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Breaking The News Barrier

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If you use the news search option at most search engines, you'll generally get shown matching stories that come from newswires such as the Associated Press and Reuters. That's OK, but the coverage isn't very diverse. Specialized "news search engines" such as Excite's NewsTracker or News Index do a better job. They crawl a wide variety of news sites, such as online newspapers and magazines, in addition to providing wire stories.

Moreover and Yahoo go a step beyond this, because they pick up headlines from subject-oriented sites that even news search engines may miss. Those interested in news should try either Moreover or Yahoo, because of the breadth of coverage they offer. They also provide webmasters with an opportunity to put forward their own newsworthy content.

I've written glowingly about Moreover in past newsletters, and it's with good reason. I have never seen a news search product that offers such comprehensive and quality coverage of current events. When it comes to news, Moreover is unparalleled, a news junkie's delight.

Moreover provides news coverage in about 300 different categories or "webfeeds," ranging from biotech to Coca Cola news. When you visit the site, you'll find a list of webfeeds via drop down boxes on the left side of the home page. Choosing a webfeed displays current headlines online, and you can also enter your email address to receive headlines on a daily or weekly basis. Keyword searching for news can also be done -- just use the search box on the upper-left hand side of the screen.

To create its webfeeds, Moreover crawls about 1,500 to 2,000 different sources. Some of these are news sites, such as CNN or the New York Times. Others are sites about a particular subject, rather than being exclusively about news. For example, GigaLaw.com shows up when looking at the domain name webfeed today, because that site has an article on the domain name dispute procedure.

It's this inclusion of subject-oriented sites that gives Moreover its edge. The search engine delves into these sites on a regular basis, identifying newsworthy content and listing it alongside headlines from more traditional news outlets. This lets Moreover ferret out great content that might ordinarily be missed, plus it also allows the company to create and maintain very specific newswires.

Moreover has a staff of about eight editors that establish the different webfeeds. They create keywords and definitions designed to locate relevant stories for each webfeed. They also determine which web sites, or sections of particular web sites, have content related to a particular webfeed.

A big challenge is for the editors to determine the format used at each web site. They spend about 15 minutes per news source understanding where new articles are posted, said Loren Kinczel, Senior Business Development Manager at Moreover. It's a job that has to be repeated if a web site changes its format, but editors get alerts anytime something unexpected happens.

Moreover distributes its webfeeds freely to any web site that wants to display them -- and many do. The site officially launched last December, and now about 50,000 web sites display its content. It's a great way for webmasters to add fresh content to their sites. Being listed in Moreover's webfeeds is also a great way for webmasters to gain traffic, and some tips on being included are at the end of this article.

The benefit to Moreover is that these partnerships provide it with a network to deliver its content across the web, which the company can eventually leverage to make money either through distribution fees based on click-through or affiliate deals.

The first idea could be worrisome. After all, no one wants headlines that are simply the product of the biggest advertising budget. However, Moreover says any such plans wouldn't give articles from distribution partners priority in placement, plus they'd still have to meet normal editorial guidelines. Webmasters using Moreover webfeeds could also choose to take only non-paid listings.

"First and foremost, Moreover is a news company emphasizing its editorial integrity in the high-quality of every source it carries. Strategic partners with whom Moreover will share click-revenues may prioritize revenue-generating articles as they wish, though Moreover's default feeds will always be of the highest editorial standards," said Kinczel.

The second idea is far more acceptable. Many web sites now operate affiliate programs, where they pay other sites for visitors that they receive. Moreover itself might become an affiliate with different sites that it already lists, and thus earn money for any traffic driven to them. This puts a greater separation between being paid for particular stories.

In either case, making the webfeeds pay for themselves isn't Moreover's primary business, at the moment. Instead, the company is busy creating custom webfeeds for particular topics to serve the intranets of Fortune 1000 companies and others. For example, businesses like Wells Fargo and Charles Schwab are clients that have custom webfeeds designed to keep their employees on top of industry news.

"Right now, the core focus of our model is the enterprise sales," Kinczel said. "These companies have been paying hundreds of thousands of dollars per year to Dow Jones and Bloomberg [for industry news”. We aren't trying to replace that, but we are trying to supplement that."

Another major business for Moreover may be providing news information to major search engines. The company has already been powering the news results at WebTop.com, and Moreover just recently began providing content for the "Matching News Articles" section that appears at the bottom of iWon.com's results. You can also get a longer listing by clicking on the "News results" link at the top of the search results page.

Look at the links, and you'll see the URLs are redirected through Moreover. However, what's interesting is that it is Inktomi's logo that appears as credit for powering the search results. This suggests an unannounced partnership between Moreover and Inktomi. If so (I'll be checking -- Moreover couldn't comment), powerful news search may be coming to other Inktomi-powered search engines.

Over at Yahoo, news is presented in two ways, via "Yahoo News" or "Yahoo Full Coverage." Let's start with Yahoo News, which you can reach by clicking on the small "news" link just below the search box, on the Yahoo home page. That brings up top headlines in major categories, such as business and sports, and you can click through to see even more headlines in each category. These stories come from wire services, and you can also search against the wires by using the search box at the top of the Yahoo News home page.

The same thing happens if you do a "normal" Yahoo search, then click on the "Related News" link that appears at the top of the results page. Matching wire stories will be presented. Also, if you are a registered Yahoo user, you can choose to create email "News Alerts" that send you notification of new stories matching your specified keywords.

Yahoo Full Coverage is much more impressive than Yahoo News. In Full Coverage, a small team of editors has compiled pages that link to news sources, individual articles and web sites about particular topics.

The easiest way to find Full Coverage offerings at a glance is to click on the small "Full Coverage" link that appears below the big "News & Media" link on the Yahoo home page. You'll then see all the topics available, such as "Severe U.S. Weather" and the "2000 Sydney Summer Olympics."

Another way you'll discover Full Coverage content is to do an ordinary Yahoo search. For example, searching for "domain names" brings up a link to the "Domain Names and Registration" area. The link appears as if it were a regular Yahoo category, even though it is compiled in a different fashion than typical categories.

Clicking through, you'll discover a compilation of material from different sources. The "News Stories" section will be top headlines from wire services and other major news sites. Below that is a "Related Web Sites" section that lists sites providing continuing coverage of that particular topic, something that would typically be missed by a news search engine. To the left of the page are stories organized into categories such as "Opinion & Editorials" and "Magazine Articles." Overall, each Full Coverage page provides a concentrated dose of material for a particular news topic. It's a great way to get up to speed on a story you know nothing about.

Links to Full Coverage content also pop up in various places throughout Yahoo. Keep an eye out for them, and clickthrough to discover timely information about your topic of interest.

Now for some tips on helping your content get listed, starting with Moreover:

+ Have fresh, newsworthy content. This is a key factor. Look at the type of articles that appear in the webfeed you believe your site is relevant for. That's the type of material Moreover is interested in. If you publish similar material on a daily, weekly or even monthly basis, then your site may be worthy of inclusion.

+ Post new articles in the same place, in the same way. Have a "news" page that always is in the same location, and post links to all your new articles on this page. The particular format you use isn't important, as long as you consistently use the same format.

+ Avoid frames. If your stories are presented in a frame, then Moreover has difficulty extracting a URL to lead people directly to the story.

+ Contact Moreover. You can send email [email protected] to tell editors that your site is relevant to a particular webfeed. Make it easy for them. Give them the exact name of the feed, explain how often you publish stories, and give them the URL to your news page.

+ Pay Moreover. Moreover has a backlog in the number of sites wishing to be included as new news sources. The company says it has pricing packages to accelerate the inclusion process, assuming your site makes both the editorial and technical cut. If you are interested in this, message the same [email protected] email address.

Over at Yahoo Full Coverage, having newsworthy content or a web site relevant to a news topic is also a key factor. If you feel your site or articles belong in a Full Coverage category, review what's already there to ensure you meet the current standard. Assuming so, then you need to contact the Full Coverage editors. Do this either using a special form or via an email address, both of which are listed below.

"We absolutely love to get submissions," said Srinija Srinivasan, Yahoo's editor in chief. Srinivasan said there is no particular format required, but it helps to be brief and concise. The editors review many submissions, so you need to succinctly explain why your site is relevant to be listed in a Full Coverage category. Or, if you are submitting a particular article, consider providing the headline, the name of your publication and the publication date. This is information Full Coverage lists for every story, so providing it should make it easier for any editor who decides to list your story. Also consider including a short summary of the story, so they know about more about it.

Moreover
http://www.moreover.com/

Yahoo News
http://dailynews.yahoo.com/

Yahoo Full Coverage
http://fullcoverage.yahoo.com/

Yahoo Full Coverage Submission Form
http://add.yahoo.com/fast/help/news/cgi_fullcoverage

Submit Full Coverage suggestions via this form or send email to [email protected].

News Search Engines
http://searchenginewatch.com/links/News_Search_Engines/

Find other news search engines and resources here, including Excite's NewsTracker and News Index.

Northern Light Special Editions
http://special.northernlight.com/

Similar to Yahoo's Full Coverage, these are editorially-compiled pages about a small set of selected topic


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