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The Search Engine Update - Number 172 - May 6, 2004

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In This Issue

+ Search Engine Watch News
+ Search Engine Strategies Toronto & London!
+ Search Engine Articles By Danny Sullivan
+ SearchDay Articles
+ Search Engine Articles
+ Search Engine Resources
+ About The Newsletter

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Search Engine Watch News
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Hello Everyone--

My month started off great with a real vacation. It ended terribly, with multiple trips to the hospital. My wife took ill last week, then my mother-in-law who came to help me with my two kids got ill this week.

I'll spare you more details. Suffice to say, everyone's getting better now -- but I'm terribly behind!

I did manage to churn through a recap of the past month's worth of search news. I just didn't have time to do any proofing before my twice-pushed-back newsletter deadline. So, please forgive the typos that I know are lurking!

You won't find a recap of post-Google IPO stories in this issue. There are so many that it would require a separate newsletter to run them all. Instead, I'm planning a recap piece to go live later. Watch SearchDay, and you'll get alerted to this.

I also have a recap in the works of the many post Gmail launch stories that have happened. Along with reviewing all the privacy concerns being raised, I'll talk about my own experiences with Gmail. I've been using it for about two weeks and have already used about 10 percent of my 1GB quota. I get a lot of mail -- particularly, a lot of spam. So far, it's searching through what's there just fine.

I know, I know, I keep promising that big series on paid inclusion. It's still lurking, but it simply isn't one of those things I could finish up while the health fireworks kept exploding around my head. I'm diligently working to get them finished and going next week.

There are a few other stories that popped up in April and this week that I haven't run in this issue. Instead, I've given them a slightly longer treatment as standalone reviews. These will run next week, either within SearchDay or mentioned as being live on the site within that newsletter.

Within the web site, I've updated:

The comScore Media Metrix Search Engine Ratings with figures showing top search engines in the United States for February 2004, the latest available.

The Who Powers Whom? Search Providers Chart and the Search Engine Results Chart to reflect the use of Yahoo data on its own sites (Yahoo, AltaVista, AllTheWeb) as well as MSN's new use of Yahoo data.

The Major Search Engines page to reflect all the recent acquisitions and changes of the past few months.

The Search Engines And Legal Issues, Meta Tag Lawsuits and the Search Engine Advertising with new material and links on those subjects.

Links to all these pages can be found on the site's What's New page here:
http://searchenginewatch.com/article.php/2148821

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Search Engine Strategies Toronto & London

Next week is our Search Engine Strategies show in Toronto. It will cover search engine marketing issues, just as with the SES shows held in the United States. However, the Toronto show will take a special Canadian look search engine marketing. It will have sessions specifically about Canada and involve local speakers. A full agenda and registration information can be found here:

Search Engine Strategies Toronto: May 11 & 12
http://www.searchenginestrategies.com/sew/toronto04/

In June, Search Engine Strategies comes to London. That show will have sessions about targeting the UK and Europe, as well as local speakers. Attend that, if you want to understand how to reach the UK and European audiences. The agenda has just been posted here:

Search Engine Strategies London: June 2 & 3
http://www.searchenginestrategies.com/sew/london04/

Search Engine Strategies returns to the United States from August 2-5 show in San Jose, to what's traditionally been our biggest show. Then October 27-28 sees the show come to Stockholm, and the year ends with a December 13-16 show in Chicago. Basic information about these shows can be found via the URL below:

Search Engine Strategies
http://searchenginestrategies.com/

Ads Come To Yahoo's Search Toolbar
Andy Beal has a nice screenshot and catch about how the Yahoo Companion toolbar now shows ads. I got the same thing when checking on my end. I hadn't noticed this before, for two reasons.

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Search Engine Articles
By Danny Sullivan

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Google's Orkut Personal Information Offered Outside Orkut
The Search Engine Report, May 6, 2004
http://searchenginewatch.com/sereport/article.php/3350791

The personal connections of some in Google's Orkut social network service can now be viewed across a map of the United States -- but through a third party site that apparently has mined the data without permission.

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Yahoo Bans Online Casino Ads; Google's Ban Has Holes
The Search Engine Report, May 6, 2004
http://searchenginewatch.com/sereport/article.php/3350751

Both Yahoo and Google decided to drop ads from online casinos by the end of April. But despite this, the ads can still be found lurking on Google.

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Google Porn Filter Still Making Mistakes
The Search Engine Report, May 6, 2004
http://searchenginewatch.com/sereport/article.php/3350761

A report finds porn filtering at Google still has serious problems in blocking innocent material by mistake, despite much publicized criticisms last year.

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Google IPO To Happen, Files For Public Offering
SearchDay, April 29, 2004
http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/article.php/3347471

As many expected, Google filed to go public today. In this story, a breakdown of facts and figures from the financial information the company has now published for the first time.

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Search Wars: Battle Of The Search Superpowers
SearchDay, April 29, 2004
http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/article.php/3347181

We've long had competition in search, so why are we hearing so much about the search wars now? Because the few left in the wake of the portal wars are embarking on a new quest to secure their destinies on the search front. A look at how and why the current situation erupted, one that will no doubt gain further attention in the wake of expected public financial releases from Google.

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Google In Controversy Over Top-Ranking For Anti-Jewish Site
SearchDay, April 25, 2004
http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/article.php/3345071

Google has added a disclaimer to the search results that come up in a response for a search on jew, to counter complaints about an anti-Jewish site that until recently ranked number one.

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

All Music, All But Invisible
SearchDay, May 6, 2004
http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/article.php/3350071

The All Music Guide is one of the most comprehensive, extensively cross-linked and easy to use musical resources on the web. It's also, unfortunately, largely invisible to search engines.

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More Yahoo Search Shortcuts
SearchDay, May 5, 2004
http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/article.php/3343421

Yahoo has rolled out several new search shortcuts, continuing the trend also in play at Google and Ask Jeeves to make ready reference information even easier to find.

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Search Engine Milestones for April 2004
SearchDay, May 4, 2004
http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/article.php/3348781

Notable news and announcements from the web search world during the past month.

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Search Engine Forums Spotlight
SearchDay, May 3, 2004
http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/article.php/3348371

Links to this week's topics from search engine forums across the web: Google IPO Official - Can Google Pick and Choose? - Links from the Same IP? - Consolidating a Network Into One Megasite - Information Architecture for the Small Site - Flash Now Indexed by Google - Old School SEO vs. New School SEO

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Exploring Search Engine Overlap
SearchDay, April 28, 2004
http://searchenginewatch.com/_subscribers/articles/article.php/3346411

Think all search engines provide essentially the same results? Think again. A new comparison tool shows that the major search engines have surprisingly little overlap, even for popular search terms.

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

SearchDay
http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/

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Search Engine Articles
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Images Get Their Own Search Engine
Forbes, May 4, 2004
http://www.forbes.com/infoimaging/2004/05/04/cx_pp_0504visualsearch_ii.html

Profile of new technology from Pixlogic which is designed to let you search for images based on what it has indexed from the image information, rather than from text describing the images. In other words, unlike typical image search engines, it really can "see" what the image is about. See also our Multimedia Search Engines page, http://searchenginewatch.com/links/article.php/2156251, for both a guide to existing image search engines and past articles about how search engines want to be able to really read images. Meanwhile, the AP has an article about new search engines designed to let you search for three dimensional objects: http://www.wired.com/news/technology/0,1282,63077,00.html

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Top 10 Questions
iMediaConnection, May 4, 2004
http://www.imediaconnection.com/content/3330.asp

Kevin Ryan provides answers to the top ten questions he's been asked on search engine marketing while talking at conferences about search.

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Google Cover Story
BusinessWeek, May 3, 2004
http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/04_18/b3881001_mz001.htm

Wide-ranging look at the challenges Google faces from competitors. Much of this will already be known to regular readers of this newsletter, but the article provides a good refresher. The Search Scrum graphic is terrible in giving Google the "edge" when it comes to advertisers, because Google has more than twice those of Yahoo. According to what numbers? Why Google's own. Both Yahoo and Google have tons of advertisers and more important, most search advertisers do them both because reach is unduplicated. Story also has links to Q&As with Google cofounder Larry Page (good questions, but no revealing answers) and CEO Eric Schmidt.

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The One-Two Punch: SEO and PPC
ClickZ, May 3, 2004
http://www.clickz.com/experts/search/results/article.php/3347951

Fredrick Marckini shares information out of a survey of search use that his company had conducted. Among the findings, 60 percent of clicks with to the free listings, the "natural," "organic" or "editorial" results that aren't sold. But on a per search engine basic, MSN was the lowest, getting only 29 percent of clicks to the editorial results. Google was the highest, at 72 percent. The message is that both free and paid should be considered together. I agree entirely. For more tips on getting the balance right, see this recent SearchDay article: Balancing Paid and Organic Search Listings, http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/article.php/3095871. More about the survey of 1,649 people can also be found here: http://www.clickz.com/stats/big_picture/applications/article.php/3348071

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All About Title Tags
SearchEngineGuide.com, May 3, 2004
http://www.searchengineguide.com/whalen/2004/0503_jw1.html

The HTML title tag is one of the most important factors you can use to influence how your pages are found. Don't waste your opportunity. Jill Whalen provides tips to do better.

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SuperGoogle: When All Is Known
ClickZ, May 3, 2004
http://www.clickz.com/experts/brand/sense/article.php/3347901

Hate the headline, but agree with the sentiment. Forget whether we should have contextual ads in our email, whether a cookie might track our search requests and other specific privacy concerns. Instead, let's consider a new debate on what privacy rights we should expect from companies and governments, in the wake of the internet making information even more connected. Not said is how the focus on these things often puts the blame on "fixing" Google, rather than seeking fixes across the search engine industry as a whole. Rarely are such problems Google-specific. That's why an industry approach is needed, though it lacks the catchy headlines that get attention. (permalink)

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People Want Google Domain Names!
ResourceShelf.com, May 3, 2004
http://www.resourceshelf.com/archives/2004_05_01_resourceshelf_archive.html#108359624434941241

Gary Price found more than 400 domain names were registered in April and May by people other than Google itself that contain the word "google" in them. He also provides a few highlights. I look forward to seeing what will show up on GoogleFoods.com. What you've got to especially enjoy is that right now, that site comes up with paid listings powered by Google's Domain Park program (http://www.google.com/domainpark/). In other words, someone who probably hopes to make money off of Google's name is indeed doing so -- from Google itself. (permalink)

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India's secret army of online ad 'clickers'
Times Of India, May 3, 2004
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/654822.cms

A look at how people employed in India are paid to click on online ads.

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T-Shirt Maker Claims He's "Gagged by Google"
ClickZ, April 28, 2004
http://www.clickz.com/news/article.php/3346461

Google's policy against "anti" sites gets more bad publicity, as a T-shirt maker finds he can't advertise his products that target US President George W. Bush or Democratic candidate Senator John Kerry. Pamela Parker rightfully takes aim at Google in this commentary: http://www.clickz.com/experts/brand/buzz/article.php/3347521. For more examples of this type of Google behavior, see my Search Engine Advertising page: http://searchenginewatch.com/resources/article.php/2156561#Paid Placement. Also see my article last month for Search Engine Watch members, The Ads Google Just Says No To: http://searchenginewatch.com/_subscribers/articles/article.php/3335041 (permalink)

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Viewpoint Search Toolbar for Internet Explorer : A class apart
Search Engine News Journal, April 30, 2004
http://www.searchenginejournal.com/index.php?p=509

Review of new search toolbar that combines Yahoo results with thumbnails of the sites found. You can get the Viewpoint toolbar here: http://search.viewpoint.com/. Oddly, while that URL also offers web-based searching, this appears to be without thumbnails.

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LookSmart Acquires Net Nanny
ClickZ, April 29, 2004
http://www.clickz.com/news/article.php/3347441

LookSmart buys filtering software company Net Nanny for $5 million in cash and stock. The company thinks its search technology will make Net Nanny stronger, while Net Nanny will give LookSmart a way onto computer desktops.

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Digital Impact Plans Search Marketing Service
DMNews.com, April 28, 2004
http://www.dmnews.com/cgi-bin/artprevbot.cgi?article_id=27272

Email marketing company Digital Impact sees a future in search -- and plans to add search marketing services later this year.

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Search Has Found Itself
Washington Post, April 28, 2004
http://www.bizreport.com/article.php?art_id=7018

You've seen this story before about the growth in revenues for paid search ads. But often forgotten are the search marketing firms that are also growing. Case in point, the mention of search marketing firm WebSourced looking to earn $15 million in revenue this year.

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Google's Dave Girouard on the Future of Enterprise Search
Linux News, April 27, 2004
http://www.linuxinsider.com/story/33539.html

Part of the five percent of revenue Google does NOT generate off of advertising comes from enterprise search sales. This article is a Q&A with Google's general manager in charge of enterprise search services. Note the comment about Google having an "advantage" by seeing how consumers search across the web generally. This has definitely not been an advantage for past web search companies that have gone the enterprise search route before. Lycos, Excite, Infoseek, AltaVista, Inktomi, Ask Jeeves all are companies that tried to do both and jumped out of enterprise search. Open Text and FAST are companies that tried to do both and jumped the other way, into enterprise search and away from the web. Google is very much an exception still trying to play in both places. (permalink)

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Google fires back at Digital Envoy
News.com, April 26, 2004
http://news.com.com/2100-1024-5200584.html

Last month, Google got sued (see http://searchenginewatch.com/sereport/article.php/3335091#geosuit) over its use of Digital Envoy's geotargeting technology. Now Google has filed its own complaint, asking for a judgment that it did no wrong. (permalink)

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A Selection of Recently Awarded Search-Related Patents & Recently Published Search-Related Patent Applications
ResourceShelf.com, April 26, 2004
http://www.resourceshelf.com/archives/2004_04_25_resourceshelfextra_archive.html/#108301314402549031

Gary Price's monthly round up of new search-related patents, for April 2004. Among these, a patent to Google for "Ranking search results by reranking the results based on local inter-connectivity." This sounds similar to a system has long been used by Google-competitor Teoma. It's also something many, including myself, suspect is already at work at Google and responsible for many of the changes seen back in December. More about that here: http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/article.php/3285661 (permalink)

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Presentations from the 2004 Search Engine Meeting Are Now Available Online
ResourceShelf.com, April 26, 2004
http://www.resourceshelf.com/archives/2004_04_01_resourceshelf_archive.html#108290962289767835

Rundown on key presentations from Infonortic's long standing search engine conference.

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Pandia cloned by copyright thief
Pandia, April 25, 2004
http://www.pandia.com/sw-2004/14-copyright.html

Well-known search news site Pandia finds someone takes its entire web site, likely (and wrongly) assuming that just having Pandia's content would equate into Pandia's search rankings. A story of how Pandia fought back on several fronts.

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Sorting Out SiteMatch
SearchEngineGuide.com, April 23, 2004
http://www.searchengineguide.com/lloyd/2004/0423_bl1.html

Remember the hoopla and fears many had about the rollout of Yahoo's new paid inclusion program. If you don't -- my upcoming series will remind you of the issues. But no need to wait for that. Barry Lloyd provides an excellent rundown on how free listings still survive, how past penalties haven't been lifted in the new program and how a Yahoo directory link appears to be a key way to boost a page

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Microsoft To Bundle MSN Toolbar With IM Client
Internet Week, April 23, 2004
http://www.internetwk.com/allStories/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=19200084

AOL has long bundled a search interface as part of its ICQ instant messaging software. Now Microsoft is doing the same. Yahoo also has done the same: http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,1759,1573380,00.asp

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LookSmart back in UK under the banner of UK Directory
Revolution, April 23, 2004
http://www.revolutionmagazine.com/News/index.cfm?fuseaction=ViewNewsArticle&ID=208829

LookSmart has sold its former UK directory and traffic to the former LookSmart UK web site to UK Net Guide. That company apparently plans to merge LookSmart UK information with its own and keep a combined database together, going forward.

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IAB Reports Ad Revenue Up 21 Percent Due To Sharp Increases In Search, Rich Media
MediaPost, April 22, 2004
http://www.mediapost.com/dtls_dsp_news.cfm?newsId=247861

Internet ad revenue rose 21 percent in 2003 to $7.3 billion, according to new figures from the Interactive Advertising Bureau. Keyword search was said to lead growth, making up $2.6 billion or a third of the total. Unclear is whether contextual ads -- which are not search -- are counted as part of this.

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How's Your Reputation?
iMedia Connection, April 22, 2004
http://www.imediaconnection.com/content/3268.asp

We had a great session at Search Engine Strategies in New York about how to do public relations via search engines. Rob Key was one of our well-received speakers. In this piece, he shares some of his idea on how SEO can be applied to managing a company's reputation on the web, rather than the usual thought of just getting visitors.

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Do What I Mean
PBS, April 22, 2004
http://www.pbs.org/cringely/pulpit/pulpit20040422.html

I'll keep this simple. Again and again, natural language processing gets trotted out as some key solution to improving search, as in this article about a new technology from MeaningMaster. Natural language wasn't the reason why Ask Jeeves was originally successful (that was actually Ask Jeeves having over 100 editors actively reviewing search queries and picking good sites). Yes, it might help a bit with query refinement. But when the typical query is but one to three words long, there's not a lot of "meaning" to be analyzing.

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AOL Opens More Doors to Its Search, E-Mail
eWeek, April 21, 2004
http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,1759,1571748,00.asp

AOL joins the toolbar club by launching its own search toolbar (this after just about a year ago, the company talked of its software as the "mother of all toolbars). And hey, you can download your mail from AOL through third party applications like Outlook. You can get the toolbar here: http://ftp.newaol.com/aoltoolbar/download.html

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Google and Akamai: Cult of Secrecy vs. Kingdom of Openness
Technology Review, April 21, 2004
http://www.techreview.com/articles/wo_garfinkel042104.asp

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Microsoft: Built From Scratch, The Interface Migrates to the Web
Searchblog, April 21, 2004
http://battellemedia.com/archives/000601.php

Fresh from a visit to Microsoft, John Battelle feels that Microsoft's late jump into search means they can fly high unfettered by past ideas and that MSN will be the company's way to preserve the operating system dominance it currently enjoys, in a time when desktops may become disconnected from the actual hardware we use (for more on that, see Welcome To The Google Desktop, http://searchenginewatch.com/sereport/article.php/3335011)

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RealNetworks Bundles Google Toolbar
April 20, 2004
http://thewhir.com/marketwatch/rea042004.cfm

Google signs a deal to distribute its toolbar with the Real Player.

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SEM, Sales Assistance, and Proactive Communications, Part 1: Search Meets the Phone
ClickZ, April 16, 2004
http://www.clickz.com/experts/search/strat/article.php/3340821

Are you tracking your phone leads and relating them to search? Are you providing the ability to let those who find you via search call to place orders? Failure to do so could mean your conversions will suffer.

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Will Yahoo woo Jeeves from Google?
CBS MarketWatch, April 19, 2004
http://www.marketwatch.com/news/yhoo/story.asp?source=blq/yhoo&siteid=yhoo&dist=yhoo&guid={C7805B22-00F4-433C-AFD3-7DD1CBEC853C}

The agreement between Google and Ask Jeeves, though it runs through 2005, it up for negotiations this year. This article examines whether Yahoo will try to get Ask Jeeves back, a plum win given the still sizable share of search traffic Ask commands.

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Grokking Furl: Storage, Search, and the PersonalWeb
Searchblog, April 19, 2004
http://battellemedia.com/archives/000591.php

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Google Teams Up With 17 Colleges to Test Searches of Scholarly Materials
The Chronicle Of Higher Education, April 9, 2004
http://chronicle.com/free/2004/04/2004040901n.htm

Google is teaming up with MIT and 16 other universities to create a way to search through their collections of scholarly papers.

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MSN updates searchable news site
News.com, April 15, 2004
http://news.com.com/2100-1038_3-5192876.html

MSN lets those using its news search sites outside the US view their search histories, store material and view stories most read by others. Those in the US are still waiting for a similar service to happen. Tara Calishain also has a review here: http://www.researchbuzz.org/archives/001608.shtml

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Some question Yahoo's 'paid inclusion' plan
Wall Street Journal, April 14, 2004
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/news/archive/2004/04/14/financial0934EDT0041.DTL

A month into its new paid inclusion program, this article finds a mix with advertisers. One assumed he should get rank boost and quit when he didn't. Another is happy that his entire site gets spidered. One says the program improved rankings -- though in a follow-up, he also acknowledge that this was after making search engine optimization changes in line with what Yahoo recommended. (permalink)

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The Search Engine Wars
NPR, April 12-16, 2004
http://www.npr.org/programs/morning/features/2004/apr/google/

Good, five-part radio series that you can listen to online explaining how we got to the current interest in search.

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Kerry gets served up with 'waffles' Web pranks twist results of searches
USA Today, April 12, 2004
http://www.usatoday.com/usatonline/20040412/6104414s.htm

A link bombing campaign makes Kerry in the top results for "waffles" at Yahoo (and now at Google, since this was written).

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Startup tracks your interests to customize a news search
Seattle Times, April 12, 2004
http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/businesstechnology/2001901141_btinterface12.html

Short profile of Findory.com, a news site designed to learn what you like based on what you read.

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Make a Good Investment in In-Site Search Engines
ClickZ, April 9, 2004
http://www.clickz.com/experts/design/traffic/article.php/3337221

Good reminder that getting people to your site via search engines is wasted if they can't find what they want when they get there, using your OWN search engine. Lots of tips to consider.

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Federal judge rules copyright doesn't cover all Internet
USA Today, April 9, 2004
http://www.usatoday.com/tech/news/techpolicy/2004-04-09-no-cright-in-aggregation_x.htm

An important ruling gone by with little attention. A US district court judge rules that a search engine called YachtBroker.com did not violate copyright by gathering listing through crawling web pages. Of note is that pages contained within Boats.com, which was crawled, were ruled to be the property of the boat owners themselves. Bidder's Edge tried a similar argument when it was in a suit lost against eBay -- but there, trespass rather than copyright proved to be the winning issues. For more, see my legal issues page: http://searchenginewatch.com/resources/article.php/2156541#Crawling And Linking

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FindWhat Plans Pay-Per-Call Listings
DMNews.com, April 8, 2004
http://www.dmnews.com/cgi-bin/artprevbot.cgi?article_id=27087

No web site? No problem! FindWhat is partnering with Ingenio to bill ads on a pay-per-call basis. The idea is that advertisers will get a unique number in their listings, apparently rather than a link. If so -- good luck. I think most people online will continue to want to click on something. But it also sounds as if there may be an option to give businesses a basic landing page, that in turn would contain the number. If so, I think that would be more effective. Interchange, the company behind search site ePilot, announced a somewhat similar deal also in April with eStara: http://www.estara.com/aboutus/news/interchange.php (permalink)

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Mesothelioma brings in search-engine bucks
UPI, April 8, 2004
http://www.washtimes.com/upi-breaking/20040408-095925-6844r.htm

Recently, a reader pointed out to me that Overture had raised its minimum bid to $100 per click. What pulls that much money? The term "mesothelioma," a form of lung cancer, has always been a good example to show how high people will go with paid listings. This article talks briefly about how law firms have gone after it. When I looked recently, this had dropped down to a high of around $37. What to use instead, to see those top bids? Try a search for "structured settlement," which my reader hold told me about when mentioning the new Overture limit. Sure enough, the top three bids are all at the $100 maximum. (permalink)

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Yahoo Changes Search Technology And Competitive Landscape
Wall Street Journal, April 8, 2004
http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,BT_CO_20040408_001715,00.html

Last month, I wrote how the switch at Yahoo to its own search technology didn't appear to have cost it users (see http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/article.php/3334881). Here are more stats saying users haven't noticed the switch. Also interesting speculation that Google was surprised by Yahoo's quality. But index size as the most important fact? No, thank you. If anything, Google's increasing index size has helped make some of its results worse, in my opinion. At some point, I'll dive back in and explain this more. But the short answer is that as many have noticed, you increasingly seem to find links to other search engine result pages in Google.

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Search Engine Monoculture
ResourceShelf.com, April 7, 2004
http://www.resourceshelf.com/archives/2004_04_01_resourceshelf_archive.html#108128038734734541

I agree entirely -- the loss of AltaVista's advanced features scares me. AltaVista had a wide-range of advanced search operators that Google lacked. Now that they are gone, Yahoo and others may have little incentive to bring them back. After all, they may feel they just need to match the lowest-common denominator of Google. Let's hope not. (permalink)

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Will Intermediaries Drive Local Search?
MediaPost, April 6, 2004
http://www.mediapost.com/dtls_dsp_news.cfm?newsId=245398

Local search is overhyped, says Jupiter Research. Local search is going places, says the Kelsey Group. Despite contrary viewpoints, both agree that local search needs to get much better for users, if it is to become a successful advertising medium.

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SEC Probe Halts Mamma's March
TheStreet.com, April 6, 2004
http://www.thestreet.com/_tscfoc/tech/georgemannes/10152526.html

Mamma's stock has been hot -- so hot that the US Security and Exchange Commission has started an informal inquiry into its rise.

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Search Engine Mania
PC Magazine, April 5, 2004
http://abcnews.go.com/sections/scitech/ZDM/web_search_commentary_pcmag_040405.html

Ugh. Ask Jeeves is not, and never was, a natural language search engine. Nevertheless, John Dvorak still views it this way. Sure -- Ask Jeeves used to bill itself has having these capabilities, but the real reason it did better with queries was simply because it employed lots of editors to hand pick results.

Despite this, Dvorak uses Ask Jeeves to show how bad natural language processing is, in order to demonstrate why he thinks Microsoft will fail in search. Since Ask isn't trying to do any processing like this, it's a bad example to use. Moreover, he praises Teoma as being a good example of the future of search. It begs the question -- did he realize it was Teoma results he was dissing at Ask Jeeves? Because that's where they were coming from.

Elsewhere, the Google cache gets praised as a killer feature, and he asks when someone else will duplicate this. How about Yahoo, which had done so for several months? (permalink)

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Subtle PPC Differences Can Boost ROI
ClickZ, April 5, 2004
http://www.clickz.com/experts/search/results/article.php/3335131

Ads on Google and Overture are not the same. Tips on how to get the best performance by working to the unique features at both places.

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Overture wins big-fish partners
News.com, April 5, 2004
http://news.com.com/2100-1038_3-5185177.html

Overture gains CNN, ESPN and the Wall Street Journal as distribution partners.

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BellSouth shakes Google's hand
News.com, April 5, 2004
http://news.com.com/2100-1038_3-5185076.html

Google partners with BellSouth to power search for BellSouth's internet access customers.

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The Secret Source Of Google's Power
Topix.net Weblog, April 4, 2004
http://blog.topix.net/archives/000016.html

Rich Skrenta, a cofounder of the Open Directory and new news site Topix, ponders whether the giant network of cheap computers Google has built might translate into an entirely new computing platform.

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SEM Power Politics: PACs, Nonprofits, and 527s
ClickZ, April 2, 2004
http://www.clickz.com/experts/search/strat/article.php/3334441

Search engine marketing hasn't yet been embraced by political campaigns and action groups, but that might be changing in the near future, Kevin Lee says.

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A Conversation with Matt Wells
Enterprise Search, April 2004
http://www.acmqueue.com/modules.php?name=Content&pa=showpage&pid=135

Matt Wells knows search. He's currently the creator of the Gigablast search engine and an alumnus of Infoseek from way back in 1997. Here he talks about Gigablast with lots of great technical details, for those who want to know about how search operates under the hood. He's interviewed by another Infoseek alumnus -- founder Steve Kirsch. With respect, I'll disagree on two key points he makes.

Google's strength is not cached web pages, index size or search speed. It remains relevancy. Whether that relevancy is better or worse than other players is not clear. But the perception of good relevancy is what brought people to Google and which keeps them there.

As for the contention that PageRank isn't and wasn't that important to Google's success, it depends on how you define things. Google's blend of link analysis, of which PageRank is a part of, absolutely was key to making the search engine successful. Remember, Google once had a tiny index compared to the major players it was competing with. However, its link analysis system consistently helped the site bring out the best of the web, in the top results.

Whether the specific PageRank element itself was key to Google's success, I couldn't say. But let's be clear in understanding that PageRank is NOT the Google ranking system, as I've written many times before, such as here: http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/article.php/3286101#pagerank (permalink)

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Search Engine Resources
=========================

Blocked PR Website List
http://www.blockedpr.com/

The idea here is to list sites where it is believed Google is preventing them from passing on PageRank value to other sites. Why would Google do this? To prevent selling links.

Say you are a site that Google rates highly in its PR meter. Other sites may want to buy links from you, assuming this will give them a boost (in reality, other factors will also come into play). Google might penalize these sites in the way it did with SearchKing (see http://searchenginewatch.com/sereport/article.php/2165111) to discourage what it feels is an attempt to subvert its ranking system.

It's unclear to me how definitive this list really is, however. The idea a site might be penalized is determined by checking links. Say Site A is linking to Site B. You run a link check at Google to find all the sites linking to Site B. If Site A isn't one of them, the assumption is that Site A's outbound links are being banned.

Or -- it could just be that Google's notoriously inaccurate link lookup tool simply isn't working. Other reasons could explain why Site A's links fail to show up.

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mozDex
http://www.mozdex.com/

Combine the Nutch open source search engine with the Open Directory as a starter set of pages to index. That's mozDex. What's cool? The ability see how each page was scored in detail, though good luck deciphering it. What's very cool? The ability -- hurray! -- to see the anchor text pointing at a particular page. Absolutely awesome. Google and Yahoo so need to provide the same type of capability. What's not cool? Well, the relevancy, frankly. Threw in a few test queries and came away pretty unimpressed. Just keep thinking, "It's a beta." Creator Bryon Miller told me he hoped to have indexed 800 million pages by early May. A journal of the project has been started here: http://www.searchenginejournal.com/index.php?p=532

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Open Index
http://www.openindex.org/

You can't search here. Instead, it's intended to be a clearinghouse for those interested in the idea of an open source search engine.

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Proogle
http://www.webmasterbrain.com/proogle/

Slick. Get Google results with the PageRank of each page shown. Why doesn't Google do this? One reason -- it looks odd to see some pages with a higher PageRank come below those with a lower one. But that's also again proof as I've written many, many times before. PageRank alone doesn't trump. The link context and other factors also come into account.

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MSN Sandbox
http://sandbox.msn.com

First we had Google Labs. Then Overture added its own experimental area, later redubbed Yahoo Labs. Now here's where the search folks at MSN are displaying their experiments. Links to those other labs can be found via my Search Technology page: http://searchenginewatch.com/resources/article.php/2156601

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Yahoo Soul Search
http://search.yahoo.com/search?p=my+destiny
http://search.yahoo.com/search?p=what's+my+destiny

The Onion posts a satirical story about Yahoo offering the ability to search your soul, . Yahoo has a sense of humor and responds by putting up funny sayings at the top of its page, if you search for "what's my destiny" or "my destiny" (just use the URLs above). The original Onion story is now behind its members-only walls, but you can still see a copy for the time being via the Google cache: http://216.239.59.104/search?q=cache:UMw6J4GGxGMJ:www.theonion.com/news/index.php?issue=4014&n=1+onion+yahoo+soul+search&hl=en

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Thanks!
=========================

Special thanks reader submissions and

+ Search Engine Guide, http://searchengineguide.com
+ Search Engine Lowdown, http://searchenginelowdown.com
+ Searchblog, http://battellemedia.com
+ Search Engine Roundtable Weblog, http://www.seroundtable.com
+ SEObook.com, http://www.seobook.com
+ ResourceShelf.com, http://www.resourceshelf.com
+ About.com Web Search Guide, http://websearch.about.com
+ ResearchBuzz, http://www.researchbuzz.com
+ The Unofficial Google Weblog, http://google.weblogsinc.com

for some of the items listed in this newsletter.

=============================
About The Search Engine Update
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