In This Issue
Search Engine Watch News
Winners of the 4th Annual Search Engine Watch Awards, recognizing excellence in search, have now been posted. You can read about all the winners in the various categories via the URL below. And thanks to all of our readers who voted. Your feedback was greatly appreciated and used.
4th Annual Search Engine Watch Awards
In just two weeks, Search Engine Strategies comes to New York. There's still time to get the "early bird discount" if you register by today, February 17!
Running from March 1-4, the show features sessions that cover every aspect of search engine marketing. You'll hear from search engine marketing experts as well as search engine representatives themselves. Confirmed speakers will be there from About.com, AOL, Ask Jeeves/Teoma, Google, Inktomi, LookSmart/WiseNut, Overture and Yahoo, as well as a variety of specialized services such as Shopping.com and Singingfish.
In addition to having organized the event's nearly 60 sessions, I'll be delivering a conference keynote on the second day of the show and moderating a "Future Of Search" session with search engine executives on the third day. I'm also looking forward to leading my popular "Evening Forum" session again. It's an open-mic night, where the audience drives what search topics are discussed.
If you enjoy the content featured in Search Engine Watch, then Search Engine Strategies is your chance to see that content come to life! You'll find the full agenda and registration information via the link below:Search Engine Strategies New York
Dates for several other Search Engine Strategies events in 2004 have also been set. Find out when it will come to Tokyo, Toronto and San Jose via the URL below:
Search Engine Strategies
Search Engine Articles
By Danny Sullivan
Changes As MSN & Yahoo
Search Engine Watch, Feb. 16, 2004
Search engine marketers have long been awaiting changes at Yahoo and MSN. Finally, signs of transition are beginning to appear in the form of Inktomi's promotion at MSN Search, a new MSN Search beta and the Inktomi crawler being rebranded Yahoo Slurp.
Here's a recap of recent articles from Search Engine Watch's daily SearchDay newsletter:
Search Engine Forums Spotlight
SearchDay, Feb. 13, 2004
Links to this week's topics from search engine forums across the web: Gates On Google : We WILL Catch Them! - Becoming an Authority - An 's' Makes This Much of A Difference? - Caissa - Cre8asite Example of the Year - Link Filters? - Link Reputation Is King - How Much Text Is Ideal?
Create Your Own Online Web Page Archive
SearchDay, Feb. 12, 2004
Furl combines the best features of a bookmark manager and a weblog with your own, permanent online cache of web pages -- and makes them searchable, to boot.
An Extreme Searcher's Guide to the Best of the Web
SearchDay, Feb. 11, 2004
One of the world's foremost super searchers has distilled his extensive and wide-ranging knowledge into an essential guide to the web's highest quality resources.
Visualizing Paris, Barcelona and other Cities
SearchDay, Feb. 10, 2004
While local search in the U.S. has focused on providing basic business information, Wanadoo Maps has added a new twist to online yellow pages in Europe: photos of thousands of buildings in France and Spain.
Search Engine Watch 2003 Award Winners
SearchDay, Feb. 9, 2004
Search Engine Watch has released its annual list of outstanding web search services for 2003. Your favorite search engine is among them, but there were also some surprises and controversial predictions for the coming year.
Search Engine Forums Spotlight
SearchDay, Feb. 6, 2004
Links to this week's topics from search engine forums across the web: Still Not Listed With Inktomi - Redirect a Site Cleanly Without a 301 - AdSense December Check - Measuring Keyword Competition - Ranked #2 in MSN = No Traffic - Verizon to Launch Local Search PPC - Do the Search Engines See Banner Links? - Google to Delay IPO?
Searching For Sounds
SearchDay, Feb. 5, 2004
Ever wondered what a kookaburra sounds like? Want to use the Roadrunner's 'beep beep' as your 'you've got mail' sound? FindSounds can help you find these and hundreds of other sound files on the web.
Hack Your Own Search Engine Crawler
SearchDay, Feb. 4, 2004
Want to build your own customized search tool that can search the web, explore online databases, and mine virtually any other type of internet resource? Spidering Hacks shows you how.
Want to receive SearchDay? Sign-up for the free daily newsletter from Search Engine Watch via the link below:
Search Engine Articles
XML Paid Inclusion: Marketing Winner, Search Spam Killer
ClickZ, Feb. 13, 2004
Paid inclusion will be coming big time to Yahoo soon, and it's likely you'll hear some criticisms of this come up in the coming months. Kevin Lee offers a defense as to why XML feeds in particular can be relevancy boosters. No argument here. XML paid inclusion content can in some circumstances indeed help relevancy, reduce spam and offer other benefits. But in other circumstances, it might hurt. I don't know anyone who can universally declare that overall, it's "better" or "worse."
What I can say is that paid inclusion is an ADVERTISING program, pitched to ADVERTISERS. As such, it's time the listings be disclosed in some way as ads. It doesn't have to be anything major. A small icon or something to help those who want to know what is paid versus unpaid content on a search results page. Do that, and the criticisms of paid inclusion largely disappear. But without disclosure, it's nearly impossible for the typical search consumer to distinguish paid inclusion ads from free listings -- and some will want to do this.
By the way, I'm not part of the faction that thinks XML feeds let SEMs generate search engine spam. Rather, I think the search engines offering paid inclusion may hold content in these programs to more liberal rules than would apply to "unpaid" content. In other words, a doorway page may be seen as spam by a search engine when it is outside a paid inclusion program. But feed it via XML, and suddenly the criteria of what makes a good "page" seems much more generous. And that's not spam, since it's the search engines themselves that define spam.
I've written past articles that go into much more depth about the pros and cons of paid inclusion. You'll find them listed here: http://searchenginewatch.com/webmasters/article.php/2167941#inclusion. I'd especially encourage reading the "Ending The Debate Over Cloaking" and "The Mixed Message Of Paid Inclusion" articles.
Forrester's CEO George Colony says Google's not worth $15 billion, but $6 billion might be seen as reasonable. Elsewhere, he argues that Google is vulnerable because search has "no barriers to entry." The proof of this is how AltaVista almost immediately lost its traffic to Google, Colony writes.
Yep, over six months in 2001, Google sucked in AltaVista traffic -- as well as traffic from others. See what I've long called the Google-AltaVista "X" because of the way the traffic lines cross via the December 2000-May 2001 Media Metrix ratings page listed here: http://searchenginewatch.com/_subscribers/article.php/2149481.
If there's no barrier to search, then why didn't all the other search engines around at this time do well? Because there IS a serious technological barrier to building a system that can index the web, provide relevant results and handle large amounts of searches. If it was so easy, why does Microsoft itself not expect to have a system going until the end of this year, at the earliest? That's almost two years after it began efforts to build its own crawler. Again, the answer is that it's not so easy.
The search barrier indeed exists. Anyone new will have a tough time breaking through it. And should they do so, they'll only succeed if the others out there are clearly worse than the newcomer. AltaVista would not have lost traffic to Google if it hadn't neglected search. Don't expect Yahoo, Google, Microsoft and Ask Jeeves -- the major technology players in the space -- to repeat that mistake. (permalink to this item)
Despite the headline, this article's charts show search spending continuing to rise -- as I would well expect it to. Some more bar charts for those who want numbers on the growth of search engine marketing. This write-up: http://www.mediapost.com/dtls_dsp_news.cfm?newsId=238006, has some more details from the report.
Lycos U.S. Changes...Everything
InternetNews.com, Feb. 12, 2004
Lycos US, one of the web's first search engines and a powerhouse of the earlier years, tried to go the portal route and lost its former glory. Now it's dumping all portal pretensions altogether. Instead, the site will be relaunched as a "social networking" hub. Search will still exist, though exactly what remains uncertain.
"Search becomes even more important to Lycos than before," said Tom Wilde, general manager of search services for Terra Lycos, when I emailed for a quick update. Adding further, he wrote:
"Mary Meeker describes one of the core activities on the internet today as 'SFO' or 'Search Find Obtain.' This concept can be applied to any number of verticals, such as shopping, research, jobs, etc. The same can be said of people. People look to make connections for a variety of reasons, dating, professional networking, social interests, etc, and to accomplish this, they need to use SFO type product offerings. Our goal is to add this capability to our Search platform in a very robust way.
Search today at Terra Lycos is profitable and growing, and its financial contribution alone makes it a cornerstone of the company. In addition, however, we are building a new platform to launch this year which will bring the ability to Search Find and Obtain people into the main product line as an additional attribute to the already successful traditional Web search capabilities. Search will actually be hiring staff this year and making substantial investments in infrastructure. You will also see a tighter integration of search into our dominant web publishing products, such as Tripod, Angelfire, and our award winning blogging service."
So -- we'll see. It does seem likely that the core capability to search the web will remain at Lycos. HotBot is also going to be maintained as a search site. But it also sounds like new features such as improved people and blog searching may be offered, and perhaps even on a subscription basis. (permalink to this item)
Google pulls an anti-pollution ad, keeping to its often controversial (and still apparently unwritten) policy of not accepting anti-anything ads that has infuriated potential advertisers across the political spectrum and various special interests.
Short review of new web page that lets you access some of Google's advanced search options more easily.
Jill Whalen describes the seven steps of learning SEO that she often finds people progress through, from the "submittal stage" through to the "hard work phase."
Google AdWords' Chinese Menu
InternetNews.com, Feb. 11, 2004
Speak or read Chinese? A new interface makes it easier to buy ads on Google.
You may recall my article about creating RSS feeds from last year: http://searchenginewatch.com/sereport/article.php/2175271. In it, I discussed how there are different flavors of RSS. The RDF version, RSS 1.0, seems to have been renamed Atom and is evolving some new capabilities. That leaves the other, non-RDF flavor of RSS continuing on.
Google's Blogger previously let users distribute posts via RSS. Now new people will only be able to use Atom. Meanwhile, Yahoo is developing new support for people to take RSS feeds. Sounds like another format nightmare nobody wants or needs, and the "sides" both take swings at each other in this article.
Back in the practical world, it probably makes no difference. When I last looked, it seemed that most anything that could deal with the non-RDF RSS could also handle with the RDF version. I suspect the same will be true with Atom -- readers will be able to handle both Atom and RSS. More about Atom can be found here: http://www.atomenabled.org/ (permalink to this item)
Search engines rule UK supplier hunt
Netimperative, Feb. 11, 2004
Survey says: 69 percent of people seeking a supplier in the UK turn to a search engine. Nearly 40 percent say search is their first choice when seeking products and services.
Citysearch Sees Future Local-Search Growth
DMNews.com, Feb. 10, 2004
Citysearch says it has added 3,000 more advertisers in the past three months, bringing the company halfway to its goal of 50,000 by the end of the year.
VeriSign Reconsiders Search Service
BizReport, Feb. 9, 2004
Network Solutions might bring back its dead domain resolution service Site Finder by April.
Primarily tips from Inktomi on how they believe you can get more out of paid inclusion. Top tip? Do an XML feed and have an SEM firm "tune" the feed for you. In other words, tweak that page until you get a top ranking.
Of course, Inktomi's content guidelines (http://www.inktomi.com/products/web_search/guidelines.html) say it wants, "pages designed primarily for humans, with search engine considerations secondary," warns against "the use of text that is hidden from the user," "pages that give the search engine different content than what the end-user sees" and "pages built primarily for the search engines." XML feeds often break some or all of these rules. Tweaking an XML feed is especially something you do solely for search engine considerations. A human will never see your feed content.
All of this I described last year in my "Doorways Not Always Bad, At Inktomi" article last year: http://searchenginewatch.com/_subscribers/articles/03/article.php/2152811. In short, I agree with Inktomi -- if you are a serious search engine marketer, definitely consider XML feeds. The ability to tweak your pages to improve search engine placement is much more endorsed when you are in this program. Hang in there for part 2, when specific tips from Inktomi will be provided. (permalink to this item)
Online Search Engines Help Lift Cover of Privacy
Washington Post, Feb. 9, 2004
Time for the twice-annual big story about how search engines can help people locate personal details, ways into computer systems and other confidential material. The owners of such material would be shocked that their data can be mined in this way. The answer, as always, is not to put anything on the web that you don't want others to find, unless you secure it behind hacker-proof password protection. We also get a new word, "Googledorks," which I've never heard before. (permalink to this item)
FindWhat Posts Quarterly Profit
TheStreet.com, Feb. 9, 2004
FindWhat posts a profit of $3.5 million for the quarter and is on track to nearly break the $100 million mark in annual revenue for the year. An agreement to merge with Espotting is also back on.
I've written before (http://www.searchenginewatch.com/sereport/article.php/3308131#nyt) that Microsoft versus Google and Yahoo is not the same as Microsoft versus Netscape. Here's another view that agrees with what I've said, that in search, its not necessarily another Microsoft walkover. But the threat of Microsoft coming up with a great, integrated search utility remains.
Should political candidates be pitching messages via search engine marketing. Kevin Lee votes yes.
Following on my write-up about this in the last newsletter (http://searchenginewatch.com/sereport/article.php/3308131#aol), DMNews talks with AOL about pulling the Bush link from the infamous "miserable failure" search.
Meanwhile, Michael Moore has now ousted Bush from the number one spot at Google. Why do I sense the title of his next documentary will be something incorporating the words "Miserable Failure." At Inktomi (as viewed via HotBot), Bush is holding firm at number one.
I like the guy at Google who earlier this month made it into the first page of results with what I'd best call a "miserable failure doorway page." It begins, "After following the Miserable Failure Google Bomb against the biography of George W Bush I thought it would be interesting to see how hard it would be to get to the top of the Miserable Failure SERP with this page."
After various observations, the page concludes, "Hire an Expert SEO Consultant to optimise your web site for high Google rankings," along with links to an online lingerie shop. Well hey, he made it to the first page :) The page has since slipped to page two of the results. (permalink to this item)
LookSmart Beats Street, But Lowers 2004
InternetNews.com, Feb. 6, 2004
LookSmart projects a loss for 2004.
Say g'day to Overture Australia.
Dayparting - What's all the Fuss?
About.com Web Search Guide, Feb. 5, 2004
The headline says it all. You may have heard about dayparting. Why care? As Jennifer Laycock explains, targeting your ads during certain times of the day might improve conversions.
Switchboard.com Revamps Search, Cleans Up Site
DMNews.com, Feb. 5, 2004
Switchboard makes improvements to its online yellow pages site, including offering a single search box (no need to pick a city or US state).
SuperPages.com's PPC Play
InternetNews.com, Feb. 5, 2004
I'll be resuming my series from last year on local search soon, and part of that will be a closer look at moves by SuperPages to enhance its offerings. In the meantime, as this article outlines, the company plans to redesign to make single search box searching possible, plus it rolls out new cost-per-click paid listings to help existing and new advertisers rise to the top.
To clarify my quote in the article, I'm doubtful some of the smaller local players will embrace the new ads that SuperPages is trying in the short term. Things to me are designed much more to be friendly to those local players who are already exploring online advertising in some way.
When a Search Engine Isn't Enough, Call a Librarian
New York Times, Feb. 5, 2004
I love librarians and couldn't agree more with this article, which outlines how librarians have maintained a role as "plan B" for when a search engine fails to come through. Search engines do not have the total sum of human knowledge, and we found information without them for the vast majority of our history. I'm glad to have them, but I also understand that all the other tools I always used still remain useful.
By the way, a search for "what was the name of ross perot's political party?" brought up the answer (The Reform Party) on Google within seconds, and from authoritative sources such as CNN, the InfoPlease facts database, MSN Encarta and the US Department of State. So despite this being the story's opening anecdote of search engine failure (the librarian resorted to an encyclopedia), Google at least did fine in my check. But in other searches, I might reach for my own encyclopedia, as well. (permalink to this item)
And yet another article -- but a good, reader-friendly one -- about IBM's WebFountain project, which aims to mine trends on the web and sell the knowledge to companies. It's especially nice that it makes reference to Clever, one of two big IBM search projects that never made it out of the garage. The other was Outride, to provide personalized results. Google ended up buying Outride about two years ago.
Microsoft's Robert Scoble Discusses Search Engine Technology
SearchEngineGuide.com, Feb. 4, 2004
Nice Q&A by Andy Beal asking prominent blogger and Microsoft employee Robert Scoble of where he thinks search may be going, which some interesting thoughts on how desktop searching might be made easier, as well as looking at web-wide ideas.
Just proving that old adage that if you bear your breast during the most watched television program in the United States, thousands will search for the image the next day.
Nice short update on happenings with Jon Kleinberg, whose work on search technology is widely cited and ideas considered by others. See also my article from 1998, Counting Clicks and Looking at Links, http://www.searchenginewatch.com/sereport/article.php/2166431, for back when he was with IBM working on Clever.
OneStat finds that two and three word queries are increasing, while those with one word are going down.
Interbrand calls Google "Brand of the Year" for the second year in a row. Apple remains in second place, while the Mini drives up into third. To think, I could be driving one right now. But no, my wife changes her mind at the last minute and decides on a Citrokn Pluriel instead. Oh, the humanity...but I digress.
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Meet Your Favorite Search Engine Watch Contributors
Many of SEW's leading expert contributors will be at ClickZ Live, the new online and digital marketing event kicking off in New York (March 31-April 3). Hear from the likes of: Thom Craver, Josh Braaten, Lisa Barone, Simon Heseltine, Josh McCoy, Lisa Raehsler, Greg Jarboe, Dan Cristo, Joseph Kerschbaum, John Gagnon, Eric Enge and more!