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The Search Engine Update, March 15, 2001, Number 97

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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

+ Conference News
+ AltaVista Planning Submit "Puzzle"
+ New Non-ICANN Domains Available, But Be Cautious
-- (full story online, link provided)
+ Inktomi Launches New Paid Inclusion Program, Search Improvements
+ Moreover Powers AltaVista, NBCi News Search
-- (full story online, link provided)
+ Go.com Becomes GoTo
-- (full story online, link provided)
+ Yahoo Loses CEO & Other Search Financial News
-- (full story online, link provided)
+ Espotting Gains Paid Links Distribution
+ Bits & Pieces
-- Yahoo Promotes Shopping
-- Excite's "Zoom In" Live
+ Interesting Search Engine Articles
+ List Info (Subscribing/Unsubscribing)

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Hello Everyone--

Until now, Search Engine Watch has essentially been a one person operation (me), in terms of editorial content. However, the amount of search engine-related news has continued to increase, which is why I'm glad to welcome aboard Chris Sherman as Search Engine Watch's new associate editor.

Since 1998, Chris has done an outstanding job as the Web Search Guide for About.com, so he's no stranger to search engines. In particular, Chris has developed an expertise in invisible or deep web issues and specialty search tools.

Chris will be taking on a new, daily newsletter about search engines that will be offered from Search Engine Watch in the very near future. This newsletter will provide searching tips, looks at new search tools and keep you updated with breaking headlines about search engines. We'll let you know, when it is ready for sign-ups!

Of course, I'll continue to be working as I always have on the twice-monthly newsletter that you currently receive, as well as producing articles throughout the site.

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Conference News

It's next week! Search Engine Strategies is coming to Boston on March 20 and 21. Day 1 is "Promoters Day," which features experts on search engine marketing issues, roundtables on advanced search engine optimization issues and panels with representatives from various major search engines themselves. Day 2 is "Searchers Day," which features two tracks designed to help Internet searchers better understand how to use the search tools available to them. There is also a special promoters track that repeats the advanced roundtables held on Day 1.

Sponsorship and exhibiting opportunities are still available, and you can contact Frank Fazio Jr, [email protected], for more information. If you are an accredited member of the press interested in attending, please contact Mary Ann Boland at [email protected].

Search companies and services confirmed to speak include About.com, AltaVista, Ask Jeeves, Atomz, CompletePlanet, EasyAsk, Excite, FAST, Google, GoTo, Inktomi, Intelliseek, iPhrase, iWon, LookSmart, Lycos, Moreover, MSN Search, Netscape/The Open Directory, Northern Light, Oingo, Quiver and Sandy Bay.

You can attend either day of interest or receive a substantial discount to attend both. More details and agenda can be found below.

Search Engine Strategies: Boston 2001
http://seminars.internet.com/sew/boston01/

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AltaVista Planning Submit "Puzzle"

Word comes from AltaVista that the Add URL page is having a "puzzle" introduced this week to make it more difficult for automated submission tools to use it. AltaVista estimates that 90 percent of the submissions it receives are spam, primarily coming from submit robots.

As always, this statistic does not mean that AltaVista considers 90 percent of those who submit to be spammers. Rather, it's generally that a relatively small number of people generate a huge number of low-quality submissions.

When the new system goes live, visiting the Add URL page will generate a unique submission code for you to use. This will need to be entered along with up to five URLs that you wish to submit. Afterwards, a confirmation will appear.

It's not clear whether you will be prevented from submitting more than five URLs per day, per site, which has been AltaVista's normal limit. I'm waiting for the new service to actually go live, then I'll follow up with more details from AltaVista directly.

AltaVista Add URL Page
http://www.altavista.com/cgi-bin/query?pg=addurl

Use AltaVista Search Index: Add or Remove a Page box to submit to the crawler. Of course, this may change when the new system is posted.

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New Non-ICANN Domains Available, But Be Cautious

New.net has rolled out 20 new top level domains, such as .xxx and .tech. However, these domains have not been approved by ICANN, so they will not work unless you've either configured your browser to work with them or your network connection has been configured for you. Consequently, they are also likely to pose problems for search engines spiders.

I'm following up to bring you the official word from the various major search engines for the next newsletter, as well as more information from New.net itself. In the meantime, I'd urge caution. If you like the idea of getting some of the new names, which go for $25 per year, feel free to register them now. However, be aware that it seem unlikely that any search engine other than Excite will be able to spider your site under these names, at the moment.

For example, let's say you registered "shoes.shop," one of the possible domains available. You then set up a web site and resolve the domain name to it. Since your browser will have the New.net plug-in, you assume anyone can reach the site that way. Given this, you then submit your home page to various search engine spiders.

Just like your browser, the spiders will only find your site if they've been configured properly or the search engine's internal network has been adjusted to use them. It's virtually certain that none of them have, yet.

An alternative is that they might find your site if they travel along a network that automatically resolves these new names. For example, Excite@Home's broadband subscribers apparently can now reach these domains without any special browser configuration, because Excite@Home already resolves them automatically.

It's for this reason that the Excite spider may be able to resolve the names. One would assume that it travels along Excite@Home's network and so might be able to find these sites automatically.

New.net will provide you with an alternative "normal" domain name for your site, which is simply a subdomain of New.net. For instance, in our example of "shoes.shop," you would also be given "shoes.shop.new.net" as a domain you could use. If you have a brand new site, then you could resolve both names to the same web server. If you submit the normal name, search engine spiders would find your site, while the alternative name would be available for those seeking you directly through the shorter address.

Alternatively, you could simply resolve the new domain name to an existing site with a normal domain name and ignore the additional one New.net provides. In my mind, this is a better solution. That's because the subdomain New.net provides is something the company could change or take away, at any time. In contrast, a normal domain name you register is always in your control.

In short, consider the new names at the moment as an alternative way that people might find your existing web site, but don't think of them as a replacement for having a "normal' domain name. Also see the "Longer Domain Names Article" below for more advice on dealing with multiple domains.

New.net
http://www.new.net/

New.net: Getting Started
http://www.new.net/help_getting_started.tp

Many basic questions on the names are answered here.

New.net: FAQ
http://www.new.net/help_faq.tp

More background on the new domain names.

idealab! Funds Launch of Domain Registry New.net
LA.internet.com, March 5, 2001
http://la.internet.com/news/article/0,2325,5321_705621,00.html

More about New.net and its plans.

New.net Defies Domain System
Wired, March 5, 2001
http://www.wired.com/news/business/0,1367,42146,00.html

Another story with more about New.net.

MP3.com Joins Domain Scheme
Wired, March 6, 2001
http://www.wirednews.com/news/business/0,1367,42201,00.html

Covers different partners joining up with New.net, including MP3.com -- or will it be MP3.mp3, soon?

VeriSign giving up .org names
AP, March 2001
http://www.infobeat.com/cgi-bin/WebObjects/IBFrontEnd.woa/wa/fullStory?article=406288396

The .org ending used to mean non profit organization, but that meaning was lost as Network Solutions when selling .org names to anyone who wanted them. Now Network Solutions-owner VeriSign has agreed to give up its control over this particular domain in exchange for more rights over .com. If the agreement is approved, one provision calls for .org to again be only for use by non-profit organizations. When this would happen and what would happen to existing .org holders remains to be determined.

ICANN
http://www.icann.org/

As usual, ICANN fails to offer any guidance on an important development with the domain name system. An official stance or advice on the New.net service is nowhere to be found. At least there is a link to an FTC warning about preregistering the "official" new domain names that are still in the works at ICANN.

Longer Domain Names Arrive
The Search Engine Update, Jan. 4, 2000
http://searchenginewatch.com/subscribers/articles/0001-domains.html

An in-depth look at the longer domain names introduced last year, plus tips on managing multiple domains.

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

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Inktomi Launches New Paid Inclusion Program, Search Improvements

Inktomi has rolled out a new paid inclusion program for those wishing to list 1,000 pages or more with the service. In addition, Inktomi also unveiled yesterday new changes to how the service indexes and ranks web pages. I'll be bringing more detailed articles on both of these developments next issue, but here is a summary of key points:

"Index Connect" is a program that offers cost per click pricing to those wish to list 1,000 pages or more with Inktomi. In contrast, "Search Connect" is the paid inclusion program I've previously written about, offered by vendors such as Position Technologies, Network Solutions and WebGravity.

The self-serve Search Connect program charges a flat fee per page. The Index Connect program is designed for those with thousands of pages, to provide a more economical model of getting those included with Inktomi. Pricing is in the range of 5 cents to 50 cents (US) per click.

In other words, in Index Connect, you only pay for pages that actually generate traffic. Any large publisher will certainly want to consider this program, if they've already been thinking of using the Search Connect program.

In another twist to Index Connect, some provision to crawl non-profit sites free of charge have been enacted. KQED public broadcasting in San Francisco is the current poster child for this effort, and I'll bring more details to you on how others can apply.

Inktomi also publicly announced yesterday new changes to its search engine that it hopes will improve relevancy and coverage of the web. Among the key points I'll be expanding on are:

+ Human Modeling: Inktomi has been using an internal editorial staff to run massive numbers of searches and then select documents that they consider relevant. The company has then been tweaking its various relevancy controls to try and automatically match the human selections. In this way, the company hopes to model the human qualities of what's relevant into its ranking software.

+ Relevancy Tweaks: In addition to the human modeling, Inktomi is also doing automatic proximity searching (search for "george bush," and it will favor pages with those words in that order) and says it has improved its use of link analysis.

+ Blending: Inktomi has introduced blending into its search results, which currently means that with most of its US partners, you may get information from the Looksmart directory, the paid inclusion databases or the non-paid content that comes from crawling the web blended seamlessly in the same set of web results. This also means that Inktomi could include news content, shopping content or other specialty search results into the results set.

By the way, previously Inktomi had been using LookSmart descriptions if it found a site in its web index that was also within the LookSmart directory. Now, if you find this happening, it's indicative of Inktomi using the actual LookSmart listing and blending it in among its crawler-based finds.

+ Crawler Upgrades: Inktomi is now reading frame links, as is Excite, in a recent change. They join AltaVista, Google and Northern Light -- which means the only major crawler that doesn't understand frames is FAST. That's good and bad news. The good news is more of your pages will be found, but the bad news is that none of these services will restore your frames context. Consider the JavaScript workaround described on the frames page below. The crawler is also supposed to be more robust in retrying pages if there was a crawling problem.

Inktomi Index Connect
http://www.inktomi.com/products/search/connect.html

Network Solutions Launches Inktomi Paid Inclusion
The Search Engine Update, March 5, 2001
http://searchenginewatch.com/subscribers/articles/0103-inktomi.html

Discusses the Search Connect service offered by Network Solutions, along with offerings from Position Technologies and WebGravity.

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

WebGravity
http://www.webgravity.tv/

WebGravity is Inktomi's European-based paid inclusion partner, and the new site above features information in about their program in French, German, Italian, Spanish and English. Pricing is now also available in euros and UK pounds,


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