THE SEARCH ENGINE UPDATE
April 22, 1998 - Number 27
About The Update
The Search Engine Update is a twice-monthly update of search engine news. It is available only to those people who have subscribed to Search Engine Watch, http://searchenginewatch.com/.
Please note that long URLs may break into two lines in some mail readers. Cut and paste, should this occur.
In This Issue
A new Search Engine Sizes page has been posted, with charts about how large the various search engines are and information relating to the recent article in Science on search engine sizes. I'll be reviewing that article in more depth, in the next newsletter.
Search Engine Sizes
The Media Metrix and RelevantKnowledge search engine ratings pages have been updated. Notice the appearance of HotBot and LookSmart in the latest results.
Media Metrix Ratings
The Yahoo Page within the Subscribers-Only area has been completely rewritten and updated. Most people should give it a read.
How Yahoo Works
Search Engine News
Several of the major services made changes earlier this month. I'll be exploring these in more depth in the next issue, at the end of the month. For now, here is a quick summary:
Infoseek substantially changed how it is presenting search results. Now related topics appear above the main results, putting more emphasis on Infoseek's directory listings. Advertiser-related links appear side-by-side to these topics. Tweaks have also been made to improve the relevancy of single-word searches.
AltaVista also appears to have made a change that improves single-word searches. Top results tend to be only the home page of sites, and relevancy is generally better than in the past.
Excite and Lycos both introduced upgraded personalization services. In particular, Excite has made its entire front page customizable.
Yahoo is beta testing a new look, which you can preview at the link below.
Yahoo Beta Test
Yahoo posted a US $4.3 million quarterly profit, the largest to date for any search service. The chart on the Search Engine News page shows all profitable quarters for the major search services. The Search Engine Profits page will be updated later this month.
Search Engine News
Search Engine Profits
Search Engine Articles
Web Portals Play Leapfrog
Wired News, April 17, 1998
Exceptionally good round-up on how the major search services are imitating each other yet also trying to distinguish themselves to build loyal market share.
Inktomi files to go public
News.com, April 16, 1998
Details about Inktomi's upcoming IPO. The firm powers the HotBot search engine and the soon-to-launch Microsoft service, among others.
The Search Engine Speaks
CMPnet, March 30, 1998
Interview with Infoseek's product manager. No, you won't gain any "secrets" by reading it, but it is worth a scan for general attitudes about spamming and listing issues.
New Search Tool Speaks Your Language
Wired News, April 15, 1998
About the Electric Monk, a service that takes a natural language query such as "How do I make chicken soup" and sends it to AltaVista in a way meant to produce better results. Some may like it; some may think it's no better than regular AltaVista.
Yahoo and AltaVista Traffic Accident
Netly News, April 10, 1998
Discusses how partners Yahoo and AltaVista both count some of the same page views as their own.
Iconcast: Search Engines Issue
Iconocast, April 1, 1998
A lovely compilation of stats and analysis relating to the search engine industry.
Bellacoola: Offsite Stats For Those In Need
The best way to measure how successful search engine and other online marketing efforts are is to analyze your server logs. These tell you precisely the terms people use to find your site or the links sending traffic your way.
Unfortunately, many people don't have access to log information. In particular, those with free web pages hosted by AOL, CompuServe and other providers lack decent statistics. "Hit counters" don't cut it, when you want to measure marketing success.
Bellacoola Web Tracking Services is a wonderful solution. You install a small bit of code on each of your pages, and access logs are created in an offsite location. You can then download these and run them through your favorite log analysis program.
The program has been in beta for many months, but even so, it works very well. I've used it to monitor a CompuServe-based test site and been extremely pleased with the results.
Bellacoola is best for sites with low-to-medium traffic and not too many pages. Those with larger sites really should seek to have their provider establish decent statistics.
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