The Search Engine Update, March 17, 1998, Number 25

Search Engine Watch

March 17, 1998 - Number 25

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,

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General Notes

Hello everyone, and Happy St. Patrick's Day. This is a relatively short issue, due to my attendance at the recent Internet World convention in Los Angeles and the convenient coincidence of their not being much search engine news recently.

Search Engine Notes

Search Engines Conference Planned

There's still time to book for "Search Engines and Beyond: a Landmark Conference." The meeting will be held in Boston, Massachusetts. Dates are April 1-2 1998. Attendees include speakers from PLS, Infoseek, Northern Light, Inference, Verity, Excalibur and Automony, among others.

Conference Program And Information


Lycos Ranking Glitch

Some of you may have noticed that during the past two weeks or so, Lycos was ranking many sites alphabetically, by URL. For example, a URL of would come before

Don't rush out and start creating strange domain names to take advantage of this. It was a glitch caused by some experimentation that Lycos was doing, the search engine reported.

This is also a good time to mention that generally, the inclusion of a keyword in a URL or the use of alphabetization does not increase the odds of a page being highly ranked.

For example, some people feel that if they want to be found for cars, they should have a URL with the word "cars" in it, such as:

I have never found that including a word in the URL as shown above has made a difference. As always, if it works for you, stick with it. It certainly won't hurt to include the words. But don't expect it to be a miracle solution. Chances are, it will do nothing to improve your ranking.

Similarly, people sometimes assume that alphabetization in the title field can help a page do better. They will make the title begin with a number or a letter high in the alphabet, such as:

1. My Page Is Best For Cars
A1 Page About Cars

This makes no difference at all. Sometimes you will see pages using this technique doing well in the top results. However, this is always because of other techniques they are using, not because they employed alphabetization.

This myth seems to have emerged out of the fact that Yahoo used to list sites alphabetically in search results, and it still does within sub-listings. However, Yahoo is not a search engine. It does not read your web pages the way a true search engine such as AltaVista does.

Consequently, alphabetization in the title field does not help you with Yahoo, nor does it provide a boost with the major search engines. Once again, if you personally find it working, carry on, but those who experiment with it should expect disappointing results. Don't forget, it can also make your titles look so unattractive that people will fail to click through.


Lycos Offers Free Search Engine Software

Lycos and InMagic are now offering their Lycos Site Spider search engine product for free. The software is only available for Windows NT platforms.

A Spider in Every Corner
Wired, March 12, 1998

Talks about the Lycos product as positioned against those from online competitors Excite and Infoseek, though the true competition is among the many vendors listed on the Search Engine Software page at


"Yahoo Online" Internet Access Service Launched

Yahoo's branded Internet access service, Yahoo Online, officially launched on March 16. It is offered in partnership with MCI.

Yahoo Online

Turning Users Into Members
The Search Engine Report, Feb. 2, 1998

Details and quotes from Yahoo about the service, plus a look at how this might build brand loyalty and provide other benefits to Yahoo.

Search Engine Articles

Netscape to expand Internet site, boosts rivalry with other firms
Wall St. Journal, March 13, 1998

More about Netscape's plans to reshape its online Netcenter offerings, which include the Netscape Net Search page. Talks are underway with the major search engines about content development and management.


Infoseek inks e-commerce deals, March 3, 1998,4,19629,00.html

Details about partnerships with and Microsoft's Expedia site

End Notes

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