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The Search Engine Update, July 1, 2002, Number 128

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About The Update

The Search Engine Update is a twice-monthly update of search engine news. It is available only to Search Engine Watch members. Please note that long URLs may break into two lines in some mail readers. Cut and paste, should this occur.

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In This Issue

+ Search Engine Strategies Coming To California
+ Call For Speakers
+ FTC Recommends Disclosure To Search Engines
+ Forget The CPC! What's Your ROI?
+ Up Close With Overture's Bid Management
+ SearchDay Articles
+ List Info (Subscribing/Unsubscribing)

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Hello Everyone--

First, a happy Canada Day today to all my Canadian readers and to my fellow Americans, a Happy Fourth of July later this week!

This has been one of those issues where I started out compiling it with a set budget of stories, then had to toss those aside due to some late-breaking new developments. In particular, Overture's move to a new auto-bidding model and the US Federal Trade Commission's recommendation that search engines provide better disclosure about paid listings were both substantial news stories that I felt warranted immediate attention.

By the time you get this, I'll actually still be working on the FTC story. It will either be done late today or tomorrow. However, a link to where it will be posted is listed below in the newsletter, and the page already has some preliminary raw information.

In another change, usually the newsletter that goes out at the beginning of the month is a two-parter. This will no longer be the case. When I first started doing the newsletter, all the articles I wrote were included in it. As these articles grew longer, splitting the newsletter into two parts was necessary, because a single newsletter was so massive.

Today, the articles haven't gotten any shorter. Consequently, I've decided it makes more sense to make the newsletter simply a listing of links to articles -- those I've written for Search Engine Watch, those Chris Sherman and others have done for our SearchDay newsletter, as well as interesting articles that have run in other places. I'll also continue to include brief write-ups and resources in the newsletter, as appropriate.

To stress, I'm still writing articles for Search Engine Watch, just as before. The only difference anyone will notice is that you'll just be getting a single-part newsletter at the beginning of the month, telling you where to find them, rather than a two-part newsletter. So don't keep looking for that second part :)

Coincidentally, last month was the five year anniversary of when Search Engine Watch launched. I'd actually forgotten until a "flashback" headline I saw reminded me (see below). The predecessor to Search Engine Watch, "A Webmaster's Guide To Search Engines," had been going since early 1996. So it's really over six years for me on this topic! Thanks to all of you who have been reading in that time -- I'll keep working as hard as ever for you.

Five years ago: Web site offers search engine gen
ZDNet, June 15, 2002
http://news.zdnet.co.uk/story/0,,t269-s2111876,00.html

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Search Engine Strategies Coming To California

In August, our first three day Search Engine Strategies conference comes to San Jose, California. This is our "big" show for the year and features a new special track on enterprise search on the third day, as well as a number of new "clinics" designed to go beyond talking about search engine marketing issues and instead show changes by working with example web sites.

Of course, the event as always continues to feature sessions about improving both editorial listings in search engines and advertising on search engines. Confirmed search engines that will be speaking so far are AltaVista, Ask Jeeves/Teoma, Google, LookSmart, Lycos and Overture. More information can be found below, and the agenda will be fully updated by the end of this week.

Search Engine Strategies San Jose
http://www.intmediaevents.com/sew/summer02/

Two day shows follow for Germany in October and Texas in December. Information, dates, and the ability to register for when agendas are ready for these events can be found via the URL below:

Search Engine Strategies
http://searchenginestrategies.com

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Call For Speakers

For our Search Engine Strategies show in California next month, I've got openings on four different panels. If you are interested, see the descriptions listed on the page below:

Call For Speakers
http://searchenginewatch.com/subscribers/speakers.html

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FTC Recommends Disclosure To Search Engines

The US Federal Trade Commission has made an important recommendation to major search engines suggesting that they better disclose their paid content. This came in response to a complaint made last year by the watchdog group Commercial Alert. I'll be writing a story about this that should be posted either late today or tomorrow at the URL below. However, some rough information is already available there now.

FTC Recommends Disclosure To Search Engines
SearchEngineWatch.com, June 29, 2002
http://searchenginewatch.com/sereport/02/07-ftc.html

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Forget The CPC! What's Your ROI?

Purchasing paid listings just got a whole lot more complicated -- or a lot more easier -- depending on your perspective, thanks to changes at Overture last week. The company rolled out a new bidding system that will force many advertisers to think more about how much they can afford to pay to gain leads rather than how cheaply they can get those leads. This important change has come about through the introduction of "auto-bidding." This feature lets advertisers indicate the "max bid" they are willing to pay for a particular word, then have Overture automatically increase the amount they pay to get them the best position, as long as it doesn't exceed the maximum. More about the mind shift being required of advertisers can be found below:

Forget The CPC! What's Your ROI?
The Search Engine Report, July 1, 2002
http://searchenginewatch.com/sereport/02/07-cpc.html

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Up Close With Overture's Bid Management

So Overture has finally rolled out its own tool to eliminate "bid gaps," but the new system is really a rip-off, right? After all, there are plenty of gaps that remain! That was certainly my initial view, but a closer look at the new feature shows this not to be so. It's absolutely true that there are real gaps between the amounts different people pay for positions, but this is a consequence of allowing auto-bidding, another feature many advertisers have wanted. A look at how the system works, via the URL below:

Up Close With Overture's Bid Management
The Search Engine Update, July 1, 2002
http://searchenginewatch.com/subscribers/articles/02/07-overture.html

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

Portals to the World
SearchDay, June 27, 2002
http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/02/sd0627-lcportals.html
Looking for authoritative, in-depth information about the nations of the world? Check out Portals to the World, a robust online Baedeker from the U.S. Library of Congress.

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SEC Upgrades EDGAR Search Engine
SearchDay, June 26, 2002
http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/02/sd0626-edgar.html

The SEC's EDGAR database is an absolutely essential resource for business researchers, and recent upgrades have vastly improved its search interface.

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Teoma Offers Free Search Toolbar
SearchDay, June 25, 2002
http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/02/sd0625-teomatool.html

Teoma has introduced the Teoma Search Bar, a free online navigational tool that lets you search Teoma.com while viewing any web page with Internet Explorer.

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The Languages of the Semantic Web
SearchDay, June 24, 2002
http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/02/sd0624-semantic.html

Today's simplistic web languages are giving way to richer, more robust symbolic systems that transcend information storage and retrieval and allow web pages to express meaning.

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The Search Engines Ask You
SearchDay, June 20, 2002
http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/02/sd0620-seask.html

At the Search Engine Strategies conference, representatives of the major search engines turned the tables on participants, asking the audience to respond to their key issues and concerns.

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A Dream Job: Getting Paid to Search
SearchDay, June 19, 2002
http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/02/sd0619-sabroski.html

Do you dream of being a professional searcher, paid to spend your days sleuthing for online information? A new book shows you how, with profiles of eleven super searchers who've succeeded on their own.

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Tracking and Measuring Search Engine Marketing Success
SearchDay, June 18, 2002
http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/02/sd0618-seosuccess.html

It's not enough to simply optimize your web site and hope for high traffic. You need to use tools techniques to assure success, according to a panel of search engine marketing experts.

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FAST Sprints to 2.1 Billion Docs; Google Upgrades Appliance
SearchDay, June 17, 2002
http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/02/sd0617-update.html

FAST announced today that it has expanded its index to 2.1 web billion pages, taking the lead from Google in the search engine size wars. Google announced enhancements to its Search Appliance.

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

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

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Search Engine Articles
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Keyword-Rich Domain Names
High Rankings Advisor, June 26, 2002
http://www.highrankings.com/issue016.htm

Jill and I are on the same page about this -- domain names including keywords aren't going to be a magical solution to getting to the top of the page. Also, a reminder that some search engines at the Search Engine Strategies conferences have suggested that long "hyphenates" might be seen as more likely to be hosting spam. As with anything when it comes to search engines, do what makes sense for humans, rather than stuff you think is exclusively for search engines, to avoid problem. See also the end of this for more warnings about hyphenates: http://searchenginewatch.com/subscribers/articles/02/02-nav.html

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Exodus follows major shakeup of LookSmart leadership
San Francisco Chronicle, June 25, 2002
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2002/06/25/BU214404.DTL&type=business

LookSmart CEO Evan Thornley is stepping down as of October 1, while three of the company's seven board of directors members resigned last month. The directors that left were apparently upset that Thornley will be staying on in his other position as chairman and over the company's direction. In particular, one director apparently wanted LookSmart to focus on something other than search listings. Certainly the company would be wise to diversify, but it seems hard to understand how LookSmart could abandon the only product it has and survive in the short term. Interestingly, the dispute does not appear to involve the recent controversy over LookSmart forcing thousands of existing advertisers into a new cost-per-click listing program (see http://searchenginewatch.com/sereport/02/06-lawsuit.html). Or, if it did involve that, this was never called out at the press conference about the shakeup.

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Cloaking - Blessing or Curse? Curse, of Course!
PromotionBase, June 22, 2002
http://www.promotionbase.com/article/756/33

Two writers, two views, pro and con on cloaking. This is the con view, with a link to the pro view at the top. Be sure to read both articles. Note the section in the pro article that talks about how some people might use cloaking to hide content that has been "pagejacked," something the article says makes cloaking controversial.

There's a simple solution to this continuing debate over cloaking, in my view. If people want to cloak, that's fine -- let them. However, all the major crawlers should make it possible to see exactly what they spidered, just as Google's page cache feature allows. If site owners don't like that, then they can choose not to have their pages listed in those search engines. This solves many problems. It's easy to spot if content is stolen, which is a serious concern that the search engines make difficult to detect. However, as most people aren't likely to view cached copies, it still allows those who are cloaking to deliver people to attractive pages.

The main "drawback" of course is that anyone using cloaking to hide misleading or spammy pages will easily be spotted by the search engine marketing community at large, who will spot check the cache pages. It will be difficult to find much sympathy for that loss.

The most attractive reason to change to this policy is that it moves the debate away from whether the page delivery mechanism is spam and refocuses it on the page content itself. All the major crawlers but Google allow cloaking in one way or another, most especially if you've greased their palms by partaking in a paid inclusion program. Nor is it always necessarily bad. Let everyone easily see what was spidered, if they want, and I predict cloaking will stop being controversial.

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Google Seeks to Invalidate Rival Overture's Web Search Patents
Bloomberg, June 19, 2002
http://quote.bloomberg.com/fgcgi.cgi?ptitle=Technology News&T=markets_bfgcgi_content99.ht&s=APRDoeRaDR29vZ2xl

Overture has a patent relating to bid-for-placement services and has filed a suit against Google, claiming that company's paid listing program violates the patent. In response, Google is now asking that the patent be invalidated, saying that Overture operated its system for a year before filing a patent claim. That might invalidate the patent, though Overture says it is on firm ground.

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Waiting for Google
ABCNews.com, June 18, 2002
http://abcnews.go.com/sections/business/DailyNews/google020618.html

Everyone's waiting for the Google IPO, but the company isn't giving any signs of when it will happen, nor is it in a rush to face the pressures of being a publicly-held company.

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How To Know When Google Last Indexed Your Page
I Help You Forums, June 18, 2002
http://www.ihelpyouservices.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=3628

Originally, Google used to list the date it spidered a page when viewing that page using its cached feature. Those dates got removed last year, when Google was having freshness problems. Nevertheless, the functionality remains -- and Comet Systems, which provides Google-powered results, will display a date in its version of "cached" pages. This thread explains how to locate your pages and see the date they were spidered.

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