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The Search Engine Update, May 18, 1997, Number 5

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THE SEARCH ENGINE UPDATE
May 18, 1997 - Number 5

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About The Update
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The Search Engine Update is a twice-monthly update of search engine news. It is available only to those people who have subscribed to "A Webmaster's Guide to Search Engines."

Please note that long URLs may break into two lines in some mail readers. Please cut and paste, should this occur.

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Site Changes
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You'll now find "The Value of Search Engine Visits" under the Projects In Progress section of the Subscribers-Only area, located at:

http://calafia.com/subscribers/

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Search Engine News
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How Much Is A Search Engine Visit Worth?

People visiting your web site from Yahoo will spend more money than the major search engines taken as a whole, according to a study by Viaweb.

Viaweb provides sophisticated online shopping software and web services for over 100 web sites. It can track how a visitor found a web site and how much they spent during their visit.

The company examined over a million visitors during a four month period and found that those from Yahoo spent the most, while those from WebCrawler spent the least.

Obviously, the Viaweb experience may not be applicable to everyone, as a Jupiter Communications analyst warns in the Computerworld article listed below. She felt that the results were only applicable to those depending on search engine referrals but not to large sites, such as Amazon.Com.

Hmmm. Perhaps, but then again, the large sample is certainly worth considering. The majority of sites on the Internet are not like Amazon.Com, so consider the study.

Viaweb also provides the ability to view data from one of its sites in real-time, to get a sense of how the tracking software works. You'll find a link, plus a graphical look at the data, in the Subscriber-Only area.

Viaweb Value of Search Engine Hits Study
Viaweb, 5/97
http://www.viaweb.com/vw/search.html

Search engines don't all bring in same kinds of customers, study shows
Computerworld, 5/97
http://www.computerworld.com/news/news_articles/970513search.html

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HotWired Launches NewBot News Agent

From the people who brought you HotBot is NewBot, an offline news agent and web search utility. NewBot taps into over 100 news sites on the web, scanning them on a daily basis. In addition, it can also search web sites and newsgroups.

The web site search seems to tap into the same database as HotBot, because similar matches are reported. However, the ranking criteria is slightly different, because the order of both lists is different. In addition, NewBot defaults to listing the most recently changed pages first.

At the moment, only an ActiveX version of NewBot is available, which means Netscape users lose out, at least until July. The ActiveX version only take a few minutes to download.

NewBot
http://www.newbot.com/

HotWired Sends in NewBot To Deliver Personalized News
NY Times, 5/97
http://www.nytimes.com/library/cyber/week/051597newbot.html

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LookSmart Partners With Alta Vista

LookSmart, the Reader's Digest-backed web guide, now taps into Alta Vista's listings when you perform a search. Yahoo has had a similar arrangement with Alta Vista for some time. Unlike Yahoo, a LookSmart search defaults to the Alta Vista database, rather than first looking for matches in the LookSmart listings.

LookSmart http://www.looksmart.com/

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HotBot Wins PC Computing Search Engine Challenge

PC Computing put several search engines to the test at NetWorld+Interop 97, earlier this month. HotBot won with 13 points. Excite came in second with 12 points, followed by Alta Vista with 6 points and Infoseek with 4 points. A variety of questions were asked over two days. PC Computing promised to post details of all the questions eventually. In the meantime, a press release describes the competition in more detail.

The PC Computing Search Engine Challenge PC Computing, May 97 http://www.zdnet.com/pccomp/searchpr.html

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Yahoo Search Engine Line-Up Oddities

At the bottom of its search results, Yahoo lists alternative search services for people to use. This has been alphabetical since February 97, but last week, the line-up changed to Alta Vista, WebCrawler, HotBot, Lycos, Infoseek and Excite. Now it has mysteriously switched back. Mistake, glitch, or a peek at changes to come?

Yahoo http://www.yahoo.com/

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Lycos, Excite Make European Moves

Lycos has formed a joint venture with German company Bertelsmann to expand the language-specific versions of Lycos for other European countries. Currently, Lycos operates customized British, French and Germany services.

Meanwhile, Excite officially launched its custom version for the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Sweden on May 16.

Lycos searches European market News.Com, 5/97 http://www.news.com/News/Item/0,4,10582,00.html

Excite enters European markets News.Com, 5/97 http://www.news.com/News/Item/0,4,10739,00.html

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Excite Cuts Staff

Excite has laid off half its editorial staff, about 15 people, as part of its reorganization. Unlike NetGuide Live, which let go 22 people at the end of March, Excite says staff levels will rise again once the reorganization is finished.

Excite cuts editorial staff MS-NBC, 5/97 http://www.msnbc.com/news/74491.asp

More layoffs at NetGuide Live News.Com, 3/97 http://www.news.com/News/Item/0,4,9182,00.html

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Lycos To Take Reuters Feeds

Lycos has cut a deal to receive news, entertainment, photo and other news services from Reuters.

Media Daily, Overset: Interactive Media Central, 5/14/97 http://www.mediacentral.com/Magazines/MediaDaily/Archive/1997051413.htm l/634827

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Yahoo Doesn't Expect More Profits Soon

Yahoo says not to expect a repeat of the profit it posted last quarter, mainly due to the $25 million plus it owes Netscape for taking on the Netscape Guide By Yahoo. Add to that another $3 million plus it owes for being listed on the Netscape Net Search Page.

Yahoo Sees Increased Expenses http://www.techweb.com/investor/newsroom/tinews/may/0515yhoo.html

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Excite Gets Chatty

Excite has added online chat to its myriad of services, the latest move in the transformation of the search service from an Internet crossroads to an Internet destination.

Excite PAL, for Personal Access List, is software that runs independently of your browser. It allows you to know if friends or family are online and communicate with them.

Excite Talk! is a browser-based chat service, which can be enhanced through downloads to allow avatars, gesturing and other features.

Excite People and Chat Channel
http://pal.excite.com/

Excite smoothes Internet chat
MacWeek, 5/97
http://www8.zdnet.com/macweek/mw_1120/in_excite.html

Company Press Release
Excite, 5/97
http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/97/05/12/nscp_trb_1.html

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Alta Vista Power Searching Newsletter Launched

The Cobb Group has begun a new monthly newsletter designed to teach people how to use Alta Vista better. Cost is $49 to $59 per year, depending on format.

Power Searching with AltaVista
http://www.cobb.com/alt/cuvyg5.htm

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

Searching the Net, Continental Style
NY Times, 5/97
http://www.nytimes.com/library/cyber/euro/051397euro.html

An interesting look at home-grown, language-specific search engines and services in Europe. Discover that no matter what the language, "sex" remains a top search word.

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Make Sure Your Site Gets Indexed
WebMonkey, 5/97
http://www.webmonkey.com/webmonkey/geektalk/97/18/index4a.html

A nice, straight-forward article on improving the indexability of your web site, from the production manager of HotBot.

=================== Search Engine Notes ===================

Changes Coming For Excite's Add URL Feature

Excite is making changes to its Add URL feature, which may cause delays in adding new sites until mid-June. I'm checking on exact details and will let you know as I find out. The message in full reads:

"Excite is in the process of developing new tools to assist you in adding and looking up your URLs in our index. We welcome your URL submissions at this time, but please be aware that they may not be added to our service until this new system is in place. We expect this delay to last until mid June. We apologize for any inconvenience. We will of course continue to locate and update URLs on our own on a weekly basis as usual."

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Trouble Adding To Lycos From Outside The US

Those located outside the US and adding URL via Lycos's Add URL form may receive a "malformed url: scheme missing" error message. This seems due to how Lycos automatically switches those from non-US domains to a country-specific version of the search engine.

I'm UK based, and the error message above cropped up last week, when I tried to submit a web page. I tried again two days later and got the same message. Suspecting it was related to the country switching, I accessed Lycos via AOL to test the theory.

Using AOL means that AOL's proxy server told Lycos I was US-based, so I was not switched to the UK version. I used the Add URL form, and this time the submissions went through without a hitch.

Unfortunately, selecting the "Lycos USA" link, available to those switched to non-US versions of Lycos, is not a workaround. If you do this, you still get rerouted when you select the Add URL link.

========= End Notes =========

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