In This Issue
Search Engine Watch News
For most of this year, I've generally had a reader Q&A article to coincide with when the mid-month newsletter goes out. Due to some stories I've been working on for later this week, I ran short of time. However, I will still be looking to do an edition of this for November. I'll provide a link to it in the next newsletter.
If you're thinking about attending the Search Engine Strategies in Chicago conference next month, act soon! The last day to receive an early bird discount on registration is next Tuesday.
The conference runs from December 9-11. The show features the best sessions from our San Jose event earlier this year plus new sessions including Auditing Paid Listings, SEM En EspaÑol, Search Engines & Affiliates, Getting Local, Click & Convert and Outsourcing SEM.
The conference features speakers from major search engines, including Ask Jeeves, Google, Inktomi, LookSmart, Overture and Yahoo, as well as search engine marketers sharing their experiences and tips.
The conference web site provides full session descriptions, and there's a special Session Itineraries page to guide you on what to attend, whether you are interested in free/organic listings, search engine advertising, are new to search engine marketing or experienced. To learn more or sign-up, call (203) 662-2857 or visit the URL below.
Search Engine Strategies Chicago
Many dates for other Search Engine Strategies events next year have also been announced. More information can be found via the URL below.
Search Engine Strategies
Search Engine Articles
By Danny Sullivan
The US White House & Blocking Search Engines
SearchDay, Nov. 6, 2003
At the end of last month, controversy erupted over the US White House preventing portions of its web site from being indexed by search engines. Was the White House doing this as a means to rewrite history unnoticed, or was it an innocent mistake? Looks at blocking pages from search engines and why some "partially indexed" pages at Google may still have descriptions.
Here's a recap of recent articles from Search Engine Watch's daily SearchDay newsletter:
Search Engines and Web Server Issues
SearchDay, Nov. 18, 2003
What is the best way to move a site from one server to another without affecting search engine visibility? After a site redesign, how can you communicate to the search engines that old URLs should be redirected to new URLs without affecting positioning? A panel of experts addressed these and other server-specific issues.
Hanging Out with the Search Gurus at the FreePint Bar
SearchDay, Nov. 17, 2003
Stumped by a tough web search question? Want some help from some of the world's best information professionals? Then sidle on up to the FreePint Bar.
Search Engine Forums Spotlight
SearchDay, Nov. 14, 2003
Links to this week's topics from search engine forums across the web: MSN Keywords? - Promoting An Ecommerce Site? - Make Your Competitors Go Belly Up With Overture - Wordtracker? - Distributed Directories on the Way? - Outsourcing... Any Implications for SEOs? - More Mozilla Firebird Search Plugins Found - Top 10 Rankings In 10 Days?!, How is it possible? - Blocking PDF Files from Being Indexed - Hi, I'm the Mooter CEO
Local Search Part 4: Major Search Engines On Yellow Pages
SearchDay, Nov. 13, 2003
Local search is the current hot topic in the industry, but has it really arrived? Executives from Yahoo, AOL, LookSmart, Terra Lycos and Muller Medien debate the hype vs. reality of local search.
Who Runs the .GOV and .EDU Domains?
SearchDay, Nov. 12, 2003
Unlike most other top-level domains, .gov and .edu are restricted to government and educational institutions. Who's in charge of these protected domains?
The Art of Advanced Link Building
SearchDay, Nov. 11, 2003
Advanced link building strategies are critical for achieving high rankings in search engines, according to two noted experts and representatives from Google and Teoma.
Want to receive SearchDay? Sign-up for the free daily newsletter from Search Engine Watch via the link below:
Search Engine Articles
Microsoft Tests Answer to Google News
InternetNews.com, Nov. 18, 2003
MSN Newsbot is seeking out news content for the UK, France, Italy and Spain. The automated service is akin to how Google News operates. Long-time news search veteran Moreover is also involved with the project. While this is currently underway in Europe, expect that it will move to the US. MSN has recently done much testing on its European sites, especially the UK site, as precursor to US moves.
Support for third player as Yahoo drops Espotting
NewMediaAge, Nov. 18, 2003
Media buyers in the UK say they want Espotting to survive the loss of its Yahoo distribution, in order to ensure there's competition in the market. Oddly, however, it's hard to see what competition this is creating. Since Overture, Google and Espotting don't overlap in distribution, there's not much for them to compete about. If you want reach, you buy all three -- and given their bid-for-placement models, the competition on pricing is really against other media buyers.
Review of new search engine designed to bring back content for investors on publicly traded companies around the world.
An SEO Copywriting Makeover Turning "Not" Into "Hot" Part 1 of 2
SearchEngineGuide.com, Nov. 17, 2003
Beginning of a case study about turning copy into content that pleases search engines and humans.
Nice tip here on how to tell a web site that you are the Google spider (or potentially, any other spider). However, I doubt this lets you interact with a site in the way that the Google spider will. Just saying you are Google does nothing to cause your browser to act the way Google's crawler actually does, any more than saying to someone that you are a famous movie star will convince someone of the case. The tip is mainly useful if you want to see content that's targeted at a particular spider through the use of user agent name. For sites that use IP targeting, this won't help.
Affiliates need not be your enemy, when it comes to search engine marketing. For one thing, your affiliates can effectively let you dominate paid listing spots. The major providers generally allow a company to have only one paid listing, but they make no restrictions on how many affiliate listings a company can gain. In short, it's an end run around the rule. That's to the advertiser's and search engine's benefit, but it's also something I expect will change. That's because it's a bad user experience. Other affiliate issues are also explored.
Shopping.com kicks off a TV ad campaign
InternetRetailer.com, Nov. 17, 2003
Shopping.com has launched a TV campaign to promote its shopping search engine.
Yahoo back in X-rated business
San Francisco Chronicle, Nov. 17, 2003
Yahoo pulled adult banner ads in 2001, but it's back to selling porn ads return through its ownership of Overture. Porn paid listings don't appear on Yahoo, but they do appear (as they long have done) on the now-Yahoo-owned sites of AllTheWeb and AltaVista. Of course, Yahoo has always had its own directory of adult web sites. Despite the ban on banner ads sales, it always continued to sell listings in its directory to adult web sites at a premium rate.
Gates: No Talk To Buy Google
USA Today, No. 17, 2003
Microsoft chairman Bill Gates says his company has never talked with Google about buying that company.
Pre-IPO Google Dossier: An Experiment in Opinion Mining
K-Praxis, Nov. 17, 2003
A wide-ranging look at various opinions that have been expressed about Google. Unfortunately, while sources are noted generally at the beginning, some individual statements are not attributed. In some cases, this would have been helpful for those wanting to do follow-up research.
The Gold In Google's IPO Goes To...
BusinessWeek, Nov. 17, 2003
Sure, Google will make a lot of money when it goes public. But how much will those with big stakes in the company make. This article provides a look at what slice of Google various people own. The founders each are said to have at least 15 percent each. That means they could be looking at being worth up to $3 billion a piece. The companies that backed Google with early investment money might see a 20,000 percent return. Competitor Yahoo has a small stake in Google -- but small is relative. That stake could be worth up to $300 million, more than what Yahoo's expected to make in profit this year.
Summarizes three good research articles worth reading about web search issues.
Last year, there was lots of speculation on how much money Google earns. Now the focus has shifted to how revenue growth may slow. All of this despite the fact that the company has never published any revenue figures at all. Despite the headline, this is really about the fact that the paid listings market is likely to slow in terms of growth. I have no doubt it will, but no one can say how much. The introduction of new products, the almost certain rise in cost-per-click, the expansion of paid listing distribution -- all are factors that may keep growth strong.
Self-Funding Search Engine Marketing
ClickZ, Nov. 14, 2003
In short, if your ads generate more profit than they cost, you can afford to do much more. A look at strategies to determine if you're in self-funding mode and how to do even better.
Some Google advertisers remain upset at the expanded broad matching that the service introduced recently. Some find the broad matches catch terms they aren't interested in, making them spend more time to manually exclude some terms. Others feel that broad matching is bringing larger advertisers into keyword niches that previously were ignored, making the cost for smaller businesses more expensive.
By the way, Overture does display bid prices. Do a search. After the results appear, select the View Advertisers Max Bids link at the top left of the page. Enter the code in the window that appears. Now you can see prices.
It's a real kludge to do this with Google. If you set up an AdWords account, you can then go in, add a keyword and use the Estimate Traffic option. Then keep upping the bid until you get into a position you want. That's the price -- or at least an estimate for a brand new ad on Google that lacks any clickthrough history.
Also, Overture has indeed rolled out its own broad matching tools. I mentioned these in the mid-August newsletter, when they debuted.
In the new phrase match, "running shoes" would match any search that contains those exact words, in that exact order -- such as "discount running shoes" or "nike running shoes" In broad match, "running shoes" would match any search that contains those words, regardless of order -- such as "discount running shoes" or "good shoes for running races" or "reviews of popular running shoes."
Why aren't people complaining about Overture's broad matching? They don't happen by default, so many people aren't impacted. In addition, those who do choose them don't trump others in the old system. For example, your ad using either of the new options will only appear after ALL standard matches. So a person who pays $0.05 to come up for "discount running shoes" as a standard match will beat a person who wants to come up for any search involving the words "running shoes" and is willing to pay much more. (permalink to this item)
ClickZ, Nov. 14, 2003
Back in 2001, I wrote an article called Being Search Boxed To Death (http://searchenginewatch.com/sereport/article.php/2163491), which examined why search engines would need to come up with a smart way for one box to magically understand what type of data should be used to generate results.
I'm going to revisit this concept in a new article shortly, using a new metaphor I call "invisible tabs." That because tabs -- which aren't new but instead a resurrected concept -- continue to be ignored by users. To be successful, search engines themselves need to invisibly click on the right tab for the user, behind the scenes.
In the meantime, this article offers some recent industry comments about search engines realizing they need to make further moves toward making the right guesses.
By the way, SLI Systems isn't doing anything new. Rather, the company's getting another chance at personalized search based on clickthrough tracking after an original attempt under the GlobalBrain name with Snap/NBCi back in 1999 failed to go far (http://searchenginewatch.com/sereport/article.php/2167341). (permalink to this item)
Evite Redesign Fosters Pay-Per-Click Ads
InternetNews.com, Nov. 13, 2003
Evite gets paid local listings from sister site CitySearch.
Espotting wins a deal to provide paid listings to the UK's ITV television network's web sites.
This article and the linked following part do a good job of explaining simply how a search engine uses an inverted index to recover documents.
Keyword Search Emerges As Dominant Online Ad Format
MediaDailyNews, Nov. 12, 2003
I remember not that long ago when online advertising spend reports would come out, I'd ask those issuing them what portion was related to search engine marketing. The silence, as they say, was deafening. It wasn't that spend didn't happen. Instead, it was that no one bothered to count.
Want to revisit those bad old days of search being ignored? Then re-read my article from August 2001, Search Engine Marketing Finally Getting Respect, http://searchenginewatch.com/sereport/article.php/2164061.
The good news is, they're counting now. The just released IAB Internet Advertising Revenue Report found that "keyword search," which apparently means spending on paid placement and probably paid inclusion listings, made up 31 percent of all internet advertising spending in the second quarter of this year, up from 9 percent for the same period last year. It's not clear if money spent to gain organic or "free" search engine listings is counted in this. I suspect not -- and arguably, that type of spend might be counted as a PR effort.
Not only the search spend a record, but it also positions search engine marketing as the dominant online advertising format. Banners, the second most popular form, made up 22 percent of spending. Rich media, which were once seen as the hot future for online ads, came in many positions later at 6 percent. You can read the report yourself here: http://www.iab.net/resources/ad_revenue.asp (permalink to this item)
SEO at the Expense of Good Copy -- No Way!
High Rankings Advisor Newsletter, Nov. 11, 2003
Good copy does not mean that you have to sacrifice search engine positions, Jill Whalen explains.
Andrew Goodman lets rip about junk traffic produced by some partners of paid listings providers, praises conversion of those seeing Google's AdSense listings on some partners but is amazed at some of the other sites that also get included as part of the AdSense program.
This letter to The Inquirer is a great illustration of why looking at search engine count figures is a terrible way to compare services.
The author believes Microsoft wants Google in order to control the flow of information and force everyone to buy its products. As proof, he notes how a search for "linux windows" brought up only 18 matches at Microsoft's MSN Search, compared to 14 million matches from Google.
What really happened is that MSN reported that it had 18 human compiled matches. If the author had kept going, he'd have come to the material MSN gets from crawling the web. Provided by Inktomi, this yielded a further 9 million matches.
So, 9 million pages from MSN verses 14 million claimed by Google's count. A gap, but hardly "censorship," as the article claims. Furthermore, my check of Google last week came up with 12 million matches, closing the gap further.
In addition, if you were actually able to browse through all 12 million Google matches, you'd discover that some of these pages aren't actually listed by default because they are near duplicates of other listings.
To see this in action, click here. You'll see that at result 829, Google responds with:
"In order to show you the most relevant results, we have omitted some entries very similar to the 829 already displayed. If you like, you can repeat the search with the omitted results included."
Now repeat the search, and you'll see the count drops to 6 million matches. Suddenly, Google is showing less that MSN!
In short, beware anyone who uses search engine count figures to try and prove points. Counts are slippery creatures, to say the least.
The article more fairly criticizes that in a search for "linux," the third listing promotes MSN's own content -- and in turn is a bad link. The fourth listing highlights Microsoft alternatives to Linux.
These links are all within the MSN's Featured Sites area, which MSN describes as:
"Featured Sites are links that MSN Search editors believe are likely to be particularly relevant and useful."
In this case, the results fail to live up to that claim. However, the remaining material on the page, the Web Directory listings, looked very useful on the topic.
Overall, using these two examples to claim Microsoft wants Google to force us to buy Microsoft software is weak, to say the least. Microsoft wants to build its own search engine not to control information but because search is worth millions of dollars in advertising. (permalink to this item)
Microsoft's Internet Search Push Worries Google, Yahoo
Dow Jones, Nov. 10. 2003
Some nice color here of Microsoft making the decision to get serious about search back in February, with the sign-off going up to Bill Gates.
Online pharmacies say they want search advertising providers to crack down on sites they say let people purchase drugs without a prescription. They want only distributors certified by an industry organization to be allowed to advertise -- currently, this includes 14 online pharmacies.
The FTC also suggests that search engines might find themselves liable if someone illegally purchases drugs from a company they let advertise. That suggests search engines might find themselves liable for a range of other products that might be sold illegally, underscoring how complicated search marketing is getting, as it matures.
This action, of course, will have no impact on companies getting listed for free in crawler-based listings. Ironically, while the ads might be policed, the results most people gravitate to would continue. Try a search at Google for "vicodin without prescription," and this is easily illustrated: http://www.google.com/search?q=vicodin+without+prescription
The Wall Street Journal also has a similar article about this with good details, from the end of last month:
In a somewhat related matter, I've been working on a story about a new policy at Overture insisting that anyone selling wine -- or possibly anyone linking to a wine site -- needs to be certified to advertise with the company. (see http://www.content.overture.com/d/USm/about/advertisers/relevancy.jhtml#13)
I'll come back to this and let you know more. So far, I haven't gotten a good answer about why Overture felt it needed to add the program or why it is only being aimed at wine merchants, rather than anyone selling alcohol. (permalink to this item)
SEO Confusion: Keywords by Page or Site?
High Rankings Advisor, Nov. 10, 2003
With crawler listings, each page stands on its own merits, apart from others in your site.
Search engine advertising is different than search engine optimization -- with in turn is different from other types of listings you might obtain. A rundown on major types of listings out there.
NBC has cut a new deal with Overture to place paid listings on NBC.com and BravoTV.com. The company is also to use technology from SLI to refine results and present related searches links. SLI's technology used to do the same thing back when NBCi operated as a portal. The technology was previously sold by GlobalBrain to NBCi. SLI, involving the same principals from GlobalBrain, bought the technology back.
A look at changes happening among search engine marketing companies, how new services are being added and how companies are shaping themselves to adjust to new offerings from search engines -- including search engines positioning themselves as SEM companies.
Memories are short. In this article, we learn that the internet chronology is divided into BG (before Google) and AG. As I've written many times before, Google deserves a huge amount of credit for raising the state of search quality. But you can add some more periods of history.
How about BY, which is Before Yahoo? Before Yahoo (early 1994), locating things on the web was very difficult. The service still remains a recognizable search brand today because of the great assistance is added in finding things. Then there's BA, for Before AltaVista. When that service burst onto the scene fully in 1996, many people reacted just as they reacted to Google, praising AltaVista for helping them make sense of the web in an entirely new way.
Some fear Microsoft's push into search, as if that will be the ruination of everything. Not me. The more strong players we have, the better.
Ask Jeeves chief says new exec team ready for future
Contra Costa Times, Nov. 9, 2003
Q&A with Ask Jeeves president and future CEO Steve Berkowitz, covering staying profitable, growing the company, trying to gain market share from the big four: Google, Yahoo, AOL and MSN, examining search behavior to provide better search results and other topics.
Case In Point: What You Need To Know About Link Popularity
Search Engine Guide, Nov. 7, 2003
Looking to build links? Debra O'Neil-Mastaler offers some advice
The SEM Shakeout: Are You Ready?
ClickZ, Nov. 7, 2003
As more are attracted to search marketing, competition and prices are growing. Kevin Lee offers tips to ensure you stay ahead in the game.
The searchers: Google Japan
Japan Today, Nov. 7, 2003
A look at Google's activities in Japan.
Pandia provides an overview of features in the new Google Deskbar, especially the ability to use keyboard shortcuts to search and reasons why you may want search outside your browser.
Google Plops Its Search on the Desktop
InternetNews.com, Nov. 6, 2003
Has comments from me about Google's move from the browser and onto the desktop.
Scroll past the long intro to the meat of the story: Google is apparently experimenting with indexing conversations happening on Internet Relay Chat servers.
Shopping search engines are a great idea -- but if you have concerns over paid content in ordinary search engines, you might be shocked to learn that paid participation is even stronger and less obvious in the shopping space. This review found a lack of disclosure with some and explores the various mechanisms that merchants pay to be involved.
Defending Organic Search: The Other Side of the Comscore IAB Study
SearchEnginePosition.com, Nov. 6, 2003
Looks at a recent study on paid search listings and defends what seem to be grim figures for clickthrough and conversion of free "organic" listings.
Down the Pub with : Brett Tabke WebmasterWorld
SearchEngineBlog.com, November 2003
Q&A with WebmasterWorld.com founder Brett Tabke, on developments with the increasingly popular site for search engine and webmaster-related news and the industry in general.
After monitoring Google News for nearly a year, Newsknife determines it's very good, but human compiled news sites still have an edge.
Schmoozing with the Enemy
FastCompany, November 2003
For two years running, Google's now hosted a "Google Dance," an off-site party for attendees of the Search Engine Strategies conference when held in California. This color piece looks at the event and how Google is reaching out to entice potential advertisers but pokes fun that some "bad guys" might be in attendance, as well.
Fair enough, but plenty of search engine marketers are pretty sick and tired of being cast as some type of "enemy." No one suggests that most PR professionals are the "enemy" of the media. Indeed, many reporters can find a good PR person very useful in constructing stories. The same is true with search engines.
A good search engine marketer understands there are paid ways and non-paid ways to get good coverage for their clients. And there are indeed plenty of good marketers who go after the unpaid ways that are acceptable and don't hurt search engine relevancy.
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