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Breaking The News Barrier

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From The Search Engine Report
Aug. 2, 2000

A longer, more detailed version of this article is available to
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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.

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.

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.

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.

Moreover
http://www.moreover.com/

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

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

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

A longer, more detailed version of this article is available to
Search Engine Watch "site subscribers."
Click here to learn more about becoming a site subscriber.


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