The Search Engine Update, March 18, 2002, Number 121

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About The Update

The Search Engine Update is a twice-monthly update of search engine news. It is available only to Search Engine Watch members. Please note that long URLs may break into two lines in some mail readers. Cut and paste, should this occur.

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In This Issue

+ Search Engine Strategies Comes To London, San Jose
+ Call For Speakers
+ Goodbye HotBot Add URL, Hello FAST?
+ LookSmart Buys WiseNut

+ Espotting Enhances Client Tools
+ Google Bombs Aren't So Scary
+ Inktomi Changes Descriptions
+ SearchDay Articles
+ Search Engine Articles
+ List Info (Subscribing/Unsubscribing)

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Hi Everyone--

This has not been a fun two weeks for me. I made it back from Boston OK, but my laptop's hard drive did not. I knew I needed to get that backup solution in place, for when I'm traveling! Fortunately, I didn't lose too much -- thankfully, the big monthly newsletter had already gone out.

Then I spent all day yesterday sick in bed, the theme song from the children's show "Tweenies" running through my head for hours. My eldest son was watching that when I decided I'd needed go to bed and collapse. I'm feeling better now through not great, but there's nothing like a newsletter deadline to get me up and moving.

I love the name Search Engine Watch but hate having to type that big huge URL into my browser, to reach the site. Actually, I don't do it as often as you, because I produce the site offline and check things on my local web server.

To reach that server, I always use the shorthand address of "sewatch." It occurred to me that this might make a good domain name for others to use, so I registered "sewatch.com" some time ago. Finally, things are now set up. If your fingers are tired, and you want to reach Search Engine Watch, you can do it by typing in http://sewatch.com.

Please keep in mind that this is not a name change. The site will continue to be known as Search Engine Watch, and the main URL I will typically give out will be http://searchenginewatch.com. But now you have a warp speed way to reach the site, just as you can get to Ask Jeeves via http://aj.com and AltaVista via http://av.com. Sorry, not shorthand address for Google is available -- but they do have the Google Toolbar, http://toolbar.google.com.

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Search Engine Strategies Comes To London, San Jose

We had another successful Search Engine Strategies conference this month in Boston -- our largest ever -- and now the event is coming to London on April 23 & 24!

This will be the first two day Search Engine Strategies ever held in Europe. The London show will have a special emphasis on European search engines and search engine marketing issues. The conference has programs helpful to both those new to search engine marketing and those who are more advanced. Multiple tracks ensure there's always a session of interest to everyone.

Experts in search engine marketing will be presenting, including UK and European-based speakers. There will also be speakers from the major search engines, including so far AltaVista, Ask Jeeves/Teoma, Espotting, FAST/AllTheWeb, Inktomi, LookSmart, Lycos Europe, MSN Search and Yahoo.

Those interested in sponsoring or exhibiting should contact Frank Fazio Jr, ffaziojr@internet.com, for more information. Those interested in attending will find a program and sign-up information at the URL below.

Search Engine Strategies London 2002
http://seminars.internet.com/sew/london02/

The date for our next US show has also been announced: Aug. 12 & 13, in San Jose, California. A conference agenda and information will be available at the URL below, in the near future. In the meantime, you can leave your email address to have details sent to you, when they are available.

Search Engine Strategies San Jose 2002
http://seminars.internet.com/sew/summer02/

Finally, for those of you "Down Under," we do expect that Search Engine Strategies will be coming to Sydney in mid-June of this year. I'll send a conference URL as soon as it is available. In the meantime, if there are particular topics you'd like to see covered, feel free to send me feedback via the form listed at the end of this email.

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Call For Speakers

I'm looking for speakers for the Search Engine Strategies conference that will be happening in London on April 23 & 24. See the article above for more information about the conference.

I need two speakers for the "Case Studies" panel on April 24. The session features different people talking for 15 minutes each about how they approached a particular search engine marketing campaign. Any or all aspects can be discussed -- whether you used paid placement, if so, where and what did you like, dislike; did you do directory submission -- how'd you go about it, etc. Was search term research a challenge? How did you approach it. And so on.

I also need a case study speaker who is involved with paid listings. You would have 10 minutes to address your experiences with the various programs. You'd need to share pros and cons and any important tips you've gained from your experience, with the audience. This would be for the "Purchasing Paid Placement Listings" session that runs on both days of the conference.

Finally, I'm interested in anyone who's being involved with understanding how to research popular search terms in non-English speaking European countries. If that's you, let me know, and I can consider you to talk for 10-15 minutes on the Search Term Research session held on April 24.

If you are interested in any of the panels, message me at feedback@calafia.com to be considered. To increase the odds in your favor, tell me succinctly what you'd like to talk about in the session and note any previous speaking experience.

To be considered, get in touch by Friday, March 22. I'll be making my decisions by March 27 and will respond to those who are selected. Those chosen will get a free pass to both days of the event. Transport and accommodation are not covered.

Please don't ask to speak on any other panels besides those that I've mentioned. The agenda is done, and aside from what I've listed, there are no other speaking opportunities. Also, please don't respond unless you already know you are able to attend.

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Goodbye HotBot Add URL, Hello FAST?

Last week, HotBot's free Add URL page disappeared from the web site, making it seem likely that it will be results from FAST that will be appearing on the service in the near future.

Attempts to reach the HotBot Add URL page now bring up an error message. That should change shortly, but the new page will simply say that submitting to HotBot will be "enhanced" in the near future, rather than allowing submissions to actually happen.

"We will be enhancing HotBot submit shortly, and there is supposed to be a splash page with that message on it. The splash page will go up in a few days. HotBot will be relaunched this summer, and its going to be terrific," said Tom Wilde, general manager of search services for Lycos.

So what is "enhanced" likely to mean? Terra Lycos, which owns HotBot, recently rolled out the Lycos InSite program allowing paid inclusion into the results from FAST that are shown on Lycos.com. My guess is that you'll see the same program implemented on HotBot, when that services relaunches.

Of course, this means that HotBot would have to shift over to using results from FAST, as does Lycos. Currently, HotBot presents results from Direct Hit, then the Open Directory and then Inktomi.

For its part, Terra Lycos said it had no comment on whether the results would be changing to FAST at HotBot.

The HotBot Add URL page was the primarily way I would recommend for people to submit to Inktomi for free. Now that it has been closed, what's the next best free option? First, as always, the best way to get included into Inktomi is for it to naturally find your pages and add them. The How Inktomi Works page below explains tips to help improve the odds that this will happen.

After that, free Add URL may help you get included. I haven't heard back from Inktomi yet about what is the best free Add URL page for those targeting the US audience to use. However, my recommendation at the moment would be to use the free Add URL page on HotBot UK.

HotBot Add URL
http://hotbot.lycos.com/addurl.asp

The submission form is gone, but watch the page for when details of the new submit option are to be made available. Terra Lycos says you'll be able to leave your email address and have information sent to you, when it is ready.

HotBot UK Add URL
http://www.hotbot.lycos.co.uk/submit.html

Scroll down to the "Submit Site" option, which will allow you to add 20 URLs per day, per domain, to Inktomi. Pages, if added, are said to show up in 30 days.

Hotbot AddUrl Goes 404
Webmaster World, March 12, 2002
http://www.webmasterworld.com/forum16/533.htm

Folks at Webmaster World ponder alternatives to submitting to Inktomi.

Submit It: MSN Web Pages
http://submitit.bcentral.com/msnsubmit.htm

The only US-based Inktomi submission option, spotted from the thread above. However, this only allows submission of 5 pages per day, per URL (versus HotBot's 50 page limit). I'm also not certain that this page is actually still supported by MSN.

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LookSmart Buys WiseNut

LookSmart announced this month its intention to purchase the WiseNut search engine, which it hopes will turn LookSmart into an "all-in-one" solution for portals, internet service providers and others who need a search solution. The article below examines how LookSmart hopes to use WiseNut's technology to better compete with the likes of Google and even its current partner, Inktomi.

LookSmart Buys WiseNut
The Search Engine Update, March 18, 2002
http://searchenginewatch.com/subscribers/articles/02/03-wisenut.html

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Espotting Enhances Client Tools

Espotting is launching new tools tomorrow to help those advertising on its European paid-listings network, including an integrated bid management tool and a search term research tool, as well as enhanced reporting options. The new bid management tools are designed to let advertisers more easily set their positions within Espotting's results. For an additional fee, advertisers can also choose to automatically have positions maintained and "bid gaps" eliminated, so that they never pay more than necessary to maintain a particular rank. A longer rundown on the changes can be found via the article below:

Espotting Enhances Client Tools
The Search Engine Update, March 18, 2002
http://searchenginewatch.com/subscribers/articles/02/03-espotting.html

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Google Bombs Aren't So Scary

It sounds frightening. Google "Bombs" are now going off, where web sites are influencing Google's search results by controlling where they link to and what they say in their links, according to Corante's Microcontent News site.

Of course, Google has always worked this way. What people link to and what they say in their links is a major component in how Google organizes its search results. Links can even be the predominant factor, in some cases.

The classic Google Bomb, if we're going to use that word, was way back at the end of 1999, when it was discovered that a search for "more evil than satan himself" brought up the Microsoft web site. At the end of 2000, we had the "Liv Tyler nude" incident, along with the more notorious search for an insulting slur that brought up the official George W. Bush campaign web site.

In all these cases, what people linked to helped influence the results that came up in Google. Moreover, link analysis was probably more important than usual in determining these results because few pages in the results set probably had much link value to boost them, in addition to the more traditional measures such as the words on the pages themselves.

In other words, if you have 1,000 pages all relevant textually for "liv tyler nude," then the one page that's actually developed links to it will probably get the edge over the others. Following on this, it's no real surprise to read in the Microcontent article below about someone manipulating links to get their friend to come up tops for "Talentless Hack" in Google or for a journalist to get ranked tops for his name.

The story goes on to ponder whether Google will succumb to future bombs, especially "Money Bombs" where people are trying to manipulate Google to make money. Anyone in the search engine marketing industry will probably be having a good chuckle over this. Attempts to manipulate Google through links for money reasons have been going on for ages. People have created entire networks of interlinked web sites, in an attempt to influence Google.

Google combats these attempts by identifying what it considers to be "artificial" link structures and adjusting or eliminating their influence in the rankings. Google has also recently taken action against reciprocal link pages, link "farms" and guest books, downplaying their importance in its link analysis algorithms. And there's no doubt that Google will take action against weblogs, if those weblogs are seen as manipulating results in a way that doesn't correspond with user expectations.

Google Time Bomb
Microcontent News, March 3, 2002
http://www.microcontentnews.com/articles/googlebombs.htm

There's a section in this that ponders whether Google gives "older" links less weight. Google doesn't care how "old" a link is. Instead, Google is likely to weight a link more heavily if it's on the home page of a web site, primarily because that home page is likely to have more links pointing at it -- thus upping its PageRank score. If a link moves from that page to an "inside" page, that inside page has less of a reputation and thus can transmit less to other pages. And by the way, the proposed "solution" of blogrolling isn't going to be that helpful. The more links that are on a page, the less reputation that gets passed to them from the parent page, under Google's system.

Google hit by link bombers
BBC, March 13, 2002
http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/sci/tech/newsid_1868000/1868395.stm

Summarizes the Microcontent News article above. However, the Microcontent article did not say that the attempt to Google Bomb for "daniel pearl" was successful. Nevertheless, the BBC article turned this into a fact.

Google on guard for practical jokers
Reuters, March 14, 2002
http://zdnet.com.com/2100-1105-859805.html

Has comments from Google, explaining that for more popular terms, Google Bombs aren't likely to go off.

Google Search Engine Unfazed by 'Googlewhackers'
NewsFactor.com, March 14, 2002
http://www.newsfactor.com/perl/story/16768.html

Google's been quite public in saying that it has to combat link spam, so it's extremely odd to then see the search engine quoted as saying Google Bombs have not been used for marketing or commercial purposes. But perhaps they were referring only to Google Bombs off of weblog pages.

Bush's Dubious Victory At Google
The Search Engine Report, Feb. 6, 2001
http://searchenginewatch.com/sereport/01/02-bush.html

Explains what happened with an unmentionable search and the George W. Bush campaign web site.

Lookin' For Liv In All The Wrong Places
The Search Engine Report, Nov. 3, 2000
http://searchenginewatch.com/sereport/00/11-liv.html

This Google blip wouldn't make Liv Tyler very happy, though it's still hard to see which page for this particular search she would have liked best.

More Evil Than Dr. Evil?
The Search Engine Report, Nov. 1, 1999
http://searchenginewatch.com/sereport/99/11-google.html

The classic Google blip, that put Bill Gates on par with Satan. By the way, the answer to the riddle mentioned in the story is "nothing." See http://www.exodus-coach.co.uk/A_Riddle.htm.

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Inktomi Changes Descriptions

Inktomi says that it has recently changed how it forms page descriptions, so that the following path is followed:

If a page is listed in LookSmart, then its LookSmart title and description are used.

If a page is not listed in LookSmart, then Inktomi looks to see if it is listed in the Open Directory. If it is, then the Open Directory title and description are used.

If a page is not listed in either LookSmart or the Open Directory, then Inktomi will form the page description based on content on the page itself. This means it will use the description in a meta description tag, if one is provided. If there is no meta description tag, then Inktomi will use the first 200 characters or so of text that it finds on the web page.

There is one notable exception to the above. Any pages submitted through the paid inclusion program will only have descriptions formed from the page content itself. In other words, the LookSmart and Open Directory descriptions will not be used. Inktomi says this has been done because most of those who pay for inclusion prefer to have their own crafted titles and descriptions shown.

Inktomi
http://www.inktomi.com

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SearchDay Articles
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Here are some recent articles that may be of interest, from Search Engine Watch's daily SearchDay newsletter:

Ask the Search Engine & Google Launches News Search Beta
SearchDay, Mar. 14, 2002
http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/02/sd0314-ask-fast.html

What's the difference between paid placement and paid inclusion programs, and how do they affect search results? Stephen Baker from FAST Search and Transfer has the answer. Also has details on Google's new news search service.

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No, Google Hasn't Sold Out & Google Launches Microsoft Search
SearchDay, Mar. 12, 2002
http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/02/sd0312-google.html

Recent changes at Google have provoked cries of protest and alarm from both the media and webmasters. Pay no attention to this hoohaw: Google hasn't sold out. Also short details on new Search Microsoft service from Google.

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Are Search Engines Biased?
SearchDay, Mar. 11, 2002
http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/02/sd0311-sebias.html

Can you trust search engines to deliver only fair and objective results? Maybe not, say the authors of a study seeking to measure how bias creeps in to search engineering.

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Safe Searching with Lycos
SearchDay #219, Mar. 7, 2002
http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/02/sd0307-lycos-safe.html

Parents, librarians or others needing to restrict access to adult or inappropriate web sites should look at Lycos SearchGuard, a flexible and sensible filter that doesn't throw the baby out with the bathwater.

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Newsblaster: An Automatic Weblogger
SearchDay #218, Mar. 6, 2002
http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/02/sd0306-newsblaster.html

Newsblaster is a great new tool for news junkies, and also points the way toward some seriously cool automated web harvesting technologies that will be a boon to searchers.

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Ten Things You Need to Know about Linking and Link Popularity
SearchDay #217, Mar. 5, 2002
http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/02/sd0305-linking.html

Understanding linking and link popularity is crucial for achieving high search engine rankings -- and for avoiding penalties for abusing the often-times unspoken rules.

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Metadata or Metagarbage?
SearchDay #216, Mar. 4, 2002
http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/02/sd0304-metadata.html

Metadata is the holy grail for improving search, according to its advocates. Garbage! replies one critic, detailing seven reasons while even the most promising metadata schemes will fail.

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On the archive page below, you'll find more articles like those above, plus have the ability to sign-up for the free newsletter.

SearchDay Archives
http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/archives.html

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Search Engine Articles
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Web portal Lycos Europe says to cut 200 jobs
Reuters, March 14, 2002
http://news.cnet.com/investor/news/newsitem/0-9900-1028-9084070-0.html

Lycos Europe plans to cut 200 jobs, in order to break-even later this year.

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Netscape Navigator Browser Snoops On Web Searches
Newsbytes, March 7, 2002
http://www.newsbytes.com/news/02/175035.html

I honestly don't know whether this is really a "sleezy" practice or something more commonplace. Performing a search via Netscape's address field sends your search terms to Netscape, along with your IP and information about the version of Netscape that you are using. Well, performing a search at any search engine will tell them your IP number, along with your search terms. Indeed, any request you make at any web site tells the web site your IP address. If this didn't happen, the web site wouldn't be able to send back information to your browser. The real issue in this story seems to be that some people might change the default settings within Netscape so that their queries go to Google. Frankly, Netscape's argument that it has to track these because it gets paid in part by the traffic it sends makes sense. Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser apparently won't log information like Netscape, if you use its SearchPane option. However, search from the address bar, and IE most certainly will detect your search terms, in order to decide what information to send you. And for users of the Google Toolbar, it's also going to be logging information and even more so if you install it with advanced features -- and Google clearly lays this out, when you install the toolbar.

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FirstGov pick stirs controversy
FCW.com, March 4, 2002
http://www.fcw.com/fcw/articles/2002/0304/web-first-03-08-02.asp

The choice of Norwegian-owned FAST to power the US government's FirstGov government portal has some US-based vendors seeing red, but not white and blue.

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CIA details found on Google
VNUnet.com, March 5, 2002
http://www.vnunet.com/News/1129730

File this under "Add Google to the headline and they'll read it." The CIA details that found on Google were of CIA personnel, office locations and telephone numbers. Presumably, this was all information on publicly-accessible web pages. Given this, it could have been found by any decent crawler-based search engine -- and if it shouldn't have been found, it shouldn't have been placed out in the public, where crawlers could find it.

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