In This Issue
Search Engine Watch News
As you may be aware, I was at the SES San Jose show earlier this month. I was also out a week before that doing a variety of visits to various search engines. Lots of interesting stuff was learned -- now I just need to get some final clearances on what I can share. Look for that to come in the near future.
Meanwhile, if you missed the show, Barry Schwartz of SERoundtable.com and one of our forum moderators (RustyBrick) did a fantastic job diligently posting live reports throughout the four days. You'll find a guide to all his write-ups here: http://forums.searchenginewatch.com/showthread.php?threadid=863
Within the site, the Pay Per Click Search Engines (CPC/PPC) page has been updated to remove dead links and correct changed partnerships. You'll find it here: http://searchenginewatch.com/links/article.php/2156291.
With San Jose behind us, Search Engine Strategies brings sessions on search engine marketing to Stockholm from October 27-28 and Chicago from December 13-16. Basic information about these shows can be found via the URL below:
Search Engine Strategies
Search Engine Watch Articles
Here's a recap of major articles and some interesting forum discussions from Search Engine Watch since the last newsletter:
Google Changes Estimated Share Price To Below $100
Search Engine Watch Forums, Aug. 18, 2004
Google advises potential investors that the estimated price per share is now $85-$95 -- and fewer shares will be sold.
Creating Compelling Search Engine Ads and Landing Pages
SearchDay, August 18, 2004
Effective search engine advertising goes far beyond simply bidding on keywords. With both ads and landing pages, you have scant seconds to capture the imagination and clicks of a searcher.
Search Engines and Competitive Research
SearchDay, August 17, 2004
Search engines can tell you a lot about your competition, if you know what to look for. A panel of experts offers tips on profiling your competition. The version of this story for Search Engine Watch members describes strategies to determine how sophisticated your competitors are, how to determine whether competitors are using paid inclusion or XML feeds, and how to assess a competitor's link development process.
MSN Ends "Search Technology" Preview
Search Engine Watch Forums, Aug. 17, 2004
After a six week run MSN has ended (at least for now) its Search Technology Preview.
An Olympic Selection of Search Resources
SearchDay, August 16, 2004
The 2004 Summer Olympics are underway in Athens and the web is home to plenty of information that makes watching the games even more interesting.
Search Engine Forums Spotlight
SearchDay, August 13, 2004
Links to this week's topics from search engine forums across the web: SEMPO Next Steps & Mike Grehan's Second SEMPO Article - Overture Bidding Cap - PPC Question for Merchants - SEO Firm Ordered to Refund Fees, Pay Fine - Tracking Past Links & Traffic? - Google Settles Overture Patent Dispute - Advice on Site Structure
Brin, Page Interview in Playboy
Search Engine Watch Forums, Aug. 12, 2004
A recent interview with Google cofounders Larry Page and Sergey Brin in the famous men's magazine caused panic when it appeared just before Google was about to go public.
The interview happened before the filing was announced, so really shouldn't have been in violation of "quiet period" rules. Nevertheless, the company decided to reissue its filing papers, citing the article as something that shouldn't be read in isolation in terms of an investment decision.
In what's got to be a first for an SEC filing, it included the entire text of the Playboy article. You can read it here: http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1288776/000119312504139655/ds1a.htm#toc59330_25b, if you want to sit through the long download. Now that it has been placed in the public domain, others are also reposting the article itself, such as here: http://google.weblogsinc.com/entry/1894568467845334/.
What about the article itself? Much covers stuff readers of this newsletter already know or have read about in various sources for ages. What's new? A non-answer about how the company plans to keep employees focused on work rather than stock prices. Just being around for five years, rather than two, and having lots of advertisers and salespeople doesn't cut it.
It's denied that Google ever considered selling out. If so, that's counter to what Brin told me during an interview in front of nearly 1,000 people, in that the company would always consider all serious approaches: http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/article.php/3081081. Perhaps the better answer would be, "never seriously considered selling out."
Interesting is the first news that the "don't be evil" motto is "half" of what Google aims at. The other half? "Be good." My advice would be to drop the first half. The don't be evil part suggests that everyone else is evil. I've done numerous interviews with reporters coming up to speed on Google for the first time after the IPO announcement. It's very common that they find the "don't be evil" line arrogant. In contrast, just saying "be good" sounds less accusatory.
In questions over Gmail, privacy and ads, the usual defenses and ground are covered. But I did love the quote from Page, "During Gmail tests, people bought lots of things using the ads." Also interesting that the Gmail outcry was a lesson. In part, my view is that this is because while I think Google -- and Page and Brin in particular -- honestly believe that you should trust them to do no evil, people themselves simply have learned not to trust corporations. Despite lofty goals, Google remains a corporation -- and it won't just automatically be trusted.
The issue of search engine optimizers come up. Brin is very clear that not all SEO is evil: "You have to distinguish among optimizers. Some do perfectly legitimate thingstheyre just trying to create informative sites." Link bombs? Brought up and dismissed as mostly "entertainment." And I largely agree, but as I've written, it's also entertainment that's giving the impression Google is easy to manipulate.
Interesting question on getting balance in search results. They agree it's important, for example, that if there are two sides to an issue, you'd get a mixture. Yet this is immediately contradicted by a statement that small sites "do well" in search results because of how they organize. That implied the balance isn't right. And what's missing to help that balance? Any type of human intervention or editing. As always, technology is seen as the solution. Sadly, the rest of the search industry has bought into this, as well.
Accusations of ever having caved into Chinese censorship demands are dismissed, as they've been in the past. But interestingly, neither says outright that they'd refused to allow censorship, if demanded. Instead, Brin simply says, "There are difficult questions, difficult challenges." And there's also a difficult answer that Google already has censored results in response to US, German, UK and French laws that I know of -- as have other search engines.
SEO Firm Ordered to Refund Fees, Pay Fine
Search Engine Watch Forums, Aug. 12, 2004
Discusses how firm Internet Advancement was ordered by the Washington state attorney to refund customers who failed to achieve top search rankings apparently as promised. The action came after more than 100 complaints filed with the attorney general's office, the US Federal Trade Commission and the Better Business Bureau. Interestingly, the company's web site still has claims such as "Most search engines update their listings about every 30 days and if you aren't resubmitting often enough you can be wiped right off the list." That's not correct. No major search engine I know of suggests that if you don't resubmit, you won't maintain high rankings. The company's web site also still continues to guarantee "top 20" rankings along with a refund policy. Coverage also from DMNews.com, http://www.dmnews.com/cgi-bin/artprevbot.cgi?article_id=30117. I'm very likely to do a longer follow-up on this, so keep an eye out in a coming newsletter.
Another Expanded Whois Service
SearchDay, Aug. 12, 2004
Doing in-depth investigation of a web site? Whois.sc offers a wealth of detail about the people and technology behind just about any web site on the planet.
Capturing Your Personal Web
SearchDay, Aug. 11, 2004
Forget bookmarks: Web content managers allow you to create your own personal, searchable cache of web pages.
Yahoo Offers Anti-Spyware App
SearchDay, Aug. 10, 2004
Tired of those unwelcome pests that invade your computer without permission? Banish intrusive spyware and tracking cookies with Yahoo's newly upgraded toolbar.
Search Engine Forums Spotlight
SearchDay, Aug. 6, 2004
Links to this week's topics from search engine forums across the web: Live Reports from Search Engine Strategies San Jose 2004 - PPC Bounce Rate - Google AdWords Myths - After SEMPO: Should We Start a Trade Association? - Search Inventory vs. Conversion - Terra Sells Lycos at Yard Sale Price.
Search Engine Milestones for August 2004
SearchDay, Aug. 5, 2004
Notable news and announcements from the web search world during the past month.
Ask Jeeves Goes Local, Adds New Smart Search Features
SearchDay, Aug. 4, 2004
Ask Jeeves has announced a new partnership with local search and content provider CitySearch, and added new search shortcuts.
Yahoo Targets Google, Yellow Pages with New Local Search
SearchDay, Aug. 3, 2004
Yahoo has rolled out a feature-laden beta version of its local search service, sharply upping the ante in the rapidly evolving local search sweepstakes.
SEMPO Meeting at SES San Jose 2004
Search Engine Watch Forums, Aug. 3, 2004
Last newsletter, I recapped issues that came up about the Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization needing to improve communication with its members. Discussion of actual and desired changes following the group's meeting at SES San Jose has continued. This thread provides coverage of what was discussed, then lots of commentary from those who were there or who read about it from afar. Some other selected related reading:
SEMPO Holds Annual Meeting, Addresses Concerns, http://www.searchengineguide.com/laycock/001918.html, Jennifer Laycock of SearchEngineGuide.com provides her take on the meeting.
SEMPO Looks Back, Pushes Ahead, http://www.clickz.com/news/article.php/3390761, ClickZ article that take a nice look at the meeting, the issues and provides lots of quotes.
SEMPO Next Steps & Mike Grehan's Second SEMPO Article, http://forums.searchenginewatch.com/showthread.php?threadid=1051, Mike Grehan, whose article last month kicked off many new questions about SEMPO's direction, wasn't pleased with the outcome of the meeting. A link to his article from this forum thread, along with lots of discussion.
After SEMPO: Should We Start a Trade Association?, http://www.cre8asiteforums.com/viewtopic.php?t=13190, Folks at Cre8asite Forums ponder if they should create an entirely new trade association for SEM.
Topix Upgrades News, Adds Email Alerts
SearchDay, Aug. 2, 2004
Topix.net, one of the most useful news aggregators and search tools on the open web, has enhanced its service with a number of new features.
Search Engine Forums Spotlight
SearchDay, Aug. 1, 2004
Links to this week's topics from search engine forums across the web: SEMPO Under Fire - Mike Grehan Stirs Up SEMPO Controversy - What Does SEMPO Mean To You? - Overture to Launch Bid Management Tool - Google's IPO Pricing - Could a Virus Shut down Google?
How To Handle AdWords With Thousands Of Keywords
Search Engine Watch Forums, July 29, 2004
10,000 keywords, a unique URL for each of them -- how best to set this up in Google AdWords?
Tips On Becoming An ODP editor
Search Engine Watch Forums, July 29, 2004
Had trouble getting your app to be an Open Directory editor accepted? Some advice from an ODP "meta" editor and others.
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Search Engine Watch Forums
Search Engine Articles
Seeking a fuller search engine Firms working on technology that scans Web, desktop
San Francisco Chronicle, Aug. 16, 2004
Short rundown on various players in the search your desktop game.
Feedster Will Place Ads in RSS Feeds
eWeek, Aug. 16, 2004
Feedster, the popular weblog and RSS search tool, will place sponsored links into RSS feeds of search results. Non-commercial users can have the ads removed by paying an annual $10 fee. The links will be contextually-targeted rather than keyword-based. They are provided by Kanoodle.com.
Being search engine friendly doesn't mean creating ugly web sites. You can (and should) please both search engines and users.
Thumbnail images are coming to search properties owned by AOL such as Netscape, CompuServe, AIM and ICQ. AOL Search itself doesn't appear to be getting them. Girafa already provides thumbnail images to MSN Search results that show in the Internet Explorer search pane, such as with this example: http://search.msn.com/preview.aspx?&q=tennis
Boost Volume and Lower SEM Costs
ClickZ, Aug. 13, 2004
Tips on how to get your ads appearing for many more keywords quickly, while also hopefully keeping conversion also high.
Search: Bigger Means Smaller
ClickZ, August 13, 2004
Back from SES, where she moderated several panels, ClickZ's executive editor Rebecca Lieb comes away that the growth in search also means it is fragmenting into more bite-size chunks, whether they be focused around vertical search topics, vertical industry areas or tactics within the SEM industry itself.
A new survey reports that newspaper execs view paid search as a "moderate threat" to traditional advertising.
UK government enters search listing stakes
DMeurope.com, Aug. 11, 2004
To promote its new Directgov site, the UK government is now bidding on keywords with Google, Overture and Espotting. Also see http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/3555480.stm
Here's What I Would Pay for Google
TheStreet.com, Aug. 11, 2004
Numerous people have asked me how much I would pay for a share of Google. First of all, I don't buy search stocks to avoid conflicts of interest. Secondly, if I did, I honestly have no idea. Half the time, it seems like no one really knows what a company is worth period. Lots of people seem to want to compare Google to Yahoo, since they are both search-oriented companies that sell listings. But Yahoo isn't exactly the same as Google. In addition, things like the number of shares outstanding, share splits and so on all seems to be lost in the muddle of comparison. But I did find this article a nice walkthrough of trying to get some type of valuation. Could be completely off, but at least the process is interesting.
ValueClick Closes Pricerunner Purchase
Forbes, Aug. 10, 2004
ValueClick now owns shopping search engine Pricerunner.
Digitize and conquer
San Jose Mercury News, Aug. 11, 2004
Internet Archive founder Brewster Kahle wants to "digitize everything." He's even asked Google to donate what it indexes but has yet to get a response. Well, you could always ask Yahoo. They cover much of the same ground.
Want to know the pure count for a particular term over time. This new site lets you do it. Just keep in mind that as always, search engine count figures are largely meaningless in terms of proof of trends and many other things. See this for more on that topic: Fox News & Danger Of Citing Search Counts, http://forums.searchenginewatch.com/showthread.php?t=299
SES San Jose was big. How big? Brobdingnagian big, says Kevin Ryan. Then he takes you on a guide to highlights, including issues about clickfraud, looking for second-tier clicks and issues on search engine spam. His second part goes through more: http://www.imediaconnection.com/content/4020.asp
Google and Yahoo announced that they have resolved two contentious issues between the companies, one involving a patent over paid listings. In my view, Google got a cheap deal. Is $300 million cheap? Yes, compared to the the $1 billion+ or so per year that Google currently earns off of paid listings. The patent lets them keep operating without the thread of a legal blockade.
A reporter asked me recently what was the first step in getting started with search engine marketing. I said understanding how much you can afford to spend per lead. If you don't know that, you don't know how much you can afford to bid on terms, to spend on natural SEO and so on. I'm hardly the first to say this. Fredrick Marckini from iProspect earlier this year put a great label on moving forward without knowing what you can spend: "ass-backward SEM," http://www.clickz.com/experts/search/results/article.php/3328731. In this column, Gary Stein from Jupiter Research covered the same topic at length. Lots of good advice.
Being priced out of paid listings because of higher bids? Increasing your conversion rate might put you back in the game.
Googlers rest from road show at blowout bash
San Jose Mercury News, Aug. 9, 2004
Google held its third annual "Google Dance" in conjunction with the SES show -- and it was bigger than ever. What underscored it for me was the engraved map of the "Google Village," outlining all the event areas. There were gripes that the beer flow ended before the party did -- and Yahoo planted an Easter Egg dig within its search results about this. It no longer works, but Search Engine Roundtable shows how "Never run out of beer" briefly came up at Yahoo for a search on "ses party rule #1," http://www.seroundtable.com/archives/000738.html. There were plenty of other parties at after-hours events, as well. A reporter's recap.
Marketers Say Search Is Not 'Very Effective'
MediaPost, Aug. 9, 2004
MarketingSherpa's 2004 Search Marketing Survey found that neither marketers or their agencies felt their search marketing efforts are "very effective." But MarketingSherpa publisher and editor Anne Holland says this is in part to failures on their own tactics, rather than the medium. The report also gives the first estimate I've seen of SEO spending as opposed to paid ad spending -- $200 million versus $3.3 billion. In other words, the entire search spending pie is estimated at $3.5 billion -- and non-paid search marketing, SEO, gets about 6 percent of this. Information about buying the guide can be found here: http://www.sherpastore.com/store/page.cfm/2166
SES Wrap Up: Portrait of an Industry Under Tremendous Strain
MarketingSherpa, Aug. 9, 2004
I actually don't know whether search marketing has hit the mainstream or not, as this recap of the SES San Jose show says. We easily had 300 or 400 of the 1,000 session attendees who were clearly brand new to SEM, based on various hands-up surveys. That suggests even more people may still be coming into it. In this recap of the show, I'm not really sure it supports the "strain" of the headline -- but no doubt, it underscores how much is continuing to change and evolve in the industry. Among the highlights, the clickfraud session -- which we've offered as part of other sessions for over two years and as its own session for the first time in Chicago last year, seems to have finally resonated with many more people as a concern. Also touches on a point in my keynote where I worry that contextual ads are being lumped into search and producing a pollution of metrics, for some.
Assuming all information can be digitized -- and some believe it can -- the real challenge then remains how to sort through it. The topic was explored at a conference held at IBM's Almaden research facility. Recaps some attempts to do this, but the solution is still far from being found. Best quote -- an estimate that there are only 100 million books that have been published in human history. That seems so incredibly low. But if true as the Internet Archive's Brewster Kahle says, then it does make the task of digitizing human knowledge more conceivable.
Search Engine Marketing, Optimization, and Blogs
Jeremy Zawodny's Blog, Aug. 8, 2004
Jeremy Zawodny is a prominent blogger, Yahoo RSS evangelist and was a panelist on our session about search, blogs and RSS. He shares his thoughts about participating. It was a packed session, amazing given it was in the last time slot of the last day. By the way, he mentions my use of the term "web feeds" as an umbrella for RSS and Atom feeds. I use -- but I didn't coin it. I picked it up out of the RSS renaming contest that was held: http://blog.contentious.com/archives/000167.html. And I guess I should be saying "webfeeds" rather than "web feeds."
Paid search growth may slow
Reuters, Aug. 8, 2004
Paid search spending isn't going to grow as rapidly as in the past, says a new report from Jupiter Research. Nevertheless, the same report estimates that paid search will double from $2.6 billion spent this year to $5.5 billion by 2009. Meanwhile, an analyst in the story fails to understand that Google already earns beyond paid search -- since its contextual ads aren't search! But the concern that some will want Google to diversify outside of paid advertising overall is valid.
Yahoo, Google Act Local
San Jose Mercury News, Aug. 8, 2004
You've read stories like this already before about why search engines are chasing local, because of the potential ad revenue. It also revisits problems some the current search advertising models face in gaining local advertisers. Meanwhile, a new survey finds more than half of small and medium-sized business think local search will be of growing importance to them: http://www.clickz.com/news/article.php/3395561
Yahoo has purchased FareChase, a small online travel company, which it hopes will help strengthen its Yahoo Travel area.
I want to benchmark performance against my competitor. Of course you do -- but you may be better off benchmarking just internally. That's more applicable, explains Kevin Lee.
Yahoo Readies Desktop Search Tools
PCWorld.com, Aug. 5, 2004
Microsoft's definitely got a desktop search tool coming. Analysts have seen it, as have I. For more, see http://news.com.com/2100-1008_3-5289463.html. Google's rumored to be doing one, http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/article.php/3355831. Now Yahoo's rumored to be readying its own tool, as well.
Covers tips and advice on buying ads beyond Google and Overture, out of a session at the SES San Jose show. Click prices are going up, so alternatives are desirable. Conversion on alternatives may not be as good, but at cheaper prices, it may be good enough.
Keynote: Don't Forget SEO
DMNews.com, Aug. 5, 2004
I'll be turning my SES San Jose into a keynote address into a proper article, in the near future. Key points? SEO -- the focus on natural/free/organic listings -- is not going away. And if search engines don't help enable SEM providers on the SEO front, they're going to face a worsening spam problem.
Do agencies get search? After talking with a variety of analysts and media professionals, Ross Fadner comes away thinking not. Fadner also recounts concerns that were aired specifically on a panel at the Jupiter Media Advertising Forum, http://www.mediapost.com/dtls_dsp_news.cfm?newsID=262084.
MSN, AOL, Ask.com and Yahoo Speculate on Search
SearchEngineGuide.com, Aug. 4, 2004
Recaps the "Executive Roundtable" session at SES San Jose, where execs from major search firms answered a variety of questions relating to the industry. Among the questions -- are SEOs/SEMs viewed as the enemy? With qualifications, not at all.
Chinese Internet media firm Sohu.com has unveiled its new "Search Dog" search engine.
Greets from GoogleGuy!
Google Blog, Aug. 4, 2004
Arguably one of the most famous Googlers out there is Google Guy, the nickname of the anonymous Google employee who has been a long-time contributor to discussions at WebmasterWorld.com. Now he's emerged on the Google Blog, promising to contribute tips there on issues relating to being listed with Google.
Kevin Ryan would like a solution to finding a good search engine marketer. COLON is his tongue-in-cheek call for the industry to work together on a solution.
Porn Blogs Manipulate Google
Wired, Aug. 3, 2004
File this under the best spam report seems to be to get someone to write an article about your competitors. A porn site is accused of using Google's Blogger service to create a number of blogs that link back to its own sites. Not said is that this has an impact on other search engines -- or that porn sites have been doing the same tactic with non-blog sites -- or that non-porn sites have used cross-linking -- or as best I can tell, any actual examples of searches where the tactic supposedly helped. Perhaps it did, but for what isn't shown. I didn't find the blog material in question for the three celebrities named, when I looked in mid-August. Perhaps they were there before, of course.
Marketers want search and contextual to be kept separate, and for good reason. I can't believe we're well over a year into Google offering contextual ads and we're still getting the entire "we can't unbundle this from search because we're trying to make life easier for advertisers" pitch. Just do it. Advertisers are grown-ups. They can handle the concept of running contextual campaigns separate from search campaigns. They already do this at Overture. Don't make them opt-out. Make it easier to opt-into both separately.
Perhaps the headline should be, "search engine queries provide stolen credit cards." Because I have no doubt that similar searches would bring these up at places like Yahoo or Ask Jeeves, as well as Google. If data is left out, any search engine may index it. Numerous stories like this can be found here: http://searchenginewatch.com/resources/article.php/2156541#Privacy. Often, Google gets singled out. The real culprit are those who put the information online in the first place.
I've been working on an update over the past couple of weeks about search engine attitudes toward rank checking, in the wake of WebTrends having acquired WebPosition. It's been like pulling teeth to get a straight answer. Hopefully, I'll have the article up soon. For the moment, Google -- which specifically warns against using WebPosition on its web site -- has not backed away from that stance. But as I've written before, many do find that if they use the rank checking tool in moderation, they've not had problems -- and Google itself has often dropped advice that "flying under the radar" may not be noticed (see references in http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/article.php/3332511). A more complete recap soon, promise. Meanwhile, this article offers a short review of the new upgrade to WebPosition. Also see http://www.clickz.com/news/article.php/3389041
Web outshines catalogs, direct marketing and telemarketing, study says
Internet Retailer, Aug. 2, 2004
Nearly 100 million adults made purchases after searching for product information last year, nearly matching the number who purchased through catalogs, direct-mail ads and telemarketing calls combined, according to a Dieringer Research Group study.
Search Engine Resources
Meta search engine with thumbnail displays. The Quick View display, similar to what WiseNut has long offered, is cool. The service queries WiseNut, Yahoo, Teoma and then somewhat repetitively also includes Yahoo-powered MSN, AltaVista and AllTheWeb. Disclosure of search sources within the actual search results is not done, sadly. Makes it hard to know exactly where the results are coming from, which can be useful.
IceRocket made news recently because billionaire Mark Cuban is a backer. He previously invested in another meta search engine, Mamma, then sold out: http://www.clickz.com/news/article.php/3391731. Does Google need to watch out, as he blogged: http://www.blogmaverick.com/entry/1511731206339485/. IceRocket isn't just trying to compete against major search engines, from which it depends on for its core search results. The entire meta search market also has well-established players and is also oversaturated (here are just a few examples: http://searchenginewatch.com/links/article.php/2156241.
Want to talk about it? Gary Price does some dissection of how "new" ideas aren't that new here: http://forums.searchenginewatch.com/showthread.php?t=892. Forum folks have also been discussing it since June over here: http://forums.searchenginewatch.com/showthread.php?t=285
We've had a whole breed of search result comparison tools that I've covered in past newsletters. Here's another -- and a cool one. It allows you to search two major search engines at the same time, then see results that are found on both first, followed by results found on only one of them next. The small overlap visual tool displayed is great. I used to make examples like this to explain search engine overlap and why one search engine may not cover everything. Now I have an easy dynamic way to do this. The stats link at the bottom of the home page provides more visuals.
SEMPO "Top of Search = Top of Mind" Ad Campaign
SEMPO's had its downs recently, but here's a big up, in my book. The organization has started an ad campaign to promote search engine marketing among traditional advertisers who may still not be thinking of it. "Top Of Mind" may not resonate with some search marketers, but for traditional marketers, it means getting the word out to your market. Link above shows you some of the ads. The campaign is the first I can ever recall being done by a group of search engine marketers, on behalf of search engine marketing. And that includes both search engine advertising and traditional SEO. More about the campaign here: http://www.mediapost.com/dtls_dsp_news.cfm?newsID=263953
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