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The Search Engine Update - Number 181 - September 22, 2004

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In This Issue

+ Search Engine Watch News
+ Search Engine Strategies Set For Stockholm, Chicago
+ Search Engine Watch Articles
+ Best Of The Search Engine Watch Blog
+ About The Newsletter

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Search Engine Watch News
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Hello Everyone--

The big news with the site this newsletter is that we've opened a new Search Engine Watch Blog. You'll find a long letter to readers from me about why we opened the blog, what will be posted on it and more here: Search Engine Watch Blog Opens.

Aside from that letter, I wanted to put the new blog in perspective with getting this newsletter and being a Search Engine Watch member.

When the newsletter started back in 1997, I used to include all the original articles I wrote within it, along with short brief items as well. As the size of my articles grew in length, it became unworkable to include them all. Instead, I began running links to the longer ones in 1998.

Along with my own articles, I always recapped a variety of other search-related articles from around the web. That's the Search Engine Articles section that I'm sure is so familiar to readers.

I loved the Search Engine Articles section, because it was an easy way for me to keep you all updated on the many stories about search that Search Engine Watch couldn't cover directly. However, for more significant stories, it also gave me the ability to provide my own spin, feedback and additional commentary on the issue being discussed.

There were three things I disliked about the section. First, often the article headline didn't reflect what I thought was the most important issue being addressed. Second, there was no way for you to easily bookmark a particular article mention. That might be important if I had done a long review of it that you wanted to recall or pass along to others. Third, almost every article mentioned in someway had to eventually be integrated into the Search Engine Watch site itself. Doing so was a time-consuming task.

That section is now gone. In its place is the Best Of The Blog section. The name is different, and the format is changed, but I think you'll find the spirit of the old Search Engine Articles section remains, along with a number of new advantages.

Each item in the section is generated out of a post at the blog. Often these posts are kicked off by an article one of us has read. But instead of using the article's headline, we can reshape the post headline to best highlight the main point. Within the post, you'll still generally find the name of the source publication and the title of the particular article, as with the old Search Engine Articles section.

Each item also carries an author name. Generally, this will be either me or our new news editor, Gary Price. Gary came aboard last month to help Search Engine Watch in recapping the search news from across the web, primarily through the blog. His work has taken a huge load off my shoulders. Now I no longer have to write-up each and every item that I send your way.

Rest assured, I'm still reading all that news to keep up, and I'll be blogging plenty of it also. That's why we're listing the author names -- so you know which editor is giving you a particular perspective.

In general, each item will be very similar to what was in the blog. In some cases, I might trim out a quote that's already in an article being referenced. The main thing is that in the case of some longer items, I'll specifically inform you that there's more to be found by reading the actual blog post. In those cases, all you need to do is click on the blog link, and you'll get the full story. But a blog link is available for all items, which makes it easy for you to bookmark anything.

Not everything on the blog will be in this newsletter -- but most of it will. If you want absolutely everything, then you'll need to visit the blog each day or simply subscribe to the blog's feed with the appropriate feed software. Otherwise, sit back, relax, and the newsletter will give you a very comprehensive recap twice per month.

As for being a member, the blog will help in saving me time and allowing me (as well as Chris and Gary) to produce more original members-only content for you.

I've always felt recapping all the search news from around the web an essential part of what readers need. But as search has taken off, there's been more and more news. The blog makes it easier to physically produce that recap, plus Gary's assistance frees up even more time.

In addition, the blog makes it easy for us to categorize each and every post. So, I'll no longer need to cut-and-paste to keep various pages for members such as in the More About or Fact Files areas updated. Instead, in about a month, a new categorization system will open up just for members. If you need to come up to speed on a particular topic, it will put plenty of information right at your fingertips. I'll let you know when this goes live.

That's it! I hope you'll find the new format not a dramatic change but rather an evolution of what you're used to with the newsletter.

The newsletter itself, as you've seen, will continue to be in text format. When I asked people for feedback on this a few months ago, that was definitely something people wanted retained.

Fortunately, I've found a nice software tool called Detagger that makes it a snap to extract embedded hyperlinks in our blog posts so that you can see them in a text version. So anytime there was a hyperlink, you'll see this noted within brackets.

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Search Engine Strategies Set For Stockholm, Chicago

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. Information about these shows can be found via the Search Engine Strategies web site.

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Search Engine Watch Articles
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Here's a recap of major articles and some interesting forum discussions from Search Engine Watch since the last newsletter:

Google Ad Policies To Be Expanded Publicly
SearchDay, Sept. 22, 2004
http://searchenginewatch.com/_subscribers/articles/article.php/3411101

Google's planning to greatly expand the editorial guidelines it publishes online, providing everyone a better idea of what it accepts on the advertising front. This longer version of the story for Search Engine Watch members examines how even under the new rules, protest ads about issues relating to protected groups may still face rejection, how the "whole site counts" rule has been liberalized and touches on how legal requirements can have an impact, or not, on ads.

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Ask Jeeves Serves It Your Way
SearchDay, Sept. 21, 2004
http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/article.php/3410441

Ask Jeeves launches a new personalized search tool and a major upgrade of the company's Teoma search engine.

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Ask Jeeves Personal Search Goes Live
Search Engine Watch Blog, Sept. 21, 2004
http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/blog/040921-90

Sidebar to the above article on Ask Jeeves gaining personalization, I put the search history work at Ask Jeeves and a9 into perspective of what's been done in the past and touch on privacy issues and what may come.

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Exploring Yahoo Paid Inclusion & Free Submit Options
Search Engine Watch Forums, Sept. 20, 2004
http://forums.searchenginewatch.com/showthread.php?threadid=1740

Tim Mayer of Yahoo answers questions about the size of the Yahoo paid inclusion database, and explains how to use their free submit.

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New AOL Comparison Shopping Site Debuts
Search Engine Watch Blog, Sept. 20, 2004
http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/blog/040920-73

After 18 months of development, a new version of AOL's shopping product goes online. This review looks at how it works.

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URL Spaces & Alt Tag Naming Conventions
Search Engine Watch Forums, Sept. 20, 2004
http://forums.searchenginewatch.com/showthread.php?threadid=1734

Get help on the basics of using ALT attributes properly and talk about file naming conventions.

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Will Google ban Microsoft?
Search Engine Watch Forums, Sept. 19, 2004
http://forums.searchenginewatch.com/showthread.php?t=1718

Doorway pages on behalf of Microsoft on Google -- will they last long?

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Search Engine Forums Spotlight
SearchDay, Sept. 17, 2004
http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/article.php/3409291

Links to this week's topics from search engine forums across the web: Amazon Launches A9 Search Engine - FindWhat Announces Pay-Per-Call Ad Option - Sitemaps On The Homepage - Optimizing An Annual Reports Page - Jeeves goes to the Himalayas - How to boot someone out of Google

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Swiss Army Knife Meets the Kitchen Sink
SearchDay, Sept. 15, 2004
http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/article.php/3408081

Looking for a search toolbar, an RSS reader, online bookmark manager or web research manager? Look no further: Pluck incorporates all of these features into a single, elegant search tool.

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Amazon's a9 Launches
Search Engine Watch Blog, Sept. 15, 2004
http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/blog/040915-45

Amazon's a9 service launched in beta earlier this year. Now it loses the beta moniker and gains some additional search history features. A look at the service.

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Google - Paid inclusion?
Search Engine Watch Forums, Sept. 14, 2004
http://forums.searchenginewatch.com/showthread.php?threadid=1642

Get to the bottom of the myth and rumors surrounding the separation between Google Ads and editorial results.

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Delving Deep Inside the Searcher's Mind
SearchDay, Sept. 14, 2004
http://searchenginewatch.com/_subscribers/articles/article.php/3406901

Which search engines do searchers prefer and why? How do users use search engines to find the information they want? And how do searchers perceive paid versus free listings? New research offers insights into the workings of the searcher's mind. This longer version of the story for Search Engine Watch members offers additional tips and strategies for search marketing professionals, including pointers on leveraging paid vs. organic listings, targeting specific demographic groups, taking advantage of second tier traffic and insights into Google searcher behavior.

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FindWhat Announces Pay-Per-Call Ad Option
Search Engine Watch Forums, Sept. 14, 2004
http://forums.searchenginewatch.com/showthread.php?threadid=1638

Will this new twist from the PPC vendor change the way we use text ads to gain new customers and sales from online channels?

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Search Engines 201
SearchDay, Sept. 13, 2004
http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/article.php/3406891

Want to dive deep -- really deep -- into the technical literature about search engines? Here's a road map to some of the best web information retrieval resources available online.

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Search Engine Forums Spotlight
SearchDay, Sept. 10, 2004
http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/article.php/3406241

Links to this week's topics from search engine forums across the web: How Do I Spot Cloaked Sites? - Geico Takes Aim at Google for Selling Ads Linked to Trademarks - Overture Match Type Changes - SEO: How Do You Separate Truth from Speculation? - How to Emergency Pause your AdWords Campaign

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Nextaris: An Integrated Web Research Dashboard
SearchDay, Sept. 9, 2004
http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/article.php/3402891

Nextaris pulls together all of the tools you need to find, save, and share information with others in a single online location.

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Want to receive new Search Engine Watch articles every day? Sign-up for SearchDay, the free daily newsletter from Search Engine Watch. Also keep up with news and discussion via our Search Engine Watch Forums.

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Best Of The SEW Blog
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Image Search and Porn at a9
By Gary Price, Sep. 22, 2004
http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/blog/040922-115

A News.com blog post Amazon pushing porn? dings a9 about their image search tool for letting porn images slip through. Of course no image-filter is perfect but the issue might be more of a Google issue than an a9 problem. a9 uses Google's image database and their SafeSearch filter (it's mentioned on the a9 preferences page). BTW, when I ran the Frontpage SEO search at Google.com today with "strict" filtering turned on I got the same results that News.com found at a9.

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Tools For Enterprise Search
By Danny Sullivan, Sep. 22, 2004
http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/blog/040922-114

Google-mania' ignites search technology from Network World covers vendors and tips on making your enterprise searchable. And as always, a great resource for anyone interested in this topic is Avi Rappoport's Search Tools web site.

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Getting More From Your SEM Budget
By Danny Sullivan, Sep. 22, 2004
http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/blog/040922-113

Kevin Lee continues his look at ways to get more out of your search marketing budget, including ads on second-tier search engines, reexamining creative and targeting, considering automated campaign management, dayparting, weekparting and testing, testing, testing. From ClickZ: SEM Budget Multipliers, Part 2, which also links to further tips in the first part.

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Search As Fundamental Part Of Marketing Mix
By Danny Sullivan, Sep. 22, 2004
http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/blog/040922-112

Search engine marketing isn't an IT thing or an online marketing thing. It's part of an overall marketing effort. As such, Fredrick Marckini rightly wants chief marketing officers to push from the top down that search needs to be considered as a fundamental part of any marketing campaign, online or off. His plea here in ClickZ: SEM Wants to Embrace the CMO.

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Take On Overture Canada, From A Canadian Search Marketer
By Danny Sullivan, Sep. 22, 2004
http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/blog/040922-111

The planned Overture Canada has Canadian Andrew Goodman pleased. Now his clients who just want to target Canada won't have to pick up the United States, as well. But how exactly will it play out -- separate accounts required? (I'm guessing yes, given how Overture has operated in other countries). His observations on the expansion here from Traffick: Eh-Per-Click.

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RSS Digest Lets You Insert Feeds On Your Page
By Danny Sullivan, Sep. 22, 2004
http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/blog/040922-110

The new tool RSS Digest that I heard about via a review at Tara's blog lets you easily create JavaScript to place feed content into your web pages. This blog post explains more. Another good tool is Feed2JS, and Gary tells me Findory Inline news is a great way to collect a number of feeds and post them inline. You can also contribute your favorites to a new thread I've started at our forums: RSS/Atom/Feed Display Tools.

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$130 Million For Finding Google's CEO
By Danny Sullivan, Sep. 22, 2004
http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/blog/040922-108

Executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles International helped find Google find its CEO Eric Schmidt and got stock as part of its efforts. Now that Google's public, the firm made $130 million selling that stock. More details from the AP: Search firm cashes in on Google warrants.

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Open Text Begins Research Initiative
By Gary Price, Sep. 22, 2004
http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/blog/040922-107

Canada's Open Text, a leading player in the enterprise content management/portal space, is starting a research initiative with the University of Waterloo. More details from the Toronto Star: Open Text takes aim at Net searches. Open Text was an early developer of web search technology and once offered consumer facing search tools.

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A Yahoo API?
By Danny Sullivan, Sep. 22, 2004
http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/blog/040922-105

What if Yahoo were to offer an API similar to the Google API that's offered. That's along the lines of what Jeremy Zawodny's asking for advice on: Web Services You Wish Yahoo Offered? Got some ideas you want him to bring up informally with his employer Yahoo? Fire away!

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Fagoogle: Google For The Gay Community
By Danny Sullivan, Sep. 22, 2004
http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/blog/040922-104

Fagoogle is a new Google-powered site that promises to share some of the ad revenues it earns with the gay community (exactly how this is done, to what groups, etc. isn't said on the site. A press release suggests it will go to fund awareness programs in schools). More about the service, why it might have considered using site-flavored search, and more, is covered in this blog post.

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Yahoo Drops To 10 Results?
By Danny Sullivan, Sep. 22, 2004
http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/blog/040922-103

By default, Yahoo has given out 20 results for as long as I can remember. Doing a search today, I only got back only 10 (over at Yahoo UK, it's still 20). If this is a permanent change, it's too bad. I liked that they gave you more variety and depth on the first page, automatically.

I'll be checking on the change. If you've seen the same or have thoughts about it, feel free to comment here: Yahoo new result layout. If you want more results than 10, use the search preference page at Yahoo to see up to 100 results at a time permanently.

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Nuggets: Search Via SMS For UK, Sort Of
By Danny Sullivan, Sep. 22, 2004
http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/blog/040922-102

Nuggets is a new meta search engine that lets you get back answers to questions via SMS, if you're in the UK. That's ideal for those taking part in pub quizzes -- though you might find yourself banned by the quiz organizers, if you do so. However, I found it didn't work so well. More in this blog post.

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Controversial News Stories on Google News China
By Gary Price, Sep. 21, 2004
http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/blog/040921-100

Researchers at Dynamic Internet Technology have found that the recently-launched Chinese version of Google News leaves out blocked news sources from its results, New Scientist reports in this article: Google omits controversial news stories in China. Google admits to omitting some news sources but said it was done to "improve the quality of the service," as the sites were inaccessible.

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Google Local Canada is Now Online
By Gary Price, Sep. 21, 2004
http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/blog/040921-99

Google has just launched another local search product, this time in Canada. The database includes more than 2.4 million listings from a partnership with Canada's Yellow Pages Group. More details here from the Canadian Press: Yellow Pages dials onto Google Canada

I haven't had much time to test out Google Local-Canada but after few (very few) quick searches some of the same types of problems that I pointed out in this recent post about Google Local-U.S. also occur at Google Local-Canada.

If you're keeping score: Google Local: U.S. and Canada; Yahoo Local: U.S. and Australia

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CitySearch Joins Toolbar War
By Gary Price, Sep. 21, 2004
http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/blog/040921-96

CitySearch is entering the toolbar "war" today with a beta release of their entry (IE Only). In addition to being able to search CitySearch data the toolbar also provides direct access to the Google and Yahoo local search services. BTW, CitySearch content also powers the new Ask Jeeves Local which was officially launched today.

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Google Toolbar Security Concern
By Danny Sullivan, Sep. 21, 2004
http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/blog/040921-95

Google Toolbar Input Validation Hole in 'About' Page Lets Local Users Execute Scripting Code from SecurityTracker.com has a report of a possible scripting security problem with the Google Toolbar. Spotted from our forum thread: Toolbar scripting vulnerability, and you can comment and discuss there.

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AOL, Robots, and Search
By Gary Price, Sep. 21, 2004
http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/blog/040921-94

AOL is beginning a push to build more instant messaging robots, as covered in this ComputerWeekly.com article: AOL to promote Aim Robots. The robots are ways to get answers via IM. Gary explains more in this blog post.

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Gbrowser.com Sign Of Google Browser To Come?
By Danny Sullivan, Sep. 21, 2004
http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/blog/040921-92

Does Gbrowser.com, registered by Google back in April, show further signs of a browser from Google to come? Jason Kottke has details: More evidence of a Google browser. This follows on news yesterday about Google hiring several people with browser building experience: Google On Hiring Spree For Nooglers? Want to comment? We have forum discussion here: How About a Google Web Browser?.

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German Court Says No To Lawsuit Against Google
By Gary Price, Sep. 21, 2004
http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/blog/040921-91

Metaspinners case against Google Deutschland alleging trademark infringement was thrown out by a German state court today. Details from the AP: German Court Nixes Lawsuit Against Google. The lawsuit was filed in May 2004.

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Google's Global Growth
By Gary Price, Sep. 20, 2004
http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/blog/040920-88

If you're interested in Google, Google making its mark worldwide: Firm will have to play catch-up in some key nations from the San Francisco Chronicle is a must read.

The Chronicle has obtained some internal Google memos about the company's global expansion. Verne Kopytoff writes, "Analysts say that Google must succeed internationally to ensure its future health. But the young company will have to play catch-up in some key nations, particularly in Asia, precisely where the potential for future growth is the greatest."

What about the internal documents? "They show that Google's business, though global, is concentrated in just 10 countries. They also reflect the company's frustration over its billing system, which couldn't accept some popular payment methods from advertisers in some major countries. The system, scheduled for replacement earlier this year, was blamed for lost revenue."

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Yahoo CFO Says Paid Search is Far From Matured
By Gary Price, Sep. 20, 2004
http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/blog/040920-87

Yahoo CFO Susan Decker spoke at conference sponsored by Banc of America Securities, telling analysts Yahoo expects to report 2004 revenue of $2.46 billion to $2.5 billion, that the company's revenue and margins have tripled in a 10-quarter time period and that paid search is the fastest growing online advertising segment -- and 'we think it's far from matured,' she said. More from Dow Jones in Yahoo Keeps 2004 Revenue and Reuters in Paid-Search Market 'Far from Mature' - Yahoo CFO

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New Toolbar From Gurunet
By Gary Price, Sep. 20, 2004
http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/blog/040920-86

Gurunet released a new toolbar (ver. 2.0, IE only) that contains a pop-up blocker, a page translation tool, and Alt Click support. You can learn more about GuruNet in this SearchDay article.

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Google And Reed Elsevier Discuss Revenue Sharing
By Gary Price, Sep. 20, 2004
http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/blog/040920-85

Google is "in talks" with massive scientific publisher Reed Elsevier. Under discussion is a revenue sharing plan that would see Reed Elsevier get a small payment for every visitor delivered to a Reed site. Details from The Observer: Reed and Google in talks to share revenue.

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NetRatings Provides Vertical Search Breakdown
By Danny Sullivan, Sep. 20, 2004
http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/blog/040920-84

NetRatings has come out with a new "MegaView Search" service designed to let the ratings company better report search behavior. As part of the new data, NetRatings reports (via PDF press release) that search activity in July 2004 broke down like this:

  • Web Search: 99 percent
  • Local Search: 24 percent
  • Shopping Search: 18 percent
  • Image Search: 10 percent
  • News Search: 6 percent

Why don't the figures add up to 100 percent? Because the same person might do different searches. So of 107 million searchers tracked in July, virtually all of them did a web search at some point in the month, then 24 percent of them did a search classified as local, 18 percent a shopping search and so on.

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Overture Expanding To Brazil, Canada, China
By Danny Sullivan, Sep. 20, 2004
http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/blog/040920-83

Overture's sent news that beginning the fourth quarter of this year, it will expand services to cover Brazil, Canada and China (with apparently separate offices for China, Hong Kong and Taiwan).

To date, Overture operates in the US, UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Korea, Japan and Australia.

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Search Spending Continues To Rise -- But Is Contextual Lumped In?
By Danny Sullivan, Sep. 20, 2004
http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/blog/040920-82

In the second quarter of this year, paid search advertising was nearly $1 billion -- a 29 percent rise from the same period as a year ago. It also makes up 40 percent of all online ad spending. This is according to new figures from the Interactive Advertising Bureau and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

However, I'm fairly positive that contextual ads -- which are NOT search advertising -- are nonetheless lumped into these figures. That's because I don't see a separate category for contextual. If this is the case, then the figures are misleading. They give no idea what's really fueling the rise -- more spending on search, more spending on contextual or what???

More details from MediaPost here: Search Expands Role As Online's Ad Engine. And Gary tells me when the actual report is out for the public, you should be able to find it here.

Want to comment or read discussion of this topic? Please visit this thread in our forums: Online Advertising Coming Back: Search Surging.

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Redirection Problems With Google, Yahoo
By Danny Sullivan, Sep. 20, 2004
http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/blog/040920-81

A month after it was raised during a session of the Search Engine Strategies show, and even longer since it was raised on various search forums, a bug allowing people to hijack listings at Google continues. Pandia has a nice summary: Spammers hijack web site listings in Google. Discussion in our forums here: MIA in Google? Google bug allows 3rd party hijacking.

Meanwhile, another long-standing problem with redirections, this time on Yahoo's side, also continues. More in our forums: Yahoo 301 Redirect indexing problem

I'm planning a longer look at both issues, for the near future.

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Google On Hiring Spree For Nooglers?
By Danny Sullivan, Sep. 20, 2004
http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/blog/040920-80

Google Picks Gates' Brains from the New York Post talks about Google being on a hiring spree. It's unclear to me whether this is really a spree. I imagine that picking up half-a-dozen people over a couple weeks is probably business as usual, for Google. But there WERE some interesting hires. More thoughts on this in the blog post.

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New SEO Contest: Seraphim Proudleduck
By Danny Sullivan, Sep. 20, 2004
http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/blog/040920-79

Now that the Nigritude Ultramarine SEO contest is history, it was only a matter of time until copycat contests emerged. Here's a new one: rank tops for "seraphim proudleduck" on Google and win $1,700. A bit more on this, via this blog entry.

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French SEO Firms Appear Banned By Google
By Danny Sullivan, Sep. 20, 2004
http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/blog/040920-77

Several major French SEO firms have apparently had their sites and some of their customer sites banned by Google over spam accusations. All are members of the SEMA 7 search engine marketing group in France. More via this blog entry.

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New York Company Files Suit Against Google
By Gary Price, Sep. 19, 2004
http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/blog/040919-76

Another Adwords "related"/trademark law suit was filed in a New York court about a 10 days ago. The suit was filed by RESCUECOM, a computer-repair franchising company. More details from Central New York Business Journal: Rescuecom files trademark suit against Google. I've tracked down the 23 page complaint filed by RESCUECOM with the United States District Court Northern District Of New York. Interesting reading.

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Report: Yahoo Music Service Coming Later This Year
By Gary Price, Sep. 19, 2004
http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/blog/040919-75

Yahoo is planning to launch its own online music service later this year, despite buying the existing Musicmatch service last week, reports ZDNet here: Yahoo to launch its own music player.

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Yahoo's Semel Contender for Disney CEO Job
By Gary Price, Sep. 18, 2004
http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/blog/040918-72

Yahoo CEO Terry Semel has emerged as a possibility to take over the top spot at Disney when Michael Eisner steps down in 2006. More details from the San Jose Mercury News: Yahoo's Semel emerging as contender for Disney CEO.

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Microsoft Research Gets Serious About Search
By Gary Price, Sep. 17, 2004
http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/blog/040917-69

Several new "search oriented" groups have formed after a reorganization at Microsoft Research, according to a Microsoft Watch article: Microsoft Plays Up Search in Research Reorganization. The article mentions that a text mining, search and navigation team, "is prominent among the newly minted groups."

A couple of weeks ago The Economist ran an article about the work of Eric Brill, a member of this group, who is developing "answer engine" technology. Here's a recent paper (co-authored by Brill) on the topic that's mentioned in The Economist article: Automatic Question Answering: Beyond the Factoid

Finally, for the past year I've been compiling a list of links to MS Research publications about search along with a selected list of MS search patents.

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a9's Secret Weapon: Discounts For Searching?
By Danny Sullivan, Sep. 17, 2004
http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/blog/040917-65

What might help Amazon draw users away from Google, Yahoo, MSN and others to its new a9 search engine? How about 1.5 percent off your Amazon purchases? Now that will incent me when it's time to do my Christmas shopping. More from the Unofficial Google Weblog here: Amazon Discount for Using A9.

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SearchStatus Puts SEM Info Into Firefox Toolbar
By Danny Sullivan, Sep. 17, 2004
http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/blog/040917-64

I just downloaded the Firefox browser yesterday, and now I've got a cool new tool to plug into it. SearchStatus lets you see both Google PageRank info and the Alexa popularity ranking of a page. In addition, you can easily look up backlinks for a page on Google, Yahoo or MSN (which ought to be similar to Yahoo, as Yahoo still powers it -- but you may still find some differences).

As always, you should never obsess with any page rating. The quality of page to your audience, rather than PageRank scores, is what's important. More on this, in what I call my Three Golden Rules Of Link Building, can be found here. Those looking for some advanced tips might check out this SearchDay article: The Art of Advanced Link Building.

Want to comment on this post or discuss SearchStatus? Drop by this thread in our forum: Google/Alexa Toolbar for Firefox Users.

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The Traveler and Search Engines
By Gary Price, Sep. 16, 2004
http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/blog/040916-63

Search engines play prominently in travel planning for affluent Internet users. A joint study by Thomas, Townsend & Kent and BIGresearch surveyed 967 Americans with household annual incomes of at least $100,000. Over three-quarters of respondents used search engines for travel planning, compared to 47 percent who relied on magazines, 42 percent who solicited referrals, and 35 percent who used travel agents. More details from this ClickZ report: Search Leads Travelers to Destinations.

While we're on the subject of travel search another new entry will debut this Fall called Kayak. I've been trying the site out with an early beta release and so far I'm impressed. Why? Kayak offers a useful feature that I haven't seen on other travel sites. It allows you to modify you're search results (air fare, travel dates, departure times) on the fly (no pun intended) using "sliders" or "levers". This feature is very similar to what you'll find when using SmartSort from Yahoo Shopping.

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Stolen Credit Card Numbers in Web Engines
By Gary Price, Sep. 16, 2004
http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/blog/040916-61

Another finding credit card numbers via Google story from NewsFactor: Google Search Reveals Credit-Card Numbers. But although the headline of this story mentions only Google containing this type of info in their database, the article does mention (in the third section) that these numbers can be found in other web engines. Kudos to the authors. I'm happy to see this because other articles haven't. This News.com article on stolen credit card info in Google is an example.

On a related note, a News.com article from about six weeks ago discusses data from Moveon.org "leaking" by accident into Google. No other engines are mentioned. However, as I pointed out on my ResourceShelf.com site that the data was accessible from other engines. Eric Baillargeon also did some checking and offers his thoughts on the topic. Yes, of course, Google is the leading engine but the media would do a better job by reminding people that just checking for personal info on Google doesn't mean that it's not accessible elsewhere.

BTW, I'm also glad to see that the NewsFactor article correctly points out that Google and any other web engine is not at fault for including this type of info in their database is wrong. Site owners and webmasters need to understand how engines work and that keeping material out of large web databases needs to be their job.

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Blinkx Continues To Get Attention
By Gary Price, Sep. 16, 2004
http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/blog/040916-60

More positive press for Blinkx, from MediaPost: David vs. Goliath... vs. Goliath: Blinkx and the Future of Search. Gord Hotchkiss concludes his article by stating that Blinkx is "changing the tune of the entire search industry."

While I agree that Blinkx is doing some interesting work (and the company should be watched closely) I'm not ready to say that they're changing the entire industry (at least as of today). I've used Blinkx for a couple of months and have found the web and news results it offers not been very useful. For more, visit this blog entry.

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FindWhat Announces New Local Distribution Deal
By Gary Price, Sep. 16, 2004
http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/blog/040916-59

From the FindWhat press release, "Under the terms of the exclusive distribution agreement, FindWhat.com will supply Bizjournals.com and each of its 41 local metropolitan business news websites (like San Francisco, Atlanta and Boston) with targeted keyword advertisements (paid listings) through both search box and content matching implementations. The advertisements appearing after a search will match the location of each local Bizjournals.com website and include FindWhat.com's new pay-per-call advertisements."

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Campaign Fact Check Search Engine
By Danny Sullivan, Sep. 16, 2004
http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/blog/040916-57

Are US election candidates and those on their behalf telling the truth or bending it in the claims they make. FactCheck.org is a non-profit, non-partisan service run by the University Of Pennsylvania's Annenberg Public Policy Center that aims to help the voter sort out the mess. For example, do a search for military service (use the box in the top right-hand corner). You'll see various claims relating to Kerry and Bush listed. Clickthrough for the FactCheck truth analysis. Nice overview of the service out today from Wired: Finding Truth on the Internet.

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Comparison Shopping US Candidates
By Danny Sullivan, Sep. 16, 2004
http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/blog/040916-56

USC's Center For E-Government has dumped a variety of statistics into PriceGrabber's shopping search engine format, letting you comparison shop among the candidates in the fall US presidential, senatorial and governor elections. Visit the site here: Election '04 Comparison Engine. More review of the site via this blog post.

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Google Stock Survives First Big Test
By Danny Sullivan, Sep. 16, 2004
http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/blog/040916-55

Despite Amazon getting a big press splash for its upgraded a9 search engine, Google's stock didn't plunge. More on this via the blog.

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Feedster and Eurekster Get Together
By Gary Price, Sep. 16, 2004
http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/blog/040916-52

A news release informs us that Eurekster is now offering rss/blog searching powered by Feedster.

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A New Name for Dogpile in the UK and Europe
By Gary Price, Sep. 15, 2004
http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/blog/040915-44

The UK and European versions have been renamed WebFetch. Woof woof! More details from PC Pro: Dogpile fetches new name.

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FindWhat Launches Pay-Per-Call Ad Program
By Gary Price, Sep. 15, 2004
http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/blog/040915-43

Details from ClickZ on the new pay-per-call program now available through FindWhat: FindWhat Launches Online/Offline Performance-Based Ads. From that article: "Instead of bidding on keywords, as in the pay-per-click service, advertisers bid on relevant categories and choose the geographic area where they want their ads to show. Advertisers only pay when someone calls a trackable toll-free number included in the ad copy, as opposed to the pay-per-click service where advertisers pay whenever someone clicks on their ad. The minimum bid for pay-per-call is $2, compared with $0.05 for pay-per-click."

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Web Search in the Hispanic Community
By Gary Price, Sep. 15, 2004
http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/blog/040915-42

A good overview of the Hispanic search market from MediaPost: Polling Hispanic Search Users. Lots of numbers. iHispanic Marketing Group president Ignacio "Nacho" Hernandez Jr. is quoted throughout the article. Nacho also moderates the SEW Multilingual Search Markets & Non-US Engines forum.

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Google "Enhances" Local Search
By Gary Price, Sep. 14, 2004
http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/blog/040914-37

Word from the Googleplex today that they've added some new features to Google Local. A brief look at what's new can be found via this blog post.

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Yahoo Acquires Online Music Service
By Gary Price, Sep. 14, 2004
http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/blog/040914-27

Yahoo announced that they have acquired MusicMatch, a popular online music service and software program for $160 million dollars in cash. Some additional details from ClickZ: Yahoo Snaps Up Musicmatch.

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Google News Hong Kong Causes Copyright Concerns
By Gary Price, Sep. 14, 2004
http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/blog/040914-21

Looks like some Hong Kong news organizations are not happy with Google News, alleging that the use of story summaries and news photos may infringe copyright. More details from Asia Pacific Media Network: Google news site hit by legal row over copyright.

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Google Goes After Parody Sites
By Gary Price, Sep. 12, 2004
http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/blog/040912-40

Google has sent a cease and desist letter to at least one parody site. Details from Ars Technica: Google: Take Down This Parody Site.

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