THE SEARCH ENGINE UPDATE
July 25, 2000 - Number 81
By Danny Sullivan
Editor, Search Engine Watch
Copyright (c) 2000 internet.com corporation
About The Update
The Search Engine Update is a twice-monthly update of search engine news. It is available only to those people who have subscribed to Search Engine Watch, http://searchenginewatch.com/. Please note that long URLs may break into two lines in some mail readers. Cut and paste, should this occur.
In This Issue
+ About The Search Engine Watch site
+ Conference News
+ Breaking The News Barrier
+ New Domain Names Coming
+ Search Engine "Writing" List Opened
+ In UK, Search Engines Are Top Method To Find Sites
+ Quick Hits: Go's Pure Search Site, Ask Jeeves Redesign
Search Engine Articles
+ Interesting articles relating to search engines.
+ List Info (Subscribing/Unsubscribing)
I've posted new statistics from StatMarket and Nielsen//NetRatings regarding the popularity of different search engines. StatMarket shows that the amount of search engine-related traffic sent to web sites by AltaVista has increased significantly over the past six months. The latest figures from Nielsen//NetRatings show that among the most highly used search engines, Yahoo has maintained its usual lead while its major competitors -- except for MSN -- have lost some ground. Among the smaller players, Google's audience continues to grow while search newcomer iWon is firmly established as a competitor against some older search services. Links to both pages can be found via the What's New page, below.
In case you forgot your password, the finder will help you access some Search Engine Update articles listed below.
The next Search Engine Strategies conference is less than a month away!
Coming to San Francisco on August 14, I'll be presenting and moderating sessions at the conference that feature experts on search engine marketing issues and panelists from the various major search engines themselves. Search engines participating in the panels include About.com, AltaVista, Ask Jeeves, Excite, Google, Inktomi, LookSmart, mySimon, NBC Internet/Snap, Netscape/The Open Directory and Yahoo. There will be a special session on shopping search, which should be of interest to any online retailers. Details about the conference, for attendees or potential sponsors and exhibitors, can be found via the URL below.
Search Engine Strategies 2000 - San Francisco
Breaking The News Barrier
If you use the news search option at most search engines, you'll generally get shown matching stories that come from newswires such as the Associated Press and Reuters. That's OK, but the coverage isn't very diverse. Specialized "news search engines" such as Excite's NewsTracker or News Index do a better job. They crawl a wide variety of news sites, such as online newspapers and magazines, in addition to providing wire stories.
Moreover and Yahoo go a step beyond this, because they pick up headlines from subject-oriented sites that even news search engines may miss. Those interested in news should try either Moreover or Yahoo, because of the breadth of coverage they offer. They also provide webmasters with an opportunity to put forward their own newsworthy content.
I've written glowingly about Moreover in past newsletters, and it's with good reason. I have never seen a news search product that offers such comprehensive and quality coverage of current events. When it comes to news, Moreover is unparalleled, a news junkie's delight.
Moreover provides news coverage in about 300 different categories or "webfeeds," ranging from biotech to Coca Cola news. When you visit the site, you'll find a list of webfeeds via drop down boxes on the left side of the home page. Choosing a webfeed displays current headlines online, and you can also enter your email address to receive headlines on a daily or weekly basis. Keyword searching for news can also be done -- just use the search box on the upper-left hand side of the screen.
To create its webfeeds, Moreover crawls about 1,500 to 2,000 different sources. Some of these are news sites, such as CNN or the New York Times. Others are sites about a particular subject, rather than being exclusively about news. For example, GigaLaw.com shows up when looking at the domain name webfeed today, because that site has an article on the domain name dispute procedure.
It's this inclusion of subject-oriented sites that gives Moreover its edge. The search engine delves into these sites on a regular basis, identifying newsworthy content and listing it alongside headlines from more traditional news outlets. This lets Moreover ferret out great content that might ordinarily be missed, plus it also allows the company to create and maintain very specific newswires.
Moreover has a staff of about eight editors that establish the different webfeeds. They create keywords and definitions designed to locate relevant stories for each webfeed. They also determine which web sites, or sections of particular web sites, have content related to a particular webfeed.
A big challenge is for the editors to determine the format used at each web site. They spend about 15 minutes per news source understanding where new articles are posted, said Loren Kinczel, Senior Business Development Manager at Moreover. It's a job that has to be repeated if a web site changes its format, but editors get alerts anytime something unexpected happens.
Moreover distributes its webfeeds freely to any web site that wants to display them -- and many do. The site officially launched last December, and now about 50,000 web sites display its content. It's a great way for webmasters to add fresh content to their sites. Being listed in Moreover's webfeeds is also a great way for webmasters to gain traffic, and some tips on being included are at the end of this article.
The benefit to Moreover is that these partnerships provide it with a network to deliver its content across the web, which the company can eventually leverage to make money either through distribution fees based on click-through or affiliate deals.
The first idea could be worrisome. After all, no one wants headlines that are simply the product of the biggest advertising budget. However, Moreover says any such plans wouldn't give articles from distribution partners priority in placement, plus they'd still have to meet normal editorial guidelines. Webmasters using Moreover webfeeds could also choose to take only non-paid listings.
"First and foremost, Moreover is a news company emphasizing its editorial integrity in the high-quality of every source it carries. Strategic partners with whom Moreover will share click-revenues may prioritize revenue-generating articles as they wish, though Moreover's default feeds will always be of the highest editorial standards," said Kinczel.
The second idea is far more acceptable. Many web sites now operate affiliate programs, where they pay other sites for visitors that they receive. Moreover itself might become an affiliate with different sites that it already lists, and thus earn money for any traffic driven to them. This puts a greater separation between being paid for particular stories.
In either case, making the webfeeds pay for themselves isn't Moreover's primary business, at the moment. Instead, the company is busy creating custom webfeeds for particular topics to serve the intranets of Fortune 1000 companies and others. For example, businesses like Wells Fargo and Charles Schwab are clients that have custom webfeeds designed to keep their employees on top of industry news.
"Right now, the core focus of our model is the enterprise sales," Kinczel said. "These companies have been paying hundreds of thousands of dollars per year to Dow Jones and Bloomberg [for industry news”. We aren't trying to replace that, but we are trying to supplement that."
Another major business for Moreover may be providing news information to major search engines. The company has already been powering the news results at WebTop.com, and Moreover just recently began providing content for the "Matching News Articles" section that appears at the bottom of iWon.com's results. You can also get a longer listing by clicking on the "News results" link at the top of the search results page.
Look at the links, and you'll see the URLs are redirected through Moreover. However, what's interesting is that it is Inktomi's logo that appears as credit for powering the search results. This suggests an unannounced partnership between Moreover and Inktomi. If so (I'll be checking -- Moreover couldn't comment), powerful news search may be coming to other Inktomi-powered search engines.
Over at Yahoo, news is presented in two ways, via "Yahoo News" or "Yahoo Full Coverage." Let's start with Yahoo News, which you can reach by clicking on the small "news" link just below the search box, on the Yahoo home page. That brings up top headlines in major categories, such as business and sports, and you can click through to see even more headlines in each category. These stories come from wire services, and you can also search against the wires by using the search box at the top of the Yahoo News home page.
The same thing happens if you do a "normal" Yahoo search, then click on the "Related News" link that appears at the top of the results page. Matching wire stories will be presented. Also, if you are a registered Yahoo user, you can choose to create email "News Alerts" that send you notification of new stories matching your specified keywords.
Yahoo Full Coverage is much more impressive than Yahoo News. In Full Coverage, a small team of editors has compiled pages that link to news sources, individual articles and web sites about particular topics.
The easiest way to find Full Coverage offerings at a glance is to click on the small "Full Coverage" link that appears below the big "News & Media" link on the Yahoo home page. You'll then see all the topics available, such as "Severe U.S. Weather" and the "2000 Sydney Summer Olympics."
Another way you'll discover Full Coverage content is to do an ordinary Yahoo search. For example, searching for "domain names" brings up a link to the "Domain Names and Registration" area. The link appears as if it were a regular Yahoo category, even though it is compiled in a different fashion than typical categories.
Clicking through, you'll discover a compilation of material from different sources. The "News Stories" section will be top headlines from wire services and other major news sites. Below that is a "Related Web Sites" section that lists sites providing continuing coverage of that particular topic, something that would typically be missed by a news search engine. To the left of the page are stories organized into categories such as "Opinion & Editorials" and "Magazine Articles." Overall, each Full Coverage page provides a concentrated dose of material for a particular news topic. It's a great way to get up to speed on a story you know nothing about.
Links to Full Coverage content also pop up in various places throughout Yahoo. Keep an eye out for them, and clickthrough to discover timely information about your topic of interest.
Now for some tips on helping your content get listed, starting with Moreover:
+ Have fresh, newsworthy content. This is a key factor. Look at the type of articles that appear in the webfeed you believe your site is relevant for. That's the type of material Moreover is interested in. If you publish similar material on a daily, weekly or even monthly basis, then your site may be worthy of inclusion.
+ Post new articles in the same place, in the same way. Have a "news" page that always is in the same location, and post links to all your new articles on this page. The particular format you use isn't important, as long as you consistently use the same format.
+ Avoid frames. If your stories are presented in a frame, then Moreover has difficulty extracting a URL to lead people directly to the story.
+ Contact Moreover. You can send email firstname.lastname@example.org to tell editors that your site is relevant to a particular webfeed. Make it easy for them. Give them the exact name of the feed, explain how often you publish stories, and give them the URL to your news page.
+ Pay Moreover. Moreover has a backlog in the number of sites wishing to be included as new news sources. The company says it has pricing packages to accelerate the inclusion process, assuming your site makes both the editorial and technical cut. If you are interested in this, message the same email@example.com email address.
Over at Yahoo Full Coverage, having newsworthy content or a web site relevant to a news topic is also a key factor. If you feel your site or articles belong in a Full Coverage category, review what's already there to ensure you meet the current standard. Assuming so, then you need to contact the Full Coverage editors. Do this either using a special form or via an email address, both of which are listed below.
"We absolutely love to get submissions," said Srinija Srinivasan, Yahoo's editor in chief. Srinivasan said there is no particular format required, but it helps to be brief and concise. The editors review many submissions, so you need to succinctly explain why your site is relevant to be listed in a Full Coverage category. Or, if you are submitting a particular article, consider providing the headline, the name of your publication and the publication date. This is information Full Coverage lists for every story, so providing it should make it easier for any editor who decides to list your story. Also consider including a short summary of the story, so they know about more about it.
Yahoo Full Coverage
Yahoo Full Coverage Submission Form
Submit Full Coverage suggestions via this form or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
News Search Engines
Find other news search engines and resources here, including Excite's NewsTracker and News Index.
Northern Light Special Editions
Similar to Yahoo's Full Coverage, these are editorially-compiled pages about a small set of selected topics.
New Domain Names Coming
Yes, it looks like new top level domain names may finally be coming -- but what they will be, how they will be assigned, and whether they will actually be used remains undecided. So, don't panic.
Meeting earlier this month, ICANN -- the group that oversees the domain name system -- approved a plan to accept applications from those who wish to administer new domain names. Anyone who wishes to pay a US $50,000 non-refundable fee can pitch ICANN on their top level domain proposal.
For example, someone might propose .xxx as a domain extension for pornographic web sites to use. Another proposal could be .food, for any type of food web site. As long as you pay the fee, ICANN will consider your proposal. However, that doesn't mean the proposal will be accepted.
ICANN is not suggesting how the new domain names will be assigned, how trademarks might be protected or offering any guidance on regulation. That will be left to those proposing the new names to establish.
I have my doubts about the usefulness of the new names, given the way existing top level domain such as .net, .org and .tv have been devalued from their original meanings. Perhaps ICANN will accept proposals only from those who will not allow the meaning of any new domains to be perverted. Even if so, it still seems likely companies will be required to register even more names to protect their brands -- and perhaps pay much more money than for registering current top level domains.
The articles below provide a rundown on the plan to accept proposals. ICANN expects to provide application details on August 1, with the deadline for proposals on October 1. Negotiations with the first round of finalists are to be concluded by the end of this year, which means new top level domain names might be available at the beginning of next year.
Meeting of the ICANN Board in Yokohama
ICANN, July 16, 2000
Report of ICANN's recent decision on top level domains, from ICANN itself.
Goodbye Domain Names, Hello RealNames?
The Search Engine Update, May 3, 2000
My previous article on problems with the domain name system and why systems like RealNames might ultimately be more successful than new top level domains.
The Domain Name Game
Electronic Commerce Guide, July 24, 2000
Who is ICANN, and how did it end up in control of the domain name system? Background about the group and how you, as an ordinary person, can still participate in its actions.
ICANN Addresses Domain Name Crunch
Inter@active Week, July 24, 2000
Details on how many new top level domains may be initially allowed, plus concerns over the high cost of submitting proposals.
Overview: Cyber-Brawl Brewing Over ICANN and New TLDs
@NY, July 21, 2000
Anarchy and expense is predicted from the entry of new names.
New TLDs Approved by ICANN but Doubts Remain
@NY, July 18, 2000
Summary of the ICANN decision, with concerns about implementation.
New Top-Level Domains in Sight
The Standard, July 17, 2000
Another good summary of the ICANN action.
Go-ahead for new web names
BBC, July 16, 2000
Summary of the ICANN decision, with comments that it won't solve trademark concerns.
NSI accused by rivals of hoarding domain names
News.com, July 21, 2000
One argument for the need of new top level domain names is that there aren't enough good .com names left. Now it turns out that Network Solutions may be keeping back some names that should be available for use.
To Each His Own Domain
ClickZ, July 19, 2000
Humorous look at suggested top level domains, such as .ick.
I want my own .tv
Salon, July 24, 2000
.tv is supposed to be the top level domain for the island nation of Tuvalu, but a private company has been given the right to sell the names for those seeking an alternative to .com. Great details on the business plan, where generic names are auctioned off for between US $1,000 to $1 million.
Search Engine "Writing" List Opened
One of the most important factors that determines how a crawler-based search engine may rank your web pages is whether you are using the words you wish to be found for on the pages themselves. If you want to be found for certain search terms, then you must be using those terms within your web pages. Using the key search terms you are aiming at in your HTML copy is the bedrock of success with search engines.
Some who understand this basic fact then decide to go the doorway page route. "I'll make a web page designed for each search term on my list, then I'll repeat the term to match the frequency that each search engine prefers." I generally urge the opposite approach. Look within your own site, to the pages you already have. Are you using your key terms with those pages? If not, see if you can't rework the copy to make more use of them. Or, perhaps you should create new pages that further explore the topics you are targeting.
In line with this thinking, there is a new mailing list called Rank Write meant to help you integrate awareness of search engines into your normal copywriting skills. Sign up and check out the tips offered by joint moderators Heather Lloyd-Martin and Jill Whalen.
Another new list you may consider is I-Design. It's moderated by Shari Thurow, one of the regular speakers at the Search Engine Strategies conferences that I produce. Shari is a designer who knows that what pleases search engines can also be pleasing to humans. Drop by her list to pick up design tips on making your site more effective.
Rank Write List
Six Secrets to Search Engine Writing Success
Content Exchange, July 17, 2000
Recent article from Rank Write's Heather Lloyd-Martin on writing for search engines.
Search Engine Talk
More mailing lists and discussion areas about search engines that you may be interested in.
In Pursuit Of The Perfect Page
The Search Engine Update, Feb. 22, 2000
Explains why even if you did know the "perfect" keyword densities for search engine's algorithm, your pages still might not rank well.
In UK, Search Engines Are Top Method To Find Sites
A recent study by Forrester Research found that search engines remain the leading way users in the United Kingdom find web sites. The "UK Internet User Monitor" survey found 81 percent of users said that search engines helped them find the web sites they use, up from 67 percent in 1999. The next most popular source was by following links, a method used by 59 percent of those surveyed. I'll have a page will full results posted by the end of the week at the URL below.
In UK, Search Engines Are Top Method To Find Sites
Go's Pure Search Site
Go appears to have quietly rolled out a pure search site similar to AltaVista's Raging Search.
Ask Jeeves has a new look, including integration of Direct Hit paid links on the right-hand side of its results.
Paid Links At MSN Search And Direct Hit
The Search Engine Update, April 24, 2000
More about paid links at Direct Hit. As for MSN Search, it closed its program earlier this month and either refunded money held in accounts or offered credit with Goto.com.
Search Engine Articles
To Cloak or Not to Cloak
ClickZ, July 21, 2000
A look at the pros and cons of page cloaking, with the ultimate conclusion that you shouldn't do it, because the search engines say they disapprove.
Cloaking Special Issue
I-Search Mailing List, June 27, 2000
More reported comments from search engines on cloaking, along with comments from readers of the I-Search mailing list.
Search Engine Traffic: Cant Get Enough of It
ClickZ, July 19, 2000
You get a good return on investment from using third-party pay-per-click search engine optimization companies, this article says. The problem? The volume is much less than with banner ad campaigns.
4.6 Million People Can't Find What They Need On The Net
WebTop/MORI, July 19, 2000
A poll for search engine WebTop.com, conducted by research firm MORI, found that only 18 percent of those in Great Britain say they find what they are looking for on the web. Also, 67 percent said they are frustrated when searching for information. The survey was conducted in June, among 600 Internet users.
Ruling vs. Bidder's Edge hurts Net, group says
Bloomberg, July 18, 2000
Auction meta search site Bidder's Edge gets 28 law professors to file a friend-of-the-court brief on its behalf, saying that the temporary ban against spidering eBay threatens search engines and linking in general.
Bidder's Edge Walks Legal Line
boston.internet.com, June 9, 2000
Older article explaining how Bidder's Edge is currently getting around the spidering ban.
Let a Hundred Search Engines Bloom
The Standard, July 17, 2000
Search is hot again, and all that heat is making new search products blossom like mad. A look at who is competing for your attention and general trends on how they hope to differentiate themselves.
Spock drafted in to flog Dotcom
The Register, July 14, 2000
RealNames competitor Netword picks up Star Trek's Leonard Nimoy to pitch its service.
Is Search Engine Marketing Viable?
ClickZ, July 14, 2000
Richard Hoy suggests that money spent with pay-per-click search engine optimization firms might be better used on other types of publicity.
The Danger of Trading on Ratings
The Standard, July 14, 2000
Earlier this year, I wrote about the many problems with using online rating services to determine which are the most popular search engines. From the Standard, here's another comprehensive look at how ratings can be misstated, manipulated and ultimately be untrustworthy.
The Problems With Rating Services
The Search Engine Report, April 4, 2000
The earlier article of mine I mentioned, which discusses how figures from ratings services can be twisted by site owners and be hard to interpret.
Excite's Free Online Stores an Overnight Hit
E-Commerce Times, July 14, 2000
Excite is offering free space to online retailers and attracting sign-ups.
The Fine Art of Redirection
ClickZ, July 7, 2000
Bigger and better: Internet search engines are continuing to evolve
Orange County Register, May 31, 2000
Slightly older article that covers some of the search engines from the early days of the web. Anyone remember Gopher?
Portals Overspend on Advertising
NUA, May 26, 2000
Another older article but with interesting statistics showing how much portals spend on advertising in relation to the advertising revenue they receive. At the top of the list, MSN was estimated to spend US $1.62 for every $1 earned. In contrast, Yahoo and some other portals spent only 10 cents per dollar earned. E-commerce and other revenues were not taken into account, only pure advertising revenue.
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