In This Issue
Search Engine Watch News
First of all, Happy St. Patrick's Day!
I think this is the biggest recap of search engine news I've ever done. March was a busy month, and we're still only halfway through it!
I've spared you listing all the articles that ran after Yahoo rolled out its new paid inclusion program and the debate that ensued. As our own SearchDay article below explains, a controversial part of the program is charging everyone a per click fee to be included.
I'm working on some follow-up pieces to run next week. The main one will focus primarily on the issue of the future of paid inclusion. Ask Jeeves decided against running one of its two paid inclusion programs a day after the Yahoo rollout. Meanwhile, Yahoo's taken bad press in publications ranging from the Wall Street Journal to the Los Angeles Times.
I'll recap the various comments that have come out, plus reexamine the situation and thoughts on paid inclusion with each of the major search players. I'll also reexplore many of the issues involved -- much of which I've already covered over the past two years. Want a head start? Then here are some key past articles on paid inclusion that I've written: http://searchenginewatch.com/webmasters/article.php/2167941#inclusion
As for tactics, we're also putting together a more extensive "how does it work" page for those of you still confused. The short answers are these:
- Yahoo may pick you up for free, and you may already be listed for free.
- If you are listed for free, there's no reason you necessarily need to do paid inclusion.
- If you aren't listed, you can try submitting using the new Yahoo Add URL page: http://submit.search.yahoo.com/free/request. You'll need to be a logged-in Yahoo member to reach this. Becoming a member is free.
- If you still don't get listed for free, paid inclusion can make that happen.
- Will you disappear if you run out of money? Yes, if you are only listed in the paid inclusion database. However, over time, you may also be added to the "free" database. If that happens, you are supposed to be able to drop out of paid inclusion safely with no ranking penalty.
Again, a longer follow-up piece is in the works. In the meantime, our earlier SearchDay piece below already provides a lot of information.
In other news, the updating Search Engine Watch continues. The Metacrawlers & Metasearch Engines page has been updated with new services reported in past newsletters, and you'll find that here: http://searchenginewatch.com/links/article.php/2156241
In the Members Area:
The Search Engine Partnerships page has been updated with material reported in past newsletters. This page is a handy compilation of articles from Search Engine Watch and around the web covering search engine partnerships, such as who has signed distribution deals with various providers and how search engines have worked together or with other companies.
The Search Engine Revenues page has been updated with material reported in past newsletters. This page is a compilation of articles relating to revenues earned by search engines and other financial issues. Those looking for all the key articles about a potential Google IPO and other revenue-related stories will find them here.
The Search Engine Acquisitions page has been updated with material reported in past newsletters. This page is a compilation of articles relating to purchases and mergers in the search space. Last year was the busiest year since 1999 for such activity, so you can review what happened easily by scrolling through the headlines on this page.
Links to all these pages can be found from here: http://searchenginewatch.com/_subscribers/article.php/2149011
Finally, I'm happy to say that Search Engine Watch will be opening its own discussion areas in the near future. We expect to have forums devoted to search engine marketing topics and on how to search better. If you have any suggestions about what you'd like to see in the forums, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please put "forums" in the subject line.
Search Engine Strategies just had its largest and most successful show in New York earlier this month. Now the show moves outside the US to Tokyo, Toronto and London.
The Toronto and London shows cover search engine marketing issues, just as with the SES shows held in the United States. You'll find a variety of sessions that feature search engine marketing experts as well as search engine representatives themselves.
In particular, if you want to know more about targeting the Canadian audience, be sure to attend the Toronto show. It will have sessions specifically on this topic and involve local speakers.
Similarly, the London show will have sessions about targeting the UK and Europe, as well as local speakers. Attend that, if you want to understand how to reach the UK and European audience.
The agenda for the Toronto show is posted, and the London agenda should be posted by the end of this month. These agendas, and more information about the show, can be reached via the Search Engine Strategies web site below. You can also get the dates there for our next US show in San Jose and Chicago, as well as the newly-announced Stockholm show.
Search Engine Strategies
Here's a recap of recent articles from Search Engine Watch's daily SearchDay newsletter:
Google Pushes Local Search Into the Limelight
SearchDay, March 17, 2004
Google has officially moved local search out of Google Labs and into beta, introducing several noteworthy new features at the same time.
Ask Google: What Does the Web Think Of...
SearchDay, March 16, 2004
Curious to know what the web has to say about a person, place or thing? An amusing tool searches Google and shows you what website owners think about the name or topic you enter.
Onfolio: A Powerful New Web Research Assistant
SearchDay, March 15, 2004
Managing web research just got a lot easier, and a lot more fun, thanks to a new program called Onfolio.
Search Engine Forums Spotlight
SearchDay, March 12, 2004
Links to this week's topics from search engine forums across the web: Yahoo Answers Site Match Questions - Yahoo Blocking Affiliate Sites - Are All Links Equal? - Google Not Following Robots Tag - Nested Tables and Google - So What Does SEMPO Mean To You? - Can Search Spiders Follow PPC Links?
Outsourcing Search Engine Marketing
SearchDay, Mar. 11, 2004
Search engine marketing is crucial for the success of online businesses -- but should you take on search marketing in-house, or outsource this challenging task to a contractor or agency?
Yahoo Enhances Local Search with Maps
SearchDay, Mar. 10, 2004
Yahoo's new Smart View technology pinpoints the location of restaurants, banks, merchants and other businesses and attractions on local maps of cities throughout the United States and Canada.
Measuring Search Engine Success
SearchDay, Mar. 9, 2004
Whether you're optimizing web pages for top rankings or purchasing paid placement links, it's crucial to measure the performance of your efforts. A new generation of powerful search engine analytics software makes the job a snap.
Searching for Public Companies Around the World
SearchDay, Mar. 8, 2004
A new search engine focuses solely on investment-related information from more than 12,000 companies around the world.
Search Engine Forums Spotlight
SearchDay, March 5, 2004
Links to this week's topics from search engine forums across the web: Google Brain Implants? - Yahoo Search Launches Free AddURL - Will Tracking Bad Bots Hurt Ranking? - Have You Been Asking Jeeves? - Developing Google AdSense Tracking Script - How Do You Start Your Own Directory Like Dmoz? - Yahoo's New Program Pricing Announced... - Search Conference Round-Up
Google PageRank Lunacy
SearchDay, Mar. 4, 2004
The quest by some to improve their Google PageRank score seems to have reached the point of sheer madness. Even common decency may be abandoned in futile attempts by desperate (or simply less educated) online marketers and others who will seemingly stop at nothing to try and gain links in hopes of seeing more green in their Google toolbar.
Bad Medicine: Study Finds Problems with Online Healthcare Information
SearchDay, Mar. 3, 2004
Searching for health information on the web? Be careful: A new study says that it's difficult for many people to accurately access and evaluate credible health information.
Yahoo Announces Content Acquisition Program
SearchDay, Mar. 2, 2004
Just two weeks after launching a brand new search engine, Yahoo has announced a content acquisition program that consolidates all of its paid inclusion programs and marks the beginning of an aggressive new campaign to significantly expand both the scope and quality of content available via Yahoo search.
Search Engine Milestones for February 2004
SearchDay, Mar. 1, 2004
Notable news and announcements from the web search world during the past month.
Want to receive SearchDay? Sign-up for the free daily newsletter from Search Engine Watch via the link below:
Search Engine Articles
Yahoo evolving robots.txt, finally
The Robots Mailing List, March 2004
Yahoo unilaterally adds a "Crawl-delay" option to the robots.txt command, sparking comment on a list that focuses on crawling. Google made similar unilateral change in the past. It would be nice to see the search engines in general come together perhaps to update the protocol in a coordinated fashion.
TripAdvisor bought by Diller's InterActiveCorp
Boston Business Journal, March 16, 2004
Barry Diller's InterActiveCorp, parent company of Citysearch, has purchased the TripAdvisor travel search engine.
Google's riding high in Europe, with 55 million Europeans using it (that's probably per month, but the story doesn't say). That's twice the audience of MSN search and four times that of Yahoo.
What Is Added Value in Search Capabilities?
Always On, March 16, 2004
Google cofounder Sergey Brin comments on challenging Yahoo's portal stickiness, calls for paid inclusion listings to be disclosed, discusses the impact ranking changes can have pro and con on businesses, says he's "not quite satisfied" yet with Google News and says Google will deliver video search at some point in the future. In two parts, with link to first part at bottom of story.
Norton Blocks PPC Ads
MarketingWonk, March 16, 2004
By default, the latest version of Norton Personal Firewall now apparently blocks paid listings at Google and Overture. This is the second such software that I've heard now that does this. Intermute released its AdSubtract tool formally back in December: http://searchenginewatch.com/sereport/article.php/3296121#adsubtract. Like the Intermute tool, Norton probably does not block paid inclusion listings.
Here's some irony. Search for personal firewall on Google: http://www.google.com/search?q=personal+firewall&gl=us. The Norton product now blocks ads from its competitors -- but also from a company that sells Norton's own firewall product. A search for antivirus has less impact on Norton but would wipe out ads from its competitors: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&ie=ISO-8859-1&q=antivirus&gl=us
(permalink to this item: http://searchenginewatch.com/_subscribers/updates/article.php/3326461#ppcblock)
One of the distinguishing points of Sprinks, the company used to pitch, was that contextual ads were placed on sites only after careful human review. Then Google ate Sprinks, and all the Sprinks executives ran to Kanoodle to rebuild a new human-based, Sprinks-like contextual ad service there. But guess what? Google's AdSense program is in part so successful because anyone can easily place ads on their pages. So now Kanoodle is going to have its own automated program. It doesn't seem like you can have it both ways -- careful human matching or automated delivery -- so we'll see if the Kanoodle pitch begins to change.
eBay Enhances Stores for Search Engine Optimization
AuctionBytes, March 16, 2004
The debate on whether you should have hyphens in your URLs to help search engines recognize individual keywords is long, old and without resolution. I weigh in on the side that it doesn't make that much of a difference. If your human visitors might benefit from seeing the words, with or without hyphens, then do it. And while Google still says it doesn't hurt to have overly hyphenated names, I still think that a URL with tons of hyphens is a big red flag that might get a page a closer look.
With that stage set -- eBay, buying into the hyphen hype -- is making it so those using its eBay stores will have hyphens in their URL. "The result will be that buyers will more easily find your Store when they are searching the web for items you are selling," AuctionBytes reports eBay as saying.
That deserves a big, big qualification. Buyers MAY more easily find your store because of this, and perhaps they MAY not. For more on the hyphen issue, see http://searchenginewatch.com/_subscribers/more/article.php/2153101
(permalink to this item: http://searchenginewatch.com/_subscribers/updates/article.php/3326461#ebay)
Google and Yahoo are among several prominent internet companies who are urging Utah's governor not to sign a spyware control act into law. They say the definition of spyware is too broad.
Using doorway pages can get you in trouble with many major search engines. A guide on how to spot the signs and avoid trouble.
Booble is an adult search engine that Google has sued, claiming it illegally copies Google's look and feel. Now another adult search engine has launched to imitate Yahoo. You gotta think they're just hoping to get sued for the publicity. Google's suit has brought plenty of attention and traffic to Booble (see http://searchenginewatch.com/sereport/article.php/3308131#booble for more on that)
In Searching We Trust
New York Times, March 14, 2004
The headline says "searching" which suggests this might be a look at how we search in general. But apparently, we still only search with Google. You've read this type of story before: Google "miracles," at least tempered that Google isn't always perfect. Yahoo is not mentioned once in the entire story. That's sort of like saying we all watch TV, but that we only watch one channel. Yahoo's a big whopping search channel that many, many people view.
Just when you thought the popular press may have been learning there are other search engines than Google, here's an example where it's like the good old days of "only Google find things."
Google definitely won on the lyric query David Coursey was after. But the Boomtown Rats "I Don't Like Mondays" query I'd give to Yahoo. Both Yahoo and Google have the same first listing that answers the question he was after: http://www.80smusiclyrics.com/artists/boomtownrats.htm. But the Yahoo description of that page is much better and actually answers the question without having to go to the page, unlike the case at Google. As for BofA media contact, both Google and Yahoo had the same good page as the first result. And Yahoo, like Google, does list the column that mentioned the Sweden town of Fjuckby.
Ten Tips to the Top of the Search Engines
Search Engine Guide, March 12, 2004
Jill Whalen shares top tips she finds to be essential for success with search engine optimization.
B2B Search: Playing the Odds
ClickZ, March 12, 2004
B2B search marketing may involve long-term or offline sales, making it difficult for the marketer with a fixed budget to measure success. Some tips on estimating the value of your advertising buys.
Google hasn't announced IPO plans, but that didn't stop someone from allegedly selling "friends and family" stock options in Google. The man claimed to have such options to sell and made over $500,000 before being arrested by the FBI.
LookSmart Listings Linger on MSN
DMNews.com, March 12, 2004
MSN has signed a deal with LookSmart to continue using the company's directory listings as desired. This comes just two months after MSN stopped using LookSmart results, having earlier said (http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/article.php/3088051) that they weren't as relevant as Yahoo's crawler-provided results.
I'm following up with LookSmart later this month, but they'll likely be limited in what they can say. As for MSN? "At this time MSN Search continues to use LookSmart's web directory at its discretion, but we can not disclose the details of the contract," a spokesperson said, when I asked why they were using LookSmart again after saying its relevancy was poor.
(permalink to this item: http://searchenginewatch.com/_subscribers/updates/article.php/3326461#msn)
Yahoo starts massive European keyword push
netimperative, March 11, 2004
Think search engines will wipe out search engine marketing firms? Yahoo has outsourced search ads that it's running for its European portal to UK-based WSPS. The firm will oversee Yahoo ads that will run on rival networks such as Google, Espotting and Mirago -- as well as on Yahoo's own Overture.
The Kelsey Group and ConStat predict local search will generate $2.5 billion in paid search advertising by 2008. Article also covers assorted other stats about local search.
LookSmart raises revenue projections for the first quarter of this year to $21-$23 million, up from $16-18 million. Listing sales are growing, layoffs have helped and a new agreement with MSN to use LookSmart's listings "at its discretion" have helped.
Why Is Search So Hot?
ClickZ, March 11, 2004
Why is search hot? People pay only when they get leads; ads are easy to create; self-service means you can get started in minutes; pricing is transparent. All of which is true, but the number one reason is missing. Ads convert better than in other media because you are targeting people who are expressing an actual need.
You're not trying to create desire in search, such as a visual TV spot for a new car that someone may not need. You aren't hoping to indirectly hit desire, such with a direct marketing mailing about products to an audience that you hope may be interested. You are appearing before an audience expressly saying, "I want your product." The closest comparison to this is yellow pages advertising.
There's gold in them thar search hills, so go search young company! Nice recap of the many smaller search players out there, all hoping to cash in on search.
Who Wants to be Bought Out?
About Web Search Guide, March 11, 2004
Neglected in the rush to cash in on search has been the role of search engine marketing companies. But attention is now being focused on them as potential acquisitions by ad agencies and others realizing they need a way into search advertising that they long neglected. Thoughts on what may come from Jennifer Laycock, feeling inspired after attending a track on the subject at the recent Search Engine Strategies conference in New York.
A question to ask Jeeves
CNN Money, March 10, 2004
Who wins from the Ask Jeeves purchase of Interactive Search Holdings? Certainly ISH, which made $150 million in cash for an original $10 million investment. Whether the purchase will be a stopgap to keep Ask Jeeves on the search radar screen or a harbinger of future growth remains to be seen.
Dana Todd's well known and popular with attendees at Search Engine Strategies for sharing her decade's worth of online marketing experience and forthright comments about where the search engine marketing industry is headed. In this Q&A, she discuss the difficulty in getting behind Yahoo's new paid inclusion program ("they're shoving it down people's throats"), the desire to buy contextual ads priced differently than search-targeted ones, thoughts on local ads, personalized search results and the small bubble she sees developing around search engine marketing.
Fast rising stock prices make search seem like a return to the dotcom bubble of 1999. But analysts say the fact that many search companies have actual revenues, rather than simply potential, puts the stocks on surer footings.
Manx Parents Win Google Apology
Isle Of Man Online, March 10, 2004
A search for children's stories brings up an ad on Google for violent incest. Google apologizes and removes the ad.
IndustryBrains Signs New Web Publishers
MediaPost, March 10, 2004
IndustryBrains signs new contextual ad deals with The Motley Fool, Kiplinger.com, Zacks.com and Salary.com.
China's homegrown search engines all aim to take out Google in the Chinese market. Of course, one of the top three players -- 3721.com -- is now apparently owned by Yahoo. Also interesting is that this same type of story ran almost a year ago. Now in 2004, the players are still fretting about taking on Google rather than claiming successes.
The perils of Googling
The Register, March 10, 2004
Google -- AND OTHER SEARCH ENGINES! -- provide ways for hackers and others to research ways into material you may have thought was secure. It's not something that the search engines do actively. Rather, they simply record material that you may not realize gives away vital clues into your system. This is a nice article that discusses how to protect yourself. The focus is Google-specific, but some of the tips will be applicable to other search engines such as Yahoo, as well.
WebSourced parent raises $2.75M
Triangle Business Journal, March 10, 2004
The parent company of search engine marketing firm WebSourced raises money through a stock sale in order to retire debt and raise capital.
Is search hot? I generally don't need bar charts and projections to tell me about growth. Rather, I can just look at the number of people turning out to the Search Engine Strategies shows that I organize. And the New York show was the largest ever. Kevin Ryan has the same reaction -- and also provides a rundown on hot topics he felt emerged from the show.
A look at new efforts to gather up content search engines often miss because it is in the "deep" or "invisible" web that can be difficult or impossible to crawl. Goes past the debate over Yahoo's commercial paid inclusion program to talk about the company's efforts to make some non-profit deep data more accessible.
The story asks why deep web content has remained out of view for so long. I suspect the main reason there hasn't been much progress is because for the most part, users are already overwhelmed with lots of information -- and lots of useful information. The search engines are already providing what many people consider good enough.
Dumping in even more material isn't necessarily helpful. Instead, you want to ensure you can help users refine their queries or direct them to the right type of database. What does someone who enters "chemical and biological warfare threats" want? Public opinion data? CIA reports? Tips on protecting themselves personally? Google doesn't let us down by not having the report mentioned. It lets us down by not helping us refine the query so we head in the right direction to begin with.
Head over to Vivisimo, and you get a better idea of refinement. Do this query, http://vivisimo.com/search?query=chemical+and+biological+warfare+threats&v:sources=Web, and you'll see along the left-hand side that things get categorized. That helps you choose to see matches related to protection or medical aspects. It's a step forward, yet it doesn't alienate those who prefer just to get a single list back.
Wouldn't it be easier if you could just choose to see data from a particular resource, like government pages? Yes, if users actually make that decision. Right now, they don't when offered only a few "tabs" leading to specialty databases. That's why another area I think we'll move forward with is what I've described as invisible tabs (http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/article.php/3115131), to automatically bring out access to specialty databases.
By the way, I did check the query on Google mentioned to see if I could find the Hatfill report said to be absent. Turns out, this query brought up what seemed to be it: http://www.google.com/search?q="Chemical+and+Biological+Warfare+Threat. But the author of this Salon piece, Alex Wright, tells me its not the same report. It's a very similar version written for a medical journal, with much the same content as the CIA report, but not exactly the same.
(permalink to this item: http://searchenginewatch.com/_subscribers/updates/article.php/3326461#deep)
Google's Ads -- and Minuses
BusinessWeek, March 9, 2004
I've reported many times before about various groups that have found their ads pulled from Google because they violated some type of Google policy. Annoyingly, these policies often aren't published. Want to sell guns? Sorry -- Google doesn't take these ads, but you'll only find out after you apply.
Want to criticize something? You might fall afoul of Google's unposted "anti-anti" policy, where it's against taking ads that are critical of companies or people. The much publicized case of environmental group Oceana having their anti-Royal Caribbean ads pulled is an example of this. Anti-George Bush ads have also been pulled, while Body Shop founder Anita Roddick found an ad she placed for her blog pulled because of a critical comment about actor John Malkovich.
For more about these stories, see the Paid Placement section of my Search Engine Advertising page: http://searchenginewatch.com/resources/article.php/2156561#Paid Placement and my Google: Can The Marcia Brady Of Search Stay Sweet? article for more on the Roddick case: http://searchenginewatch.com/sereport/article.php/2164991
This good BusinessWeek article takes a critical look at Google's unwritten policy. In particular, it looks at how keeping certain ads out, while it may be Google's right, has an impact on other sites that carry Google's contextual ads. These other sites might be perfectly happy to carry such ads.
It also raises the important issue that advocacy groups and others are denied having a voice in ads. This is qualified by the fact that those who can't run their ads, such as Oceana, may still appear in Google's unpaid listings. But that's not a guarantee. Indeed, it actually undermines Google's exclusionary policies.
Google has constantly stressed that its paid listings offer no ranking guarantees. Because of this, businesses, groups and others are told they need to buy ads, if they want a guaranteed presence. But if the ads are censored, then arguably Google may indeed be locking out certain viewpoints from appearing in its search engine.
An argument in this article is that Google should be transparent and somehow indicate who they refused to sell ads to. At the very least, Google ought to publish some of the reasons it refuses ads that it currently doesn't disclose in its editorial guidelines.
The article touches on political ads but it doesn't raise the spectre of what might happen if the US government decides the reasonable access rule should be applied to political ads on Google and other search engines. If so, any free or discounted ads given to a candidate might require similar favors to be given to others. Broadcasters also cannot dictate ad formats in radio and TV -- perhaps we'll find that similar rules might be applied to the language uses in search ads. For more on access rules, see: http://www.bettercampaigns.org/freeairtime/factsheets/ReasonableAccess.pdf
By the way, Google gets criticized in this article by Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet & Society. BusinessWeek writer Alex Salkever tells me now that Google has just hired someone from the Berkman Center to run their ad policy. So, perhaps changes are already underway.
Finally, in closing, I have to pass along the great irony I-Search moderator Andrew Goodman discovered when he tried to place an ad making use of the word "hack." Google, it turns out, does not allow ads for hacking and cracking. But many will also recall that Google Hacks was a New York Times bestseller next year, where the word hacks was really used as a synonym for tricks and techniques. Andrew was trying to use "hack" in the same way, but he couldn't convince the Google ad police to go with it.
(permalink to this item: http://searchenginewatch.com/_subscribers/updates/article.php/3326461#googleads)
Review of the "Leggo My Trademark" panel at the recent Search Engine Strategies conference, where the panel examines issues such as the American Blind lawsuit against Google and other trademark related problems.
Clients may insist upon SEM firms having what Fredrick Marckini calls a "do not utter our name" clause in legal agreements. He argues this means that the client can't benefit from getting links from the SEM firm's web site or from the client's many vendors. Certainly any company with vendor relationships will want to consider having those vendors link to them, if only because the vendors themselves may have quality visitors that will benefit from finding the client web site.
As for SEM firms, I'd argue that you want to remove such clauses because you operate as an SEM "agency of record." This is commonly done in the advertising world. A new advertising company is selected by a major company to be their agency of record for handling ad buys.
SEM firms, especially those with a growing and notable clientele, need to convince clients that search engine marketing is no longer a "secret." Being named by an SEM firm doesn't necessarily mean that the client's competitor is suddenly going to discover search engine marketing. At this point, they've almost certainly heard of it.
The point is that you, as an SEM firm, will argue that you'll do it better. And you'll also need to argue that your own "halo" of being a successful firm will benefit the company. When they allow you to be named as an agency of record, if you are a good firm, then the company will benefit from the publicity you'll generate about the "win."
(permalink to this item: http://searchenginewatch.com/_subscribers/updates/article.php/3326461#dontname)
A recent Kelsey Group/ConStat survey found 11 percent of small and medium-sized businesses are already doing search buys and 34 percent were interested. However most, 43 percent, weren't interested at all. Why not? Of the not-interested group, 60 percent didn't think it was appropriate for their business. Lots of other interesting stats from the survey, as well.
Search Engines Are Revving Up for a Local Fight
TheStreet.com, March 8, 2004
Revisiting the race by search engines and online yellow pages to capture the revenue represented by getting local advertisers online in search.
An English appellate court ruled that Reed Business Information did not violate trademark laws by using the word "reed" in meta tags on its TotalJobs.com web site. Reed Executive, an employment agency, had claimed the use of the word in meta tags, as well in search banner ads, diverted traffic from its own employment sites and caused confusion. The appellate court disagreed.
Overture to Introduce Local Search Ad Program
DMNews.com, March 8, 2004
In the near future, Overture will release a tool allowing advertisers to target ads by US ZIP codes or to a radius around a particular geographic point.
Diary of a Google Gazumpee
Search Engine Guide, March 5, 2004
From number one to oblivion on Google. Lesson learned for this web site? Its survival came by not counting on Google solely for traffic. As for jumping on the "search engine optimization wheel" -- chasing after tips that give only transient gains -- don't do it. And I couldn't agree more. As always, focus first on a great site for your customers, with rich content. Long-term search engine success has often flowed from this.
Recap of commercial tools to help you research what terms people may be using to seeking your web site.
Search: The Trends
ClickZ, March 5, 2004
Marketers of all types are continuing to discover search -- while the marketplace itself continues to evolve. Rebecca Lieb reviews trends that came out of the recent Search Engine Strategies show in New York. Local search is attracting new search players and programs. The search engine marketing industry is getting more formal and mature -- yet legal issues still need to be resolved, and chaff of low quality programs and those chasing the search buck are growing.
Mamma plans to acquire an email marketing/popup-under firm, adds new advertising features and sees its stock skyrocket after announcing a fourth quarter profit.
Ask Jeeves is purchasing Interactive Search Holdings (formerly The Excite Network), which operates iWon, Excite and the MyWay search sites. Ask will pay $150 million in cash, an additional $17.5 million based on performance and issue 9.3 million shares of stock to make the deal valued at $343 million. The deal is expected to close in the third quarter of this year. Ask Jeeves says the purchase will double the amount of search traffic it currently handles. FYI, Search Engine Watch has a follow-up article looking more closely at the purchase coming out in SearchDay in the near future.
Search Engine Strategies Notes
Search Engine Roundtable Weblog, March 4, 2004
Couldn't make Search Engine Strategies? Here are comments on session that Barry Schwartz attended.
In this open letter to Google, Traffick's Andrew Goodman calls for Google to allow contextual ad buys separately. Add me to the list of people who agree. Contextual ads are not search. Forcing advertisers to only buy them as part of a search campaign makes no sense. The ads appear in a different environment, where you may wish to use completely different creative. There's also the continuing debate about conversion. Give the advertisers the choice to run both types of ads, or just one of either type. Believe it or not, there are some people who might want to buy only contextual and not search.
Hands Off! That Fact Is Mine
Wired, March 3, 2004
A proposed US law to protect databases has critics claiming it will give companies ownership over facts, which currently have no copyright protections.
MAMA fires up 1999 mentality
CBS MarketWatch, March 3, 2004
A close look at some of Mamma.com's financials, in an effort to decide, hot stock or daytrader dream? Answer? Hard to say either way, it seems.
Personalization, ubiquity, a variety of media in search results and genetically engineered search pets were some of the predictions for the future of search put forth by panel of search engine executives at the recent Search Engine Strategies conference.
comScore Bows qSearch Local
MediaPost, March 3, 2004
comScore says 7 percent of internet searches in the US are local in nature and announces a new product to track local search activity.
I started a long point-by-point analysis of this commentary, because I disagree with many of its statements and conclusions. I may come back to that in the next newsletter, if I have time to do a proper edit of my comments. But in short: Microsoft already has desktop search integration, and that hasn't kept people from going to Google or Yahoo. Who will "win" here isn't certain. Google isn't a portal, and that's been its strength. But if it needs to be a portal, it seems short-sighted to assume it can't compete with Yahoo. And the idea that Google will win the ad network battle is weak. Google has a near split with Overture now. As long as the audiences remain unduplicated, I'd expect Overture will continue to remain important.
In my keynote at the recent Search Engine Strategies show, I discussed how I don't feel there will be any single "winner" in the search wars. Instead, I believe that we'll have major search engines in the way we have major television networks, and despite gains and losses, they'll all survive. I also feel we'll have a variety of small, independent players surviving in the way we have cable television channels that thrive.
I also urged that if Yahoo is going to embark on a new chapter in paid inclusion, it get off on the right foot by providing some type of simple disclosure of such links.
Finally, I predicted that instead of purchasing keywords, we'll eventually buy concepts that relate to an audience we want -- such as someone looking to buy a sofa. We'll pay a price based on the perceived value of that lead, not based on the exact words that lead uses to find us.
Another take on the keynote is here: http://www.internetnews.com/ent-news/article.php/3320461
Site dropped in Google or Yahoo? Client's site dropped in Google or Yahoo? Step away from checking your keyword rankings and look instead at your traffic or conversions. It may that there's no need to go to panic stations.
24/7 Real Media rolls out an new InsightSE tool to analyze search engine conversions and traffic.
SuperPages' new paid listings program goes live, allowing local advertisers a means to buy their way to the top. And those of you who represent local clients, the program provides a new way to effectively tap into some local searchers you may have been missing.
New Web tools aim to customize searches
San Jose Mercury News, March 1, 2004
Overview of recent moves to increase search relevancy through personalization.
Yahoo's human-compiled directory until recently linked to a biography of Tipper Gore, wife for former US Vice President Al Gore, with the title, "Tipper Gore: Enemy Of Freedom." The biography was the official one published by the White House back when Clinton was president. What was up with that!
I suspect that perhaps there was another link from the Yahoo Directory to a completely different page that called Tipper Gore an "enemy of freedom" because of her past campaign against violent and explicit lyrics in popular music. That page may have died and the link to the biography page got mixed up with it. I did ask Yahoo about this, but I haven't gotten an answer yet.
However it happened, Yahoo certainly acted quickly after the WSJ opinion piece ran. The link no longer appears. Meanwhile, a search for "enemy of freedom" now makes Yahoo's Tipper Gore category number one on Google (http://www.google.com/search?q=enemy+of+freedom), no doubt because of references caused by this story. Yahoo will be at least proud that its own crawler results don't do the same thing.
(permalink to this item: http://searchenginewatch.com/_subscribers/updates/article.php/3326461#tipper)
Ways to research what words your target audience may be using to find you -- for free!
AOL: 'Search is just a feature'
CBS MarketWatch, Feb. 27, 2004
AOL has no search "leakage" problem requiring it to buy a search engine, the company says. Instead, by focusing on developing its own service, which uses Google and other databases, it manages to retain plenty of search traffic from those connecting with AOL, the company says.
In-depth review of the Urchin web analytics tool.
One of the many fronts in the search war is vying to capture new engineering talent. A look at a Google recruitment party held in Santa Monica, as a way to win the hearts and minds of future Googlers.
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