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The Search Engine Update, November 20, 2001, Number 113

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About The Update

The Search Engine Update is a twice-monthly update of search engine news. It is available only to Search Engine Watch members. Please note that long URLs may break into two lines in some mail readers. Cut and paste, should this occur.

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In This Issue

+ Search Engine Strategies Comes To Denmark Next Month!
+ Yahoo Expands Paid Placement Listings
-- (full story online, link provided)

+ Google Adds Spam Reporting Features
+ Inktomi To Increase Inclusion Prices
+ InfoSpace To Buy Excite?
+ Lycos Inducts The First Lycos Elite List
+ SearchDay Articles
+ Search Engine Articles
+ List Info (Subscribing/Unsubscribing)

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Hello Everyone--

I've just come back from the Search Engine Strategies conference in Dallas last week, and lots of good information came out of it. Chris Sherman has arranged for a series of articles covering some new sessions that were held to appear in the SearchDay newsletter. They'll begin running in December, so be sure you've signed up for that, using the URL below in this newsletter. Otherwise, as usual, I'll flag important SearchDay articles within this newsletter.

I'll also be giving you my own highlights of the conference in the next Search Engine Update newsletter. Until then, you'll find plenty to read in this one -- including new paid listings at Yahoo, spam reporting features at Google and paid inclusion prices going up at Inktomi.

Finally, Happy Thanksgiving to all my US readers!

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Search Engine Strategies Comes To Denmark Next Month!

Search Engine Strategies returns to Europe this year, coming next month to Copenhagen on December 12. The day-long event features sessions designed for both beginners in search engine marketing and those who are experienced.

I'll be speaking at the event, along with other experts and search engine representatives from Google, Inktomi, Jubii.dk, LookSmart and Overture. The program is being organized by I-Search moderator Detlev Johnson and European-based search engine marketing expert Mikkel deMib Svendsen.

Those interested in sponsoring or exhibiting at the event should contact Frank Fazio Jr, [email protected], for more information. Those interested in attending can find the conference agenda and more information via the URL below.

Search Engine Strategies Denmark
http://seminars.internet.com/sew/denmark01/

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Yahoo Expands Paid Placement Listings

Yahoo is now carrying paid placement listings on its search results pages, rather than just within its category pages, through a deal cut with Overture (the former GoTo) last week. When you conduct a search, the first three paid listings from Overture for that same search now appear in the new " Sponsor Matches" section of the Yahoo search results page. Listings four and five from Overture also appear at the bottom of the Yahoo results page, in the "More Sponsor Matches" area. More about the new deal, how it impacts Yahoo's existing listing programs, implementation tips and other advice can be found via the URL below:

Yahoo Expands Paid Placement Listings
The Search Engine Update, Nov. 20, 2001
http://searchenginewatch.com/subscribers/articles/0111-yahoo.html

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Google Adds Spam Reporting Features

Google has become the latest search engine to offer a dedicated spam reporting feature, having announced the new service at last week's Search Engine Strategies conference in Dallas.

"When you crawl a billion pages, there's going to be some low quality ones. So, anything webmasters can do is a help," said Matt Cutts, the software engineer at Google who deals often with spam and webmaster issues, when announcing the new features during a conference session on spam issues.

Cutts unveiled three separate ways to report spam to Google: via email, an online form and new happy and sad faces in a beta version of the Google toolbar.

The email option is pretty straight forward. You can simply send spam that you spot to [email protected] There's no particular format to follow: any subject heading is fine. However, you should be clear in what you are reporting. Note things such as the exact search the spam page appears for, the page's URL and a succinct explanation of why you consider it to be spam.

The online form provides a more organized means to assemble your complaint. Using it, you can tick whether a page is deemed to be using any of these frowned-upon practices: hidden text or links; misleading or repeated words; page does not match Google's description; cloaked page; deceptive redirects; doorway pages or duplicate site. An "other" option is also available, for anything not covered in the check boxes.

Of the above, the only odd one is "page does not match Google's description." Google forms its descriptions automatically, so it is possible that Google itself might describe a page in a way that doesn't seem to match what the page is really about. However, there will certainly be some cases when you might feel this is happening instead because a webmaster is using cloaking or some other technique to trick Google content different than what you see. In those case, this is the option to use.

Google warns not to expect a reply, if you use either the email address or the feedback form. However, the data will be reviewed and eventually acted upon, if the concerns are valid.

"You might not see the results the next day, but you will see them over time," Cutts said.

The last option for reporting spam -- as well as reporting good pages -- is to use a new beta version of the Google toolbar. This has happy and sad face buttons on it. If you see a page you like, push the happy button. Yes, you can even push it for your own site -- and twice or three times is even allowed, if you particularly like a page. However, excessive repetition will be detected and discounted, Google says.

Found a spam page, or just a low quality page that somehow ranked well in Google's results? Then push the unhappy face. You can even use this if you get an entire list of results at Google you think are bad. Just leave the results page up in your browser and push the unhappy face.

As with the happy face, Google says that excessive clicks are watched for. Google also assures that it has mechanisms in place to ensure good sites don't get penalized by competitors voting against them.

"We do have a lot of safeguards in place to make sure someone can't hurt someone else unfairly," Cutts said.

Google predictably didn't go into specifics about how this would be done, but the key reassurance to take away for the moment is that the voting data is not automatically being used to alter rankings. Instead, it is currently used as a flagging mechanism, to help Google understand which pages should be subjected to human review.

"It won't be used in the production system until a human has validated it or until we fully trust the methodology," Cutts said.

This also means that the happy face votes aren't causing any changes yet, but Cutts expects that the data that's being gathered will be put to use, in the near future.

The toolbar is also Google's preferred option for reporting spam, Cutts says. This is because it is planned to feed into a more automated system, when the methods of using the data directly are more trusted.

Google says downloads of the toolbar have been growing about 50 percent per day, since it was unveiled last week.

"It started in the dozens on the first day, and it's getting into the hundreds now. We definitely are happy in the way people are using it," Cutts said.

Don't forget, Inktomi also has a spam reporting option. You simply send email to [email protected] As with Google, there's no particular format you need to follow. This email address was introduced at another Search Engine Strategies conference in August of this year.

Inktomi also said at the latest conference last week that the spam email address can also be used to ask the company whether you've been banned for spamming. To do this at Google, use the general feedback form, not the spam reporting mechanisms.

Credit is also due to AltaVista, which has had a spam reporting option on its general feedback form for over a year. As for FAST Search, they told me at the conference last week that they'd be considering a spam reporting option, given that the other major crawlers have one.

Google Toolbar With Voting Feature
http://toolbar.google.com/go?version=beta&hl=en

If you have the Google toolbar already installed, then uninstall it to use the new version. Click on the Google logo that appears to the left of the search box, then select Uninstall from the drop-down options. When you are told the toolbar has been removed, close ALL Internet Explorer windows you may have open.

Next (and also do this if you never had the Google toolbar), use the URL above, then the new beta version with happy and sad faces allowing you to vote will load. You won't see the faces immediately. Instead, you'll need to click on the Google logo, then select "Toolbar Options" from the drop down list. When the options page loads in your browser, check the "Voting Buttons" choice.

Also be sure to read the "Privacy Implications" link that appears at the bottom of the page. Basically, this warns you that information about sites you view with the toolbar is automatically transmitted to Google, if you use the "PageRank" or "Category Buttons" option. However, the privacy policy further explains that if you explicitly use an option that communicates with Google, such as the highlighting option or the new voting option, then information about what URL you are viewing is sent each time you use that option.

I trust Google and so am not worried about this -- if you aren't so trusting, then read the privacy policy carefully, to see if it settles your concerns.

Google Toolbar With Voting Feature: More Info
http://www.cs.unc.edu/˜cutts/toolbarbeta.html

Additional information about the new toolbar, from the Google engineer behind it. Check out the tips on using the voting feature to combat email spam.

Google: Report Spam Form
http://www.google.com/contact/spamreport.html

Google Information for Webmasters
http://www.google.com/webmasters/

But what does Google consider to be spam? Find out here.

Inktomi Content Policy- Spam Removal Guidelines
http://www.inktomi.com/products/search/content_policy.html

And here's what Inktomi considers spam.

AltaVista: Contact Us for Search
http://help.altavista.com/contact/search

Use the option on this page to report spam to AltaVista.

AltaVista Frequent Questions from Webmasters
http://www.altavista.com/sites/help/search/faq_web

And here are some spam guidelines from AltaVista.

New way to report spam at Google
Webmaster World, Nov. 16, 2001
http://www.webmasterworld.com/forum3/1540.htm

You can't win for losing. Webmasters want to complain about spam, and then when they are given an option, they complain about the option! However, some legitimate and serious concerns about the new spam reporting feature at Google are also voiced here, along with ample comments from Google itself.

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Inktomi To Increase Inclusion Prices

The price of submitting pages through Inktomi's self-serve paid inclusion program is set to rise on Nov. 28 by more than double, in some cases, so now's the time to act, if you've been considering the program.

The new pricing for the Search Submit program will be $39 for the first URL (a 30 percent increase), and $25 for each additional URL (a 67 to 108 percent increase). This is a more simplified structure than the old "three tier" system that most partners sold, which looked like this:

First URL: $30
URLs 2-20: $15
URLs 21-1000: $12

I wish Inktomi had made things even easier by having one single price per URL, but the company is trying to recover account setup fees, in the price for the first URL.

Pricing will still cover inclusion in the Inktomi index and revisits every two days, for up to a year. However, the ability to change URLs will be curtailed. Beginning in mid-December, you will only be able to change the file name of a URL, not the hosted domain.

In other words, under the old system, I could have paid to register this URL:

http://mysite.com/myfilename.html

Later, I could have changed the URL to lead to a completely different domain, such as:

http://someothersite.com/somenewfilename.html

Under the new rules, I could only swap the URL to lead to another file within the mysite.com domain, such as:

http://mysite.com/mynewfilename.html

Why the change?

"This feature is being exploited by spammers who can readily change the URLs as soon as Inktomi editorial identifies and blacklists their host," said Inktomi spokesperson Christy Peters.

The curtailment on URL swapping will happen with all Inktomi Search Submit partners, and existing accounts with any of them will NOT be "grandfathered." That means even if you open an account before the new rules go into effect in mid-December, you'll still be subject to them.

The price changes are expect to go live with all Inktomi's Search Submit partners as of Nov. 28, but the date could change, if a particular partner is not yet ready. That's what's happened with the original price increase date of Nov. 16. Also be aware that the prices noted are Inktomi's "list prices." A partner could possibly charge more, so shop around.

Even with the price increases, Inktomi's program still remains about half the price of AltaVista's, when calculated over a year. Nevertheless, the hikes might make exploring Inktomi's Index Connect program worthwhile. That charges on a cost per click basis and is particularly suited to those with many URLs they wish to list.

How Inktomi Works
http://searchenginewatch.com/subscribers/inktomi.html

A complete rundown on how both the Search Submit and Index Connect programs work can be found here.

Inktomi Partners
http://www.inktomi.com/products/search/partners/channel.html

All of Inktomi's Search Submit and Index Connect partners are listed here, with short summaries about them.

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InfoSpace To Buy Excite?

Excite@Home hopes to sell its portal for $10 million to InfoSpace, which currently operates the MetaCrawler and Dogpile meta search services. In turn, InfoSpace would then manage the Excite.com site on behalf of iWon -- which already has its own search site.

So what's going on here? I suspect InfoSpace will begin powering Excite.com with its own Dogpile results -- which are notable in being almost entirely paid listings, for the first page presented. That means it can immediately begin generating revenue off of the site, which still has considerable traffic. Why iWon has to be involved in this is unclear, except perhaps if InfoSpace is also cutting some type of deal for iWon itself to be powered by Dogpile results.

Despite the complicated deal, one thing is clear: Excite's own crawler-based search engine is almost certainly not going to be revived, and the Excite.com site is unlikely to offer any benefit to serious searchers.

ExciteAtHome Selling Its Portal
InternetNews.com, Nov. 12, 2001
http://www.internetnews.com/isp-news/article/0,,8_921261,00.html

More details about the planned sale. The search technology owned by Excite@Home is NOT part of the proposed deal.

Meta Search Or Meta Ads
SearchEngineWatch, May 23, 2001
http://searchenginewatch.com/sereport/01/05-metasearch.html

Explains how once valuable meta search results such as those provided by InfoSpace have lost their value due to the heavy inclusion of paid listings.

Excite UK has 30 days to avoid closure
ZDNet, Nov. 13, 2001
http://news.zdnet.co.uk/story/0,,t269-s2099123,00.html

Looks like Excite UK won't survive the bankruptcy of joint owner Excite@Home, after all. Excite UK says it expects to close, if a buyer isn't found within 30 days. Back in August, when rumors of Excite@Home's demise first emerged, Excite UK said it had enough cash to last for a year.

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Lycos Inducts The First Lycos Elite List

Forget the "50 Best Dressed People," the "25 Most Hunkiest Men" and other popularity lists. Lycos has weighed in with a new list based on search popularity: "The Lycos 50 Elite."

Each week, the Lycos 50 site summarizes the current top 50 search topics and other search trends, based on what people look for at the popular Lycos web site. However, the new Lycos 50 Elite list honors those topics that have remained popular over the entire two years that the Lycos 50 has existed.

Those honored in the first compilation of the list are Britney Spears, Pamela Anderson, Jennifer Lopez, the WWF, tattoos, Pokemon, Dragonball and Las Vegas. They have been in the Lycos 50 since it began. Honorable mentions also went to topics that made the top 50 list for at least one year: the Backstreet Boys, the Bible, Eminem, Final Fantasy, Harry Potter, Marijuana, 'N Sync, Napster, Sailor Moon, The Simpsons, Skateboarding and South Park.

Lycos 50
http://50.lycos.com

If you see a yellow star next to a particular search topic, that tells you the topic is a Lycos Elite award winner. Click on the star to learn more about the topic's elite status.

Lycos 50 Elite
http://50.lycos.com/elite.asp

The actual list that the stars mentioned above lead to, with details about those inducted into it.

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SearchDay Articles
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Here are some recent articles that may be of interest, from Search Engine Watch's daily SearchDay newsletter:

Search Engines with Autopilot
SearchDay, Nov. 14, 2001
http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/01/sd1114-autopilot.html

If you're often repeating the same query, you can both improve your results and take the drudgework out of searching by taking advantage of search engines that 'fly' on autopilot.

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FAST Search Engine Shifts into High Gear
SearchDay, Nov. 13, 2001
http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/01/sd1113-fast.html

AllTheWeb.com search has snuck up on all of the major search engines with new features, speed and customization capabilities, and is now a viable challenger to pack-leader Google.

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Evaluating Information Sources
SearchDay, Nov. 12, 2001
http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/01/sd1112-quality.html

Think before you spam: How to distinguish the good from the bad, the ugly, and outright bogus online information.

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Special Search Tools & Products Issue
SearchDay, Nov. 8, 2001
http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/01/sd1108-searchtools.html

Guest writer and respected industry expert Avi Rappoport provides an update on developments in the world of search tools and products that make sites and intranets searchable.

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Getting Down to Business.com
SearchDay, Nov. 7, 2001
http://www.searchenginewatch.com/subscribers/articles/0111-business-com.html

Business.com was once best known for spending an all-time record $7.5 million for its domain name. Today, it has quietly become one of the web's most substantial and useful resources for business research and information. This special edition article for members also covers submission issues.

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Grab Those Eyeballs with AltaVista Listing Enhancements
SearchDay, Nov. 6, 2001
http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/01/sd1106-altavista.html

AltaVista's Listing Enhancements let webmasters add logos, icons and other visual pizzazz to make their sites stand out among ordinary plain vanilla search results.

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On the archive page below, you'll find more articles like those above, plus have the ability to sign-up for the free newsletter.

SearchDay Archives
http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/archives.html

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Search Engine Articles
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HyperBee Search Engine Follows Seti@Home Model
Newsbytes, Nov. 9, 2001
http://www.newsbytes.com/news/01/172049.html

I'm building quite a collection of articles from the general press that hype new search technologies that are going to make our current search tools outdated. My favorite from last year was how the search utility Kenjin was going to be the "death knell for the traditional internet search engine." If anything died, it was Kenjin. So does this sound familiar? "A computer science student is almost finished with a project that could dethrone reigning search engines Google and Yahoo." I wouldn't worry about the new HyperBee project taking Google's crown away.

The idea is to allow anyone to run crawling software on their computer, then forward the finds to a central repository. In this way, a massive network of computers would be formed, with far more crawling power than even the might of Google, currently the web's largest crawler-based search engine. The flaw is that by allowing anyone to contribute pages, the project will almost certainly find itself buried in spam submissions.

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Seeking snapshots in search results
News.com, Nov. 9, 2001
http://news.cnet.com/news/0-1005-200-7832338.html

eVision will be powering a new image search capability for those hunting through the massive collection of image files that Corbis owns. Corbis-competitor Getty has also added new search capabilities to its site. A look at these latest developments in image search. By the way, my comments in this article are about general web-wide search. I don't see image search as replacing that at all. But for situations where you want image-based results -- as when searching for images -- then absolutely, an image-oriented solution is great.

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