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The Search Engine Update, Feb. 4, 2003, Number 142

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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 Comes To Boston, Sydney
+ 2002 Search Engine Watch Awards Winners Announced
+ Ending The Debate Over Cloaking
+ Doorways Not Always Bad, At Inktomi
+ SearchDay Articles
+ Search Engine Articles
+ List Info (Subscribing/Unsubscribing)

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Hello Everyone--

So much to write about! Unfortunately, I can't get to everything, and this issue I decided to spend the majority of my time on the issue of cloaking. Quite a debate has erupted on the topic over the past week, and I thought it deserved a closer look in the newsletter.

This is especially the case because while cloaking gets a lot of attention from some as a way that search engines are "subverted" or "deceived," many people fail to realize that paid inclusion XML feeds, which are offered by all major crawlers but Google, provide a way for approved cloaking to happen.

There's good and bad in this, and I hope the "Ending The Debate Over Cloaking" article below helps guide you through how I think things have evolved, in order to make the right choices whether you a search engine marketer, someone working with a search engine marketer or a search engine users wondering what goes on behind the scenes, in the results you depend on.

Finally, the winners of our own 2002 Search Engine Watch awards have been announced. I'll give you a summary of the winners and a link to more detailed information, further below in the newsletter.

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Search Engine Strategies Comes To Boston, Sydney

Search Engine Strategies comes to Boston from March 4-6! As usual, there are a variety of sessions that focus on how to improve editorial and paid listings on search engines. Both search engine marketing tactics and general issues are explored.

Leading sessions will be experts in search engine marketing, as well as confirmed speakers from About.com, AltaVista, Ask Jeeves/Teoma, FAST/AllTheWeb.com, Google, Inktomi, LookSmart/WiseNut, Lycos, Overture and Yahoo.

You can sign-up by calling (203) 662-2976 or online, via the URL below, which also provides detailed information about sessions.

Search Engine Strategies Boston: March 4-6, 2003
http://www.searchenginestrategies.com/sew/boston03/

Search Engine Strategies is also returning to Australia, from March 26-27. I won't be "chairing" that show, but Jupitermedia's staff in Sydney has assembled an agenda full of search engine marketing topics for the event. More details can be found below:

Search Engine Strategies Sydney: March 26-27, 2003
http://www.searchenginestrategies.com/sew/sydney03/

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2002 Search Engine Watch Awards Winners Announced

Thanks to all of you who voted for the 2002 Search Engine Watch awards! Chris Sherman and I went through all your votes and comments, which was an essential part of the process in helping us determine the final winners. A summary of winners is listed below, and you can find the complete write-up via the awards site:

Search Engine Watch Awards
http://searchenginewatch.com/awards/

Outstanding Search Service: Google
Second Place: AllTheWeb

Best Meta Search Engine: Vivisimo & Copernic
Honorable Mentions: Ez2www, Kartoo & SurfWax

Best News Search Engine: Google News
Second Place: Yahoo News
Honorable Mentions: AllTheWeb News, AltaVista News & Daypop

Best Image Search Engine: Google Images
Second Place: AllTheWeb Images & AltaVista Images

Best Shopping Search Engine: Yahoo Shopping & DealTime
Honorable Mentions: mySimon, PriceGrabber, BizRate.com

Best Design: Google
Second Place: AllTheWeb
Honorable Mention: Teoma

Most Webmaster Friendly Search Engine: Google
Second Place: AllTheWeb & Yahoo
Honorable Mention: MSN

Best Paid Placement Service: Google AdWords & Overture
Honorable Mention: FindWhat

Best European Paid Placement Service: Espotting & Google
Second Place: Overture

Best Paid Inclusion Service: Inktomi & Fast
Second Place: Yahoo Express

Best Search Feature: Google Spell Checking
Second Place:
AllTheWeb Page Customization
Honorable Mentions: Google Dictionary Links & AllTheWeb Skins

Best Specialty Search Engine: Scirus & Google Groups
Second Place: Internet Archive
Honorable Mentions: FindLaw, The Internet Movie Database, Singingfish Audio Video Search, FindArticles.com

Special Recognition Award: WebmasterWorld.com

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Ending The Debate Over Cloaking

Few issues have divided the search engine marketing community than that of cloaking. There is a segment that firmly believes they should have the right to cloak their content from users, while another group strongly feels this is a deceptive tactic. Get the two talking about it and tempers flare.

Complicating the issue is the fact that while some search engines have guidelines against cloaking, arguments can also be made that these same search engines still allow it or even themselves practice it. In addition, just trying to agree on "what is cloaking" can lead to frustration on both sides.

Search engine marketer Alan Perkins hoped to clarify matters by publishing his "Cloaking Is Always A Bad Idea" article last month. Instead, the article has renewed the debate over cloaking, but perhaps in a helpful matter.

In my article below, we take a look at why people have traditionally cloaked, how XML feeds these days provide a form of approved cloaking and why the bigger issue to focus on isn't whether cloaking is allowed but instead whether paid content gets more liberal rules about acceptability. The full story can be found via this link:

Ending The Debate Over Cloaking
The Search Engine Report, Feb. 4, 2003
http://searchenginewatch.com/sereport/03/02-cloaking.html

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Doorways Not Always Bad, At Inktomi

In my "Ending The Debate Over Cloaking" article above, I discuss the fact that XML feeds provide a way for search engine marketers to essentially cloak doorway page-style content with approval. In this article, we take a closer look at exactly how this is so, at Inktomi.

Doorways Not Always Bad, At Inktomi
The Search Engine Update, Feb. 4, 2003
http://searchenginewatch.com/subscribers/articles/03/02-inktomi.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:

The Quest for Search Engine Relevancy
SearchDay, Feb. 4, 2003
http://www.searchenginewatch.com/searchday/03/sd0204-ses-relevance.html

Today's search engines are experiencing dij` vu, it seems, focusing on developing better relevance in search results instead of trying to entertain users as "portals".

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Help Build a Searchers' Swiki
SearchDay, Feb. 3, 2003
http://www.searchenginewatch.com/searchday/03/sd0203-swiki.html

Want to share and publish your own web search knowledge? Sign up to help with the Searchers' Swiki, a collaborative web site that hopes to become an extensive knowledge base for searchers.

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A Niche Search Engine for eBusiness
SearchDay, Jan. 30, 2003
http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/03/sd0130-ebiz.html

eBizSearch is an experimental search engine that focuses on a very small niche: academic and commercially produced articles and reports about e-Business.

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Searching for Public Records
SearchDay, Jan. 29, 2003
http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/03/sd0129-pubrecs.html

Many governments have put public records online, but all too often in Invisible web databases that can't be found by search engines. The Search Systems Public Records Locator can help.

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Listen to the World
SearchDay, Jan. 28, 2003
http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/03/sd0128-radio.html

It's easy to use the Internet to listen to news, public affairs and entertainment programming from around the world -- if you know how to find online radio stations. Here's how.

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What if Amazon Were Free?
SearchDay, Jan. 27, 2003
http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/03/sd0127-onlinebooks.html

Online Books has links to more than 18,000 English works in various formats that are all free for personal, noncommercial use.

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The Gateway To Associations
SearchDay, Jan. 23, 2003
http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/03/sd0123-associations.html

The Gateway to Associations is a specialized searchable database with links to over 6,500 professional and scholarly associations located around the globe.

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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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Yahoo expands Overture relationship - analyst
Reuters, Feb. 4, 2002
http://biz.yahoo.com/rc/030204/media_yahoo_overture_1.html

Yahoo is experimenting with a way to run paid listings sidebar-style, along the side of its search results page. Such a move would allow it to place even more Overture paid listings on its page. Of course, it might decide down the road to fill these boxes with listings from its own in-house paid placement program, similar to what Lycos does now, yet still maintain a partnership with Overture. Haven't seen the boxes? Screenshots and discussions from those who spotted them first can be found at http://www.webmasterworld.com/forum35/1107.htm

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Overture US to raise minimum bid as well
WebmasterWorld.com, Feb. 3, 2002
http://www.webmasterworld.com/forum33/1345.htm

Not an article but an important discussion on how Overture US will apparently double the current minimum bid it allows later this week, raising it from $0.05 to $0.10.

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A Nation of Voyeurs
Boston Globe, Feb. 2, 2003
http://www.boston.com/globe/magazine/2003/0202/coverstory.htm

"The first tool truly to make sense of the white noise that is the Internet," this article says about Google, in yet another rewriting of history. Gosh, what did we do from 1994-1998, stumble around blindly? No, we used good tools like AltaVista and Yahoo to efficiently locate information everyday. Google absolutely raised the bar on relevancy, but we were far from blind before it appeared.

And yet again, another article on how Google alone perhaps provides access to too much private information. Hey, lots of this information can also be found in other search engines, as well. This isn't a Google problem -- it's a search engine problem. In fact, it's not even a search engine problem. If information shouldn't be accessible to the public, then it shouldn't be posted to the web, period. If it's on the web, then even without search engines -- people can still find it, albeit with much greater difficulty.

The article suggests that only deep pockets can help get content removed at Google, as alleged to have happened in the Scientology case. Sorry, no -- that was a reaction to US law. Show Google or another search engine that they are violating a law by providing access to certain information, and you too may find it easier to get that information pulled, regardless of your pocketbook.

Best part of the article is when Google cofounder Sergey Brin is asked if he would be comfortable knowing someone could find his home address via Google. "I hope not," he says, saying it would bother him. So perhaps those worried about personal information being provided via Google may find a sympathetic ear in coming up with a solution to remove it from Google. Of course, it will still remain online and accessible through other search engines.

Finally, in case you've forgotten the virtual wonder tour of Google's HQ from upteen billion other articles, you can live the dream all over again, in this one.

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Dot-Coms Turning Into Money Makers
BizReport.com, Jan. 31, 2003
http://www.bizreport.com/article.php?art_id=4121

Paid search revenue totaled an estimated $1.5 billion last year, and the popularity is behind the rise in revenue for players such as LookSmart and Ask Jeeves.

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LookSmart rewarded for pay-per-click gamble
The Age, Jan. 30, 2003
http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2003/01/29/1043804407779.html

LookSmart posts a net profit of $3.4 million on the back of strong growth in paid listings revenue.

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ineedhits.com hooks the US
Western Australia Business News, Jan. 30, 2003
http://www.businessnews.com.au/news.cfm?function=show&NewsID=9734

ineedhits, an Australian-based SEM firm and primary paid inclusion reseller for Ask Jeeves, reports $5.3 in revenue last year (unclear if this is US or Australian dollars) and projects $9.5 million for this year.

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Google-Opoly: The Game No One but Google Can Play
Slate, Jan. 29, 2003
http://slate.msn.com/id/2077875/

Revisits issues in the SearchKing case and touches briefly on some of the concerns that Google's perceived power raises. In case you missed my earlier coverage on the Googleopoly that some worry about, reality and myth, here's a link: http://searchenginewatch.com/sereport/02/09-google.html.

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Shopping Search Engine Users
BizReport, Jan. 29, 2003
http://www.bizreport.com/article.php?art_id=4102

A survey of 1,100 DealTime.com shopping search engine users in late-December 2002 found that the main reason for using shopping search services was to compare prices quickly (73 percent), followed by wanting to compare products (54 percent) and to find stores selling the products they were interested in (45 percent). Story also cites stats showing which search engines sent shopping search engines the most visitors: Google, Yahoo, MSN and AOL.

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Quality of Contextual Paid Search Listings Is Unproven
MediaPost, Jan. 28, 2003
http://www.mediapost.com/dtls_dsp_news.cfm?newsID=193791

I was glad to see this article, because it's an issue I've wanted to write up but haven't yet had the chance. In 2003, when it comes to paid placement, the definitive evolution we are going to see is paid listings no longer being tied to search results. Did you go to a travel site? Look there! Some of the "content" or ad links will be coming from paid placements. No, you didn't ask to be on this site, but because you bid on the word "travel," and because the site is about "travel," your paid listing provider determined that a relevant audience for you would be there. Such experiments are already happening, and I'll look more closely at the issues this raises -- both good and bad -- in the future. In the meantime, this gives you a hint of what's coming.

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Yahoo Hires Key Executive From Search Partner Overture
Dow Jones Business Wire, Jan. 28, 2003
http://biz.yahoo.com/djus/030128/1335000786_2.html

Overture loses an executive to Yahoo, causing speculation that Yahoo plans its own paid placement program. Sure, it could definitely happen. It's more likely that Yahoo plans to use him more for better monetizing the paid inclusion program it will offer, when the Inktomi acquisition is completed. Indeed, perhaps we could even see a hybrid system where paid inclusion content is separated from "free" listings and turned into Yahoo's own version of a paid placement program. None of this means that it has to drop its lucrative partnership with Overture.

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Paid Content Trend Is Dangerous
Editor & Publisher, Jan. 27, 2003
http://www.editorandpublisher.com/editorandpublisher/features_columns/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1804448

If news sites begin pulling content behind barriers, it may reduce the usefulness of news search engines. A look at the potential problems, especially from a news publisher's point of view.

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SearchKing update: preliminary injunction denied
LawMeme, Jan. 24, 2003
http://research.yale.edu/lawmeme/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=863

Google wins in getting SearchKing's preliminary injunction request denied. The judge finds that Google essentially has the right to issue opinions about web sites. A good breakdown of key issues in the ruling.

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Seven Ways to Increase Pay-Per-Click ROI
ClickZ, Jan. 24, 2003
http://www.clickz.com/sales/traffic/article.php/1573721

From tracking to dialogue, ways to get more from your CPC campaign.

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Google Toolbar Alternatives
Pointeronline, Jan. 24, 2003
http://www.poynter.org/column.asp?id=32&aid=18194

Use Netscape? Here's an alternative to give you quick access to Google, since you can't run the Google Toolbar.

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Beyond Price/Position: The SEM Strategy Loop
ClickZ, Jan. 22, 2003
http://www.clickz.com/search/opt/article.php/1572601

Forget about your paid placements and other SEM activities in terms of how much they cost or the position you attain with them. Instead, post-click conversion analysis will give you a better perspective about what to do.

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City Ogles Google Impact
Infomation Week, Jan. 21, 2003
http://www.commweb.com/article/IWK20030122S0010

Google's brand recognition and a special price for public entities gets the City of San Diego to shift from Verity to Google for its enterprise search solution.

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Tech Predictions for the Decade
Wired, Jan. 20, 2003
http://www.wired.com/news/business/0,1367,57238,00.html

In the future, semantic web agents will find exactly what we want, rather than us having to scour hundreds of off-topic pages on Google, says this prediction of future technology. Yawn. Will these be similar to the same agents that Autonomy and WiseWire touted in the late 1990s that failed to deliver? And is this the same Google that we're endlessly told finds everything we need, now suddenly off topic?

Search is often an on-demand activity. People who want "books about Agatha Christie" -- an example cited in the article -- don't want to wait until agents come back with answers. They want the answers immediately, so they'll still continue to turn to a search engine.

That example is also supposed to indicate the failure of search engines, because if you do it, you get books written by Agatha Christie, rather than about her. Of course, if you simply perform that search with quotation marks, you'll get pages that have that contain that exact phrase. And, surprise, when I tried this at Google, http://www.google.com/search?q="books+about+Agatha+Christie", the first match indeed listed books about Agatha Christie. Guess I can go without my search agent for another year.

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Interview with Chris Ridings
searchengineblog.com, January 2003
http://www.searchengineblog.com/interviews/interview_chris_ridings.htm

Chris Ridings, author of PageRank Explained, talks about his research into how Google ranks web pages.

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Interview with Ammon Johns
searchengineblog.com, January 2003
http://www.searchengineblog.com/interviews/interview_ammon_johns.htm

Long time search engine optimizer Ammon Johns reflects on the industry and changes.

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Tim Mayer of FAST search & transfer
Enfin, January 2003
http://int.enfin.com/interview/t-mayer.php

Long interview covering things that FAST considers to be spam, hardware and software used by the search engine company, that fact that the company now has 6 million paid inclusion URLs and other topics.

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