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
+ Site News
+ Search Engine Strategies Is Boston-Bound!
+ Help With The Search Engine Watch Awards!
+ Search Engine Marketing Tools Galore!
+ Excite Goes To Overture
+ Lycos Releases Top Search Subjects of 2001
+ SearchDay Articles
+ Search Engine Resources
+ Search Engine Articles
+ List Info (Subscribing/Unsubscribing)
Happy Holidays to all of you! We celebrate Christmas in our home, and what I want for it this year is a nice, quiet end to the month of December, searchwise. Somehow, I don't think I'll get it! This month is already proving as busy as ever.
Google's been especially active. The service has just rolled out a new "Catalogs" search, which lets you search through listings in mail order catalogs. You'll find the beta site at http://catalogs.google.com. Search Engine Watch associate editor Chris Sherman will be providing more details about the service in today's SearchDay newsletter, so be sure you are on that list, if you want the latest. See the SearchDay section below, for sign-up information.
I'll also be revisiting Google Catalog search in more depth, next issue, as well as a further look at changes Google made this month to increase freshness and coverage of the web. SearchDay's already run an overview of the freshness and coverage changes, which you'll find listed in the SearchDay section, below.
Of course, Google's not the only one who's been working. I've been plugging away to bring some of the information in Search Engine Watch's report area up to date. The page showing comparative sizes of crawler-based indexes is now current. You'll also find that ratings of US search engines from both Jupiter Media Metrix and Nielsen//NetRatings have been refreshed. In addition, new ratings data from Jupiter MMXI for a variety of European search engines and portals has been updated. All of these pages are listed off the What's New page:
Search Engine Watch What's New
The Europe data is of keen interest to me, because I'm currently working on a roundup of developments in terms of European search. I expect to have that ready for the next newsletter. It should especially help those web site owners who need to target the European market. As for searchers, the Search Links area where I list major search engines for different countries is in the midst of being overhauled. Fingers-crossed, updated resources will begin to appear throughout January.
Finally, occasionally Search Engine Watch members forget the location of the Members-Only area. To help, you'll now find a new link on the Search Engine Watch home page, "Members Area." It's the first link in the Site Info section of the home page, the left-most column. Clicking on it will take you right to the Members-Only area. Of course, you'll still need your password -- but if you should forget it, the "Oops" page that will appear will lead you to the Password Finder feature.
Search Engine Strategies Is Boston-Bound!
The date is set! Next March 4 & 5, Search Engine Strategies will arrive in Boston for two days' worth of sessions packed with information about search engine marketing. I'm hard at work right now making up the final program, but you can expect to see many of the panels that proved popular from our last US show in Dallas.
The Search Engine Strategies conference is suitable for both those new to search engine marketing and those who are more advanced. Multiple "tracks" ensure there's always a session of interest to everyone. Both experts in search engine marketing and speakers from major search engines themselves will be presenting.
Those interested in sponsoring or exhibiting at the event should contact Frank Fazio Jr, firstname.lastname@example.org, for more information. Those interested in attending can find an overview of tentative sessions and sign-up information via the URL below.
Search Engine Strategies Boston 2002
Help With The Search Engine Watch Awards!
By today (I promise), a form to help suggest categories for the 2001 Search Engine Watch awards will be live at the URL below. We're looking for your suggestions on what new categories should be added to the awards. The form will show the existing categories and list some popular suggestions already received. You can also "write in" your own choices.
Based on your suggestions, an actual voting form will then go online in January. It will allow you to send me and Search Engine Watch associate editor Chris Sherman your thoughts about which search engines deserve awards, for their work during 2001.
Search Engine Watch Awards Suggestion Form
Search Engine Marketing Tools Galore!
So many tools, so little time. I love to review products, but when I do, I like to take a really close look at them. Consequently, there are many new tools popping up that I haven't had a chance to explore. I've listed a number of these below -- if you find a keeper, let me know!
Also, be sure to visit the Search Engine Optimization Toolbox page in the Members-Only area of Search Engine Watch. You'll find other tools like those listed below. You'll also find reviews that will give you a better idea on how to judge the usefulness of some of these tools, on your own.
Search Engine Optimization Toolbox
He's a keyword wizard, there has to be a twist! OK, so coincidentally, I heard Pinball Wizard on the same day I wrote this summary. Keyword Wizard will pull down term popularity data from Overture and store it in a database, for easy analysis. It also computes an estimate of how difficult it will be to optimize for a particular term. Price is US $99, and a fully-working trial version is offered.
Automated online service that spiders your site, analyzes your pages and generates meta tags for them based on the page content. Also provides visitor statistics for "mended" pages that you track and submits pages to major search engines. Price is US $17 per month.
Search Engine Power Pack
A variety of utilities designed to help in your search engine marketing efforts. There's a keyword popularity tool, though this simply pulls data from Overture. You could easily gather this information without using the Power Pack. More interesting are the other tools. There's a meta tag generator, a "Page Primer" analysis tool that offers basic advice for changes that may help with crawler-based search engines, a submission tool to send your URLs to many search engines at once as well as a "deep" submit of many URLs from the same web site, and a rank checking tool. Price is US $89 per year, per web site domain.
Watchfire Enterprise Solution
This software looks for problems in your web site. Among its many features is the ability to scan a site and report on the status of title and meta tags. It can then also automate the process of updating meta data to existing and new documents. This requires the optional "Metabot" feature. Current pricing for the product isn't listed, but I believe it begins in the US $5,000 range.
Advanced META Tag Generator
idesignbusiness Meta Tag Generator
Simple, free, online-based meta tag generating tool.
Free, software based meta tag maker.
Azooq Doorway Page Generator
Free doorway page generation tool. "Professional" version provides more options and costs US $195.
New cloaking software for Windows NT or Windows 2000 and Internet Information Server. Evaluation version works for 30 days. Pricing begins at $700, for one web server.
Paste your body copy into this form and discover which terms are most frequently used. You might be surprised to discover the terms you are targeting the page toward don't appear that often. If so, you might consider using them a bit more frequently.
Online resource that allows you to pull up a page and see its contents divided into different elements, such as body copy and header information. Helpful for pages that do fast refreshes. You can also do a keyword density analysis, in different areas. If checking on the home page of a site, be sure to use a slash at the end of the domain, or the program doesn't work properly. In other words, you'd input http://www.site.com/ rather than http://www.site.com.
A bid management tool and then some. It's designed to automatically manage bids placed with services such as Overture and FindWhat. However, it will also track any URL, so that you can measure conversion, be it from paid inclusion links or just "ordinary" pages that you've optimized within a web site. Everything is tracked through a central database, so that comparisons can be made. You can determine total traffic received from designated URLs, as well as cost per visitor and cost per conversion. Pricing begins at $1,000 per month and is based on a percentage of your media buy through NewGate, which runs the program, or as a monthly management fee.
If anything, this bid management program wins for the best name in the category. It's software-based, for Windows platforms, and both monitors and automatically manages bids on Overture, Overture UK, Findwhat and Kanoodle. It's also free.
Pay Per Click Optimizer
I've listed this bid monitoring software before, but the latest version that was recently released will now also automatically change your bids on Overture, Overture UK and FindWhat. Cost is US $199 to $999, depending on number of terms managed.
Pay Per Click Advertising Testing
This is not so much a paid listings tool but rather a service. I don't ordinarily run listings of services, but this is so niche, I thought it might be interesting, to some. The idea is basically that the company will test different titles and descriptions for your paid listing ads, to help determine which generate better clickthrough. It's something any good search engine marketing company could do, if they provide paid listing services. It's also something you can easily do yourself. Nevertheless, if you want some help, this might be worth a look. Fees range from $300 to $500 per test.
Some caveats on the intro page. "In one recent test we ran on a simulated SE listings site, the #5 listing outperformed the #1 listing by 23%. The #1 listing cost 41% more than the #5 listing on GOTO.com (Overture) at the time of the test. The advertiser at #5 would have paid less for more clicks."
I can easily believe this, but for the most part, it is only listings 1 through 3 that will enjoy the wider distribution to major search partners such as Lycos and Yahoo, across the board. If you are after the most traffic, it will be those positions you'll want to generally aim for.
In another statement: "An added benefit of a lower position is it decreases the likelihood of 'account draining', the despicable tactic employed by some unscrupulous competitors to 'gang-click' high listings to drain their accounts without sales. While Overture and other PPC SE's do their best to prevent these tactics, it is a simple fact that a determined 'gang' of 'account drainers' can do significant damage."
Rather than hiding in a "lower" position in hopes of avoiding this, you should watch your stats for unusual activity and report that to the paid listing service, so they can investigate and issue credit, as appropriate.
Monitors bids on Overture, FindWhat and Sprinks but does not make changes automatically. US $20 per month fee.
Online-based rank checking service for major search engines. Pricing starts at US $10 per month for 50 keywords or "ReporterPro" version starting at $50 per month for 50 keywords on major search engines and major paid placement search engines. Additional blocks of 50 keywords cost $50 per month.
Free online rank checking tool that queries major search engines in the US, the United Kingdom and Denmark. I found timeout problems when trying to hit every search engine offered. However, if you are selective in your choices, you might find the tool works better.
Online-based rank checking tool. Free version shows rankings for one keyword on several major search engines, while "Advanced" version allows entry of several keywords with email reports and additional search engines, for US $35 for six months.
Online rank checking tool. Monitors 1 URL for up to 30 keywords for US $50 per month. "Pro" version does up to 5 URLs for up to 30 keywords for $75 per month. Free demo available for one week.
Web Ranking Reports
Online rank checking tool for major search engines in the US and the United Kingdom. Pricing is on a per report basis, so you pay each time you want a new report run. Pricing is US $15 for one report but drops to $7 per report, if 48 are purchased at once.
Dynamic Site Mapping
This tool monitors visitor activity to pages you select within your web site. It is especially designed to monitor the choices users make when they encounter forms on your site. For example, let's say you have a form interface that lets users find product information you have. Many users might come to the form and select the "shoes" option and the "price less than $50" option. This tool will create search engine friendly aliases for the most popular form-produced pages, so that search engines could essentially see the results even though they can't "fill in" the form themselves. Pricing is anywhere between US $300 to $2,400 annually, depending on the number of page views generated.
Excite Goes To Overture
OK, follow the bouncing ball here. Excite@Home sells the Excite.com site to InfoSpace last month. InfoSpace owns the meta search service Dogpile and suggests that Dogpile results will power Excite, in the future.
Dogpile is especially notable for carrying paid listing from Overture, FindWhat, LookSmart and Sprinks prominently on the first page of results. That meant for all practical purposes, Excite was to become a paid placement service, but with no particular paid placement provider having the edge.
Last week, things changed. Overture and InfoSpace signed a new agreement, and now you'll find that it is Overture results dominating the Excite search results. Indeed, for the queries I ran, the first 15 results of 20 total results were paid listings from Overture. The last five results were unpaid listings provided by Inktomi. The same thing is happening at WebCrawler, the other search engine that Excite@Home owned and sold to InfoSpace.
A letter from Overture to its advertisers sent last week suggested that its top 15 listings would only be used on Excite for "selected" terms. It implied that more often, it would only be the top five listings from Overture that would be carried. That's convenient, because Overture always tries to encourage its advertisers to seek the very top positions, in order to increase bid amounts. However, from my testing, the reality seems to be that it's always 15 paid listings that are carried.
Overall, the change is bad news for FindWhat. Excite was the key distribution partner it had among the major search engines, and Overture has essentially usurped it there. FindWhat's most recentl press release spins the change as not dramatic, saying that Excite produced less than 10 percent of its revenue in the current quarter.
LookSmart also appears to be another loser, in that Excite and WebCrawler are now featuring directory listings that are based on the Open Directory. LookSmart was previously Excite's directory partner. InfoSpace is also monetizing the Open Directory by carrying paid listings from Overture at the top of its listings.
While the deal is a boon for Overture, I expect this will be short lived. There's no compelling reason to go to Excite any longer. It no longer provides its own independent crawl of the web, and the paid listings are so dominate that users would be better urged to select a search engine with more balance. I'd expect Excite's traffic to begin a decline mirroring that of NBCi, which moved to a scaled-back portal and paid listings earlier this year
Ironically, a message to visitors reaching the Excite web site discusses how the new management seeks to "restore Excite to its former glory." Dumping a load of paid listings on searchers coming to the site -- without any disclaimers -- is hardly a step in the right direction.
Excite: Welcome To A New Beginning
Get the pitch about how great the "new" Excite is.
Web portal Excite UK will shut down this week
Reuters, Dec. 17, 2001
Excite UK is to close.
FindWhat.com Raises Fourth Quarter Estimates
FindWhat.com Press Release, Dec. 3, 2001
FindWhat says it is not worried about the changes at Excite, though this release was before the more extensive Overture-InfoSpace deal was announced. The company also raised its revenue projections.
Overture Adds Excite.com
InternetNews.com, Dec. 10, 2001
Business news on the InfoSpace-Overture deal.
Overture Now on Excite!!
SearchEngineForums.com, Dec. 10, 2001
Reaction from visitors at SearchEngineForums.com about the change and a copy of the Overture letter sent to advertisers.
Farewell Excite DB!
Webmaster World, Dec. 16, 2001
Reaction to the change from visitors to the Webmaster World site.
InfoSpace Approved To Buy Excite
The Search Engine Update, Dec. 3, 2001
More background on the Excite acquisition by InfoSpace.
Lycos Releases Top Search Subjects of 2001
At the end of last year, we saw something new from search engines for the first time: a recap of the year's most searched for subjects. Now this looks to be an annual tradition. Lycos has just released its top 10 search subjects for 2001, and you can expect others such as Yahoo and Google to likely do the same, shortly.
For 2001, these were the most popular topics at Lycos:
2) Britney Spears
5) Osama bin Laden
6) The IRS
8) World Trade Center
Poor Britney. She was the top search subject in 2000 but loses her title in 2001 to a Japanese cartoon popular among kids and teenagers. Meanwhile, Sept. 11 shows its impact, with terms such as "Osama bin Laden" and "World Trade Center" making the list.
Be aware that Lycos consolidates actual search terms into one single subject. For example, people search for "Britney Spears" in many ways, but all variations would be added to a single Britney Spears total. Lycos also filters out porn terms, broad category searches such as "music" and searches for companies, which is why you'll never see Hotmail, Yahoo or Google on the Lycos Top 50, though all are extremely popular terms.
For more about why these terms are popular, as well as a list of the top searched for women, men, fads, news events and more, see the Lycos 50 site below.
Currently shows the top subjects of 2001. Should the content change, check the archives for the 2001 top subjects list.
Shows top searches on the Galaxy search engine.
Here are some recent articles that may be of interest, from Search Engine Watch's daily SearchDay newsletter:
Search Engine Marketing Case Studies & Google Catalog Search
SearchDay, Dec. 18, 2001
Learn strategies and tactics for effective search engine marketing from three site owners who've experienced spectacular real-world success. First link is to special, longer edition, for Search Engine Watch members. Second link has details on the new catalog search feature from Google, at the end.
Measuring and Tracking Search Engine Success & Wisenut to Power Lycos Japan
SearchDay, Dec. 17, 2001
How do you know if your search engine strategies are effective? Three industry experts share tools and techniques for measuring success. First link is to special, longer edition, for Search Engine Watch members. Second link has details on new deal between Wisenut and Lycos Japan.
Inktomi Improves International Search
SearchDay, Dec. 13, 2001
Users of Inktomi's regional portal partners should see an improvement in search results, thanks to enhancements announced at the Search Engine Strategies conference this month in Copenhagen.
Creating Search Engine Friendly Web Sites
SearchDay, Dec. 12, 2001
Tips, techniques and new strategies for creating web sites search engines love, from two internationally regarded search engine optimization and site architecture experts. Link is to special, longer edition, for Search Engine Watch members.
Google Fires New Salvo in Search Engine Size Wars
SearchDay, Dec. 11, 2001
Google's web index has grown to more than 3 billion documents, including an unprecedented archive of Usenet newsgroup postings dating back to 1981.
Super Searchers Cover the World
SearchDay, Dec. 6, 2001
In Super Searchers Cover the World, some of the world's best international business researchers share tips, techniques and secrets that help you avoid being a stranger in a strange land.
Gateway to the Invisible Web
SearchDay, Dec. 4, 2001
The Resource Discovery Network is an outstanding gateway to thousands of Invisible Web sites that's as close to a search engine for the hidden web as you're likely to find.
Google Goes for Stop Words
SearchDay, Dec. 3, 2001
Google now automatically searches for previously ignored "stop" words if you make your query a quoted phrase.
On the archive page below, you'll find more articles like those above, plus have the ability to sign-up for the free newsletter.
Search Engine Resources
The Virtual Acquisition Shelf
Now that Google has released 20 years of Usenet posts, search expert Gary Price set to work discovering initial posts about search engines. See his weblog for Dec. 15, where he provides links to posts about the first mention of the World Wide Web Worm, WebCrawler going live, Infoseek available as a free demo, and Yahoo, Lycos, Inktomi, Excite and AltaVista all being made available. What's sad about all this? Of everyone mentioned, only Yahoo and AltaVista are still going as before. AltaVista, by the way, just celebrated its sixth birthday.
Search Engine Relationship Chart
People occasionally ask me for a graphical alternative to my table of search engine relationships (http://searchenginewatch.com/reports/alliances.html). I don't make one, because I find it simply becomes too confusing to follow. But if that's what you are after, Bruce Clay offers a version of this, and it's just been updated. Be aware this is a link to a PDF file. However, clicking on any node in the chart once it loads will bring up an HTML page with more information on the relationship.
Search Engine Articles
The 411 on Dot-Info Disputes
Wired, Dec. 14, 2001
When the .info domain was launched, only trademark owners were allowed to register names for a short period before all names were opened up to grabs. Nevertheless, people jumped in and claimed generic terms during the trademark-only period. Now the challenges are happening. This story explains briefly what a mess the system has created. And for those of you wondering, as long as the new domains (.info, .biz, etc.) resolve to a domain properly, the search engines will treat them just like .com and other more traditional domains.
Guaranteed Search Engine Placement is a Shell Game
Traffick, Dec. 13, 2001
William Orr goes in search of the myth of guaranteed search engine placement and finds that it's just that, a myth. Well, unless you purchase paid placement listings, of course.
Portals find porn lucrative in Europe
MSNBC, Dec. 10, 2001
Got porn? Europe's major portals do.
iPhrase lands deal with Yahoo Finance
Boston Globe, Dec. 10, 2001
iPhrase search technology is to be used to help those looking for information at Yahoo Finance.
Striving to Top the Search Lists
New York Times, Dec. 10. 2001
Overview of how search engine marketing is going mainstream, especially in the wake of paid placement.
Web Addresses Sprout New Suffixes, Needed or Not
New York Times, Nov. 1, 2001
Good overview of the new top level domains that are now live or about to go live, and how the domain "shortage" problem they were supposed to solve no longer exists.
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