The Search Engine Report - June 3, 1997 Number 7

6/3/97 - Number 7

About The Report

The Search Engine Report is the email companion to Search Engine Watch, keeps you informed of changes to the site and general search engine news useful to web developers and search engine users. Feel free to pass on this newsletter to others.

(And if the site name and domain sound unusual to you this month, that's because "A Webmaster's Guide to Search Engines,",has now expanded, gotten a new name and a new address. More about this below.)

Note that long links may break into two in this report. If so, simply copy and paste the sections into your browser.

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Site Changes

"A Webmaster's Guide To Search Engines" becomes "Search Engine Watch"

I'm happy to announce the launch of "Search Engine Watch." This new site contains all of what you've previously found in "A Webmaster's Guide To Search Engines," along with some new sections and changes to make the site more accessible to search engine users, as well as webmasters.

I hated to tamper with what many people tell me has been a successful web site, but I felt it was time the guide got its own domain and a more recognizable name. I wish I could say typing the new address is shorter than the old, but it's about the same length. However, you'll probably be able to remember the new address of

much easier.

Within the site, you'll find these main sections:

A Webmaster's Guide To Search Engines

I've kept all the main pages related to how search engines index your web pages within this section, which keeps the name of the old site. Much of the material has been updated, and there are some new additions. These include pages on how search engines rank web pages and search engine software for your web site.

Search Engine Facts And Fun

This section has been built material within the old site that was related to search engines but not necessarily to how they index web pages. Some new pages have also been added. In particular, search engine users will find power searching tips, links to tutorials, as well as the rundown on major search engines and services. There is even a game to test your search engine knowledge.

Search Engine Status Report

This section is completely new. Here you will find the Search Engine EKG, which graphically shows search engine visits to two sites. You can use it as a guide for what to expect for your site. The Search Engine Response Times page shows the current time it takes to get questions answered from overworked support staffs. The Strategic Alliance chart also resides here. More performance-type information will be added, over time.

Search Engine Resources

This remains as it was with the old site, a collection of links to offsite information about search engines, in a variety of areas.

About The Site

Here you can find about the site's history, current ad rates, site awards and what's new.

Subscription Services

As with the old site, I ask those who find Search Engine Watch of use to consider supporting it with a subscription. You help ensure that quality information can continue to be provided, plus you have access to some exclusive material and a twice-monthly email update.

My sincere thanks to all those who have subscribed so far. Your support helped me decide to move forward with expanding the guide into Search Engine Watch.

Pardon The Dust

There's still some construction at the site. I plan to promote its new presence beginning June 9, but I wanted Search Engine Report subscribers to be able and access the new information now. The Search Engine Status Report section will still be coming together over this week. Additional updating will also be made. Please feel free to tell me of any typos or glitches you may spot. They're out there -- and in this edition of the Search Engine Report, I'm afraid. Shifting from Word to FrontPage for HTML production hasn't made proofing any easier. But that's another story....

If any of you are responsible for links to the old site, please feel free to update them with the new address:

Within the next week, I will also begin automatic referrals of requests to the old site to the new address.

Search Engine News

SEARCH.COM Relaunches

On May 20, SEARCH.COM was relaunched, with several significant changes. No longer is it the all-in-one style search page of the past. Instead, it has been transformed into a branded version of the Infoseek search engine, though with some important twists.

Everything has been streamlined and made fast loading, and there is only one search box -- direct to Infoseek. Previously, there had been two search boxes, with the first (and mostly likely to be used) defaulting to Alta Vista. The second defaulted to Yahoo, but also allowed a selection of other search engines.

"The idea was to make it really fast," said spokesperson Karen Wood. "We decided to strip down SEARCH.COM and make it 100% searching." The new, fast loading look is also one that you can expect to see migrate toward other CNET sites, Wood said.

SEARCH.COM dumped Alta Vista in favor of Infoseek as default search engine primarily because Infoseek has an associated directory. SEARCH.COM wanted to provide a search-by-browsing alternative.

SEARCH.COM is not just Infoseek with a SEARCH.COM look, however. Infoseek technology is being used to do custom crawls of select sites on a daily basis. SEARCH.COM is the only search engine to be providing this type of hyperactive freshness, at the moment.

The closest competitors would be the news searching services, such as NewsTracker from Excite, and NewBot from HotWired (see the item below). They crawl important news sites on a daily basis (and are extremely useful, so try them).

SEARCH.COM, however, is crawling a list of editor-selected sites twice per day, for subjects ranging from Computers to Health, not just news. That means that searches in these categories will bring up some of the freshest results on the web. About 500 to 1,000 sites in each category are crawled.

SEARCH.COM is continuing to provide links to general and specialty search services all over the web. And direct searches can still be sent to Alta Vista, Excite, Lycos and Yahoo via links at the bottom of each results page.


Press Release
SEARCH.COM, 5/20/96

Excite NewsTracker



HotWired Launches NewBot News Agent

From the people who brought you HotBot is NewBot, an offline news agent and web search utility. NewBot taps into over 100 news sites on the web, scanning them on a daily basis. News sites are crawled separately from HotBot, and information is placed into an index just for NewBot's use.

NewBot can also search web sites and newsgroups. For these searches, it taps into the HotBot database. However, the ranking criteria are different. The same search on NewBot vs. HotBot does not list the same sites, in the same order, although the differences are usually minor. Also, by default, NewBot list sites most recently added to HotBot first. They can be reordered in terms of relevancy.

At the moment, only an ActiveX version of NewBot is available, due to an exclusive deal with Microsoft. The ActiveX version only takes a few minutes to download. Netscape users can rejoice in July, when they get their own version. Also, in late June, you'll be able to do form-based searches as with other search engines from the NewBot site.


HotWired Sends in NewBot To Deliver Personalized News
NY Times, 5/97

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LookSmart Partners With Alta Vista

LookSmart, the Reader's Digest-backed web guide, now taps into Alta Vista's listings when you perform a search. Yahoo has had a similar arrangement with Alta Vista for some time. Unlike Yahoo, a LookSmart search defaults to the Alta Vista database, rather than first looking for matches in the LookSmart listings.



Microsoft Find It Fast Page Changes

Early in May, it was the crucial Netscape Net Search page that saw search engines change position. Now Microsoft's Find It Fast page has done its own housecleaning. Gone are Alta Vista, HotBot, NetGuide Live and Yahoo. Remaining are AOL NetFind, Excite, Infoseek and Lycos.

The change is somewhat confusing, because the search page that loads into IE4's new search window -- which is sent from the Microsoft site -- still lists several of the dropped search engines and doesn't list AOL NetFind.

Meanwhile, Yahoo remains the default choice for autosearches performed by typing "go:" followed by a keyword in the address field of the browser. But perhaps the tightening of ties between Yahoo and Netscape last month caused Yahoo's drop from the Find It Fast page.

Microsoft Find It Fast page


How Much Is A Search Engine Visit Worth?

People visiting your web site from Yahoo will spend more money than the major search engines taken as a whole, according to a study by Viaweb.

Viaweb provides sophisticated online shopping software and web services for over 100 web sites. It can track how a visitor found a web site and how much they spent during their visit.

The company examined over a million visitors during a four-month period and found that those from Yahoo spent the most, while those from WebCrawler spent the least.

Obviously, the Viaweb experience may not be applicable to everyone, as a Jupiter Communications analyst warns in the Computerworld article listed below. She felt that the results were only applicable to those depending on search engine referrals but not to large sites, such as Amazon.Com.

Perhaps, but then again, the large sample is certainly worth considering. The majority of sites on the Internet are not like Amazon.Com, so you may find the study applicable.

Viaweb also provides the ability to view data from one of its sites in real-time, to get a sense of how the tracking software works. You'll find a link to this, plus a graphical look at the data, within Search Engine Watch at:

Viaweb Value of Search Engine Hits Study
Viaweb, 5/97

Search engines don't all bring in same kinds of customers, study shows
Computerworld, 5/97


Changes Coming For Excite's Add URL Feature

Excite is upgrading its Add URL feature. When completed, sometime by the end of June, the new service will add each page submitted to the index within seven days, as opposed to the usual three-week wait.

In addition, the new feature will notify webmasters when the page is actually added to the index. Should the spider fail to get the page after three attempts, the webmaster will also be notified and asked to resubmit.

FYI, I recently saw a site lose most of its pages out the Excite index for no apparent reason, and I got a report from another person who encountered the same thing. This has sometimes happened in the past with Excite. The search engine usually gathers back any pages that may have been dropped. So hang in there, if it happened to you.


HotBot Wins PC Computing Search Engine Challenge

PC Computing put several search engines to the test at NetWorld+Interop 97, earlier this month. HotBot won with 13 points. Excite came in second with 12 points, followed by Alta Vista with 6 points and Infoseek with 4 points. A variety of questions were asked over two days. PC Computing promised to post details of all the questions eventually. In the meantime, a press release describes the competition in more detail.

The PC Computing Search Engine Challenge
PC Computing, May 97


Ticketmaster, Microsoft and Search Engines

By now, many of you have heard of the Ticketmaster - Microsoft dispute over inside linking. To recap briefly, Ticketmaster is suing Microsoft for linking to pages within its web site. It says that all links should come through its front door, the home page of the site. Otherwise, people miss out on seeing some of Ticketmaster's ads, and the company loses money.

Naturally, there's a lot of hype and concern that if Ticketmaster should somehow win, the web will come to a screeching halt, as linking becomes off-limits.

Funny, though. Ticketmaster doesn't seem to be suing any of the major search engines. When I checked in mid-May, Alta Vista has 240 links to the Ticketmaster site. HotBot has 2,438 links. Infoseek has a whopping 22,570 links. All of these are to inside pages, along with the home page, of course.

Ticketmaster could stop this inside linking by installing a robots.txt file to ban search engines from indexing its site. Does it? Nope. Feel free to check for yourself. Enter:

If Ticketmaster wanted to stop inside linking, this file would exist, and it would have explicit instructions stopping robots and agents from linking to the site this way.

Clearly, Ticketmaster is selective about its claim to only allow home page linking -- a claim that probably can't be enforced in the first place and which is weakened by it allowing search engines into the site. You can't have it both ways.


Excite Gets Chatty

Excite has added online chat to its myriad of services, the latest move in the transformation of the search service from an Internet crossroads to an Internet destination.

Excite PAL, for Personal Access List, is software that runs independently of your browser. It allows you to know if friends or family are online and communicate with them.

Excite Talk! is a browser-based chat service, which can be enhanced through downloads to allow avatars, gesturing and other features.

Excite People and Chat Channel

Excite smoothes Internet chat
MacWeek, 5/97

Company Press Release
Excite, 5/97

News Briefs

Yahoo Search Engine Line-Up Oddities

At the bottom of its search results, Yahoo lists alternative search services for people to use. This has been alphabetical since February 97, for a short time in May, the line-up changed to Alta Vista, WebCrawler, HotBot, Lycos, Infoseek and Excite. Then it mysteriously switched back. Mistake, glitch, or a peek at changes to come?



Lycos, Excite Make European Moves

Lycos has formed a joint venture with German company Bertelsmann to expand the language-specific versions of Lycos for other European countries. Currently, Lycos operates customized British, French and Germany services.

Meanwhile, Excite officially launched its custom version for the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Sweden on May 16.

Lycos searches European market
News.Com, 5/97,4,10582,00.html

Excite enters European markets
News.Com, 5/97,4,10739,00.html


Excite Cuts Staff

Excite has laid off half its editorial staff, about 15 people, as part of its reorganization. Unlike NetGuide Live, which let go 22 people at the end of March, Excite says staff levels will rise again once the reorganization is finished.

Excite cuts editorial staff
MS-NBC, 5/97

More layoffs at NetGuide Live
News.Com, 3/97,4,9182,00.html


Lycos To Take Reuters Feeds

Lycos has cut a deal to receive news, entertainment, photo and other news services from Reuters.

Media Daily, Overset: Interactive
Media Central, 5/14/97


Yahoo Doesn't Expect More Profits Soon

Yahoo says not to expect a repeat of the profit it posted last quarter, mainly due to the $25 million plus it owes Netscape for taking on the Netscape Guide By Yahoo. Add to that another $3 million plus it owes for being listed on the Netscape Net Search Page.

Yahoo Sees Increased Expenses
TechWeb, 5/97


Alta Vista Power Searching Newsletter Launched

The Cobb Group has begun a new monthly newsletter designed to teach people how to use Alta Vista better. Cost is $49 to $59 per year, depending on format.

Power Searching with Alta Vista


HotBot Offers Librarians Free Phone Tutorials

HotBot is providing library professionals with free, one-to-one, phone tutorials to introduce them to the search engine's capabilities. The tutorials last between 15 to 20 minutes. A free 6-month subscription to Wired also comes with the tutorial. Send email to coordinator Judy Chen,, or call +1 (415) 276-8464 between 10 am to 6 pm, PST. Please don't contact her unless you are a qualified library professional.


Excite, IDG feud over ad
News.Com, 6/97,4,11159,00.html

IDG is planning a search service of some type for launch this summer, and it parodied an old Excite ad on a California billboard to promote the service. Excite was not pleased.


Discussions Made Searchable

You can search for mailing list, newsgroups and of course web pages. But what about all those web based forums and discussion groups out there? Forum One taps into over 65,000 web message systems.

Forum One


Product Comparison Search Service

One of the few electronics items we shipped from California to London was our stereo system, so naturally the CD player died about a month after we hooked all the wires back up. I heard about Compare.Net recently, gave it a try, and came away impressed. It quickly gave me a list of CD players in my price range, with a side-by-side comparison. In fact, the only thing missing was the ability to order what I wanted.



NET MONEY | Excite Buys Market Share While Price Is Still Cheap
Web Week, 6/2/97

It costs a lot of money to buy your competitors, and the acquisition of WebCrawler by Excite is one of the reasons the search service is planning a second stock offering. Whit Andrews of Web Week provides an excellent rundown where Excite has been spending its money and how it has increased page views, as a result.


Lycos Closing In On Profits

C|Net has a short piece on Lycos reducing its operating losses in the last quarter, making analysts believe that profits are not far off.

Lycos numbers approach profitability
News.Com, 5/97,4,10809,00.html


Web mall blasts Yahoo over listing
News.Com, 5/97,4,11030,00.html

Yahoo listed an online Chicago mall, but only in the Business category, not in the city listing he wanted. He complained. News.Com listed. No one mentioned that his description was probably more important than his category choice in terms of coming up. I'm sure Yahoo can be heavy-handed at times, but this is hardly the best example.

Search Engine Articles

Searching the Net, Continental Style
NY Times, 5/97

An interesting look at home-grown, language-specific search engines and services in Europe. Discover that no matter what the language, "sex" remains a top search word.


Make Sure Your Site Gets Indexed
WebMonkey, 5/97

A nice, straight-forward article on improving how your web site is indexed, from the production manager of HotBot.


Wieviele Seiten hat das Web?
(How many pages are out there?)

Internet Intern, 5/97

An interesting article on search engine sizes. The summary below is German and English, but the article is German-only.

Angaben der Suchmaschinen-Betreiber |ber die Anzahl der von ihnen durchsuchten und gespeicherten HTML-Seiten schwanken. Manche Mirror-Sites geben sogar mehr an, als die Originale. Andererseits stagnieren die Angaben einiger Sites trotz des enormen Web-Wachstums schon seit Jahren. Wieviele Seiten gibt es wirklich und wie kommen die Zahlen der Suchmaschinen zustande?

Information provided by search engines concerning the number of web-pages that are spidered and stored by them look very different. Some mirrors even proclaim to have more of them then the original data-bases. On the other hand, some sites show the same numbers for years. How many pages are really out there and how can the different numbers provided by search engines be explained?


Making search time on the Internet pay off
Philadelphia Inquirer, 5/29/97

A librarian's perspective on searching the web. It's short, to the point, provides some good search strategy tips and has one of the best pieces of advice when it comes to searching. Is what you want already in a library? You remember books, don't you?


Getting to the Source: Is It Real or Spam, Ma'am?
MacWorld, 5/97

A look at search engine spamming and optimizing pages for search engines. Be warned that it's overly simplified and incorrect in some places. For example, tables can reduce a web page's relevancy, but that doesn't mean a search engine only reads a little of the table and ignores the rest of the page, as stated.


Web Techniques Search Issue

Web Techniques has a variety of articles this month relating to searching, but off the usual beaten track. Here's a rundown:

Crawling towards Eternity
Web Techniques, 5/97

Internet Archive is making snapshots of the entire web to preserve it, text, graphics and all. This article takes a look at what's involved.

Searching With Isearch
Web Techniques, 5/97

A look at the free Isearch search engine, for use of indexing a web site.

Searching, Browsing, and Metasearching with Sensemaker
Web Techniques, 5/97

Up close with the technicalities behind SenseMaker, a metasearch service at Stanford University.


The Infoseek Redesign: A Study in Give-and-Take
Web Review, 5/97

In just three weeks, Infoseek radically changed its look. Web Review tells you how it happened.


Find it Faster
Internet World, 6/97
Not online at the moment

A variety of tips on searching the web. I haven't seen the article, just the reference to it.


PC Meter

The latest PC Meter results just came out late yesterday, though they are no longer online. I'm waiting to gather complete numbers. In the meantime, Excite reports WebCrawler and Excite are ranked number 2 and number 5 in the navigation category. Watch the the site for more details.


Open Text has returned to having a presence, albeit a small one, on the Netscape Net Search page. They were dropped during the redesign last month.

Search Engine Notes

Trouble Adding To Lycos From Outside The US

In mid-May, those located outside the US and adding URL via Lycos's Add URL form may have received a "malformed url: scheme missing" error message. The problem seems corrected now. I'll recount what happened just in case it should reoccur.

The problem seemed related to how Lycos automatically switches those from non-US domains to a country-specific version of the search engine.

I'm UK based, and I watched the error message cropped up last week when I tried to submit a web page. I tried again two days later and got the same message. Suspecting it was related to the country switching, I accessed Lycos via AOL to test the theory.

Using AOL means that AOL's proxy server told Lycos I was US-based, so I was not switched to the UK version. I used the Add URL form, and this time the submissions went through without a hitch.

Selecting the "Lycos USA" link, available to those switched to non-US versions of Lycos, was not a workaround. Even by doing this, I was still rerouted when selected the Add URL link.


Waiting On Open Text

Open Text reopened its submission service in April, but I've yet to see pages appear that were submitted back then. The current posted processing time is two weeks.

End Notes

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This newsletter is Copyright (c) Danny Sullivan, Calafia Consulting.