The Search Engine Report January 7, 2002 - Number 62

January 7, 2002 - Number 62

By Danny Sullivan
Editor, Search Engine Watch
Copyright (c) 2002 INT Media Group, Inc.


About The Report

The Search Engine Report is a monthly newsletter that covers developments with search engines and changes to the Search Engine Watch web site,

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In This Issue

+ Site News
+ Search Engine Strategies Is Boston-Bound!
+ Vote In The Search Engine Watch Awards!
+ Yahoo Now Charging Annual Listing Fee
-- (full story online, link provided)
+ Google Gets Bigger, Fresher, Offers Better News
+ Google Launches Catalog Search
-- (full story online, link provided)
+ Excite Goes To Overture
+ Espotting To Announce Major Deal This Week
+ SearchDay Articles
+ Search Engine Resources
+ Search Engine Articles
+ List Info (Subscribing/Unsubscribing)


Happy New Year, Everyone!

I hope all of you had a nice holiday break and that the New Year brings you great things!

I've updated many key pages within the "Reports" area of Search Engine Watch. The Search Engine Sizes page showing comparative sizes of crawler-based indexes is now current. You'll also find that ratings of US search engines from both Jupiter Media Metrix and Nielsen//NetRatings have been refreshed. In addition, new ratings data from Jupiter MMXI for a variety of European search engines and portals has been updated. All of these pages are listed off the What's New page:

Search Engine Watch What's New


Search Engine Strategies Is Boston-Bound!

The date is set! On March 4 & 5, Search Engine Strategies will arrive in Boston for two days' worth of sessions packed with information about search engine marketing. The program is now online and brings back many of the panels that proved popular from our last US show in Dallas, as well as some new ones.

The Search Engine Strategies conference is suitable for 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. Both experts in search engine marketing and speakers from major search engines such as AltaVista, Google, FAST and the Open Directory will be presenting.

Those interested in sponsoring or exhibiting at the event should contact Frank Fazio Jr,, for more information. Those interested in attending can find an overview of tentative sessions and sign-up information via the URL below. If you sign-up before Feb. 13, you'll save on the admission price.

Search Engine Strategies Boston 2002


Vote In The Search Engine Watch Awards!

It's official. Votes are now being accepted for the 2001 Search Engine Watch Awards. There are a variety of categories, ranging from "Outstanding Search Service" to "Best Search Feature." You can vote for any categories of interest to you or in all of them.

The form will be online for the next week. Then, I and Search Engine Watch associate editor Chris Sherman will review what readers had to say and make our final decisions over which search engines deserve recognition for their work during 2001.

Search Engine Watch Awards Voting Form


Yahoo Now Charging Annual Listing Fee

Yahoo is now requiring that new sites seeking to be listed in its commercial areas pay an annual listing fee of $299 or $600, if they are adult sites. Previously, the fee had been a one-time charge. The change transforms Yahoo from being a web guide to an online yellow pages, to some degree. A look at how the new program works, as well as the potential the impact on searchers and site owners. The full story can be found via the URL below:

Yahoo Now Charging Annual Listing Fee
The Search Engine Report, Jan. 7, 2002


Google Gets Bigger, Fresher, Offers Better News

A longer version of this article for Search Engine Watch members can be found at

Not a member? Learn more about the benefits you receive at

In December, Google became the first crawler-based search engine to break the 1.5 billion web page mark. In addition, the service rolled out changes designed to improve the freshness of its results and the ability for users to find news.

The Google index now contains more than 1.5 billion web pages that have been actually visited by Google, as well as an additional half-billion pages that it knows about through links. There are also another 330 million image files and 700 million Usenet posts, which stretch back to 1981.

The enlargement of Google's Usenet information makes it a fantastic resource for researching the early days of the Internet, and Search Engine Watch's associate editor Chris Sherman takes a closer look at the enhanced Google Groups, in his story below.

Sherman's story also provides more details about Google's improved news search results. Since the middle of 2000, Google has provided links to news stories at the top of its results page, in response to certain queries. The news content was pulled from major wire services.

The latest changes now pull that content from hundreds of web sites that Google says it has identified as having news content. Google also says that news links are three times more likely to appear in results, than in the past. When it appears, news content shows up at the top of the standard Google results page, with the word "News" to the left of any links. Try a search for "euro" or "argentina," and you'll see examples of news links.

Unfortunately, the changes still leave Google weak in the news search arena. At competitors AltaVista and FAST, there are dedicated news search offerings. There are also a variety of good, new news search sites such as Daypop and RocketNews available, in addition to established ones such as Moreover. In any of these places, users who specifically want to find news content can be guaranteed to find it.

In contrast, there's no way to specifically perform a news-only search at Google, in the way you can an image search or a newsgroup search. Instead, you have to hope that the Google search algorithm manages to float news search results up in response to your query. To stay competitive, given the huge interest in news search, Google needs to finally make a dedicated news search option available.

Google did roll out a "Headline News" search service also in December, but that's not the same thing. This service aggregates top headlines from more than 100 leading English language newspapers into a single page, as well as grouping them into six categories: World, US, Business, Entertainment, Technology and Sports.

Google is promising future changes, such as more news sources and interface enhancements. Hopefully, one of those enhancements will be the ability to do keyword searching against the Google news search index used to feed its main results page.

Google is also trying to improve the freshness of its web page index. Previously, Google updated its web page index on a roughly monthly basis. This meant that pages could be around a month old, if you used Google just before the latest refresh happened.

The monthly refresh is still continuing, but a new daily refresh now also runs. A few million pages identified as being time-sensitive are being spidered regularly, so that the latest information from them is available.

Google is even highlighting if a page has been refreshed recently by the use of a new "Fresh!" tag that appears next to a page's URL. They show the exact time the page was respidered.

For instance, search for "white house," and you'll see that the US White House site is noted as "Fresh!," having last been visited on January 6.

The Fresh notations are welcomed, but even better would be if Google showed dates for all the pages it lists, in the way AltaVista used to offer. Then, it would be extremely easy to know exactly when a page was last visited by the Google spider.

By the way, that long-standing page date option was available at AltaVista until recently. It now appears to have been pulled, probably because it made it so easy to understand how fresh -- or stale -- AltaVista's index was.


Google Launches New Salvo in Search Engine Size Wars
SearchDay, Dec. 11, 2001

More details on Google getting bigger, enhancing its Google Groups area and making freshness changes.

Google Headline News

News Search Engines

Freshly-updated, a guide to major news search resources.

Google History

Newly updated page that's an entertaining read of Google's Cinderella story.

Google Goes for Stop Words
SearchDay, Dec. 3, 2001

Google now automatically searches for previously ignored "stop" words if you make your query a quoted phrase.


Google Launches Catalog Search

In December, Google rolled out a completely unexpected offering: Google Catalogs. The new service allows you to search through the contents of catalogs from over 600 companies. A look at how the index was created, tips on using it and how one of the ways Google would like to make money off of it might mix editorial content and cash at Google, for the first time. That's not necessarily bad for the user, but it would be a new direction for Google. The full story can be found via the URL below:

Google Launches Catalog Search
The Search Engine Report, Jan. 7, 2002


Excite Goes To Overture

A supplement to this article for Search Engine Watch members can be found at

Not a member? Learn more about the benefits you receive at

The death of the old Excite search engine happened in December, when new owners InfoSpace dropped results from the Excite crawler in favor of a page heavily dominated by paid listings from Overture.

Up to 15 out of the 20 listings now displayed on Excite may be paid listings from Overture. Any non-paid listings now come from Inktomi. Nothing distinguishes paid and non-paid listings, for users concerned about this.

The changes hardly make Excite a compelling search resource, given the ad-heavy nature of its results. Ironically, a message displayed to visitors reaching the Excite web site just after the switch over discussed how the new management sought to "restore Excite to its former glory." Dumping a load of paid listings on searchers coming to the site -- without any disclaimers -- is hardly a step in the right direction.

However, InfoSpace says this will change, in the future. The company says it plans to create a new meta search service for Excite that will be different from its existing Dogpile and MetaCrawler meta search engines.

"It will be a meta search solution, which is currently being worked on and designed for the savvy Excite search user," said InfoSpace spokesperson Steve Stratz. "Overture is assisting in providing a short-term solution, while the long-term meta search solution, which Overture will be included, is being worked on and designed."

Plans are for the new meta search service to go live sometime in the next three months, Stratz said.


Excite: Welcome To A New Beginning

Old pitch on restoring Excite to its former "glory."

Web portal Excite UK will shut down this week
Reuters, Dec. 17, 2001

Excite UK is to close. In fact, since the article above was written, it did close. Attempts to reach now lead to former rival, Lycos UK. Spared from Extinction
SearchDay, Nov. 29, 2001

Past article about Excite acquisition.


Espotting To Announce Major Deal This Week, the UK-based paid listings service, will greatly expand its European reach through a new deal to be announced this week. The news comes following partnerships made last month to place Espotting results on AltaVista France and Lycos Europe.

I can't name the exact European portal that's involved, because the news embargo hasn't been lifted. However, it's an important one that will add to an already impressive distribution list that the company has. Existing Espotting partners include Lycos UK, Ask Jeeves UK, LookSmart UK and UK Plus.

I'll bring more news in my next newsletter, or watch the SearchDay newsletter or the site itself.

SearchDay Articles

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

2001's Most Wanted Search Terms
SearchDay, Jan. 2, 2002

What were the most popular search terms of the past year? It depends on which search engine you ask.


Yahoo's Mama
SearchDay, Dec. 27, 2001

One of the earliest web subject directories was developed by the people who created the web itself -- and somewhat remarkably, it's still online.


Internet History Archives
SearchDay, Dec. 26, 2001

The Internet's rich history is easily accessible via these outstanding searchable archives of original source documents.


MSN Search Testing Paid Listings with a Twist
SearchDay, Dec. 20, 2001

MSN Search is now including paid listings from Overture in some search results, but with a "twist" that makes them more useful than those served by other major search engines and portals.


How Search Engines Use Link Analysis
SearchDay, Dec. 19, 2001

Link analysis is the secret sauce used by Google and other search engines to determine relevance -- and webmasters ignore it at their peril.


Search Engine Marketing Case Studies
SearchDay, Dec. 18, 2001

Learn strategies and tactics for effective search engine marketing from three site owners who've experienced spectacular real-world success.


Measuring and Tracking Search Engine Success & Wisenut to Power Lycos Japan
SearchDay, Dec. 17, 2001

How do you know if your search engine strategies are effective? Three industry experts share tools and techniques for measuring success. Also details new deal between Wisenut and Lycos Japan.


Inktomi Improves International Search
SearchDay, Dec. 13, 2001

Users of Inktomi's regional portal partners should see an improvement in search results, thanks to enhancements announced at the Search Engine Strategies conference this month in Copenhagen.


Creating Search Engine Friendly Web Sites
SearchDay, Dec. 12, 2001

Tips, techniques and new strategies for creating web sites search engines love, from two internationally regarded search engine optimization and site architecture experts. Link is to special, longer edition, for Search Engine Watch members.


Super Searchers Cover the World
SearchDay, Dec. 6, 2001

In Super Searchers Cover the World, some of the world's best international business researchers share tips, techniques and secrets that help you avoid being a stranger in a strange land.


Gateway to the Invisible Web
SearchDay, Dec. 4, 2001

The Resource Discovery Network is an outstanding gateway to thousands of Invisible Web sites that's as close to a search engine for the hidden web as you're likely to find.


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

Search Engine Resources

The Virtual Acquisition Shelf

Now that Google has released 20 years of Usenet posts, search expert Gary Price set to work discovering initial posts about search engines. See his weblog for Dec. 15, where he provides links to posts about the first mention of the World Wide Web Worm, WebCrawler going live, Infoseek available as a free demo, and Yahoo, Lycos, Inktomi, Excite and AltaVista all being made available. What's sad about all this? Of everyone mentioned, only Yahoo and AltaVista are still going as before. AltaVista, by the way, just celebrated its sixth birthday.


Search Engine Relationship Chart

People occasionally ask me for a graphical alternative to my table of search engine relationships ( I don't make one, because I find it simply becomes too confusing to follow. But if that's what you are after, Bruce Clay offers a version of this, and it's just been updated. Be aware this is a link to a PDF file. However, clicking on any node in the chart once it loads will bring up an HTML page with more information on the relationship.

Search Engine Articles

Marketers Use Invisible Words on the Web
New York Times, Dec. 24, 2001

Just when you think search engine marketing has become more mainstream, it only takes an article like this to help you realize misperceptions remain. [Begin Dr. Evil's voice” Turns out there are these unique things called "meta tags" that can help you get better rankings with search engines. This article looks at how companies are using these "meta tags" to gain better rankings. But it warns: "The use of meta tags may become less important as some search engines shift away from keyword placement." [End Dr. Evil voice”. The reality is the only two of the major search engines, AltaVista and Inktomi, give any significant weight to meta tags. Sure, you should use them, but don't expect too much from them. And that predicted "shift" happened several years ago -- something to do with analyzing links, I hear.


iPhrase lands deal with Yahoo Finance
Boston Globe, Dec. 10, 2001

iPhrase search technology is to be used to help those looking for information at Yahoo Finance.


Striving to Top the Search Lists
New York Times, Dec. 10. 2001

Overview of how search engine marketing is going mainstream, especially in the wake of paid placement.


In Defense of Search
Semantic Studios, Dec. 7, 2001

Getting Them to What They Want
User Interface Engineering, Oct. 2001˜uieweb/what_they_want.htm

Well-known usability expert Jared Spool could be described at anti-search. Reports from his company consistently warn that web site designers shouldn't force users to search for what they want. Instead, he tends to favor clearly-labeled navigational structures. I'd agree with much of what he says, but search still has a role to play. It's is a feature users do expect, and it can be a useful feature to offer, if done correctly. Usability analyst Peter Morville has more thoughts on why search shouldn't be ignored, in his "In Defense of Search." The second URL is a recent report from Spool's company that discusses the importance of good navigation, rather than running a search-centric site. It costs $25, but it's a small price for plenty of good content and advice.


On searching the Usenet
Pandia, Nov. 11, 2001

Review of Gripe, a Usenet search service and online reader.

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