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The Search Engine Report - Number 88

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A longer, more detailed version of this newsletter
is available to Search Engine Watch members.
This is just one of the many benefits members receive.
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In This Issue

+ Search Engine Watch News
+ SES NY Happens Next Week!
+ SearchDay Articles
+ Search Engine Articles
+ Search Engine Resources
+ About The Newsletter

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Search Engine Watch News
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Hello Everyone--

As many of you are aware, Yahoo finally broke with Google to begin using its own crawler-based results this month. The move was long expected. The surprise was that Yahoo didn't just use the Inktomi search engine that it owns but instead said it's making use of completely new technology. Indeed, the company is almost vehement in declaring that what you get at Yahoo is "Yahoo Search," not Inktomi.

Ah, branding. Inktomi's last release of its search engine was back in December 2002 -- just weeks before it was purchased by Yahoo. So Inktomi was well due for an overhaul by now. That overhaul/complete rebuild no doubt benefited from all the technology Yahoo acquired in gaining AltaVista and AllTheWeb as part of the Overture purchase. Calling what emerged to be "Yahoo Search" makes sense, at least in helping Yahoo focus attention on the strongest consumer brand name it has -- Yahoo itself.

Chris Sherman and I are looking forward to kicking the tires of the new Yahoo and seeing how it measures up against Google and Ask Jeeves, its two chief technological competitors, as Yahoo stabilizes over the coming month. We like what we've seen so far. Inktomi was always a viable alternative to Google, for those who wanted choice. Yahoo Search seems as good as Inktomi was, if not better (and see further below, for our SearchDay article on the change).

Is Yahoo better than Google? That's the question everyone wants to know. I started in on a big piece to revisit the issue of measuring relevancy and to incorporate a number of other thoughts I've had about where we are heading in this new chapter of search. However, I've decided to hold off until after the Search Engine Strategies conference in New York next week. There's always a lot of new announcements timed with this, so it make sense to wait a bit longer.

I'd still encourage you to read my past piece on measuring relevancy from December 2002, In Search Of The Relevancy Figure, http://searchenginewatch.com/sereport/article.php/2165151. It should help you consider how to evaluate some of the claims you'll be hearing from the search engines themselves and the sporadic anecdotal testing that has already begun with the popular press. Don't forget -- the best test is the test you do. Try different search engines!

Within the site, I've been busy doing a number of updates. Some weren't ready to post in time to mention with the newsletter, but you'll see them appear in early March. Here's what's live so far:

+ The Kids Search Engines page has been updated to remove some dead links, add a couple of new resources and to provide information on how to filter results using major search engines.

+ The Nielsen NetRatings Search Engine Ratings page has been updated with figures showing top search engines in the United States for January 2004. Watch that page for further expanded updates in mid-March or sooner.

+ The comScore Media Metrix Search Engine Ratings page has been updated with figures showing top search engines in the United States for November 2003. It also reflects how the "search provider pie" has changed now that Yahoo is using its own crawler-based results.

Links to all these updated pages can be found from the Search Engine Watch What's New page:
http://searchenginewatch.com/article.php/2148821

You may also have noticed that Search Engine Watch looks slightly different. It's subtle, honest! No major redesign like last year. Search Engine Watch has simply been made part of Jupitermedia's ClickZ Network.

Jupitermedia has been our publisher for ages, and ClickZ has been our sister site with great content about web marketing. The change simply means it's easier to navigate from Search Engine Watch to other parts of the ClickZ network using a little drop-down box at the top of our pages. And those in other parts of ClickZ will now find it easier to reach Search Engine Watch, as well.

Last, but certainly not least, winners of the 4th Annual Search Engine Watch Awards, recognizing excellence in search, have now been posted. You can read about all the winners in the various categories via the URL below. And thanks to all of our readers who voted. Your feedback was greatly appreciated and used.

4th Annual Search Engine Watch Awards
http://searchenginewatch.com/awards/article.php/3309841

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SES New York Happens Next Week!

Over 800 people have registered to attend sessions at Search Engine Strategies in New York next week. If you're nearby, don't miss out. You can still attend and be part of the fun. Expo-only passes are also available.

Running from March 1-4, the show features nearly 60 sessions that cover every aspect of search engine marketing. You'll hear from search engine marketing experts as well as search engine representatives themselves. Confirmed speakers will be there from About.com, AOL, Ask Jeeves/Teoma, Google, Inktomi, LookSmart/WiseNut, Overture and Yahoo, as well as a variety of specialized services such as Shopping.com and Singingfish.

If you enjoy the content featured in Search Engine Watch, then Search Engine Strategies is your chance to see that content come to life! You'll find the full agenda and registration information via the link below:

Search Engine Strategies New York
http://www.searchenginestrategies.com/sew/winter04/

Can't make New York? How about Tokyo, Toronto, London, San Jose or Stockholm? Information about our other shows in 2004 can be found via the URL below:

Search Engine Strategies
http://searchenginestrategies.com/

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SearchDay Articles
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Here's a recap of recent articles from Search Engine Watch's daily SearchDay newsletter:

Search Engine Forums Spotlight
SearchDay, Feb. 27, 2004
http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/article.php/3318951

Links to this week's topics from search engine forums across the web: Nice To See Google Back On Track! Will it last? - Anybody Experienced With URL Rewrite for IIS? - The -Noblog Option or Blog Tab: Can It Be Done? - SEMPO - Yahoo Recommends Keywords META and Image ALT Text - Yahoo Versus Google On Redirect Handling - Who Links to My Site?

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ZapMeta: A Promising New Meta Search Engine
SearchDay, Feb. 26, 2004
http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/article.php/3317991

A new meta search engine offers speedy, relevant results, and some cool visualization features that actually make it easy to check out sponsored listings without leaving your result page.

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Ask Jeeves: What's the Future of Search?
SearchDay, Feb. 25, 2004
http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/article.php/3314171

Ask Jeeves' vice president of products weighs in on the future of search, forecasting developments in local search, personalization, and the fate of the current fad involving social networks.

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Local Search Growing, but Small Biz Advertisers Cautious
SearchDay, Feb. 24, 2004
http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/article.php/3316741
http://searchenginewatch.com/_subscribers/articles/article.php/3316711

Local search is a hot topic, but both search providers and small business owners face significant challenges before location based finding services gain broad acceptance.

The second URL leads to a longer version of the article for Search Engine Watch members with details about a focus group investigation regarding the attitudes toward local search and pay per click advertising of small business owners.

What's a Search Engine Watch member? See
http://searchenginewatch.com/benefits/article.php?source=ser3

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A Fun Multi-Search Tool
SearchDay, Feb. 23, 2004
http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/article.php/3316031

Queryster lets you quickly get results from ten different search engines, simply by clicking an icon. It's a great way to compare the different 'personalities' of search engines.

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Search Engine Forums Spotlight
SearchDay, Feb. 20, 2004
http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/article.php/3315471

Links to this week's topics from search engine forums across the web: Yahoo: The Switch Is Official - What's The Next Step With Search Engines - Google and Semantic Web Search - Confused - Listed Good In Inktomi/Yahoo But Now... - Yahoo Renames Spider - Lots of Clicks But no Conversions - Overuse of Keywords

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Easy Power Searching with Google
SearchDay, Feb. 19, 2004
http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/article.php/3313281

Soople is an elegant control console for Google's many powerful advanced features, bringing them all together in a well-designed, easy to use interface.

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Yahoo Birth of a New Machine
SearchDay, Feb. 18, 2004
http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/article.php/3314171
http://searchenginewatch.com/_subscribers/articles/article.php/3314161

Yahoo is launching a brand new search engine today, with its own index and ranking mechanisms, casting aside its long-standing use of Google-powered search results. The move is bound to roil the industry and sets in motion a new race for the claim of web search champion.

The second URL leads to a longer version of the article for Search Engine Watch members that goes into more detail about the new Yahoo search engine, including details about its indexing process, paid inclusion programs, and other details of importance to webmasters. What's a Search Engine Watch member? See
http://searchenginewatch.com/benefits/article.php?source=ser3

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Changes Afoot at Yahoo & MSN
SearchDay, Feb. 17, 2004
http://www.searchenginewatch.com/searchday/article.php/3313291
http://searchenginewatch.com/_subscribers/articles/article.php/3313261

Search engine marketers have long been awaiting changes at Yahoo and MSN. Finally, signs of transition are beginning to appear.

The second URL leads to a longer version of the article for Search Engine Watch members that goes into more detail about the changes.

What's a Search Engine Watch member? See
http://searchenginewatch.com/benefits/article.php?source=ser3

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Search Engine Forums Spotlight
SearchDay, Feb. 13, 2004
http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/article.php/3312441

Links to this week's topics from search engine forums across the web: Gates On Google : We WILL Catch Them! - Becoming an Authority - An 's' Makes This Much of A Difference? - Caissa - Cre8asite Example of the Year - Link Filters? - Link Reputation Is King - How Much Text Is Ideal?

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Create Your Own Online Web Page Archive
SearchDay, Feb. 12, 2004
http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/article.php/3311191

Furl combines the best features of a bookmark manager and a weblog with your own, permanent online cache of web pages -- and makes them searchable, to boot.

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An Extreme Searcher's Guide to the Best of the Web
SearchDay, Feb. 11, 2004
http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/article.php/3311081

One of the world's foremost super searchers has distilled his extensive and wide-ranging knowledge into an essential guide to the web's highest quality resources.

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Visualizing Paris, Barcelona and other Cities
SearchDay, Feb. 10, 2004
http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/article.php/3309641

While local search in the U.S. has focused on providing basic business information, Wanadoo Maps has added a new twist to online yellow pages in Europe: photos of thousands of buildings in France and Spain.

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Search Engine Watch 2003 Award Winners
SearchDay, Feb. 9, 2004
http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/article.php/3309961

Search Engine Watch has released its annual list of outstanding web search services for 2003. Your favorite search engine is among them, but there were also some surprises and controversial predictions for the coming year.

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Search Engine Forums Spotlight
SearchDay, Feb. 6, 2004
http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/article.php/3309501

Links to this week's topics from search engine forums across the web: Still Not Listed With Inktomi - Redirect a Site Cleanly Without a 301 - AdSense December Check - Measuring Keyword Competition - Ranked #2 in MSN = No Traffic - Verizon to Launch Local Search PPC - Do the Search Engines See Banner Links? - Google to Delay IPO?

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Searching For Sounds
SearchDay, Feb. 5, 2004
http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/article.php/3308571

Ever wondered what a kookaburra sounds like? Want to use the Roadrunner's 'beep beep' as your 'you've got mail' sound? FindSounds can help you find these and hundreds of other sound files on the web.

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Hack Your Own Search Engine Crawler
SearchDay, Feb. 4, 2004
http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/article.php/3307271

Want to build your own customized search tool that can search the web, explore online databases, and mine virtually any other type of internet resource? Spidering Hacks shows you how.

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Want to receive SearchDay? Sign-up for the free daily newsletter from Search Engine Watch via the link below:

SearchDay
http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/

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Search Engine Articles
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Googlemania!
Wired, March 2004
http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/12.03/google.html

I must have talked with four different Wired writers as they prepared this big special issue earlier this year to coincide with what many assumed would be the announcement of a Google IPO. But that IPO -- plans of which Google has never formally announced -- seem to be on hold according to recent rumors. No solace to Wired -- the printing presses have already rolled.

There's a big giant article on surviving an IPO, none of which is really enlightening about Google itself. The Googlossary has terms that may or may not actually be real. Google Dance? Yes. Google Juice? I dunno. Kilogoogle? Perhaps in some alternative universe I don't inhabit. Lots of little snippet articles on quotes, people with a connection somehow with Google and future scenarios for Google (I'd say between gBay and Google!), then some additional short articles on various other topics.

Overall, you find yourself wishing it had been just one big decent article -- and an article about the state of search, not just Google. In fact, Wired's been noticeably lacking on search. There's been maybe four big articles on search since Wired existed. One way back in something like 1995 was pioneering, all about the technology, a really in-depth look at how the new tools were emerging. Then I think we had one two years ago talking somewhat briefly about Overture. Last year, there was a good piece on the challenges facing Google and an outstanding one on the Internet Archive.

Overall, I want another piece like they did back in 1995, rather than another jump on the Google bandwagon. (permalink to this item)

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Behind the Rise of Google Lies the Rise in Internet Credibility
New York Times, Feb. 27, 2004
http://www.nytimes.com/2004/02/27/opinion/27FRI4.html

Jaw. Drop. Floor. "The Web has moved from the periphery of a good researcher's awareness in 1998 to the very center of it in 2004," this opinion piece goes, with Google as usual the savior of the web. I'm sorry. Good researchers were using the internet and other search engines long before 1998.

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Google's Page 'dismayed' by IPO speculation
Reuters, Feb. 27, 2004
http://news.zdnet.co.uk/internet/0,39020369,39147420,00.htm

Google cofounder Larry Page speaks about the Google IPO -- to remind that what's being reported as fact is not being confirmed by Google and to express disquiet over many of the things speculated.

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Southfield company files patent suit against Google over Toolbar
Crain's Detroit Business, Feb. 26, 2004
http://www.crainsdetroit.com/cgi-bin/news.pl?newsId=3743

NetJumper says the Google Toolbar violates patents that it holds.

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Yahoo keeping close tabs on social networking-CEO
Reuters, Feb. 26, 2004
http://biz.yahoo.com/rc/040226/tech_yahoo_semel_1.html

Yahoo CEO Terry Semel says his company is watching social networking services like Friendster (and presumably Google's Orkut) closely but doesn't yet see the business model in them.

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Google gurus join Forbes billionaire club
Reuters, Feb. 26, 2004
http://news.com.com/2100-1032_3-5166028.html

Forbes officially declares Google's cofounders to be billionaires.

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Google Adds Wireless Froogle Searching
ResearchBuzz, Feb. 25, 2004
http://www.researchbuzz.org/archives/001491.shtml

Google's long offered a WML version of its search site for those with cell phone web browsers. Now you can get Froogle shopping results, as well.

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Patents raise stakes in search wars
News.com, Feb. 25, 2004
http://news.com.com/2100-1024-5165272.html

Looks at the various patents that search companies possess and how they might be ultimately deployed to gain a competitive advantage. Provides an update that the dispute over a patent on paid listings filed against Google by Overture is now moving into discovery -- and now involves Yahoo, as Overture's owner. A similar case filed against FindWhat goes to trial in August.

For more background on some of these cases, see the Patent section of my Search Engines & Legal Issues page: http://searchenginewatch.com/resources/article.php/2156541#Patents

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Microsoft commercial-search chief departs
News.com, Feb. 25, 2004
http://news.com.com/2100-1024-5165419.html

A blow to all those who subscribe to the Microsoft will bowl over Google and Yahoo in the search game theory. Just weeks after gaining Paul Ryan, the former chief technology officer at Overture, Ryan's quietly departed.

This follows on New York Times reports that Microsoft lost a key vice president involved with building its crawler technology to Google: http://searchenginewatch.com/sereport/article.php/3308131#nyt.

Want to fill either of the two openings? Microsoft Search is still hiring, and interestingly apparently for many of the same jobs when this page was posted last year: http://search.msn.com/jobs.aspx.

Google, well-staffed already, continues to hire plenty as well: http://www.google.com/jobs/positions.html.

And Yahoo has 255 spots open at the moment, http://pljb2.rmx.scd.yahoo.com/pljb/global_jsp/applicant/SearchAgentMgr/SearchProcess.jsp?pljbHome=/yahoo/yahoo_jobs/applicant/index.jsp&searchaction=Search, including one job to be a directory editor/surfer for Yahoo Canada. (permalink to this item)

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Startups seek new ways to search the Net
AP, Feb. 24, 2004
http://www.contracostatimes.com/mld/cctimes/business/8044953.htm

Search is hot, so new companies are entering the space and hoping to find a niche between Yahoo, Google and Microsoft.

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The Hit Factory. Has Google Had Its Day?
The Independent, Feb. 24, 2004
http://news.independent.co.uk/digital/features/story.jsp?story=494453

Looks at Google's rise to power and the forces that seek to knock it off the throne.

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Survey: Relevance Tops Brand for Searchers
DMNews.com, Feb. 24, 2004
http://www.dmnews.com/cgi-bin/artprevbot.cgi?article_id=26593

It's the relevancy, stupid. Nielsen//NetRatings found in a December 2003 poll that 52 percent said "Can find relevant information" to be the most important factor for a search engine.

"Can get credible results" was next at 34 percent, followed by "Get results quickly" at 33 percent.

Just changing to imitate Google's clean look isn't enough. Only 18 percent said "Has an easy to use interface" is enough.

You can find complete results here: http://www.nielsen-netratings.com/pr/pr_040223_us.pdf (permalink to this item)

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Google, EFF rally in trademark case
News.com, Feb. 24, 2004
http://news.com.com/2110-1024-5164091.html

Google and the EFF jump in with briefs supporting WhenU's software that triggers pop-up ads. In particular, visit a web site, and WhenU's software can make a competitor's ad appear. Doesn't it seem odd for Google, a pioneer of blocking pop-ups, to jump in and defend WhenU? But I haven't read the briefs, so it's likely that there are more broader issues that Google's hoping to protect rather than the right to deliver pop-ups.

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Interchange Bows Local Search Tool, Naturally
MediaDailyNews, Feb. 24, 2004
http://www.mediapost.com/dtls_dsp_news.cfm?newsId=239305

ePilot gets new local ads options, courtesy of parent company Interchange. Each business is imprinted with a local "DNA" coding to associate it with particular areas, to help aid in searching (and likely in buying ads). You can try ePilot local yourself at http://www.epilot.com/localsearch/

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Smart searching from Ask Jeeves
Web User, Feb. 23, 2004
http://www.web-user.co.uk/news/47959.html

Ask Jeeves UK gets some of the enhancements added to its sibling in the US last year.

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Google Is Searching for the Perfect Hit
Always On, Feb. 23, 2004
http://www.alwayson-network.com/comments.php?id=2951_0_4_0_C

Interesting comments from Google CEO Eric Schmidt on trying to get search right. Google doesn't always get it right, he readily admits. The search problem is also going to get worse, as more material flows in, yet even more material remains inaccessible to search engines. The lack of knowing about users personally is raised. No revelations on big breakthroughs going forward.

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Put Your Web Pages on a Diet
SearchEngineGuide.com, Feb. 23, 2004
http://www.searchengineguide.com/churchill/2004/0223_cc1.html

Tips on dropping some material from your pages that may help improve rankings.

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New Yahoo really something to see
USA Today, Feb. 22, 2004
http://www.usatoday.com/tech/news/2004-02-22-yahoo_x.htm

I've spoken with both Yahoo and Google recently about the idea of some form of industry-wide agreed relevancy testing. From Google, there's slightly more interest than in the past. From Yahoo, there's practically wholescale "let's do it!"

It's an issue I'll be revisiting in a longer article shortly. But many of the key issues I've covered in my earlier In Search Of The Relevancy Figure article, http://searchenginewatch.com/sereport/article.php/2165151

Both Yahoo and Google have a real incentive to do this, as illustrated by this USA Today article. In it, we find that Google doesn't always have the answers. That's true enough, but the two examples used don't necessarily prove this.

In the first, Google gets dinged because it didn't list the John Edwards campaign site first when the review was written. Instead, John Edwards the psychic got top billing. Google did have the answer the reporter wanted -- it just wasn't the first thing listed.

In the second example, Google gets a ding because "gay marriage" top ranks a site against gay marriage, while Yahoo top ranks a site for it. The suggestion is that Google fails because of listing the anti-gay marriage site first.

The reality is that it depends on your viewpoint. There's no way both pro or con sites can occupy the top spot. As a search reviewer, I know this, so I'm mainly concerned that results show a variety of opinions on all sites. When I looked, both did seem to do this. However, Yahoo was greatly helped in showing 20 results -- rather than 10. That allows for more variety. Sure, you can set your preferences to do the same at Google, but few likely do this.

Yahoo is also helped in that unlike Google, it doesn't show up to two listings from the same web site per page (aka, Google's "indented" results). At Google, this means that five web sites might take up all the space -- and it's a problem I've noticed more and more over the past few months.

So who is really most relevant? Couldn't tell you. The lack of agreed testing means that Yahoo and Google can't tell you, either. And in the wake of that, expect anecdotal testing like this to continue to define who is winning.

For more examples, see Google vs. Yahoo from the Wall St. Journal: http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB107713144736932883,00.html. After six different searches, it's essentially called a draw. Wins on both sides plus ties.

Microsoft blogger Robert Scoble also weighs in, http://radio.weblogs.com/0001011/2004/02/21.html#a6605 and decides in his unscientific test that Yahoo isn't "demonstrably" better. (permalink to this item)

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The Search Engine That Isn't a Verb, Yet
New York Times, Feb. 22, 2004
http://www.nytimes.com/2004/02/22/business/yourmoney/22yahoo.html

Profile on Yahoo CEO Terry Semel and his company's efforts to regain the crown of search king that it once held.

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The Google Guys
ABC News, Feb. 20, 2004
http://abcnews.go.com/sections/WNT/PersonofWeek/pow_google_guys_040220-1.html

Short profile on Google's cofounders.

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Keyword Research Revisited, Part 1: Log Files
ClickZ, Feb. 20, 2004
http://www.clickz.com/experts/search/strat/article.php/3315271

Want to figure out what terms to target? A good first step is to mine your logs.

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Canadian youth in California found out who he is through Google.com
AP, Feb. 19, 2004
http://www.canada.com/technology/story.html?id=541BD610-2D1D-449E-8676-254FC65BFF36

Teenager googles his first name and discovers he was abducted as a child. FYI, I tried repeating the search (he's named in the article) and came up with nothing about a missing child on Google (for the first five pages of results) or Google Images (for the first two pages of results).

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Google Grumbles
eWeek, Feb. 18, 2004
http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,4149,1525826,00.asp

When I have a computer problem, I always go straight to Google Groups. I guess it's because I've found it more relevant. There's always someone there who has posted that cryptic Microsoft Windows error message and is asking for help -- which is often given. And since I'm hitting a much more limited database than the entire web, the relevancy is generally high.

Brian Livingstone finds the same thing with testing, pitting Google versus Google Groups and Teoma for computer solutions. Both of those are deemed better than Google.

I actually agree with Google's statement in the story that Google Groups has been superior than Google for this type of query for some time (and invisible tabs, http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/article.php/3115131, would bring this to the attention of more users).

Brian is more skeptical, clearly having heard about Google's recent algorithm changes and deciding they've made things worse. True or not -- it's bad news for Google. It has generally benefited from anecdotal testing as "proof" of its relevancy. That same type of testing can wipe that reputation out. (permalink to this item)

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Lies, Damned Lies, and Google
mediabistro, Feb. 18, 2004
http://www.mediabistro.com/articles/cache/a1217.asp

I've written before about the dangers of using search engine count figures as a measure of popularity -- stretching back to AltaVista days. Gary Price and others have done the same. But here's a good piece that takes a wide-ranging look at how popular press uses Google counts to "prove" points.

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Alleged affair popular search query
About.com Web Search Guide, Feb. 18, 2004
http://websearch.about.com/cs/article1/a/sf_polier.htm

Presidential candidate John Kerry's alleged affair made for popular searching in February.

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Google eyes a gaggle of sites
USA Today, Feb. 18, 2004
http://www.usatoday.com/tech/webguide/internetlife/2004-02-18-google_x.htm

The day before Yahoo dumps Google, Google announces that its web page index has increased to 4 billion pages. Coincidence or attempt to ensure you have some positive Google news in the wake of the Yahoo divorce?

Size increases are generally welcomed, as long as they come along with sustained relevancy. I've actually felt Google's last size increase hurt its relevancy in some circumstances -- though in others, the greater comprehensiveness has been great.

Read more about the many issues with search engine sizes in my longstanding page with charts and more here: Search Engine Sizes, http://searchenginewatch.com/reports/article.php/2156481 (permalink to this item)

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Interview with Jason Wiener, CEO of Dipsie
ResourceShelf, Feb. 18, 2004
http://www.resourceshelf.com/archives/2004_02_01_resourceshelf_archive.html#107706103141787576

Q&A about a new search engine set to open to the public later this year. It's promising to hit invisible web resources that it says existing major search engines miss, saying it will use semantic analysis as a means of producing relevant results and will cluster results by actions.

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Google and Newspapers
Editor & Publisher, Feb. 17, 2004
http://www.editorandpublisher.com/eandp/columns/questions_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=2092160

Wide-ranging interview with Google cofounder Sergey Brin, focusing on issues relating to newspapers, such as whether Google plans to compete for classified ads money (Answer: no).

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Search wars are about to get personal
News.com, Feb. 17, 2004
http://news.com.com/2100-1038_3-5158591.html

Data from comScore Media Metrix says that searchers aren't particularly loyal to one search engine. But the data is really odd. The company calculated that the typical searcher searches 28 times in a month, then compared the average number of searches for each of the leading search engines: Google, 23, Yahoo and AOL, 16 and MSN, 11.

I guess the idea is that if everyone were loyal to Google, then it would have the highest average. The fact the others have some high numbers suggest they attract searches, as well.

There's a far better way to do this. comScore can easily calculate the crossover -- what percentage of people search at Google also search at Yahoo and so on. In fact, I've asked for this before, and I'll follow up about it again. It would paint a far better picture than these stats.

Overall, the idea that people use more than one search engine isn't surprising, new or necessarily shows "disloyalty." Disloyalty happens when people start abandoning their first choice search engine in favor of their second choice. Make that flipflop, as Google managed to AltaVista, and you win.

Article goes on to talk about the idea of personalization as a way to lock users into a particular search engine. Yahoo says to expect something later this year. (permalink to this item)

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News Sites Seek Readers via Search Ads
DMNews.com, Feb. 17, 2004
http://www.dmnews.com/cgi-bin/artprevbot.cgi?article_id=26521

The BBC, Financial Times and other media outlets are buying paid listings on Google to drive traffic for special coverage of news events. Ironically, they can't buy ads to appear alongside Google own news search results.

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Search For Tomorrow
Washington Post, Feb. 15, 2004
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A42885-2004Feb14.html
http://www.bizreport.com/article.php?art_id=6192 (no registration reading)

"In the beginning -- before Google -- a darkness was upon the land." Well, that's the New Testament. BG, we actually did manage to find things with Yahoo, AltaVista and the like. Google's the household name now for many, of course. This article asks, "What's Next?"

Agents? Gad, these were pitched back in BG days and have yet to take off. Why? Because they don't solve the "on demand" search need that Google, Yahoo and the others do so well. When's the last time you wanted to wait two or three days to "discover" an answer to a question you have. You want the answer now! Now agents in terms of personalization, better results based on who you are? Sure -- because that works for on demand searching.

The article then drags out the promise of the Semantic Web -- if only all our data had meta data describing it, then we'd be set. And when my wife uses my computer, Microsoft Office tags me as the author. Oops -- bad news if she posts to the web and you just did a search for documents by me as author. (permalink to this item)

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Study Find Problems With Access To Credible Health Information Online
URAC & Consumer WebWatch Press Release, Feb. 12, 2004
http://www.urac.org/news_release.asp?navid=news&pagename=news_releases&id=1049

Now released is the "Setting The Public Agenda For Online Health Search" report from URAC, a non-profit group that promotes health care quality, and Consumer WebWatch, a project of Consumers Union, the non-profit publisher of Consumer Reports.

The report found that: 1) consumers' ability to locate and evaluate health information online is hindered by access barriers for older, less well off, disabled, and non-English speaking Americans; 2) a difficulty in distinguishing credible health information from that which is not trustworthy; 3) Web sites contain inaccurate, outdated or incomplete information; and 4) consumers lack of knowledge on how search engines retrieve results or the impact of paid placements on listings of health web sites.

The report itself can be downloaded from http://www.urac.org/ (permalink to this item)

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XML Paid Inclusion: Marketing Winner, Search Spam Killer
ClickZ, Feb. 13, 2004
http://www.clickz.com/search/strat/article.php/3312251

Paid inclusion will be coming big time to Yahoo soon, and it's likely you'll hear some criticisms of this come up in the coming months. Kevin Lee offers a defense as to why XML feeds in particular can be relevancy boosters. No argument here. XML paid inclusion content can in some circumstances indeed help relevancy, reduce spam and offer other benefits. But in other circumstances, it might hurt. I don't know anyone who can universally declare that overall, it's "better" or "worse."

What I can say is that paid inclusion is an ADVERTISING program, pitched to ADVERTISERS. As such, it's time the listings be disclosed in some way as ads. It doesn't have to be anything major. A small icon or something to help those who want to know what is paid versus unpaid content on a search results page. Do that, and the criticisms of paid inclusion largely disappear. But without disclosure, it's nearly impossible for the typical search consumer to distinguish paid inclusion ads from free listings -- and some will want to do this.

By the way, I'm not part of the faction that thinks XML feeds let SEMs generate search engine spam. Rather, I think the search engines offering paid inclusion may hold content in these programs to more liberal rules than would apply to "unpaid" content. In other words, a doorway page may be seen as spam by a search engine when it is outside a paid inclusion program. But feed it via XML, and suddenly the criteria of what makes a good "page" seems much more generous. And that's not spam, since it's the search engines themselves that define spam.

I've written past articles that go into much more depth about the pros and cons of paid inclusion. You'll find them listed here: http://searchenginewatch.com/webmasters/article.php/2167941#inclusion. I'd especially encourage reading the "Ending The Debate Over Cloaking" and "The Mixed Message Of Paid Inclusion" articles. (permalink to this item)

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Googlescape: Are we headed for Bubble II?
News.com, Feb. 13, 2004
http://news.com.com/2010-1030_3-5158603.html

Forrester's CEO George Colony says Google's not worth $15 billion, but $6 billion might be seen as reasonable. Elsewhere, he argues that Google is vulnerable because search has "no barriers to entry." The proof of this is how AltaVista almost immediately lost its traffic to Google, Colony writes.

Yep, over six months in 2001, Google sucked in AltaVista traffic -- as well as traffic from others. See what I've long called the Google-AltaVista "X" because of the way the traffic lines cross via the December 2000-May 2001 Media Metrix ratings page listed here: http://searchenginewatch.com/_subscribers/article.php/2149481.

If there's no barrier to search, then why didn't all the other search engines around at this time do well? Because there IS a serious technological barrier to building a system that can index the web, provide relevant results and handle large amounts of searches. If it was so easy, why does Microsoft itself not expect to have a system going until the end of this year, at the earliest? That's almost two years after it began efforts to build its own crawler. Again, the answer is that it's not so easy.

The search barrier indeed exists. Anyone new will have a tough time breaking through it. And should they do so, they'll only succeed if the others out there are clearly worse than the newcomer. AltaVista would not have lost traffic to Google if it hadn't neglected search. Don't expect Yahoo, Google, Microsoft and Ask Jeeves -- the major technology players in the space -- to repeat that mistake. (permalink to this item)

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Google Bans Environmental Group's Ads
AP, Feb. 12, 2004
http://www.siliconvalley.com/mld/siliconvalley/news/7941250.htm

Google pulls an anti-pollution ad, keeping to its often controversial (and still apparently unwritten) policy of not accepting anti-anything ads that has infuriated potential advertisers across the political spectrum and various special interests. Meanwhile, the ads are fine for Overture: http://releases.usnewswire.com/GetRelease.asp?id=146-02262004

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The Evolution of a Search Engine Marketer
High Rankings Advisor, Feb. 11, 2004
http://www.highrankings.com/issue087.htm#seo

Jill Whalen describes the seven steps of learning SEO that she often finds people progress through, from the "submittal stage" through to the "hard work phase."

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Google spurns RSS for rising blog format
News.com, Feb. 11, 2004
http://news.com.com/2100-1032-5157662.html

You may recall my article about creating RSS feeds from last year: http://searchenginewatch.com/sereport/article.php/2175271. In it, I discussed how there are different flavors of RSS. The RDF version, RSS 1.0, seems to have been renamed Atom and is evolving some new capabilities. That leaves the other, non-RDF flavor of RSS continuing on.

Google's Blogger previously let users distribute posts via RSS. Now new people will only be able to use Atom. Meanwhile, Yahoo is developing new support for people to take RSS feeds. Sounds like another format nightmare nobody wants or needs, and the "sides" both take swings at each other in this article.

Back in the practical world, it probably makes no difference. When I last looked, it seemed that most anything that could deal with the non-RDF RSS could also handle with the RDF version. I suspect the same will be true with Atom -- readers will be able to handle both Atom and RSS. More about Atom can be found here: http://www.atomenabled.org/ (permalink to this item)

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Citysearch Sees Future Local-Search Growth
DMNews.com, Feb. 10, 2004
http://www.dmnews.com/cgi-bin/artprevbot.cgi?article_id=26465

Citysearch says it has added 3,000 more advertisers in the past three months, bringing the company halfway to its goal of 50,000 by the end of the year.

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Using Paid Inclusion to Get to the Next Level
ClickZ, Feb. 9, 2004
http://www.clickz.com/search/results/article.php/3309771
http://www.clickz.com/experts/search/results/article.php/3316081

Part 1 is primarily tips from Inktomi on how they believe you can get more out of paid inclusion. Top tip? Do an XML feed and have an SEM firm "tune" the feed for you. In other words, tweak that page until you get a top ranking.

Of course, Inktomi's content guidelines (http://www.inktomi.com/products/web_search/guidelines.html) say it wants, "pages designed primarily for humans, with search engine considerations secondary," warns against "the use of text that is hidden from the user," "pages that give the search engine different content than what the end-user sees" and "pages built primarily for the search engines." XML feeds often break some or all of these rules. Tweaking an XML feed is especially something you do solely for search engine considerations. A human will never see your feed content.

All of this I described last year in my "Doorways Not Always Bad, At Inktomi" article last year for Search Engine Watch members: http://searchenginewatch.com/_subscribers/articles/03/article.php/2152811. In short, I agree with Inktomi -- if you are a serious search engine marketer, definitely consider XML feeds. The ability to tweak your pages to improve search engine placement is much more endorsed when you are in this program.

In part 2, the second URL, Inktomi rolls out the usual arguments about why paid inclusion helps everyone. And some of that's true. It's also true that Google manages to do a lot of what its competitors make out can only be done through paid inclusion. (permalink to this item)

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Online Search Engines Help Lift Cover of Privacy
Washington Post, Feb. 9, 2004
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A24053-2004Feb8.html

Time for the twice-annual big story about how search engines can help people locate personal details, ways into computer systems and other confidential material. The owners of such material would be shocked that their data can be mined in this way. The answer, as always, is not to put anything on the web that you don't want others to find, unless you secure it behind hacker-proof password protection. We also get a new word, "Googledorks," which I've never heard before. (permalink to this item)

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Microsoft not ready to battle with Google
Seattle Times, Feb. 9, 2004
http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/businesstechnology/2001853639_paul09.html

I've written before (http://www.searchenginewatch.com/sereport/article.php/3308131#nyt) that Microsoft versus Google and Yahoo is not the same as Microsoft versus Netscape. Here's another view that agrees with what I've said, that in search, its not necessarily another Microsoft walkover. But the threat of Microsoft coming up with a great, integrated search utility remains.

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A Golden Opportunity: Politics and SEM
ClickZ, Feb. 6, 2004
http://www.clickz.com/search/strat/article.php/3308951

Should political candidates be pitching messages via search engine marketing. Kevin Lee votes yes.

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AOL Removes Bush From 'Miserable Failure' Search Results
DMNews.com, Feb. 6, 2004
http://www.dmnews.com/cgi-bin/artprevbot.cgi?article_id=26428

Following on my write-up about this in the last newsletter (http://searchenginewatch.com/sereport/article.php/3308131#aol), DMNews talks with AOL about pulling the Bush link from the infamous "miserable failure" search.

Meanwhile, Michael Moore has now ousted Bush from the number one spot at Google. Why do I sense the title of his next documentary will be something incorporating the words "Miserable Failure." At Inktomi (as viewed via HotBot), Bush is holding firm at number one.

I like the guy at Google who earlier this month made it into the first page of results with what I'd best call a "miserable failure doorway page." It begins, "After following the Miserable Failure Google Bomb against the biography of George W Bush I thought it would be interesting to see how hard it would be to get to the top of the Miserable Failure SERP with this page."

After various observations, the page concludes, "Hire an Expert SEO Consultant to optimise your web site for high Google rankings," along with links to an online lingerie shop. Well hey, he made it to the first page :) The page has since slipped to page two of the results. (permalink to this item)

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Dayparting - What's all the Fuss?
About.com Web Search Guide, Feb. 5, 2004
http://websearch.about.com/cs/ppcengines/a/daypart.htm

The headline says it all. You may have heard about dayparting. Why care? As Jennifer Laycock explains, targeting your ads during certain times of the day might improve conversions.

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Switchboard.com Revamps Search, Cleans Up Site
DMNews.com, Feb. 5, 2004
http://www.dmnews.com/cgi-bin/artprevbot.cgi?article_id=26409

Switchboard makes improvements to its online yellow pages site, including offering a single search box (no need to pick a city or US state).

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SuperPages.com's PPC Play
InternetNews.com, Feb. 5, 2004
http://www.internetnews.com/ec-news/article.php/3308771

I'll be resuming my series from last year on local search soon, and part of that will be a closer look at moves by SuperPages to enhance its offerings. In the meantime, as this article outlines, the company plans to redesign to make single search box searching possible, plus it rolls out new cost-per-click paid listings to help existing and new advertisers rise to the top.

To clarify my quote in the article, I'm doubtful some of the smaller local players will embrace the new ads that SuperPages is trying in the short term. Things to me are designed much more to be friendly to those local players who are already exploring online advertising in some way.

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When a Search Engine Isn't Enough, Call a Librarian
New York Times, Feb. 5, 2004
http://www.nytimes.com/2004/02/05/technology/circuits/05libr.html

I love librarians and couldn't agree more with this article, which outlines how librarians have maintained a role as "plan B" for when a search engine fails to come through. Search engines do not have the total sum of human knowledge, and we found information without them for the vast majority of our history. I'm glad to have them, but I also understand that all the other tools I always used still remain useful.

By the way, a search for "what was the name of ross perot's political party?" brought up the answer (The Reform Party) on Google within seconds, and from authoritative sources such as CNN, the InfoPlease facts database, MSN Encarta and the US Department of State. So despite this being the story's opening anecdote of search engine failure (the librarian resorted to an encyclopedia), Google at least did fine in my check. But in other searches, I might reach for my own encyclopedia, as well. (permalink to this item)

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IBM sets out to make sense of the Web
News.com, Feb. 5, 2004
http://news.com.com/2100-1032_3-5153627.html

And yet another article -- but a good, reader-friendly one -- about IBM's WebFountain project, which aims to mine trends on the web and sell the knowledge to companies. It's especially nice that it makes reference to Clever, one of two big IBM search projects that never made it out of the garage. The other was Outride, to provide personalized results. Google ended up buying Outride about two years ago.

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Microsoft's Robert Scoble Discusses Search Engine Technology
SearchEngineGuide.com, Feb. 4, 2004
http://www.searchengineguide.com/beal/2004/0204_ab1.html

Nice Q&A by Andy Beal asking prominent blogger and Microsoft employee Robert Scoble of where he thinks search may be going, which some interesting thoughts on how desktop searching might be made easier, as well as looking at web-wide ideas.

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Janet Jackson's flash dance tops Web search
News.com, Feb. 4, 2004
http://news.com.com/2100-1026_3-5153330.html

Just proving that old adage that if you bear your breast during the most watched television program in the United States, thousands will search for the image the next day.

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Being Jon Kleinberg
Searchblog, Feb. 3, 2004
http://battellemedia.com/archives/000304.php

Nice short update on happenings with Jon Kleinberg, whose work on search technology is widely cited and ideas considered by others. See also my article from 1998, Counting Clicks and Looking at Links, http://www.searchenginewatch.com/sereport/article.php/2166431, for back when he was with IBM working on Clever.

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Study Shows Web Searches Getting More Complex
DMNews.com, Feb. 3, 2004
http://www.dmnews.com/cgi-bin/artprevbot.cgi?article_id=26378

OneStat finds that two and three word queries are increasing, while those with one word are going down.

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Google Tops Global Brand Poll -- Again
Reuters, Feb. 3, 2004
http://news.com.com/2100-1032_3-5152397.html

Interbrand calls Google "Brand of the Year" for the second year in a row. Apple remains in second place, while the Mini drives up into third. To think, I could be driving one right now. But no, my wife changes her mind at the last minute and decides on a Citrokn Pluriel instead. Oh, the humanity...but I digress.

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Special thanks to:

+ Search Engine Guide, http://searchengineguide.com
+ Search Engine Lowdown, http://searchenginelowdown.com
+ John Battelle's Searchblog, http://battellemedia.com/
+ ResourceShelf.com, http://www.resourceshelf.com
+ About.com Web Search Guide, http://websearch.about.com

and reader submissions for some of the items listed above.

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Search Engine Resources
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SortByDate.com
http://www.sortbydate.com

Enter a query, then sort results from news search engines, blog search engines or general search engines by date. Keep in mind that for general search engines, dates can often be widely inaccurate.

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