The Search Engine Report December 5, 2002 - Number 73

December 5, 2002 - Number

By Danny Sullivan
Editor, Search Engine Watch
Copyright (c) 2002 Jupitermedia Corp.


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, You may pass this newsletter on to others, as long either part is sent in its entirety.

Did you know that there's a longer, more in-depth version of this
newsletter? The twice-monthly "Search Engine Update" newsletter is
just one of the many benefits available to Search Engine Watch members
Learn more about the advantages to becoming a member at this page:

Link for AOL users:
Membership Sign-Up Info

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


In This Issue

+ Search Engine Strategies Comes To Dallas Next Week!
+ In Search Of The Relevancy Number
+ AltaVista, Overture Speak Up About Perfect Page Test
+ Meta Tags Revisited
+ Google Offers SEO Selection Guidelines
+ AltaVista Relaunches Site
+ Search Engine Resources
+ SearchDay Articles
+ Search Engine Articles
+ List Info (Subscribing/Unsubscribing)


Hello Everyone--

I've updated the Nielsen//NetRatings Search Engine Ratings page within Search Engine Watch with search-specific figures for October 2002. Google remains the most used search engine, in terms of "search hours," but a new measuring system now used by Nielsen//NetRatings brings Google-powered AOL up into second place. In terms of audience reach, Google is now the most popular search engine, surpassing long-time leader Yahoo.

Nielsen//NetRatings Search Engine Ratings


Search Engine Strategies Comes To Dallas Next Week!

The noise you'll be hearing from Texas next week will be all of us who are attending the Search Engine Strategies show in Dallas on Dec. 11 & 12. You can still join us!

The SES show provides a variety of sessions about improving editorial listings in search engines and how to advertise effectively on them. Both search engine marketing experts and representatives from major search engines themselves will be speaking, including Ask Jeeves/Teoma,, FAST/, Google, Inktomi, Overture, LookSmart and Yahoo. More information and the ability to sign-up can be found via the URL below:

Search Engine Strategies Dallas


In Search Of The Relevancy Figure

While relevancy is the most important "feature" a search engine can offer, there sadly remains no widely-accepted measure of how relevant the different search engines are. Turning relevancy into an easily digested figure is a huge challenge, but it's a challenge the search engine industry needs to overcome, for its own good and that of consumers. A look at the challenges and issues involved on the quest to get an accepted relevancy figure can be found in the article below.

In Search Of The Relevancy Figure
The Search Engine Report, Dec. 5, 2002


AltaVista, Overture Speak Up About Perfect Page Test

Last month, Search Engine Watch published the results of our "Perfect Page Test" and promised to provide feedback from the search engines tested, if any was received. We only got significant feedback from two services, AltaVista and Overture. Not surprisingly, these were the two that received failing marks. And with apologies to Overture, we never meant to score it alongside the others. At look at what happened with Overture, as well as some detailed feedback on problems with testing relevancy from AltaVista, can be found in the story below.

AltaVista, Overture Speak Up About Perfect Page Test
The Search Engine Report, Dec. 5, 2002


Revisiting Meta Tags

In October, I wrote an obituary for the meta keywords tag. Given that Inktomi was the last major crawler to still support the meta keywords tag, I didn't think it was worth the time or bother for many webmasters to use it. It's now time for a follow-up on that article, because there was plenty of reaction and feedback to it. In short, I never said ALL meta tags were dead, so keep using the meta description tag or others for enterprise and intranet searching. And yes, in addition to Inktomi, Teoma is "unofficially" supporting the meta keywords tag. The story can be found below.

Revisiting Meta Tags
The Search Engine Report
, Dec. 5, 2002

Search Engine Watch members edition:

What's A Search Engine Watch Member?


Google Offers SEO Selection Guidelines

At the end of last month, Google rolled out a new page offering advice to those seeking a search engine optimization firm. Since being unveiled, there's been both support and criticism of the tips and recommendations that Google has posted in various SEO forums. From my perspective, most of what Google has posted is sensible advice and positive for the SEO community as a whole, especially compared to what was said by Google previously about SEOs, within its help area. A look at what Google is saying, touching on areas of agreement and disagreement, can be found below.

Google Offers SEO Selection Guidelines
The Search Engine Report
, Dec. 5, 2002

Search Engine Watch members edition:

What's A Search Engine Watch Member?


AltaVista Relaunches Site

AltaVista again rolls out a new look and renews past promises that it is firmly focused on providing the best quality search possible. Chris Sherman reviews the latest version of AltaVista in the SearchDay article below, and reports from others are also listed.

Can AltaVista's Phoenix Help it Rise Again?
SearchDay, Nov. 12, 2002

AltaVista has a history of rolling out a new look along with promises about search that it fails to keep, but Chris Sherman feels the latest "Phoenix" launch by AltaVista shows the company as making genuine moves to reestablish itself as a web search leader. He examines new features, streamlining and under-the-hood changes.

AltaVista Makeover: A Better View
Wired News, Nov. 13, 2002,1367,56335,00.html

"What we've done over the past year is focus the company back on our core strength and our roots, which is search," says Jim Barnett, AltaVista's CEO, in this article. Actually, AltaVista's supposedly been doing this for over two years, since major layoffs were announced in September 2000. In conjunction with those staff cuts, the AltaVista said it was firmly focused on being just a search engine, not a portal. "We are now in a position to unleash our search expertise with a clear, singular focus to penetrate every layer of the search market for both consumers and businesses," said then AltaVista CEO Rod Schrock.

AltaVista returns from the Wilderness
Computer Wire, Nov. 12, 2002

The new AltaVista look
Pandia, Nov. 9, 2002

AltaVista searches for a new image, Nov. 8, 2002

The search goes on
The Guardian, Nov. 25, 2002,7558,846735,00.html

Overview of the highs AltaVista once had, the lows it has since encountered and how it hopes its recent relaunch will make it a dominant force, once again.

Search Engine Resources

Search site for PDA support, software, reviews, magazines, news, articles, a guide, and other items as well.


Who owns the alphabet

You've got to love this concept. A search was done for what came up tops on Google for each letter of the English-language alphabet, with the winners nicely organized in chart format. Onward to numbers...


Ask Jeeves Concierge

Stuck at the airport and need a limo to pick you up? Need a plumber who can stop that leak? Need advice on what gift to send you wife for her birthday? Ask Jeeves UK has launched a new "concierge" service for those in the UK offering access to telephone advice and help for problems like these and others. Cost is #300 ($480) per year.


Search Engine Help For Miva Merchant

Do you use Miva Merchant as your shopping cart? This new newsletter promises to help you learn how to properly optimize your system for search engines and get your category and product pages listed.

SearchDay Articles

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

Ferrari Searching on a Volkswagen Budget
SearchDay, December 4, 2002

Don't let the "high cost" of value-added information services such as LexisNexis, Dialog and Factiva scare you away -- all three offer reasonable pay-as-you-go options appealing even to searchers on a limited budget.


Happy Birthday, Aliweb!
SearchDay, December 3, 2002

Aliweb, a pioneering web search engine that used advanced technologies way ahead of its time, made its debut nine years ago, on November 30, 1993.


Fun With Google's APIs
SearchDay, December 2, 2002

A free tutorial from IBM shows you how to develop your own applications that harness the behind the scenes capabilities of one of the web's most powerful search engines.


More Search Engine Strategies
SearchDay, Nov. 26, 2002

SearchDay's series of special reports from the Search Engine Strategies conference is complete, but here is more conference coverage if you haven't yet had your fill of tips, techniques and tactics from the pros.


Searching for High Speed Hotels
SearchDay, Nov. 25, 2002

Don't leave home without it -- a new global hotel directory spotlights only those that offer broadband Internet access in guest rooms.


Shopping Search and Price Comparison Engines
SearchDay, Nov. 21, 2002

Capping off SearchDay's shopping search week, here's a roundup of some of the web's most popular and useful shopping and price comparison search engines.


Inside DealTime's Shopping Search Engine
SearchDay, Nov. 20, 2002

DealTime is one of the most popular shopping services on the web, despite the fact that it doesn't directly sell any products to consumers.


Getting Started with Shopping Search
SearchDay, Nov. 19, 2002

Online shopping is both safe and satisfying, if you start by doing a bit of detective work on both the products you want to buy and the online merchants who sell them.


Shopping Search Engine Week!
SearchDay, Nov. 18, 2002

This week, SearchDay focuses on specialized shopping search engines, with an eye toward helping you make the most of your searching skills during the holiday gift buying season.


Search Engine Marketing Shop Talk Forum
SearchDay, Nov. 14, 2002

The Shop Talk forum at the Search Engine Strategies conference featured lively discussion and a wealth of tips and techniques from pros for maximizing search engine marketing efforts.


Low Budget Search Engine Marketing
SearchDay, Nov. 13, 2002

Need to be found in the search engines but can't afford to hire a search engine specialist? How can you attract visitors to your web site with little or no funding? Three experts share their proven low budget techniques.


Effective Search Engine Design
SearchDay, November 7, 2002

Representatives from Google, Yahoo, and Lycos share insights into how they design for their users, and what users search for when they visit the major web navigation portals.


Search Engine Marketing Boosts ROI for B2B Sites
SearchDay, November 6, 2002

Many Business-to-Business web sites don't bother with search engine marketing, and that's an expensive -- and possibly fatal mistake, according to a panel of experts.


Search Engine Forums Spotlight
SearchDay, November 5, 2002

The most interesting, newsworthy or controversial discussions taking place in the numerous search engine forums during the past week.


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 Articles

Is a Yahoo listing worth the money?
Pandia, Dec. 2002

Now that all of Yahoo's results are powered by Google (in most instances), does it still make sense to be listed in the Yahoo Directory? Long-time search engine marketer Paul Bruemmer looks at opinions over the issue and adds his own thoughts.


Postcards From Planet Google
New York Times, Nov. 28, 2002

Any major search engine has a pretty unique view of what's of interest to the world, given that they see all the queries flowing through their service. This article takes a long and colorful look at queries that flow through Google. Personally, I've always wanted to see the "GeoDisplay" reworked so that instead of dots flashing on a geographically correct map, regions of the world would be mapped in proportion to the search volume they generate. My favorite story of the "Live Query" display in Google's lobby remains the one where some Japanese visitors started laughing and pointing for reasons no one could understand, initially. Turns out some pornographic terms in Japanese were being streamed. A better multilingual porn filter is supposed to prevent that, now.


Cranberry Relished and Google Fights
New York Times, Nov. 28, 2002

Every day, another site that makes use of Google in some way seems to be launched. This column mentions briefly (which term is more popular?), Googlism (what does Google "think" about something?) and ways to cook with Google.


Make Sense of the Metrics Morass
ClickZ, Nov. 27, 2002

A rundown on the key stats that search engine marketers should consider when evaluating the success of their campaigns. You've probably heard of ROI, but do you know your CPO, CPA and ROAS?


A Helping Hand To Find The Invisible Web, Nov. 27, 2002

Profile of YourAmigo, which has products to extract information that is typically "invisible" to web crawlers. The "Spider Linker" product is expressly designed for marketers and others who want to make their content visible in web-wide search engines.


Betting on Web Search, Inktomi Unveils Upgrades, Nov. 20, 2002

Overview of changes in the latest version of Inktomi's web search service, including the ability for paid inclusion customers to now indicate the country-origin of their URLs, spell checking and an expanded index.


Sites help kids learn how to use Internet for research
San Jose Mercury News, Nov. 20, 2002

Guide to kid-friendly search engines and advice on helping children do online research.


Espotting gets six new European distribution partners
Revolution, Nov. 20, 2002

European-based paid listings provider Espotting picks up new outlets for its ads.


Yahoo Japan Inks Deals With Overture, Google, Nov. 18, 2002

Yahoo Japan decided not to choose between Overture and Google but to instead take paid listings from both of them and alternate what it displays.


Server Issues which could affect SE rankings, Nov. 18, 2002

Issues with IP addresses, robots.txt files and firewalls as they pertain to search engine indexing are all covered in this article.


Ask Jeeves Launches Outdoor Ad Campaign, Nov. 15, 2002

Miss the "good old days," when some search engines spent absurd amounts of money advertising themselves? Well, you might think they've returned, now that Ask Jeeves has decided to run ads to promote its site. But wait -- we have a plan, says Ask Jeeves. It's not expensive TV ads but instead billboards, signage and other types of promotion targeted specifically in LA and New York. Overview of where and how advertising is being done.


The Age of Google
National Review, Nov. 14, 2002

This is a Google love story that perhaps goes a bit over the top. For example, author John Derbyshire used Google to track down a particular quote to Winston Churchill, something he believes would have been impossible before Google emerged onto the popular scene, in 1999. I can't time travel to test this, but I suspect getting that answer would have indeed been possible. I certainly know that today, it isn't just Google that easily finds it., AltaVista, Inktomi results at MSN Search and Teoma all found it, as well. All but also found the link he liked that Google provided about mathematician David Hilbert.

As for using Google as a dictionary, there's a better way to do it than trying different versions of how you think a word is spelled and seeing which gets the most matches. Definitive dictionary links are actually built into the Google search page, as described on And if you are after a good resource for quotations, encyclopedia information and other reference material, see long-standing specialty search site,


Danish websites censored by Chinese authorities
Copenhagen Post, Nov. 14, 2002

Danish search engine is found to be blocked in China, following an investigation conducted on behalf of a Danish newspaper. No doubt many other search engines are also blocked, but people either aren't complaining, as was the case with Google and AltaVista earlier this year (see or the blocking hasn't been uncovered because no one has done a specific investigation.


Search Engine Usage Ranks High, Nov. 14, 2002

Nice stats here out of an email survey conducted by iProspect of 1,400 people, finding that only 23 percent of searchers go past the first page of results and only 32 percent even read the entire list on the first page of results. Survey was conducted in the spring of 2002. It also found that 52 percent of people stay with the same search engine regardless of the search they are conducting. Almost half, 46 percent, felt searches were almost always successful and when not, 27 percent tried using another search engine rather than changing their queries.


Shoddy search prevents worker success, Nov. 13, 2002

Poor intranet and corporate search tools could be costing companies up to $15 million per year, according to usability expert Jakob Nielsen's Nielsen Norman Group. The finding came from examining 14 company intranets.


SearchKing Google Rank Restored
Web Hosting Industry Review, Nov. 13, 2002

Once again, typing in "searchking" into Google brings the web site up in the top results. This was not the case last month, when SearchKing filed its suit against Google over receiving a low PageRank score in the Google toolbar (see my past article, However, how SearchKing ranked in the search results at Google is not an issue in the case, so it continues.


Inktomi Exits Enterprise Search, Nov. 13, 2002

Back in early 1999, when Inktomi lost the MSN account briefly to AltaVista, the company downplayed analyst worries over lost revenues in part by pointing out that its network caching operations were the main way it made money. Web search was something Inktomi did, but it wasn't the only thing, the company stressed. Three years later, web search is now indeed the only thing Inktomi does. The company has sold off its enterprise search division -- which it acquired from in 2002, for $25 million to Verity. The sale and loss of employees associated with the division should make Inktomi cash-flow positive within two months, the company says.


Inktomi back to square one after Verity search sale
ComputerWire, Nov. 14, 2002

Another look at Inktomi's sale of its enterprise division, especially good for noting that Inktomi sunk about $350 million into enterprise search, only to sell the division off for only $25 million.


Lycos hit by diving revenues
The Guardian, Nov. 13, 2002,7496,839047,00.html

Lycos Europe reports a 22 percent drop in revenue, compared to the same quarter last year.


Beating Big Brands at Search Engine Marketing
ClickZ, Nov. 13, 2002

Being a big brand may help you get natural traffic for free from search engines and a budget to better compete for paid listings. However, by being targeted and perhaps seeking out paid listings with smaller providers, small businesses can still compete.


Running Hot -- and Cold -- on the Web
Business Week, Nov. 12, 2002

A small business that sells heating pads and ice packs isn't sure if the internet is a good venue for advertising his products any longer and especially wonders whether search engine listing fees are still worthwhile. This Business Week column gives him advice. The Forrester Research analyst quoted suggests that it is "incredibly difficult" for little guys to get found via search engines, since big retailers have apparently made bidding for placement too expensive. I disagree.

At Overture, for only about US $0.88 per click, the company could run a campaign of ads targeted to "heating pads" across major search engines that carry Overture's listings. Top listings can be had for "ice packs" for only about $0.72. More targeted terms such as "gel ice packs" or "microwave heating packs" can get top listings for only $0.05. Search engine advertising remains inexpensive, and the problems this small business is having is probably in making use of the wrong type of programs.

It's not said what "annual listing" fees are paid to search engines, but whatever they are, running a short, budget-capped campaign using paid listings may quickly help the company know for certain whether search engine leads will pay for themselves with qualified buyers. Other advice like this from me is also covered in this article.


How To Integrate Keywords Into Your Web Site Copy, Nov. 12, 2002

Of all the "tips" about search engine optimization you could read, the most important and most overlooked is having good, solid body copy content that makes use of the terms you hope to be found for. This article takes a closer look at improving how you write your body copy.


Terra Lycos Beefs Up InSite, Nov. 11, 2002

The latest version of Lycos InSite lets you now submit your URLs to both the FAST index that powers searches at and the Inktomi database that powers some searches at Terra Lycos-owned HotBot.


iProspect Awarded Two-Year Contract Extensions for Search Engine Positioning Services From Sharp Elecronics and FordDirect
iProspect Press Release, Nov. 6, 2002

OK, this is a press release about iProspect winning two big contracts. Why care? Aside from the lengths of the contracts, it's still relatively rare to see big companies allowing their search engine marketing agencies of record to trumpet major contract wins in the way ad agency do when they win or renew accounts. It's a sign that search engine marketing is maturing.

In addition, for all the attention Overture's monster revenues has brought to the paid listings side of the search engine world, the amount of revenue generated by third party SEO/SEM firms has yet to be taken into account. Other press releases ( at iProspect document that the firm has landed at least $9 million in business this year. Albeit that iProspect is a large firm, but these remain earnings for just one of many SEM firms out there. SEM is definitely NOT a cottage industry.


Ten Questions with: Brett Tabke, Nov. 2002 founder Brett Tabke comments on how the popular forum began, the future of search engine optimization and important coming issues for webmasters in general.


Ten Questions with: Ralph Tegtmeier, Nov. 2002

Long-time search engine optimization expert Ralph Tegtmeier of offers his view on the future of search engine optimization, cloaking, pitfalls with having SEO "ethics" and other topics, in this interview.


Ten Questions with: Jill Whalen, Nov. 2002

Jill Whalen is a veteran of SEO, and she reflects on trends and changes in search engines, how to brand yourself, why she believes building content works with search engines


Ten Questions with: Cindy McCaffrey, Nov. 2002

Google's great relevancy has been core to its success. However, one of Google's other great assets is the company's exceptional ability to publicize itself well. Google's Cindy McCaffrey heads up one of the search engine industry's best PR and communication teams. An interview with her.


Way back when
New Scientist, Nov. 2002;jsessionid=BLIGIOALGAPG?id=ns23701

Q&A with Wayback Machine/Internet Archive founder Brewster Kahle.


Interview with Danny Sullivan
@-web, Oct. 29, 2002

Well, if you were ever curious about my typical working day, here it is, along with answers to some search engine-related questions. Second URL has the interview in German.

List Info

How do I unsubscribe?
+ Use the form at or follow the instructions at the very end of this email.

How do I subscribe?
+ Use the form at or send a blank email message to

How do I see past issues?
+ Follow the links at

Is there an HTML version?
+ Yes, but not via email. View it online at

How do I change my address?
+ Unsubscribe your old one, then subscribe the new one, using the links above.

I need human help with a list issue!
+ Write to DO NOT send messages regarding list management issues to Danny Sullivan. He does not deal with these.

I have feedback about an article!
+ I'd love to hear it. Use the form at