In This Issue
Search Engine Watch News
As many of you are aware, Yahoo finally broke with Google to begin using its own crawler-based results this month. The move was long expected. The surprise was that Yahoo didn't just use the Inktomi search engine that it owns but instead said it's making use of completely new technology. Indeed, the company is almost vehement in declaring that what you get at Yahoo is "Yahoo Search," not Inktomi.
Ah, branding. Inktomi's last release of its search engine was back in December 2002 -- just weeks before it was purchased by Yahoo. So Inktomi was well due for an overhaul by now. That overhaul/complete rebuild no doubt benefited from all the technology Yahoo acquired in gaining AltaVista and AllTheWeb as part of the Overture purchase. Calling what emerged to be "Yahoo Search" makes sense, at least in helping Yahoo focus attention on the strongest consumer brand name it has -- Yahoo itself.
Chris Sherman and I are looking forward to kicking the tires of the new Yahoo and seeing how it measures up against Google and Ask Jeeves, its two chief technological competitors, as Yahoo stabilizes over the coming month. We like what we've seen so far. Inktomi was always a viable alternative to Google, for those who wanted choice. Yahoo Search seems as good as Inktomi was, if not better (and see further below, for our SearchDay article on the change).
Is Yahoo better than Google? That's the question everyone wants to know. I started in on a big piece to revisit the issue of measuring relevancy and to incorporate a number of other thoughts I've had about where we are heading in this new chapter of search. However, I've decided to hold off until after the Search Engine Strategies conference in New York next week. There's always a lot of new announcements timed with this, so it make sense to wait a bit longer.
I'd still encourage you to read my past piece on measuring relevancy from December 2002, In Search Of The Relevancy Figure, http://searchenginewatch.com/sereport/article.php/2165151. It should help you consider how to evaluate some of the claims you'll be hearing from the search engines themselves and the sporadic anecdotal testing that has already begun with the popular press. Don't forget -- the best test is the test you do. Try different search engines!
Within the site, I've been busy doing a number of updates. Some weren't ready to post in time to mention with the newsletter, but you'll see them appear in early March. Here's what's live so far:
+ The Kids Search Engines page has been updated to remove some dead links, add a couple of new resources and to provide information on how to filter results using major search engines.
+ The Nielsen NetRatings Search Engine Ratings page has been updated with figures showing top search engines in the United States for January 2004. Watch that page for further expanded updates in mid-March or sooner.
+ The comScore Media Metrix Search Engine Ratings page has been updated with figures showing top search engines in the United States for November 2003. It also reflects how the "search provider pie" has changed now that Yahoo is using its own crawler-based results.
Links to all these updated pages can be found from the Search Engine Watch What's New page:
You may also have noticed that Search Engine Watch looks slightly different. It's subtle, honest! No major redesign like last year. Search Engine Watch has simply been made part of Jupitermedia's ClickZ Network.
Jupitermedia has been our publisher for ages, and ClickZ has been our sister site with great content about web marketing. The change simply means it's easier to navigate from Search Engine Watch to other parts of the ClickZ network using a little drop-down box at the top of our pages. And those in other parts of ClickZ will now find it easier to reach Search Engine Watch, as well.
In the Members-Only Area, the Google Paid Listings, the Google Web Crawler: Getting Listed and Google Specialty Searches pages have been fully updated to reference material reported in past newsletters.
If you are regular reader, there are no surprises. If you are new, now it should be easier to locate some information previously reported. Links to these pages can be found on the Members-Only Area What's New Page:
I also expect to be doing further updates to the Google material later this month. As for Yahoo, the big outstanding question is about its paid inclusion programs. Will they be unified? What's the deal with rumors that being in Inktomi only gets you into Yahoo for two months? Do I have to pay more? Hang in there. We have a piece planned to go into these issues in much more depth, which we expect to release in the very near future.
Over 800 people have registered to attend sessions at Search Engine Strategies in New York next week. If you're nearby, don't miss out. You can still attend and be part of the fun. Expo-only passes are also available.
Running from March 1-4, the show features nearly 60 sessions that cover every aspect of search engine marketing. You'll hear from search engine marketing experts as well as search engine representatives themselves. Confirmed speakers will be there from About.com, AOL, Ask Jeeves/Teoma, Google, Inktomi, LookSmart/WiseNut, Overture and Yahoo, as well as a variety of specialized services such as Shopping.com and Singingfish.
If you enjoy the content featured in Search Engine Watch, then Search Engine Strategies is your chance to see that content come to life! You'll find the full agenda and registration information via the link below:Search Engine Strategies New York
Can't make New York? How about Tokyo, Toronto, London, San Jose or Stockholm? Information about our other shows in 2004 can be found via the URL below:
Search Engine Strategies
Here's a recap of recent articles from Search Engine Watch's daily SearchDay newsletter:
Search Engine Forums Spotlight
SearchDay, Feb. 27, 2004
Links to this week's topics from search engine forums across the web: Nice To See Google Back On Track! Will it last? - Anybody Experienced With URL Rewrite for IIS? - The -Noblog Option or Blog Tab: Can It Be Done? - SEMPO - Yahoo Recommends Keywords META and Image ALT Text - Yahoo Versus Google On Redirect Handling - Who Links to My Site?
ZapMeta: A Promising New Meta Search Engine
SearchDay, Feb. 26, 2004
A new meta search engine offers speedy, relevant results, and some cool visualization features that actually make it easy to check out sponsored listings without leaving your result page.
Ask Jeeves: What's the Future of Search?
SearchDay, Feb. 25, 2004
Ask Jeeves' vice president of products weighs in on the future of search, forecasting developments in local search, personalization, and the fate of the current fad involving social networks.
Local Search Growing, but Small Biz Advertisers Cautious
SearchDay, Feb. 24, 2004
Local search is a hot topic, but both search providers and small business owners face significant challenges before location based finding services gain broad acceptance.
A Fun Multi-Search Tool
SearchDay, Feb. 23, 2004
Queryster lets you quickly get results from ten different search engines, simply by clicking an icon. It's a great way to compare the different 'personalities' of search engines.
Search Engine Forums Spotlight
SearchDay, Feb. 20, 2004
Links to this week's topics from search engine forums across the web: Yahoo: The Switch Is Official - What's The Next Step With Search Engines - Google and Semantic Web Search - Confused - Listed Good In Inktomi/Yahoo But Now... - Yahoo Renames Spider - Lots of Clicks But no Conversions - Overuse of Keywords
Easy Power Searching with Google
SearchDay, Feb. 19, 2004
Soople is an elegant control console for Google's many powerful advanced features, bringing them all together in a well-designed, easy to use interface.
Yahoo Birth of a New Machine
SearchDay, Feb. 18, 2004
Yahoo is launching a brand new search engine today, with its own index and ranking mechanisms, casting aside its long-standing use of Google-powered search results. The move is bound to roil the industry and sets in motion a new race for the claim of web search champion.
Changes Afoot at Yahoo & MSN
SearchDay, Feb. 17, 2004
Search engine marketers have long been awaiting changes at Yahoo and MSN. Finally, signs of transition are beginning to appear.
Want to receive SearchDay? Sign-up for the free daily newsletter from Search Engine Watch via the link below:
Search Engine Articles
Wired, March 2004
I must have talked with four different Wired writers as they prepared this big special issue earlier this year to coincide with what many assumed would be the announcement of a Google IPO. But that IPO -- plans of which Google has never formally announced -- seem to be on hold according to recent rumors. No solace to Wired -- the printing presses have already rolled.
There's a big giant article on surviving an IPO, none of which is really enlightening about Google itself. The Googlossary has terms that may or may not actually be real. Google Dance? Yes. Google Juice? I dunno. Kilogoogle? Perhaps in some alternative universe I don't inhabit. Lots of little snippet articles on quotes, people with a connection somehow with Google and future scenarios for Google (I'd say between gBay and Google!), then some additional short articles on various other topics.
Overall, you find yourself wishing it had been just one big decent article -- and an article about the state of search, not just Google. In fact, Wired's been noticeably lacking on search. There's been maybe four big articles on search since Wired existed. One way back in something like 1995 was pioneering, all about the technology, a really in-depth look at how the new tools were emerging. Then I think we had one two years ago talking somewhat briefly about Overture. Last year, there was a good piece on the challenges facing Google and an outstanding one on the Internet Archive.
Overall, I want another piece like they did back in 1995, rather than another jump on the Google bandwagon. (permalink to this item)
Behind the Rise of Google Lies the Rise in Internet Credibility
New York Times, Feb. 27, 2004
Jaw. Drop. Floor. "The Web has moved from the periphery of a good researcher's awareness in 1998 to the very center of it in 2004," this opinion piece goes, with Google as usual the savior of the web. I'm sorry. Good researchers were using the internet and other search engines long before 1998.
Google cofounder Larry Page speaks about the Google IPO -- to remind that what's being reported as fact is not being confirmed by Google and to express disquiet over many of the things speculated.
Southfield company files patent suit against Google over Toolbar
Crain's Detroit Business, Feb. 26, 2004
NetJumper says the Google Toolbar violates patents that it holds.
Another Google Blackballing?
SearchEngineGuide.com, Feb. 26, 2004
Jill Whalen tries to help a reader understand why they aren't listed in Google. Just one of many examples that I myself also deal with, along with many others who share knowledge on various search engine forums. Pity Google still refuses to provide any type of webmaster support service where someone could get a guaranteed answers to these type of questions.
Yahoo CEO Terry Semel says his company is watching social networking services like Friendster (and presumably Google's Orkut) closely but doesn't yet see the business model in them.
Forbes officially declares Google's cofounders to be billionaires.
Google's long offered a WML version of its search site for those with cell phone web browsers. Now you can get Froogle shopping results, as well.
Looks at the various patents that search companies possess and how they might be ultimately deployed to gain a competitive advantage. Provides an update that the dispute over a patent on paid listings filed against Google by Overture is now moving into discovery -- and now involves Yahoo, as Overture's owner. A similar case filed against FindWhat goes to trial in August.
For more background on some of these cases, see the Patent section of my Search Engines & Legal Issues page: http://searchenginewatch.com/resources/article.php/2156541#Patents
A blow to all those who subscribe to the Microsoft will bowl over Google and Yahoo in the search game theory. Just weeks after gaining Paul Ryan, the former chief technology officer at Overture, Ryan's quietly departed.
This follows on New York Times reports that Microsoft lost a key vice president involved with building its crawler technology to Google: http://searchenginewatch.com/sereport/article.php/3308131#nyt.
Want to fill either of the two openings? Microsoft Search is still hiring, and interestingly apparently for many of the same jobs when this page was posted last year: http://search.msn.com/jobs.aspx.
Google, well-staffed already, continues to hire plenty as well: http://www.google.com/jobs/positions.html.
And Yahoo has 255 spots open at the moment, http://pljb2.rmx.scd.yahoo.com/pljb/global_jsp/applicant/SearchAgentMgr/SearchProcess.jsp?pljbHome=/yahoo/yahoo_jobs/applicant/index.jsp&searchaction=Search, including one job to be a directory editor/surfer for Yahoo Canada. (permalink to this item)
Would AOL drop Google?
CBS MarketWatch, Feb. 25, 2004
AOL has "alerted users to what's existed beyond AOL," says an analyst in this report, which is a launching pad for speculation that AOL might want to by Ask Jeeves to stem the flow.
This gives Google way, way too much credit. AOL used to OWN its own search engine, WebCrawler, back in 1995 (http://searchenginewatch.com/sereport/article.php/2175241). It owned WebCrawler because even then, AOL users wanted more than the AOL walled garden. They hardly woke up to the web thanks to Google.
Buy Ask Jeeves and stem the "leakage?" People are still going to leave AOL. Buy Ask Jeeves, and the only difference is that instead of getting just a share of the ad revenues on AOL Search (and probably a healthy chunk), AOL would get all of them.
It could still happen, of course. But AOL would eat crow after making strong declarations about being in for long-haul with Google just months ago: http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/article.php/3088351 (permalink to this item)
Search is hot, so new companies are entering the space and hoping to find a niche between Yahoo, Google and Microsoft.
DoubleClick Plans Search-Bid Tool
DMNews.com, Feb. 24, 2004
DoubleClick purchased Aquantive/ATLAS in December. Now it plans to release its own bid management tool later this year.
The Hit Factory. Has Google Had Its Day?
The Independent, Feb. 24, 2004
Looks at Google's rise to power and the forces that seek to knock it off the throne.
FindWhat gets Comet Systems, which makes the Comet Cursor and gives FindWhat an in to millions of desktops running the software.
Survey: Relevance Tops Brand for Searchers
DMNews.com, Feb. 24, 2004
It's the relevancy, stupid. Nielsen//NetRatings found in a December 2003 poll that 52 percent said "Can find relevant information" to be the most important factor for a search engine.
"Can get credible results" was next at 34 percent, followed by "Get results quickly" at 33 percent.
Just changing to imitate Google's clean look isn't enough. Only 18 percent said "Has an easy to use interface" is enough.
You can find complete results here: http://www.nielsen-netratings.com/pr/pr_040223_us.pdf (permalink to this item)
Google and the EFF jump in with briefs supporting WhenU's software that triggers pop-up ads. In particular, visit a web site, and WhenU's software can make a competitor's ad appear. Doesn't it seem odd for Google, a pioneer of blocking pop-ups, to jump in and defend WhenU? But I haven't read the briefs, so it's likely that there are more broader issues that Google's hoping to protect rather than the right to deliver pop-ups.
Interchange Bows Local Search Tool, Naturally
MediaDailyNews, Feb. 24, 2004
ePilot gets new local ads options, courtesy of parent company Interchange. Each business is imprinted with a local "DNA" coding to associate it with particular areas, to help aid in searching (and likely in buying ads). You can try ePilot local yourself at http://www.epilot.com/localsearch/
Ask Jeeves UK gets some of the enhancements added to its sibling in the US last year.
Google Is Searching for the Perfect Hit
Always On, Feb. 23, 2004
Interesting comments from Google CEO Eric Schmidt on trying to get search right. Google doesn't always get it right, he readily admits. The search problem is also going to get worse, as more material flows in, yet even more material remains inaccessible to search engines. The lack of knowing about users personally is raised. No revelations on big breakthroughs going forward.
Sell the Information-Gatherers
ClickZ, Feb. 23, 2004
It's been said many times before, but it's worth hearing again. Successful search marketing is about getting and converting traffic. So make sure you have some ripe berries, for when visitors arrive.
Second part of the paid inclusion article I wrote up in the last newsletter. In this part, Inktomi rolls out the usual arguments about why paid inclusion helps everyone. And some of that's absolutely true. It's also true that Google manages to do a lot of what its competitors make out can only be done through paid inclusion. (permalink to this item)
Put Your Web Pages on a Diet
SearchEngineGuide.com, Feb. 23, 2004
Tips on dropping some material from your pages that may help improve rankings.
New Yahoo really something to see
USA Today, Feb. 22, 2004
I've spoken with both Yahoo and Google recently about the idea of some form of industry-wide agreed relevancy testing. From Google, there's slightly more interest than in the past. From Yahoo, there's practically wholescale "let's do it!"
It's an issue I'll be revisiting in a longer article shortly. But many of the key issues I've covered in my earlier In Search Of The Relevancy Figure article, http://searchenginewatch.com/sereport/article.php/2165151
Both Yahoo and Google have a real incentive to do this, as illustrated by this USA Today article. In it, we find that Google doesn't always have the answers. That's true enough, but the two examples used don't necessarily prove this.
In the first, Google gets dinged because it didn't list the John Edwards campaign site first when the review was written. Instead, John Edwards the psychic got top billing. Google did have the answer the reporter wanted -- it just wasn't the first thing listed.
In the second example, Google gets a ding because "gay marriage" top ranks a site against gay marriage, while Yahoo top ranks a site for it. The suggestion is that Google fails because of listing the anti-gay marriage site first.
The reality is that it depends on your viewpoint. There's no way both pro or con sites can occupy the top spot. As a search reviewer, I know this, so I'm mainly concerned that results show a variety of opinions on all sites. When I looked, both did seem to do this. However, Yahoo was greatly helped in showing 20 results -- rather than 10. That allows for more variety. Sure, you can set your preferences to do the same at Google, but few likely do this.
Yahoo is also helped in that unlike Google, it doesn't show up to two listings from the same web site per page (aka, Google's "indented" results). At Google, this means that five web sites might take up all the space -- and it's a problem I've noticed more and more over the past few months.
So who is really most relevant? Couldn't tell you. The lack of agreed testing means that Yahoo and Google can't tell you, either. And in the wake of that, expect anecdotal testing like this to continue to define who is winning.
For more examples, see Google vs. Yahoo from the Wall St. Journal: http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB107713144736932883,00.html. After six different searches, it's essentially called a draw. Wins on both sides plus ties.
Microsoft blogger Robert Scoble also weighs in, http://radio.weblogs.com/0001011/2004/02/21.html#a6605 and decides in his unscientific test that Yahoo isn't "demonstrably" better. (permalink to this item)
The Search Engine That Isn't a Verb, Yet
New York Times, Feb. 22, 2004
Profile on Yahoo CEO Terry Semel and his company's efforts to regain the crown of search king that it once held.
The Google Guys
ABC News, Feb. 20, 2004
Short profile on Google's cofounders.
Want to figure out what terms to target? A good first step is to mine your logs.
Teenager googles his first name and discovers he was abducted as a child. FYI, I tried repeating the search (he's named in the article) and came up with nothing about a missing child on Google (for the first five pages of results) or Google Images (for the first two pages of results).
eWeek, Feb. 18, 2004
When I have a computer problem, I always go straight to Google Groups. I guess it's because I've found it more relevant. There's always someone there who has posted that cryptic Microsoft Windows error message and is asking for help -- which is often given. And since I'm hitting a much more limited database than the entire web, the relevancy is generally high.
Brian Livingstone finds the same thing with testing, pitting Google versus Google Groups and Teoma for computer solutions. Both of those are deemed better than Google.
I actually agree with Google's statement in the story that Google Groups has been superior than Google for this type of query for some time (and invisible tabs, http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/article.php/3115131, would bring this to the attention of more users).
Brian is more skeptical, clearly having heard about Google's recent algorithm changes and deciding they've made things worse. True or not -- it's bad news for Google. It has generally benefited from anecdotal testing as "proof" of its relevancy. That same type of testing can wipe that reputation out. (permalink to this item)
Lies, Damned Lies, and Google
mediabistro, Feb. 18, 2004
I've written before about the dangers of using search engine count figures as a measure of popularity -- stretching back to AltaVista days. Gary Price and others have done the same. But here's a good piece that takes a wide-ranging look at how popular press uses Google counts to "prove" points.
Alleged affair popular search query
About.com Web Search Guide, Feb. 18, 2004
Presidential candidate John Kerry's alleged affair made for popular searching in February.
Google eyes a gaggle of sites
USA Today, Feb. 18, 2004
The day before Yahoo dumps Google, Google announces that its web page index has increased to 4 billion pages. Coincidence or attempt to ensure you have some positive Google news in the wake of the Yahoo divorce?
Size increases are generally welcomed, as long as they come along with sustained relevancy. I've actually felt Google's last size increase hurt its relevancy in some circumstances -- though in others, the greater comprehensiveness has been great.
Read more about the many issues with search engine sizes in my longstanding page with charts and more here: Search Engine Sizes, http://searchenginewatch.com/reports/article.php/2156481 (permalink to this item)
Q&A about a new search engine set to open to the public later this year. It's promising to hit invisible web resources that it says existing major search engines miss, saying it will use semantic analysis as a means of producing relevant results and will cluster results by actions.
Google and Newspapers
Editor & Publisher, Feb. 17, 2004
Wide-ranging interview with Google cofounder Sergey Brin, focusing on issues relating to newspapers, such as whether Google plans to compete for classified ads money (Answer: no).
MSN rolls out its news search service to Malaysia, Singapore, India, South Africa and Latin America.
Data from comScore Media Metrix says that searchers aren't particularly loyal to one search engine. But the data is really odd. The company calculated that the typical searcher searches 28 times in a month, then compared the average number of searches for each of the leading search engines: Google, 23, Yahoo and AOL, 16 and MSN, 11.
I guess the idea is that if everyone were loyal to Google, then it would have the highest average. The fact the others have some high numbers suggest they attract searches, as well.
There's a far better way to do this. comScore can easily calculate the crossover -- what percentage of people search at Google also search at Yahoo and so on. In fact, I've asked for this before, and I'll follow up about it again. It would paint a far better picture than these stats.
Overall, the idea that people use more than one search engine isn't surprising, new or necessarily shows "disloyalty." Disloyalty happens when people start abandoning their first choice search engine in favor of their second choice. Make that flipflop, as Google managed to AltaVista, and you win.
Article goes on to talk about the idea of personalization as a way to lock users into a particular search engine. Yahoo says to expect something later this year. (permalink to this item)
News Sites Seek Readers via Search Ads
DMNews.com, Feb. 17, 2004
The BBC, Financial Times and other media outlets are buying paid listings on Google to drive traffic for special coverage of news events. Ironically, they can't buy ads to appear alongside Google own news search results.
Search For Tomorrow
Washington Post, Feb. 15, 2004
http://www.bizreport.com/article.php?art_id=6192 (no registration reading)
"In the beginning -- before Google -- a darkness was upon the land." Well, that's the New Testament. BG, we actually did manage to find things with Yahoo, AltaVista and the like. Google's the household name now for many, of course. This article asks, "What's Next?"
Agents? Gad, these were pitched back in BG days and have yet to take off. Why? Because they don't solve the "on demand" search need that Google, Yahoo and the others do so well. When's the last time you wanted to wait two or three days to "discover" an answer to a question you have. You want the answer now! Now agents in terms of personalization, better results based on who you are? Sure -- because that works for on demand searching.
The article then drags out the promise of the Semantic Web -- if only all our data had meta data describing it, then we'd be set. And when my wife uses my computer, Microsoft Office tags me as the author. Oops -- bad news if she posts to the web and you just did a search for documents by me as author. (permalink to this item)
Study Find Problems With Access To Credible Health Information Online
URAC & Consumer WebWatch Press Release, Feb. 12, 2004
Now released is the "Setting The Public Agenda For Online Health Search" report from URAC, a non-profit group that promotes health care quality, and Consumer WebWatch, a project of Consumers Union, the non-profit publisher of Consumer Reports.
The report found that: 1) consumers' ability to locate and evaluate health information online is hindered by access barriers for older, less well off, disabled, and non-English speaking Americans; 2) a difficulty in distinguishing credible health information from that which is not trustworthy; 3) Web sites contain inaccurate, outdated or incomplete information; and 4) consumers lack of knowledge on how search engines retrieve results or the impact of paid placements on listings of health web sites.
Special thanks to:
+ Search Engine Guide, http://searchengineguide.com
+ Search Engine Lowdown, http://searchenginelowdown.com
+ John Battelle's Searchblog, http://battellemedia.com/
+ ResourceShelf.com, http://www.resourceshelf.com
+ About.com Web Search Guide, http://websearch.about.com
and reader submissions for some of the items listed above.
Search Engine Resources
Enter a query, then sort results from news search engines, blog search engines or general search engines by date. Keep in mind that for general search engines, dates can often be widely inaccurate.
Search action sites such as eBay, UBid and Yahoo Auctions from one place. Looks like Google -- but GoHook says they've already solved any legal concerns Google has and "yes, we're in talks with eBay."
Reference material, research information, periodical literature and more previously found in eLibrary and Researchville have now been integrated into this new service. Searching is free. You pay to view material you find.
Awesome. You'll need Flash to use this. Got it? Then see visually how results compare on Google versus Yahoo. It's not what you think. You won't see the results but instead dots showing you where number one on Google turns up at Yahoo and so on.
Keep in mind that Google may show up to two results per web site, per page of its results, so that sort of skews things. And if you pull 100 results from Google at one time, that may also skew things when comparing to what you see when getting just the standard 10 results. But still, an interesting visual tool. Let's hope it progresses. (permalink to this item)
I wrote previously of how the Open Directory now lets you view screenshots of pages. Want the same for your own search engine? The Open Thumbshots Project is designed to feed into anyone using the ODP's data.
Meeting next week, this workgroup of the Internet Engineering Task Force seeks to implement a distributed system of searching the web, Domain Resource Integrated System, or DRIS. More about DRIS here: http://www.lib.hust.edu.cn/dl-lib/English/main.htm
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