THE SEARCH ENGINE UPDATE
June 3, 1998 - Number 30
About The Update
The Search Engine Update is a twice-monthly update of search engine news. It is available only to those people who have subscribed to Search Engine Watch, http://searchenginewatch.com/.
Please note that long URLs may break into two lines in some mail readers. Cut and paste, should this occur.
In This Issue
+ New Netscape Line-Up
+ Real Name Tops At AltaVista
+ Inktomi Picked By Yahoo, Snap
+ Three's Company: LookSmart and Snap Challenge Yahoo
+ AltaVista Launches New Look, Larger Size, More Languages
+ Excite Enhances Search Results
+ HotBot Redesigns, Expands Shopping
+ Yahoo Spruces Up
+ Meta Tag Usage Remains Low
+ AT&T Reaches Out To Search Engines
+ Web Marketing Search Engine Launched
+ Search Engine Notes
+ Search Engine Articles
+ Subscribing/Unsubscribing Info
Once again, it's been another busy month in the world of search engines. Covering all the latest news has put me behind on some site updates I'd planned for May, but I'll be moving quickly to do these over the next two weeks.
First on the list will be a revised "What People Search For" page, with a number of new links. The folks at MetaCrawler, http://www.metacrawler.com/, are now also providing me with top terms each month. There will be a new page within the site summarizing these.
Also, I am just about to post revised Search Engine EKG charts that show crawling patterns.
The easiest way to keep informed about these and other pages will be to check the site's What's New page, where I will post notice of revisions and new additions.
Search Engine Watch What's New
Search Engine News
Netscape has unveiled the most sweeping changes to its important Net Search page since it established its landmark pay-for-placement deals on the page in April 1996.
Most significant is that Netscape is now running its own, branded search engine, Netscape Search. It's powered by Excite, in the same way that Excite provides results for the AOL NetFind search engine.
Netscape now occupies one of the coveted "Premier Partner" positions on the Net Search page. By default, the page will open to Netscape Search 25 percent of the time.
Netscape's new partner Excite also receives a traffic share of 25 percent. The remainder of the page's traffic is rotated among veteran Net Search partners Infoseek and Lycos, and two newcomers to the premier line-up, AltaVista and LookSmart. Previously, these two had shared space within the now defunct Marquee Provider section.
Exact traffic shares for these remaining four were not disclosed, except that none are getting more than a 15 percent share.
Next year, Netscape Search will jump to receiving a 50 percent slice of the traffic, while Excite will stay at the same level and everyone else will share the remaining 25 percent.
Yahoo is the biggest absence. The company decided that it no longer needed a strong presence on the page, due to the considerable traffic it receives beyond Netscape. Reports are that only five to eight percent of Yahoo's traffic came from Netscape. Now it is listed below the fold, among numerous other search options.
Yahoo is also abandoning its partnership with Netscape to produce the Netscape Guide By Yahoo. The partnership began last year, but it made little sense for it to continue in the wake of Excite landing a $70 million deal to program the Netscape web site.
Netscape decided in March to try and emulate the success of search-turned-portal sites such as Excite and Yahoo by building out content within its own site. It relabeled its site "Netscape Netcenter," then went on the hunt for someone to provide it with a branded search engine and build out content for web surfers.
Excite won the bid in May. Over the next two years, it will produce content for the site and power Netscape Search. In return, it receives the right to sell advertising and positioning partnerships within Netcenter, plus receives its own positioning on the Net Search page. New content should be appearing within the month, Excite says.
Eyebrows have been raised over the huge sum Excite paid, especially in light of the fact that Yahoo says it couldn't earn the money it had expected when it was producing content for Netscape.
Excite Executive Vice President Brett Bullington says his company can do better. He also points out that $20 million would have been spent on positioning Excite within Netscape anyway, leaving only $50 million that it needs to recover through ad and partnership sales. "Can we sell $25 million this year and next year? I think we should be able to," Bullington said.
In fact, Excite just announced that it has signed agreements for $21 million in advertising revenues in connection with the deal, putting it a third of the way toward covering the initial cost.
Concerns have also been raised over the fact that Netscape can walk away from Excite after the two years but keep all the content and programming tools Excite creates for it. The possible repercussions of such a handover are one of the reasons Yahoo declined the deal.
"The coup de grace for us was the turning over the technology and tools to Netscape, with no guarantee of renewal. Basically, you could create a competitor," said Jeff Mallett, Yahoo's chief operating officer.
Again, Excite says it can make the partnership work to its advantage. "We think in the end, we'll both learn how to win and exit with something out of it," Bullington said. In the strange land of the Internet, where "coopetition" rules, he may be right.
Meanwhile, on the heels of getting its search partnerships in order, Netscape has announced it plans to implement new "Smart Browsing" features by the end of July. These will likely incorporate Alexa site discovery technology into the browser and a word addressing system that sounds similar to Real Name, described below. However, the system will probably depend more on forwarding queries to search services. Expect more on this next month.
Yahoo ends ties to Netscape
News.com, May 21, 1998
Yahoo's reasons for departing Netscape, with some interesting stats on the share of traffic it had received.
High-Stakes Deal For Excite, Netscape
Internet World, May 11, 1998
General details on the partnership.
Why Infoseek Walked
Red Herring, May 12, 1998
Nice details on why Infoseek didn't think the Netscape deal was good for it to pursue, along with some stats on traffic the service has received from Netscape.
Excite Executives Cross Their Fingers That Payoff Will Come
Internet World, May 11, 1998
Details on the amount Excite is paying to Netscape, along with guarantees that it gets some money back if expected traffic levels aren't reached.
Excite to power Netscape search
News.com, May 4, 1998
General details on the partnership.
Alexa: Searching Serendipity And More
The Search Engine Report, Jan. 9, 1998
More about Alexa, whose technology Netscape will be using soon.
AltaVista is now listing Real Name addresses at the top of its search results, a move which makes it much easier for web marketers to be found for their company names and which may help some users more easily find what they are looking for.
Real Name is an alternative web site addressing system from Centraal Corporation. The system allows people to reach web sites by entering words such as "Barnes & Noble" into their browser's address box, rather than having to enter a URL such as "http://www.barnesandnoble.com."
Until the AltaVista deal, the system's biggest problem was that it only worked for those with Real Name-capable browsers. That meant downloading special software, which is a hurdle in the way of widespread acceptance.
Centraal hopes to solve this problem by getting Microsoft and Netscape to build native Real Name support into their next browsers. But the AltaVista partnership, which began in May, could allow the system to fly regardless of this. That's because it solves a bigger problem of economically making search engine results more relevant for some searches.
Consider things from a web user's point of view. Imagine you want to go to Nike's web site. What's the address? Net savvy people will guess at "http://www.nike.com" and get there just fine. In fact, depending on your browser and the company's web server, you can get away with entering "nike.com" or even just "nike."
It's a bit more complicated with Barnes & Noble. Is it barnesandnoble.com, barnes-and-noble.com or barnes&noble.com? The last example isn't allowed under the current domain name system, but no doubt people try and feel frustrated when nothing loads.
Real Name suggests its system will be the solution to all this. However, net savvy and non-savvy people already have a solution they've been using for years, when they don't know an address. They turn to the search services, just as people turn to a phone book or directory assistance when they need a phone number.
That's the basic reason why search services have become so popular. Likewise, it is the reason many web marketers become so frustrated with them. The boss goes to a favorite search service, looks for the company by name, can't find it and goes on the warpath. Get it fixed, the boss demands.
Fixing it might not be easy, for some people. The answer may involve understanding meta tags, appropriate page titles and the need for decent copy at the company's graphic heavy web site.
Here's where Real Name provides a simple solution. It sweeps aside all those complications. Instead, you just pay your $40 annual fee, and you'll come up tops for your name on AltaVista, guaranteed.
At this point, the old "selling listings" alarm bells are probably ringing with some people. Has AltaVista sold out? Shouldn't only the most relevant results come first? Hold your panic, and let's see the system in action.
Remember Nike? Do a search for "Nike" at AltaVista, and as happens with many major companies, no pages from the Nike site are top ranked. Before the Real Name partnership, both Nike and someone looking for the company were probably disappointed. Now, Nike's site gets top billing because the company has registered its name as a Real Name address.
Ideally, AltaVista and the other search engines should ensure that Nike and other important companies are top listed for their names, anyway. But to do so, they might have to manually configure or tweak the results for particular names.
That's not too much work when you are talking about ensuring that just Fortune 1000 companies are top listed for their own names. But what happens when smaller businesses want to ensure they come up first for their names? That's more time consuming.
The partnership with Centraal provides a solution. It gives people a way to get on top for their names in AltaVista without the service having to lift a finger. In fact, AltaVista even collects a share of the revenues.
Nor are search engine users harmed. AltaVista's own results are not altered one bit. The Real Name link is simply prefacing them, which makes perfect sense. Nike and other companies should come up first for a search on their own names. It's what both the company and most search engine users would expect.
Sound perfect? There are gray areas and a big fat loophole that allows the "selling listings" fears to return.
First the basics. Names can be had for $40 per year, and you can have as many as you like. However, companies cannot register generic terms, and only trademark holders can register their own names. Thus, Nike can register its name, but it can't register "shoes."
What about companies with generic names? Amazon.com has the Real Name address of "Amazon," which is also a river and a race of mythical warrior women. Why is this allowed?
Real Name CEO Keith Teare says that exceptions will be made in some cases, such as to support what a user might expect. On the web, someone searching for "Amazon" probably wants to reach Amazon.com. Thus, Real Name feels it makes sense to allow Amazon that term, he said.
What about cases where two companies have the same name? Real Name prefers that neither registers the name. Ideally, Apple Computers and Apple Records will each register those two-word names. But in the end, Real Name will side with what it believes a user expects, and that will probably be the larger and better-known company.
Now for that loophole. Real Name allows slogans to be registered or generic terms to be appended to company names to make addresses. At the moment, this provides a way for companies to indirectly receive traffic for popular keywords.
When a Real Name address has been registered, clicking on the Real Name link takes you directly to the registered web site. But when no name is registered, as in the case with a generic term like "books," clicking on the link instead takes you from AltaVista to the Real Name search engine. There, it displays sites that it thinks matches your query.
These sites are drawn from three separate databases. The first is made up of paid Real Name addresses, which number less than 10,000, at the moment. The second contains 30,000 addresses that the company editorially created to seed the index. The last has information from 1/2 million web sites that the Real Name system has crawled.
Sites are displayed generally in that order: paid names with the search words in them come first, then editorial picks, then crawled picks. However, popularity also comes into play. The system measures which links users choose, so an editorial pick can appear higher than a paid link, if enough people click on it.
You can identify the status of a link by looking at the Real Name URL. If it ends in zero, it is a paid name. A one indicates an editorial pick, while a two shows a crawled selection.
Thus, while no one can register "books," Barnes & Noble, Amazon.com and others have been busy registering names that contain that word, which in turn puts them high on the Real Name search engine results. For example, Barnes & Noble has registered "Barnes & Noble Computer Books."
At the moment, significant numbers of people are clicking through, even on generic terms, so this strategy of adding generic terms to a company name means that sites do indeed have a shot of making the top of the list for generic terms, albeit in a roundabout way.
Because of this, it may be well worth the $40 to register your company name associated with generic terms about your products and services. I suspect you should the find the name will easily pay for itself in traffic over the year, if not much sooner.
About seven million people clicked on Real Name links at AltaVista during the first week of launch, about a 20% clickthrough rate, Teare said. Eventually, this clickthrough traffic may diminish. The Real Name address link is new to users, and I suspect many of them are clicking on it when doing general searches without really understanding what it is.
In fact, the presentation at the moment is entirely unclear. For example, a search for "microsoft" yields this link:
- Real NameSM Address - microsoft
Subscribe your company, brands and trademarks to the Real Name System.
Ideally, the main link would say something more appropriate, such as "Microsoft Web Site." That would be more useful to users. Certainly the description should be about the site, rather than the service.
Both Teare and AltaVista say the actual format will likely evolve. At the moment, the emphasis is providing information about the service to better educate users and potential customers.
Also, Teare points out that over time, people may recognize what the term "Real Name Address" means, in the same way they know what to do when they see a web address displayed, or if they see a word after "AOL Keyword."
The big question is whether AltaVista will continue to display a Real Name address link when no Real Name exists. If so, the clickthrough loophole will continue, and no doubt warm the hearts of many web marketers. If not, having a variety of Real Name addresses that incorporate generic terms will be less important.
Another loophole is that plenty of people are getting away with registering generic terms, at least for the time being. The Real Name system doesn't inherently know that a term shouldn't be registered. Instead, someone can go in and register something like "books" temporarily.
After a few days, someone from the Real Name staff will review the site and its address to ensure it meets the company's guidelines. "Books" obviously wouldn't, so the person would receive a rejection letter, with some suggested alternatives. They also wouldn't be charged for the original attempt.
Teare said Real Name expected this to happen, and it is actually putting it to good use. Once a term has been rejected, it's flagged so that it can't be registered again. Eventually, the generics will be eliminated.
"The system learns over time. We think that’s the best way to build up the dictionary," Teare explained.
So what's next? Teare has talks with the browser companies planned, but he also hopes to be making deals with other search services. It could be that the Real Name service will be popping up elsewhere.
Real Name Service
Deal Allows Companies To Buy Top Spot in Search Results
Internet World, May 18, 1998
AltaVista picks Real Name for registered word search
Ad Age, May 11, 1998
Finding Brand Names Fast
Wired News, May 7, 1998
GoTo Sells Positions
The Search Engine Report, March 3, 1998
GoTo.com sells top placement, generic terms and all, and is proud of it. Founder Bill Gross says economics provides the best form of relevancy. Read more about the service.
Inktomi's strategy of being the brains behind other search services, rather than starting its own, paid off big for the company in May. Inktomi signed agreements to begin powering both Yahoo and Snap searches.
Both services have their own listings, but when a search fails to find a match within these, it will automatically be forwarded to the Inktomi database.
AltaVista had been providing Yahoo with this service over the past two years. However, AltaVista has restructured itself to be more of a competitor to Yahoo, making it a main reason why Yahoo decided to go with a new, non-competitive partner.
"Inktomi had the best business model, which is a pure OEM play. AltaVista, on the other hand, has decided to move a little bit more into adding other services beside search," said Jeff Mallett, Yahoo's chief operating officer.
Yahoo will oversee the sales of all banner ads and partnership positioning on Inktomi-produced results pages. In contrast, DoubleClick had previously sold inventory on these pages for AltaVista, at the end of the previous deal.
Both AltaVista and Yahoo left the partnership on good terms. AltaVista's technical director Louis Monier described it as a "happy divorce."
AltaVista will continue to be positioned within Yahoo at the bottom of each results page. Yahoo has provided links to other search engines in this location since it began. Now AltaVista, along with two or three other search engines yet to be named, will pay for the privilege of being more prominently positioned there. Clicking on links in this area automatically sends the search to the selected search engine.
Inktomi will take over for AltaVista within the next two months at Yahoo. Meanwhile, it has already begun providing a similar service for Snap. Infoseek was the previous partner there, and it will continue to power searches on Cnet's Search.com service.
Sam Parker, Snap's Vice President of Product Development, named all the same reasons for going with Inktomi as Yahoo had. Inktomi's non-competitive OEM model and top search technology made it an easy choice, he said.
Inktomi also continues to power its first partner, HotBot, and will be the brawn behind the new Microsoft search service that is supposed to launch later this year.
Buddy, You're a Rival Now
Wired, May 20, 1998
Details on the AltaVista-Yahoo split.
AltaVista steps aside on Yahoo
News.com, May 18, 1998
Inktomi to power Snap search
News.com, May 6, 1998
Yahoo, unlike its chief competitors, is powered by human beings. A staff of 80 people reviews web sites and places them into one of Yahoo's many categories. This has produced a high-quality directory of over 750,000 sites, which is a key part of Yahoo's phenomenal success.
Now Yahoo has company: LookSmart and Snap. Both are human-powered directories with substantial listings and alliances that put them in contention to win the hearts of directory lovers.
Neither service expects to match Yahoo's incredible popularity, but they are optimistic they can attract sizable numbers of visitors to become web successes in their own rights.
LookSmart isn't new, having launched back in Oct. 1996. But unlike other directory startups at that time, it continued to expand and mature. LookSmart now lists nearly 400,000 web sites in 20,000 categories. A team of 30 people backs the directory.
LookSmart has alliances with over 100 mid-sized ISPs, and the partnerships it struck earlier this year with AltaVista and HotBot brought it to even more people's attention. Now it's taking over the premier partner position that Yahoo has abandoned on the important Netscape Net Search page. The move will even further raise awareness of the service.
Some may still remember LookSmart as Reader's Digest's entry in the search engine wars, but that ended with a management buyout last September.
Cnet's Snap service is newer. It launched in Sept. 1997, but it was completely redesigned in April to better emphasize its search and navigation core. Snap has about 200,000 web sites listed, with 60 people dedicated to building the service.
Like LookSmart, Snap has gone after alliances with ISPs to be a front-end to the web for their customers. It is also promoted through Cnet's other properties and occupies secondary positions on both the Netscape and Microsoft search pages. As with LookSmart, these alliances mean that the service is coming to more people's attention.
What about Search.com, Cnet's other search service? That's run by a separate division within Cnet and will continue to provide a different service than Snap. "We're a portal, and they're kind of a unique specialty service," said Sam Parker, Snap's Vice President of Product Development.
The growth of both LookSmart and Snap is good news for those who like directories. It means that Yahoo will have to stay on its toes editorially, for one. Reviews of search engines often don't include Yahoo because as a directory, it's difficult to compare it to true search engines. Now we're at a point where a decent directory showdown is possible in the way search engine showdowns have been done in the past.
Also, choice is always nice. Search services are like shoes, and what fits one person may not be comfortable for another. The way results are ranked; the quality of listings and even the interface to the service may be loved by one person but hated by another.
There have been plenty of options in the search engine category, and now those who prefer directories can look around or choose to use multiple services, just as many use multiple search engines.
The rising stature of LookSmart and Snap also means that webmasters need to be more concerned about getting listed with them. Here are a few tips to help you along.
In both places, you'll need to pick a category appropriate for your web site. An easy way to do this is to search for words important to your sites and see what categories come up.
Snap doesn't yet have a submission form, though one is promised soon. Until then, you'll need to send email to submitURL@snap.com.
Make it easy for the editors. List the category you think you belong in, along with a title for your site and a short description, then send your message.
Over at LookSmart, the system works similar to Yahoo. Find the right category for your site, then choose the "Submit or change a site in this category" link that you will see appear just before the web site listings.
Next, a submission form will appear. If you have already submitted to Yahoo, you can use the same information to fill out this form. List your site's title, URL and description, as instructed.
There's also an area where you can submit keywords for your site. This is designed primarily to allow you to add synonyms for your site that aren't present in your description. Repeating a term over and over doesn't gain you anything, LookSmart says. Instead, it wastes your opportunity to make full use of this area.
Watch for submission changes at LookSmart in the coming months. The service has a new system in development that will allow sites to be added to certain areas of the directory almost instantly.
This will primarily happen in areas where less editorial oversight is required, such as a list of schools. There's little need to review each school's site, but it can be very helpful for users to find a comprehensive list of schools in their area.
"We're going through the directory and identifying where selectivity can be balanced against comprehensiveness, said LookSmart cofounder Tracey Ellery. "It will have two great benefits for us. It will dramatically allow us to increase the directory quickly and organically, as well as being able to overcome some of the frustrations people have about getting listed."
Even in places where selectivity is required, LookSmart wants to ensure new sites can be reviewed quickly and listed.
"We really want to make sure we are working with site owners and making friends with them, because without them, search engines wouldn't exist," Ellery said.
LookSmart Site Submission FAQ
If the directories above are overwhelming, try this extremely selective directory of about 1,500 sites, compiled by library professionals. Each site is rated in one of five categories and also given an overall score.
LookSmart enters search game
News.com, May 22, 1998
Reorganized C|net Makes Ambitious Bet on Snap Site
Internet World, May 11, 1998
AltaVista improved its service in three ways during May; updating its look, increasing its index size and making behind-the-scenes changes allowing it index pages beyond those written in Western European languages.
The redesign is easiest to spot. Over the past few months, AltaVista has continually added tabs and links to its home page to highlight the new services it offers. This had resulted in a patchwork that was not particularly attractive.
"You could see the Band-Aids," joked Louis Monier, AltaVista's technology director.
Now AltaVista's front page has been redesigned to make it more organized. The search box remains the most dominant element, while AltaVista's other services are highlighted along the right-hand side of the screen.
You'll easily spot AltaVista's content partnerships, which provide entertainment, health, finance and travel information. All are within the "Zones" box. The translation and free email services come below this, in the aptly named "Services" box.
You might overlook AltaVista's additional search options. These appear in the upper right-hand corner of the screen, in small text. Links here lead to the advanced search form, the LookSmart-powered directory and Usenet, people and business search features.
Looking to add your page? A link to the Add URL service continues to appear at the bottom of the screen.
AltaVista has also increased its size to 140 million web pages, once again giving it the title of largest search engine. AltaVista and Inktomi keep swapping this title, so don't be surprised if Inktomi announces an increase from its present 110 million pages.
Finally, AltaVista announced that it has reengineered its service so that a single index can store text from much of the world, regardless of character sets it is written in.
AltaVista's spider previously could not read text written in non-Western European languages. Now the spider is configured to read a wide range of character sets, including Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Central European, Cyrillic, Greek, Hebrew and Arabic. There are plans to add even more sets.
Monier stressed that text from all these pages is combined into one single index, which he says is unique and convenient. For example, it means that visitors can perform a search in English, then one in Chinese, without having to leave the service and go to a Chinese-only edition.
AltaVista does this by translating whatever page it finds into Unicode, which can store characters for all languages. AltaVista can determine the character set of a page even if a web author has failed to indicated it, which commonly happens.
When someone performs a search, that is also translated into Unicode and checked against the index. Matching pages are then brought back.
AltaVista says its new system is especially helpful for languages such as Chinese, where the same word might be represented in different ways, depending on the particular Chinese character set used. AltaVista can now bring back any pages matching the word, even if they were written in a different set than that used by the person searching.
Excite also just announced it will be launching a similar service for Chinese searching today, in conjunction with popular Chinese web site Sinanet.com. The service will be available from the Sinanet.com home page.
AltaVista World Index
More information about searching in non-Western European languages.
Excite has enhanced its search engine to provide more than matching web pages in response to some queries, in hopes of better delivering the type of information people are looking for.
Currently, the changes are most noticeable in response to searches for sports or company information. For example, a search for "baseball" brings up a results page topped by current scores, links to stats and other key information.
Next comes related news articles, along with a news photo. Relevant listings from the Excite directory come next, then finally come matching web pages from the search engine's database.
The goal is to give users a variety of answers when they perform very general searches, Excite said. By doing so, Excite increases the odds of giving someone exactly what they are looking for.
So far, Excite says reaction has been positive. "Most individuals who see this say 'Wow, why didn't you do this a year ago," said Kris Carpenter, Excite's directory of search services.
Excite is using the Jango technology it acquired last year to power shopping comparisons to produce the new results. The technology lets the service scan through different databases of information for the most relevant matches, then blends them together into one seamless page.
Over the coming months, even more search categories will be enhanced, Carpenter said. In the mean time, many searches are being supplemented by prefacing the raw search results prefaced with matching categories from Excite's associated directory.
HotBot revealed a redesigned interface in May. A major change has been to bring the LookSmart-powered directory "above the fold" on the home page and place it to the right of the main web search options.
The service has also implemented lighter backgrounds to make reading text easier and streamlined the design so pages load up to 50 percent faster than before, HotBot says.
It's also easier for those looking to use advanced options to reach the advanced search page. In the past, the "SuperSearch" text was low-key and easy to miss. In its place is a new, large "More Search Options" button that's easy to spot. Clicking on it brings up the advanced search screen.
The Add URL link has also been moved to the home page, making it easier for webmasters to find it. Previously, it had been tucked within the Help section. You'll find it below the directory listings, at the bottom of the main part of the screen.
The service also announced a major expansion to its online shopping features, with the launch of the HotBot Shopping Directory. The directory features a number of premier merchants and a shopping search engine called the HotBot Shopping Bot. It is meant to make comparison shopping across the web for items such as CDs easier.
HotBot Shopping Directory
While everyone else seems to redesign every few months, Yahoo's look has stayed practically the same since the service began. That changed on May 9, when the new look took over.
The changes are subtle, not shocking. On the home page is now a box on the right-hand side of the screen, where you will find news headlines and promotions within the service.
For those browsing, inside pages use a reverse box above listings to highlight related news and events, community areas and shopping.
The biggest change may be that the Add URL button that used to be part of the Yahoo page topper graphic has been removed. Relax, the service is still accepting submissions. Do exactly as you did before. Find the right category for your site, and then look down at the bottom of the page. You'll find a new "Suggest a Site" link there. Click on that to start the submission process.
SiteMetrics released its second quarterly meta tag survey that found once again that only about 30 percent of sites on the web seem to make use of meta tags.
The company ran a spider to collect the home pages from 40,000 commercial web sites. It found 30 percent used the meta keywords tag and 27 percent used the meta description tag. These are virtually identical to figures from the last survey in January.
The survey also found more than 31 percent of the meta description tags were longer than the generally accepted 200-character length. One web site had a tag that was longer than 15,000 characters.
More information and charts of the results can be found via the link below.
SiteMetrics Web Content Survey
Yahoo Online, a branded Internet access service in partnership with MCI launched in March. Now MCI competitor AT&T has teamed with three Yahoo competitors to help them establish their own access services.
Expect to see Excite Online, Lycos Online and Infoseek Online all offered in the coming months. AT&T cut three-year deals with the services in early May.
AT&T is to receive some prominent placement of its telecommunications products, in particular through a "Personal Communications Center" at each of the services. Products such as calling cards and calling plans will be promoted.
The company also cut a deal with Yahoo in May to be prominently positioned throughout the service.
Turning Users Into Members
The Search Engine Report, Feb. 3 1998
Discusses advantages search engines may gain by acquiring paid "members" via branded access services as opposed to users who come to their sites from elsewhere.
AT&T broadens Net strategy
News.com, May 8, 1998
Story emphasizes more what AT&T gets out of the deals, rather than the search services.
A new search engine for web marketers is currently in beta testing and expected to open fully on June 8. Called SearchZ, it is produced by the ClickZ Network. ClickZ is known mainly for its well-respected daily column service of the same name that covers online advertising and marketing issues.
As with most specialty search engines, the goal is to narrow the focus so that the best material is not lost in a sea of less relevant documents.
There is both a directory component, which is currently accepting submissions, and a search engine component that will draw information from 80 select sites.
The service will also allow site owners to guarantee themselves a top 10 or a number one listing, by paying a fee starting at $300 for three months. That's still rarefied territory for the major search engines, but such offerings are more common with specialty search engines, such as those for real estate.
ClickZ publisher Andy Bourland stressed that sites must also meet quality standards to be included in the index, regardless of payment.
Fee-backed Search Engine for Marketers Planned
InternetNews.com, June 1, 1998
More information about the service.
Search Engine Notes
AOL NetFind To Launch Regional Editions
AOL is planning to launch new, regional editions of its branded AOL NetFind search service for Japan, Canada and Europe.
Excite currently produces the existing US-oriented service. It will now be producing the Canadian and Japanese editions.
Lycos will be producing editions for AOL in Europe. Lycos has a joint venture in Europe with media firm Bertelsmann, as does AOL for its European operations.
Selling the AOL 'Secret Sauce'
Wired, May 21, 1998
Details on AOL's plans to go local.
Metadata Workshop Planned
The OCLC Institute is holding a one-day metadata workshop on Friday, June 26, in Washington D.C. The workshop will cover the current state of metadata, future directions, how and whether to use metadata and many other topics. Full information and online registration can be found at the link below.
Missing Pages At HotBot
Feedback has come in from a few people confused and worried that their pages seem to have gone missing at HotBot, or that search results have fluctuated over the past weeks. HotBot says this is due to the refreshing its Inktomi-powered index.
The Inktomi index is divided across over 150 machines. Each one holds a portion of the index, and each one dumps everything it holds at least once every three weeks to refresh its listings. On any day, some of these machines are involved in an update.
When updates happen, some pages may be dropped from the index, if they can't be found when that portion of the database is rebuilt. There are various reasons why this happens, such as server problems and network delays. This situation happens with all search engines, but it may be more noticeable with those that refresh their indexes frequently.
The good news is that the situation should rectify itself naturally at the next refresh, when the system tries to retrieve the missing pages again. It will do this because it will have found links to them on other pages it recovered, or because the page may be retained in its crawl list until repeated attempts to find it fail.
You can also speed the process along by resubmitting the page through the HotBot's Add URL form. That form has fluctuated between working as advertised, adding any page within 48 hours, and taking much longer. However, HotBot says Inktomi has made improvements that should make it act more consistently.
Search Engine Articles
Wired Looks for Niche in a World It Once Defined
Internet World, May 18, 1998
Wired Ventures is now on its own without Wired Magazine, and this article discusses how HotBot is a key strength in the company's attempt to become profitable.
Use AltaVista and "flypaper" to attract visitors to your site
AltaVista MarketSpace, May 1998
Richard Seltzer, a marketing consultant at Digital and co-author of the AltaVista Search Revolution, discusses how placing content on your web site can serve as "flypaper" to bring in visitors.
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