

Company Names Test
http://searchenginewatch.com/reports/names.html

This has full details of the study. You'll find a report card that ranks all the search engines at a glance, plus an illustrated guide to how well or poorly they performed.

ElectionSearch2000.org
http://www.electionsearch2000.org/

Very cool service that allows you to search for matching pages on any topic from within US presidential candidates' web sites. Enter a term like "tax reform" and get results from all sites, or narrow your search to a particular candidate's site. It also shows you the most popular terms people are using when searching through the sites via the service.

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Growing Pains At Volunteer Directories

Both the Open Directory and Go Guides make use of volunteers to catalog the web. In fact, there are now thousands of people involved in the process at both places. All this people power has definitely made it easier for those with good sites to get listed in these directories, compared to using the standard submission systems at Yahoo and LookSmart. In contrast, those two directories have small staffs of professional editors, which means that they simply cannot handle as many requests. But with the good comes the bad. The use of volunteers generates a different set of problems that webmasters may encounter during the submission process at the Open Directory and Go Guides.

One of the chief concerns I hear regarding the Open Directory involves multiple listings. Some site owners register multiple domain names that all lead back to the same site or virtually identical sites, then manage to obtain listings for each of these domains.

For instance, imagine that I run an online shoe shop at buyshoesnow.com. I submit to a shoe category and get my site listed. Then I register three more domain names -- supercheapshoes.com, reallycheapshoes.com, shoesforsaleonline.com -- and make it so these names resolve back to my buyshoesnow.com site. Now I submit my site to the Open Directory again, each time using one of these new names. That may allow me to get the same site listed four times in total, either all within the same category, or perhaps in different categories.

Let's call what I've described "alias" spamming, because someone is essentially creating different "aliases" for the same site or web page. A variation is "mirror" spamming. This is when someone creates completely independent web sites that look slightly different, then tries to get all of these sites listed.

Mirror spamming can occur even if the sites are completely different in look and feel. For instance, imagine someone who creates 10 web sites. Each site has a single page, and none of them look the same. Indeed, each site is designed to seem as if it is owned by a different company. However, the pages may all link to a common web site, list the same order phone number, or they may simply benefit the same company in some way. They are basically puppet sites for that company.

Tactics like these are spam, pure and simple. If the Open Directory spots it, they'll yank the bogus listings and perhaps even the legitimate ones. Despite this threat, people are getting away with this type of spam at the Open Directory. I suspect one reason for the success is that because so many editors are involved, it's likely that the submissions are all seen by different editors, and so no one catches on. This is especially so when submissions are made to multiple categories.

As you might expect, the people most likely to spot this type of spam are those who offer products and services similar to the sites which are spamming. But how do you contact the Open Directory to be sure they will take action?

First, message the editor of the category where you spot the spam. You'll find a link to each editor at the bottom of the category pages (if there is no editor, go up a level). Click on the editor's name, then select the "Email: Sent to" link to bring up a contact form. Provide as much information as possible about what you found, and be polite about it. Yes, it can be annoying that the spam got through -- especially when it seems obvious to you. But if you are insulting or derogatory, you are likely to cause an editor to ignore your message, even if it is a valid concern.

"The more factual the information, the better. If you threaten us, we aren't going to be happy," said Chris Tolles, Director of Marketing for the Open Directory. "Be specific, talk about what you think is the issue, and we'll investigate"

Also, phrase the complaint in terms of how it impacts the directory and its users, not yourself. For instance, don't say something like: "My site is listed in only one place, but you allow this other site to be listed all over the directory." Instead, something like this is better: "I've found a site that seems to be spamming you. It's listed in X, Y, Z categories under A, B and C web addresses."

You should get a response or see action taken on a legitimate spam complaint within a week or so. If you don't, then follow up with the editor in the category immediately above the editor you originally contacted. That's because the Open Directory does have bad editors and editors that do act in their own self-interests. Going up a category level should put you in touch with someone more senior that will look into the issue.

Still no response? Then try the general feedback form. You'll find a link to it at the top of all Open Directory pages. Put "Abuse" in the subject line. The Open Directory says this absolutely should bring action on any legitimate complaint.

"We have two full time staff who monitor feedback," Tolles said. "We don't look at every piece of email we get, but we do look at everything that involves complaints about unfair competition."

You should also complain any time you spot an editor that seemingly is killing sites or changing listings in a manner designed to promote their own interests, or even any time you think something odd is going on.

Another issue that's come up from readers is an inability to find an address for the Open Directory in order to send formal, written complaints. I'd agree some contact information like this within the site would be a help.

Over at Go Guides, a noble attempt to have checks and balances also leads to a lot of confusion. As a refresher, anyone can sign up and become a Go Guide. Once you do that, you may submit your own site or any site to one of the Go Guide categories. Then, one or more people need to approve this submission before it will be added.

It sounds great, but I've experienced first hand how the approval process can almost be farcical. In one of my submissions, I was told to reduce the rating from three stars to one star because the site did not "contain rich content."

Yes, the site itself didn't have rich content, because it was about a service that didn't need more than a page or two of description. But the service itself was superior to anything else in this particular category and worthy of three stars. The star rating should have taken that into account, but the person approving the submission seemed to think that only the page content mattered. Another person I know had a similar encounter. A page she submitted had to be reduced in rank because it was a single page, she was told. The quality of information on the page didn't seem to matter.

In my case, I followed up with the person and argued politely on behalf of my submission, did get the site in at two stars. You should also follow up in similar situations. Don't be afraid to defend your point of view. Be polite, but explain your reasoning.

Of course, another problem is that contacting guides for followups is an incredible pain. You have to click to view the guide's profile, then copy their email address and paste it into your own email program to contact them. An internal messaging system would be much better, so that comments could be sent in association with the submission.

For instance, in another case, I had a submission come back from the topic editor asking that the site be moved to a new category and reduced from three stars to two stars. Unfortunately, there was no way for me to send the submission back to the editor with a response. Instead, I had to get the editor's email address, describe the situation and my concern about moving the site, then wait to get a response -- which never came.

In the meantime, a different person sent me a request, asking that the site be reduced from three stars to one star. This person had no clue about the existing request, so now I had to message both people to see how they wanted to proceed. No response came from either party. Ultimately, I just reduced the site's rank, and that finally got it approved.

To help with these type of problems, Go says it has promoted someone internally to spend more time handling disputes and to dispense advice. Go is also considering whether to upgrade its system to allow internal messaging.

"That's something we are debating right now, how to treat internal communications," said Ramsey Ksar, Director of Go Guides. Ksar said the Go Guide's link management system is also due for an upgrade in the near future, which should help guides collaborate on listings more easily.

Open Directory
http://dmoz.org/

Go Guides
http://guides.go.com/

Lords of the Links: Go Guides
Traffick, Feb. 4, 2000
http://www.traffick.com/story.asp?StoryID=51

A great, funny look at valid weaknesses with volunteer directories. But it overlooks the point that the reason these services have enjoyed positive press is because they are listing many great sites that were ignored by the "full time, qualified" editors at Yahoo and LookSmart. Sites can get into the Open Directory and Go Guides quickly and for free. Of course, you can also get into Yahoo and LookSmart quickly, but it will cost you $199 for the privilege (though its money well spent by any webmaster). On a positive note, I've been getting and seeing reports of faster success at Yahoo, for submissions done through its free, normal submission system.

LookSmart Launches Express Submission Service
The Search Engine Update, Feb. 3, 2000
http://searchenginewatch.com/subscribers/articles/0002-looksmart.html

Password Finder
http://searchenginewatch.com/about/finder.html

Forgot your password? The Finder will help you.

====================

Numbers, Numbers -- But What Do They Mean?

One of the latest trends these days is for crawler-based search engines to flaunt both how many pages they have in their index plus the larger number of pages they visited to create that index. AltaVista says its collection of 250 million pages came from an original set of 400 million. FAST says its 400 million page index was developed from a group of 700 million. Excite's 250 million pages were retained after reviewing 920 million. And Inktomi says its core index of 110 million pages was created after analyzing over 1 billion across the web.

To help you understand these new "dual numbers," I've written a long article that uses a "people in the room" metaphor to explain the situation at different search engines. You'll find it via the URL below:

Numbers, Numbers -- But What Do They Mean?
http://searchenginewatch.com/subscribers/articles/0003-numbers.html

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AltaVista Unveils New Search Centers

AltaVista has added three new "Search Centers" that cater to those seeking multimedia files and a fourth "Advanced Search" center with content designed to help searchers and webmasters alike. New country specific versions of AltaVista have also been added.

When you come to the AltaVista home page, look just above the search box, and you'll see a tab for each search center: "Advanced Search, "Images," "MP3/Audio" and "Video." Clicking on one of these tabs takes you into the selected center, where you can perform a specialty search.

Let's start with the Advanced Search center. You'll find that the actual advanced search interface hasn't changed, and I'd actually suggest that most people not even bother trying to use it. It's really designed for those who want to do Boolean searching or who wish to override all the helpful things that AltaVista does automatically in normal search, such as displaying only one page per web site or automatic phrase detection.

What you should definitely do is read the wealth of new tutorial material that's being made available in the center. AltaVista has really outdone itself in trying to help you learn how to search better using its service. The Advanced Search Tutorial located here will help those searching with AltaVista understand better how to tap into its power, including how to see more than 200 results, something I'm occasionally asked about. Webmasters should also love the "How AltaVista Works" tutorial, where AltaVista provides an unprecedented amount of information on how it indexes and ranks pages.

The Images center brings up AltaVista's former Photo Finder service, which continues to be an outstanding way to seek pictures. Enter a few words, and you'll be shown thumbnail images that AltaVista believes matches your query. The pictures come from AltaVista's spidering of the web, as well as from collections owned by Corbis and Getty.

The MP3/Audio center is new and marks AltaVista entry into serving up audio files. Sound listings come from spidering both web and FTP sites, plus through partnerships with companies like CDNow and MP3.com. The center also provides links to MP3 players and tutorials on how to download and listen to MP3 files.

The Video center, like the others, features content that comes from spidering the web as well as video files provided by news, entertainment and financial broadcast companies. A tutorial on how to download and view video files is also available.

AltaVista has also been busy with its global expansion, which was revitalized about a year ago with the launch of AltaVista Germany. The company added a Scandinavian site in October, a United Kingdom site in December yesterday officially launched Dutch and French sites.

AltaVista had extended a global presence before this expansion, operating mirror sites in partnership with local companies in places such as Europe and Asia. It also had ties to "power" other people's regionally branded services. However, AltaVista's new model is to set up its own directly run operations in different countries, putting it in competition with some former partners.

For instance, AltaVista previously had a partnership with Scandinavia Online, which runs several portal sites in Scandinavia. Now that AltaVista is competing with Scandinavia Online, it wasn't surprising to see SOL dump AltaVista last month. FAST Search has taken over as SOL's new search technology partner.

The new sites that AltaVista has been rolling out all have country-specific collections of documents in addition to allowing you to search the world using AltaVista's global index. For instance, the UK site has a collection of about 30 million documents identified as being from the UK.

The challenge in making country specific collections is that the regional value of domain names has been eroding over time. For instance, in the UK, many companies register .com domains rather than .co.uk domains. One reason is that it makes for a shorter, easier address. The thought of .com valuations is another big draw. Over in Sweden, the .nu domain is very popular as an alternative to the country specific .se domain. Why? .nu in Swedish means "now," AltaVista says, and so companies register it to make a play on words. Consequently, AltaVista has to make sure to spider this domain in addition to .se for its Swedish index.

AltaVista also makes use of the database assembled by iAtlas, a company it acquired last year, to help understand if a site is regional. iAtlas has matched domains to countries and even addresses, giving AltaVista a powerful tool

Add URL remains another option for AltaVista to identify regional content, and it is essential that you begin submitting to each regional edition you feel you are relevant for. Want to be found in AltaVista Germany? Then submit using its Add URL form, which should help include you in the German index.

Those needing regional appeal should also think strongly about registering a country specific domain. If you want to be found any crawler-based index for France, for instance, having a domain that ends in .fr will be a great help.

AltaVista
http://www.altavista.com/

Advanced Search Center
http://www.altavista.com/cgi-bin/query?pg=aq&what=web/

AltaVista International Sites
http://doc.altavista.com/international.shtml

Links to AltaVista's new regional sites can be found here. The ones they operate directly all begin "AtlaVista," such as "AltaVista UK," except for AltaVista Canada. Most of the other services are either mirror sites or use AltaVista's crawling technology to build their own indexes.

Fast Search
http://www.alltheweb.com/

Scandinavia Online Sites
http://www.passagen.se/ (Sweden)
http://www.sol.no/ (Norway)
http://www.sol.dk/ (Denmark)

Excite Canada
http://www.excite.ca/

AltaVista is not alone in international expansion. Excite Canada also just launched yesterday.

====================

Missing Pages At AltaVista

I heard back from AltaVista regarding the most recent round of missing pages that some people have complained about. "We are more actively looking at the site submissions coming in," said Tracy Roberts, AltaVista's marketing director. As a result, more sites found to be spamming have been removed, Roberts said.

If your pages are gone, and if you get a "Too many URLs at that site have been submitted today" message, then there's a pretty good chance AltaVista has decided you were spamming them. If you disagree, then you should get in contact using AltaVista's feedback form. "We are monitoring those, so that when a request is made, we will go in and look at the site," Roberts said.

Unfortunately, I don't get the impression AltaVista is doing a very good job at following up on these messages. Just see the case of the wedding photo site, in the story below. Additionally, in two missing page cases I investigated, neither webmaster ever heard back from AltaVista about why their pages were removed. In one of them, AltaVista told me they decided spamming was involved -- so perhaps you can take no news to be bad news. But in the other case, the person who didn't hear back was hosted within a site where someone else was spamming. This person did nothing wrong, which AltaVista confirmed, but they never told this to the site owner, who diligently used the feedback form to seek help.

The latter case is a good reason why you should get your own web site, if you are serious about doing business on the web. When you use free web space or are hosted within a domain shared by others, you may get accidentally removed if someone else within the domain misbehaves. Sharing a web address with someone is like sharing a house -- and if someone sets fire to their room, your room might burn down as well.

For those who do have their own sites, to avoid problems at AltaVista, don't oversubmit. If your pages are listed, then leave things alone. You certainly shouldn't submit more than about five unique pages per day, to stay safe. That's not a published limit -- there is no published limit -- but it should keep you out of trouble. If you feel compelled to submit a large number of pages, then do a group of five every other day.

By the way, my advice goes directly against the advice AltaVista is now offering webmasters in its new advanced area. "If you want all your pages in the index in the next day or two, then you should add them all individually," it says. I was amazed to find this. If you follow these instructions and submit many pages, you'll almost certainly trip AltaVista submission limit. You'll be prevented from submitting additional pages, and your site will probably be flagged for human review.

Does this mean someone else can submit your site and make it seem like you were trying to spam AltaVista with excess submissions? Certainly many people have asked me that recently. AltaVista's Roberts said this shouldn't happen, and that AltaVista has ways to detect whether they think a webmaster is being targeted by someone else. She declined to explain how, but AltaVista seems to be examining the IP address used by those submitting. If so, that means they can identify some people who spam based on how they connect to the web, rather than based on the URL that is being submitted. AltaVista probably also looks at the sheer number of submissions recently versus submissions in the past. If your site has never oversubmitted and suddenly it does, they'd probably realize you weren't doing it.

Naturally, you can expect AltaVista will look at the content of your pages, when investigating a potential spam attempt. That means that if you do have spam listed with AltaVista, or a large number of doorway pages, it is quite likely that a competitor could resubmit these pages to flag them to AltaVista's attention. Even though you didn't spam by oversubmitting, your pages may still get yanked if considered of little value.

It's worth bearing in mind that AltaVista is one of the few remaining major search engines where the pages you individually submit show up within a few days, which I generally describe as an Instant Add system. We all watched how Go closed its Instant Add system after abuse. To its credit, AltaVista is still hanging in there and helping a lot of webmasters with good content quickly get listed. But if games like submitting other people's sites continue, as I suspect is on the increase, we're almost certainly going to see AltaVista decide that Instant Add is no longer worth operating.

Remember, if you do see a site spamming AltaVista, they are one of the few search engines that has a feedback for specifically for this. Use the URL below, and choose the "Spam Reporting" option. You might also try a post within the new Advanced Search forum. There's already an active thread devoted to spamming issues, and people from AltaVista have been monitoring it.

AltaVista
http://www.altavista.com/

AltaVista Search Contact Form
http://doc.altavista.com/help/contact/contact_us.shtml

You can also use this form to ask why pages have gone missing, if this has happened to you. Use the "URL Listing Support" option.

====================

From Wedding Photos To Phone Sex

Wedding photographer Jon C. Domke was surprised to discover a sudden spike in traffic to his web site in early January. Surprise became shock when he checked his traffic logs and discovered that people searching for porn on AltaVista were reaching his site by mistake.

"I could not believe my eyes. My website was listed number one when users did a search for 'sex'," said Domke, who's based in Dearborn, Michigan.

Somehow, AltaVista crosslinked his web address with the title and description of a phone sex site. So instead of being listed as "Total Photo Image," Domke's site appeared as "Adult Phone Sex With Amateur Phone Flirts."

Not happy with the situation, Domke tried to reach someone at AltaVista for help. "I have sent several email requests to AltaVista to have the listing corrected but only received generic responses. I finally found a phone number to their corporate office and left a voice mail on their legal department's machine. But still no one returns my letters or calls," he said.

Domke initiated his complaint using the site's feedback form back in January, then says he followed the instructions to "escalate" the complaint, should have gotten him response within 48 hours. At least, that's what AltaVista's automated support system promises. Nearly two months later, he was still waiting.

In addition, Domke's situation was covered by a local television station and newspaper last week, both of which brought the matter to the search engine's attention, Domke says. "AltaVista has yet to contact me since I first contacted them on January 7. But they have spoken with both news sources. They claim it is a technical glitch and assured the TV station that it would not happen again in the future," Domke said.

"We actually did talk with the paper, and spent a good deal of time looking into the issue on our end. We were confident that the issue was fixed, we will continue to look into it," said Kristi Kaspar, Marketing Programs Manager at AltaVista.

Shortly after I contacted AltaVista, the problem seemed to be corrected. But Domke's site was not the only one listed with misleading information. Some of the other examples he pointed out remain with misleading descriptions.

AltaVista
http://www.altavista.com/

Total Photo Image
http://www.total-photo.com/

Domke's web site, which contains no porn -- probably to the disappointment of some people who found it via AltaVista.

====================

About.com No Longer Poster Child For Yahoo Abuse

Just over two years ago, I did a big write up on problems getting listed with Yahoo, using About.com (then the Mining Co.) as a poster child for the troubles many people encountered. Yahoo refused to list most of the company's individual web sites, which I thought was unfair. More importantly, I thought the policy made Yahoo less useful to searchers. About.com later got a lot of mileage out of this by running its "The 500 Sites Yahoo is Afraid to List" banner campaign in mid-1998.

Things have changed since then, but no one seems to have told that to About.com's CEO Scott Kurnit. He recently lashed out at Yahoo at a public forum, complaining that most of his network's sites are not listed. His comments were then widely reported -- even Jessie Berst's important Berst Alert column gave them credit at face value.

For the record, I found at least 200 individual About.com sites available within Yahoo, just about 1/3 of all the sites About.com has. Yes, that's not "most," but it is far more than About.com used to have listed, when it first raised its complaints in 1998.

I asked Yahoo if there was still a policy against listing About.com sites but didn't get answer in time for this article. Nor could About.com confirm for me that they'd been told recently that the policy still existed. However, I think it's pretty obvious this policy was lifted. When I first reported on the issue, I doubt About.com had more than 25 sites listed with Yahoo -- if even that many. For so many sites to now be listed, it's clear Yahoo had a change of heart regarding About.com.

In fact, when reviewing About.com's listings at Yahoo, one could even see that Yahoo editors have prefaced all About.com's various sites with the company's name, such as "About.com Bicycling" or "About.com Urban Legends." That has the effect of ensuring About.com's sites are right at the top of Yahoo's listings, which are organized alphabetically. If Yahoo was trying to be mean-spirited, they could have easily lopped the About.com portion off of each site name, which would have moved many About.com sites lower in the listings.

I'd agree that About.com's sites should still be evaluated independently by Yahoo and other directories, since they provide so much quality information that benefits searchers. If they are good, why not list them? But Kurnit's suggestion that About.com is being censored by Yahoo no longer carries as much weight.

In fact, I suspect About.com could increase its listings further by using Yahoo's $199 "Business Express" service, which guarantees that an editor will make time to review and approve or decline a site within a week. Most sites of good quality that use the service do get in, and the service has greatly reduced the number of complaints I hear about getting listed with Yahoo. About.com couldn't tell me whether they'd ever tried to use this service, but my suspicion is that most of About.com's sites got listed the old fashioned way, by using the normal submission service.

It's also interesting to flip the situation around. Yahoo could complain that its thousands of categories should be listed within appropriate areas at LookSmart, Snap, the Open Directory. To paraphrase Kurnit's words, search engine results "would be corrupt" if they failed to list Yahoo categories in the top 10 results on most queries.

Indeed, its arguable that since Yahoo is, using Kurnit's words again, "an objective search service representing all content to be found on the net," then any search engine would benefit its users by promoting Yahoo's listings. And since About.com has positioned itself more strongly as a web-wide search resource for users over the past year, then wouldn't it be fair for Yahoo to complain that no links to their site show up in About.com's top search results? Yes, you will find links to Yahoo once you actually arrive within a particular About.com site -- but they aren't given any special placement or promotion in the way Kurnit seems to feel his sites deserve.

The reality is search services compete with each other, and large scale cross linking between them simply doesn't happen, just as two television networks don't share programming.

Yes, Yahoo has had its listing troubles, but I would say they are much less so than in the past. Yes, Yahoo is still perceived by many as a semi-official guide to the entire web, giving it a special obligation to be representative. But the rise of the Open Directory is taking over some of that role from Yahoo. As the Open Directory is available for anyone to use, competitive issues about cross linking are less of a concern.

Overall, I got the impression that Kurnit was in some type of time warp. If anything, Yahoo seems to have done a lot to promote and benefit About.com, even despite a prominent banner campaign that mocked them. That's not just being fair; it's more than fair.

Yahoo accused of blocking rivals
ZDNet, March 1, 2000
http://www.zdnet.com/zdnn/stories/news/0,4586,2453888,00.html

Coverage of Kurnit's recent comments regarding Yahoo.

About.com Upset over Lack of Yahoo Listings
InternetNews.com, March 1, 2000
http://www.internetnews.com/bus-news/article/0,1087,3_313721,00.html

More coverage of Kurnit's complaints.

Why GuruNet is a Natural Born Killer
AnchorDesk: Berst Alert, March 2, 2000
http://www.zdnet.com/anchordesk/story/story_4521.html

Shows how Kurnit's comments are taken as a fact and used for slamming Yahoo in this incredibly influential column.

DejaNews, Mining Company Make Significant Relaunches
The Search Engine Report, June 2, 1999
http://searchenginewatch.com/sereport/99/06-deja.html

Explains how and why the Mining Co. became About.com

Mining Co. Ads Play Up Yahoo Exclusion
The Search Engine Report, July 1, 1998
http://searchenginewatch.com/sereport/98/07-miningco.html

See how About.com turned the failure to be listed well on Yahoo into an ad campaign.

Mining Company Illustrates Yahoo Limits
The Search Engine Report, Jan. 9, 1998
http://searchenginewatch.com/sereport/98/01-miningco.html

Explains both sides in the old dispute over listings.

====================

Search Sites Springing Up

An entire crop of new search resources has been springing up over the past few months. Here's a short guide to various new, updated and existing sites you might like to check out.

Pandia Search Central
http://www.pandia.com/

Here you'll find an extensive "Goalgetter" search tutorial, a guide to search engines and search resources, "Q-cards" with searching tips for major search engines, plus the ability to search Pandia's version of the Open Directory or to meta search.

Traffick
http://www.traffick.com/

Traffick covers all aspects of portals, including free email offerings, personalization features, and home page building services. However, it also provides search coverage -- in fact, it has concentrated on this almost exclusively, of late. A current six part series looks at Ask Jeeves, Go Guides & The Open Directory, meta search and other topics. FYI, this site was formerly known as PortalHub.com.

SearchIQ
http:// www.searchiq.com/

You'll find search engine reviews, tutorials and a directory of specialty search engines here.

Search Engine Showdown
http://www.searchengineshowdown.com/

Greg Notess is a search expert who has been covering the field for ages, but he recently moved his Search Engine Showdown material to its own domain, making it easier to find. In particular, Notess does long-standing surveys on search engine sizes and dead links, as well as providing tutorials and noting search "inconsistencies" for some search engines -- when they don't operate the way they are supposed to.

About.com Web Search Guide
http://websearch.about.com/

The Web Search Guide isn't new, but I'd be remiss in not mentioning it with these others. Chris Sherman, who runs the guide, has been covering the search space for ages. You'll find regular reviews, columns and collections of resources here.

ResearchBuzz
http://www.researchbuzz.com/

Another on the must include list, Tara Calishain's site provides great coverage of news and opinion on search and research tools.

SpiderHunter.com
http://www.spiderhunter.com/

A new site with a huge collection of resources devoted to tracking spiders. You can pretend to be a spider, view a collection of spiders by name and IP addresses, read tutorial information and more.

Search Engine Watch
http://searchenginewatch.com/

No -- I haven't lost my mind :) As a newsletter subscriber, you already know about the Search Engine Watch site, where I provide coverage, tips, resources and information about search engines. But sometimes articles get forwarded to non-subscribers who may not have been to the site. If that's you, be sure to come by.

====================

Wild About WAP

There's been an explosion of interest in WAP, or Wireless Application Protocol, which allows you to create web pages that can be viewed on wireless devices like cell phones or within handheld computers like the Palm (that new color version is beckoning to me!). Along with this, a number of WAP search engines have arrived upon the scenes.

Why use a WAP search engine? First, using an ordinary search engine through a wireless device may not be possible or inconvenient. WAP search engines should be designed for low-bandwidth and small screen viewing. More importantly, an ordinary search engine is going to direct you to normal web pages, which again aren't designed for handheld devices. A WAP search engine will direct you to WAP pages, all which are specifically meant for your device. I may take a closer look at WAP search engines in the future, but in the meantime, you can find a list via the first URL below. And I'll let you know when the Search Engine Report can be viewed in WAP format, probably in about a month or so.

WAP Search Engines
http://searchenginewatch.com/links/Specialty_Search_Engines/WAP_Search_Engines/

A new category I've created within Search Links that lists other WAP search engines.

FAST WAP Search
http://wap.fast.no/

Just launched, it should provide comprehensive coverage of WAP content.

Companies fight over wireless users
News.com, Feb. 18, 2000
http://news.cnet.com/news/0-1004-200-1553312.html

The portal wars are moving over to wireless.

Setting Net on its ear
Boston Globe, Feb. 14, 2000
http://www.boston.com/dailyglobe2/045/business/Setting_Net_on_its_ear+.shtml

A look at what we want via wireless, and how voice recognition may help.

====================

Atomz Finds Your Flash

Atomz.com, which provides a software-free site search solution, recently announced that it could now index the text contained within Flash files. If you have lots of Flash content and need a solution for searching your site, Atomz.com would be worth checking out. Unfortunately, none of the web wide search engines index Flash content, so your copy within Flash files still remains invisible to them.

Atomz.com
http://www.atomz.com/

====================

On My Radar Screen

I'd love to get to everything, but there are only 26 hours in my work day. That's why I've decided to add a new Radar Screen section. In it, I'll list sites that seem worth a look and which I may feature in future newsletters.

FlySwat
http://www.flyswat.com/

Now out in its second release, FlySwat offers a great way to find related information when viewing a web page or other documents. I've been playing with it and find it a great tool -- expect a longer review on how it works in the future.

Clip2
http://www.clip2.com/

A new service that allows users to organize links into guides. It's much more than a bookmark-based search engine. Again, expect a review of how it works in the near future.

SpeechBot
http://speechbot.research.compaq.com/

This is a great service that lets you search through the audio files of popular US radio programs. Enter a subject, and you'll be shown matching programs and even be taken to the exact points in the shows where the subject is being discussed. I'll tell you how it works next time -- meanwhile, try it today.

GroupFire
http://www.groupfire.com/

A new bookmark-based search engine backed by Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center.

======================
Search Engine Articles
======================

Search Engine Inconsistencies
Online, March 2000
http://www.onlineinc.com/onlinemag/OL2000/net3.html

Looks at problems with page counts and processing search commands at some search engines.

Adding Search to Your Site
WebMonkey, March 1, 2000
http://hotwired.lycos.com/webmonkey/00/09/index2a.html

Excellent guide to adding search to your web site without having to install software, written by site search maven Avi Rappoport.

You said what?!
Salon, Feb. 25, 2000
http://salon.com/tech/feature/2000/02/25/chatscan/

A look at a live chat search service that's in development, with a slant on privacy concerns it may raise.

What Is Hip? Not GoHip.com
Wired, Feb. 25, 2000
http://www.wired.com/news/business/0,1367,34544,00.html

According to an Internet security firm, the GoHip search engine is distributing an ActiveX control that modifies your PC, including causing it to promote GoHip in your outgoing email.

Want to be a Millionaire?
About.com Web Search Guide, Feb. 18, 2000
http://websearch.about.com/internet/websearch/library/weekly/aa021500a.htm

Chris Sherman plays "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" with some twists on several major search engines. No one wins a million, but Go and AltaVista get pretty close.

Go backs down on logo battle
ZDNet, Feb. 18, 2000
http://www.zdnet.com/zdnn/stories/news/0,4586,2440821,00.html

Brief on Go changing its logo to please GoTo.

Ask Jeeves scuttles spin-off plans
News.com, February 17, 2000
http://news.cnet.com/news/0-1005-200-1553365.html

Ask Jeeves says no to a separate search site to serve up sex-related answers.

Web Search Turns Up 1M
New York Daily News, Feb. 16, 2000
http://www.nydailynews.com/2000-02-16/News_and_Views/Media_and_Business/a-56991.asp

iWon, which I featured last month, makes a Manhattan man a millionaire for using its service.

Major Sites Hawking Minor's Private
SatireWire, Feb. 14, 2000
http://www.satirewire.com/news/021400/satire-privates.html

A satirical piece that pokes fun at how major search sites take any terms we give them and automatically suggest that we buy books or do other things on our search topic, even if it makes no sense. Thanks to reader Andrew Marlatt, for catching this one.

Jeeves settles dispute
The Independent, Feb. 13, 2000
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/Business/Inside_Business/2000-02/jeeves130200.shtml

The estate of P.G. Wodehouse apparently no longer has any problem with the use of the author's character by Ask Jeeves.

A year after big furor, a Lycos lovefest
Boston Globe, Feb. 11, 2000
http://www.boston.com/dailyglobe2/042/business/A_year_after_big_furor_a_Lycos_lovefest+.shtml

A look at high demand for Lycos shares, a year after the collapse of the proposed Lycos/USA Networks merger.

FBI vows to combat Net terrorism
News.com, Feb. 9, 2000
http://news.cnet.com/news/0-1007-201-1545383-0.html

In case you somehow missed the news of the denial of service hacks that hit Yahoo and other major sites, News.com offers a nice round up.

Which search engine can make you a millionaire?
Seattle Times, Feb. 6, 2000
http://www.seattletimes.com/news/technology/html98/paul_20000206.html

Another "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" test, but unfortunately, there's no recap to show which search engine did the best overall.

=========================
My Reading List
=========================

Thanks this month to items spotted in....

ResearchBuzz
http://www.researchbuzz.com/

Search Engine Guide Newsletter
http://www.searchengineguide.com/

The Scout Report
http://scout.cs.wisc.edu/report/sr/current/

Abondance (French Language)
http://www.abondance.com/actu/semaine.html

Web Digest For Marketers
http://wdfm.com/

JimWorld Gazette
http://www.jimworld.com/

Yahoo Picks
http://www.yahoo.com/picks/

=========================
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