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.
In This Issue
+ Registration Discount Deadline Nears For Sydney Conference
+ Google Tops In "Search Hours" Ratings
-- (full story online, link provided)
+ Reader Q&A
+ New "Perfect Page" Report
+ SearchDay Articles
+ List Info (Subscribing/Unsubscribing)
Through the miracle of modern technology, you are receiving this email while I'm on vacation. I'll be back on May 28th and then hard at work for the next newsletter, which comes out June 3.
Registration Discount Deadline Nears For Sydney Conference
The deadline to receive an early-bird discount on our Sydney Search Engine Strategies conference is approaching. Register by May 24 in order to save. The conference, with sessions about improving both editorial listings in search engines and advertising on search engines, comes to Sydney on June 11 & 12. Along with Australian and New Zealand search engine marketing experts, representatives from AltaVista, LookSmart and Yahoo are confirmed so far to speak. More information can be found below:
Search Engine Strategies Sydney
After Sydney, a special "Search Engine Strategies Forum" will be held in Singapore on June 17. The full Search Engine Strategies conference will then come to California in August, Germany in October and Texas in December. Information, dates, and the ability to register for when agendas are ready can be found via the URL below:
Search Engine Strategies
Google Tops In "Search Hours" Ratings
What's the most popular search engine? There's a new metric available for determining this, the total number of "search hours" users spend at a site, a figure that sees Google leading by far over other search engines. An explanation of the new method and links to the latest search engine popularity data can be found via the URL below:
Google Tops In "Search Hours" Ratings
SearchEngineWatch.com, May 11, 2002
NetRatings Vs. Jupiter Media Metrix
The Search Engine Update, May 13, 2002
Special bonus sidebar article for Search Engine Watch members, charting the latest figures from both services, so you can see the differences visually.
I try to answer as many questions as I can that come to me via feedback. Grinding through this week's email, I realized it had been some time since I shared some of those questions and responses within the newsletter. So, below you'll find some of the more interesting questions that have come up recently.
Q: I recently got a phone call from someone trying to sell me keywords on the Internet Explorer address bar. Never knew you could use the address bar to search. But you can. If you replace the standard URL with keywords and press enter, you'll get search results. The offer was to purchase three sets of keywords for $2,000 with a $500 yearly renewal fee. Seems expensive. What's your take?
A: Last month's article, "Searching & Navigating Via Internet Explorer," takes a long look at how the keyword searching feature works within Internet Explorer, as well as at MSN Search. A link to that article is below. Behind the scenes, the company powering those keywords is RealNames. The article provides a link to RealNames, along with short summary of the products they offer.
Purchasing RealNames keywords could potentially bring you some traffic at a good price. However, various companies also resell RealNames keywords, just as companies resell domain names. It might be cheaper for you to purchase keywords directly from RealNames itself. Check out the RealNames site, compare the costs, and if the reseller is including a huge markup, then ask what additional services they are providing to justify that.
Searching & Navigating Via Internet Explorer
Q: I just read the article about Google and AOL. One of my websites is receiving the number one result on many different keywords, on Google. Will I get the same result searching on AOL, when the transition is complete?
A: Perhaps. It will depend on whether AOL will take the full Google feed and also doesn't tweak the Google ranking algorithm. Chances are, you will still likely rank well at AOL if you continue to do well with Google, but don't expect identical results across the board.
Q: A client of mine is insisting on a "redirect" splash page leading into his site. I'm not too crazy about them for obvious search engine reasons. Anyway, which page do you suggest I submit to the major directories (Yahoo, LookSmart)? The "index" redirect page or the "home" page (which is the redirect's destination)?
A: I would submit the ultimate destination page, the page that finally comes up when all the redirection ends. This is going to be the page that the directory editors are going to end up viewing, so you don't want them confused about why the URL changes or thinking that you (or your client) is being tricky.
I'd still give it one last go with your client to drop that redirect page, of course. Those obvious reasons you mention remain, that the crawler-based search engines might not pick up that page because they tend to dislike redirection or that the page might not have enough content to help it rank well for anything.
I always characterize the root page -- the page that loads when you go to a site without specifying a particular page name -- to be the business card for your web site. If your client is redirecting, explain that they are essentially giving a search engine a business card and then before the search engine can read it, they pull the card away and try to shove in another. Just as a human might not appreciate this, so might not a search engine. Don't waste that important introduction!
Submitting To Search Engines & Encouraging Crawlers
Explains more about the "root page advantage" with search engines.
Q. Do search engines have some way of ensuring that non-commercial sites have a fair chance of being listed near the top (provided or course they have quality content and optimize their pages to facilitate search engine listing)? Have you written articles that address this concern? If so, please point me to them.
A. The issue is focused more on getting included than ranking. With all the new paid submit programs out there, are non-commercial sites going to be locked out of getting listed? If so, they in turn then have no chance of ranking well for particular terms.
Fortunately, most of the major search engines still do have mechanisms for you to submit for "free" in some way. The "Essentials Of Search Engine Submission" steps 3 and 4, listed at the URL below, provides direct links and submit instructions on how to proceed if you are a non-commercial web site.
In addition, I haven't yet posted the instructions to that page on the special program Inktomi operates for non-profits. They will give qualified organizations guaranteed inclusion, for free. That's could mean thousands of dollars worth of free submission. Here's how to claim it, if you are a non-profit web site.
If you have 10 or fewer URLs, just list them in the comments section of the contact form listed below. If you have more than this, give an estimate in the comments field. Inktomi will follow up to get a text file from you that lists each URL on a separate line. Your URLs will be included and be given a fast refresh, just like paying customers. However, you won't get any online reporting that some of Inktomi's paid inclusion partners provide.
By the way, at least two other crawlers are considering doing the same thing as Inktomi. It's just a matter of them figuring out the logistics of verifying people. If such programs become available elsewhere, I'll make them known in the newsletter.
Search Engine Submission Tips: Essentials
Inktomi Contact Form
Q. I'm not sure when to bite the bullet and spend the big bucks on all the submissions. I don't want to get rejected for not being really open yet, but I want to get listed as quickly as possible. When should I start the submission process?
A. As soon as your site is fully live, then get the submissions going. If you try to jump start before things are ready, the directories may reject you as being unfinished, and the crawlers may pick up your pages before they are fully-reflective of what you are offering. However, be aware that if your site is online and without barriers to crawlers, such as through a robots.txt file or using a password-protection system, then crawlers may pick up your pages even if you haven't submitted to them yet.
Q. Okay, here's the query. The student was studying ancient Egypt. As a part of her assignment,she had to find a recipe for egyptian funerary bread and bake some! Sounded like a good question for the internet to me. How wrong was I! I tried searching for 20 minutes and only found pages that referred to funerary bread, none gave the recipe. Frustratingly, some even mentioned that they'd found the recipe courtesy of the internet. I used some of your search tips, and, using Google, narrowed the search right down to:
"egyptian funerary bread recipe" -greek -"the perfumed mummy" -"karen taylor project"
In that query, "the perfumed mummy" and "karen taylor project" refer to pages that mention they'd found the recipe courtesy of the internet but which didn't have it, so I wanted to remove them.
I got one hit, which didn't help.
A. OK, I'll bite (pun intended). I went to Google and searched for:
recipe for egyptian funerary bread.
That "Karen Taylor" project page came up, looking so appealing at number three with this description:
"In the oral presentations we were presented with Egyptian Funerary Bread to taste (recipe courtesy of the Internet)"
Now here's a key search tip. That page mentions the recipe but doesn't list it. We could keep searching, but let's instead try something different. Can we find this Karen Taylor and just ask her?
The Karen Taylor page doesn't list a contact address for her, but we could try asking the Department of Education for Western Australia, where she's apparently a teacher and which publishes the page.
Can't wait? OK, let's keep hunting for Karen Taylor using Google:
"Karen Taylor" Mirrabooka Primary School
That query didn't work, so perhaps let's just find her school:
"Mirrabooka Primary School"
Turns out, Google found plenty of pages with links to the school web site, but the site no longer seems to exist (and no, the Google page cache feature won't resurrect it). No luck with AllTheWeb.com, either. But it was fairly easy to find a phone number for the school. Either a phone call to the school, or contacting the department of education, might have brought an answer about reaching Karen and getting that recipe.
The key point here is to remember that search engines may be more useful to take you part of the way to an answer, where "old fashion" attempts like asking people the right question who know can take over. But hey, let's not give up on the web yet. Let's use a little search engine math, in the right places:
recipe for egyptian "funerary bread"
My thought here was that perhaps by going for "egyptian funerary bread recipe" as an exact phrase in your original query, you were getting too specific. The page you want might not have all those words in that exact order. So just phrasing "funerary bread" portion might be enough to get pages with that exact phrase and the other key words elsewhere on it.
That query brought great looking results at Google, where number three promised:
"Mission accomplished! i need the recipe for egyptian funerary."
Whoops. Would you believe this is a complete spam page that redirects to a an Amazon affiliate selling electronics products. In fact, that query brings up tons of spam, and narrowing to "egyptian funerary bread" as an exact phrase didn't help, either.
I then tried over on AllTheWeb.com, both ways, but nothing good seemed to come up. After striking out on two different search engines, it's time to bring in a meta search engine and query a bunch of them at once. Going to Vivisimo.com, I entered:
"egyptian funerary bread"
Two hits came back, that Karen Taylor project first and the second, a page with the actual recipe, as found on....wait for it....AOL Search, fed by Inktomi's results.
This just goes to show that Google really doesn't always find everything right off, or more importantly, that different search engines have different "opinions" of the web. The same query used at a different search engine may come through for you, so consider shopping it around.
Time to find -- about 15 minutes. Actually, it was a bit faster, but I kept stopping to make notes of what I was doing.
Hope the bread tastes good!
Search Engine Math
Tips about how to use search engine math to refine your results.
Search Assistance Features
Explains the Google page cache feature.
Search Engine Links
The "Major Search Engines" page lists a variety of large search engines where you can search the web -- please note that some of the annotations need to be updated, and I hope to have that done by late May. But the links work. "Metacrawlers" gives a link of major meta search services.
Egyptian Funerary Bread Recipe
New "Perfect Page" Report
What are the elements that make up a "perfect" page to rank well with a crawler-based search engine? This is often the holy grail many site owners seek. I've written before about resources and programs that attempt to help you find the perfect page. Now there's a new one, the "Search Engine Ranking" study from Axandra. The company analyzed over 100,000 pages that ranked in the top ten at Google, AltaVista, Inktomi (using iWon results), AllTheWeb, Wisenut and Teoma. It then further broke them down by page elements and other factors, with the goal designed to help you understand which criteria seem most important for ranking success. A full review of the report -- and some of the surprises in it -- can be found below, as well as a direct link to information directly from Axandra.
New "Perfect Page" Report
The Search Engine Update, May 13, 2002
Here are some recent articles that may be of interest, from Search Engine Watch's daily SearchDay newsletter:
Keeping Current with Search Engines, concluded
SearchDay, May 9, 2002
Part two of SearchDay's list of essential reading to keep up with the world of search engines and the information industry.
You Can Observe a Lot by Watching the Lycos 50
SearchDay, May 8, 2002
"Sultan of Search" Aaron Schatz says you can virtually predict future trends and fads months in advance by watching what people search for on Lycos.
Search Engine Intelligence from the Lycos 50
SearchDay, May 7, 2002
Search Engine Strategies keynote speaker Aaron Schatz entertained and enlightened attendees with the "trends of American culture" he observes as keeper of the Lycos 50 most popular search terms.
BBC Launches Google Powered Search Engine
SearchDay, May 6, 2002
Responding to UK searchers' frustration over search results geared toward American websites and advertisers, the BBC has launched a "family friendly" search engine powered by Google.
On the archive page below, you'll find more articles like those above, plus have the ability to sign-up for the free newsletter.
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Twitter Canada MD Kirstine Stewart to Keynote Toronto
ClickZ Live Toronto (May 14-16) is a new event addressing the rapidly changing landscape that digital marketers face. The agenda focuses on customer engagement and attaining maximum ROI through online marketing efforts across paid, owned & earned media. Register now and save!