The Search Engine Update, July 20, 1997, Number 9

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THE SEARCH ENGINE UPDATE
July 20, 1997 - Number 9

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About The Update
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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."

Please note that long URLs may break into two lines in some mail readers. Please cut and paste, should this occur.

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Site Changes
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The Search Engine EKGs have been updated with information from June. For those not familiar with the EKGs, they help describe the latest search engine crawling trends. You'll find them at:

http://searchenginewatch.com/ekg.htm

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Search Engine News
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Want A Top Listing? Become A Content Partner!

You can't buy a better search engine listing in the major search engines. None of the search engines will do this, because Open Text's experiment with it in mid-1996 produced terrible publicity. Listings have become like the editorial content of a newspaper. They're supposed to be independently produced and not influenced by an advertiser's wishes.

So what's an advertiser to do? Transform yourself into a "content" provider, and suddenly you legitimize receiving preferential treatment.

That's what Amazon.com has recently done with Excite and Yahoo. The online bookseller announced agreements on July 7 with both services to help ensure that those looking for books will be directed toward Amazon.com.

Over the coming year, when you search for a book in either service, you're going to be seeing links to related books listed within the Amazon.com web site. Amazon.com is also going to produce book-related content for Excite.

This is just one of the latest pseudo-editorial deals that have been announced recently. Ticketmaster and Excite announced a similar partnership in June. WebCrawler's new "Shortcuts" that debuted in June are also another way of transforming advertising content into what seems to be editorial content.

To be fair, some of this "content" is going to be welcomed by many searchers. It will be very convenient to do a search for the latest Tom Clancy novel and get a link taking you directly to where you can buy the book online, for example.

But is this content, as we traditionally know it? Would Amazon.com produce the book review for your local newspaper? It's not likely -- that's what book reviewers are supposed to be doing. Readers are depending on them to be impartial.

Deals like that announced by Amazon.com should be seen less as "content partnerships" or "new services" and more as advertising deals. That's not necessarily bad. As mentioned above, many people will find it nice to get direct links to Amazon.com's book sales information.

But the search-enhancement is one-sided: a query is not being sent to other online booksellers to find the best price. That makes deals like these less a service for users and more a service for the advertising-content partners.

Amazon.com making book
News.com, July 8, 1997
http://www.news.com/News/Item/0,4,12185,00.html

Online services, Web sites rake in retail bucks in marketing deals
@Computerworld, July 11, 1997
http://www.computerworld.com/search/AT-html/online/9707/970711onlineserv.html

Yahoo Press Release
Yahoo, July 7, 1997
http://www.yahoo.com/docs/pr/release99.html

Excite Press Release
Excite, July 7, 1997
http://corp.excite.com/press/070797amazon.html

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Excite Gets International Netscape Guide

Excite has scored a coup by picking up programming of the Netscape Guide page outside of the US. The new Netscape Communicator browser will have international versions, and its "Guide" button will take users to a country-specific guide to the Internet.

Excite announced July 17 that it will be producing the "International Netscape Guide by Excite" for Japan, Germany, France, the United Kingdom and Australia. The US edition is produced by Yahoo and called "Netscape Guide By Yahoo."

Under the agreement, Excite will be responsible for the programming, production, operations and advertising sales of its guides. The guides will launch later this year, first in Japan and Germany, then in France, the UK and Australia.

Meanwhile, Yahoo announced July 8 that it is being added to country-specific Netscape Net Search pages for Australia, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, The Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. These are the pages that appear when browser's "Search" button is pushed.

Excite Press Release
Excite, July 17, 1997
http://corp.excite.com/press/071797intlnetscape.html

Yahoo Press Release
Yahoo, July 7, 1997
http://www.yahoo.com/docs/pr/release101.html

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Search Engines Get Behind Self-Regulation

On July 16, Excite, Infoseek, Lycos and Yahoo -- along with CNET, announced they were going to work together to promote self-regulation of the Internet.

There are no details determined at the moment. The companies are simply agreeing to discuss how standards might be defined and implemented.

The move is in support of a White House proposal on the same day asking the Internet industry to adopt a self-regulated rating system for content on the Web in order to protect children.

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Infoseek Launches More Non-US Editions

Infoseek launched five new country or language-specific services on July 8, 1997. They are Infoseek Nederland, Infoseek Danmark, Infoseek Brasil, Infoseek Sverige and Infoseek en Espaqol (a worldwide Spanish service).

The new services now bring Infoseek up to offering 10 localized services, along with its US/global edition. Other editions are for in Japan, France, Italy, the United Kingdom and Germany. All the editions can be found via the main Infoseek web site.

Infoseek
http://www.infoseek.com/

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Search Engine Articles
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Agencies sound off about Web sites
Ad Age, June 1997
http://www.adage.com/interactive/articles/19970630/article2.html

A summary of what ad salespeople think of placing buys with different web sites, including Infoseek, Lycos and Yahoo.

1,001 Internet Tips: Search Engines
PC Computing, July 1997
http://www4.zdnet.com/pccomp/besttips/search.html

Tips about using some of the major search engines.

Beyond the Veil of Pure Design: Dynamic HTML weds buyer to seller
WebTrends, June 27, 1997
http://webreview.com/97/06/27/trends/

Forget the article title. This has nothing to do with Cascading Style Sheets or layers. Instead, this is an interesting look at how HotBot determines what ads to flash at the top of the screen via cookies and other methods.

Keep It Simple, Searchers
Web Week, July 7, 1997
http://www.webweek.com/current/undercon/19970707-simple.html

A little more information about the redesigned WebCrawler and how its advertiser-backed Shortcuts works.

Top Ad Site Continues To Innovate
Web Week, July 7, 1997
http://www.webweek.com/current/markcomm/19970707-top.html

A look at advertising within the Netscape site, including some details about the Netscape Net Search page, which will generate at least $40 million this year from the top four search engines listed.

Search engines weigh impact of TV campaigns
Ad Age, June 1997
http://www.adage.com/interactive/articles/19970630/article1.html

A very nice piece about how search engines are turning to television to attract new users. It apparently does help, though it's very expensive. A month to two of 30-second television ads easily exceeds the cost of a year's placement on the Netscape Net Search page.

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Search Engine Notes
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Problems With Free Web Pages

It's getting a little more public about the problems search engines are having with free web pages. An article in Wired talks about how Infoseek has stopped accepting submissions of pages from GeoCities-hosted sites, due to problems with spamming. Tripod members continue to face similar problems at Alta Vista, and HotBot recently reported to one webmaster that it is missing some free web pages from a variety of sites, including GeoCities, Tripod and American Online.

More alarming is the fact that HotBot may also miss pages from some commercial services that use a common domain, such as WebCom, where a web address might be http://www.webcom.com/˜user/, for example.

The HotBot problem is related to the fact that the search engine's spider won't request more than one page per minute from a server, in order not to overburden the server. Most major search engines request pages "politely" in this fashion. Otherwise, they could bring a server to its knees. But when a server has thousands, or hundreds of thousands of pages, the polite query method means that it's simply not possible to crawl everything. This problem could be true with some of the other search engines, as well.

HotBot reported that it may be adding an instant Add URL feature to help mitigate the problem. I'll be following up on this, as with Infoseek and its problems with free web pages. Some of this is already summarized on the Search Engines and Free Web Pages page in the Subscriber-Only Area. You'll find it under Projects In Progress.

Infoseek Storms GeoCities Pages
Wired News, July 14, 1997
http://wired.com/news/news/technology/story/5159.html

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End Notes
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