The Search Engine Report December 3, 1998 - Number 25

December 3, 1998 - Number 25

By Danny Sullivan
Editor, Search Engine Watch

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,

The report has 46,000 subscribers. You may pass this newsletter on to others, as long as it is sent in its entirety.

If you enjoy this newsletter, consider showing your support by becoming a subscriber of the Search Engine Watch web site. It doesn't cost much and provides you with some extra benefits. Details can be found at:

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

In This Issue

+ General Notes
+ Becoming A "Site" Subscriber
+ AOL Buys Netscape
+ NewHoo Becomes Netscape Open Directory
+ Searchopolis Offers Kid-Friendly Search
+ Infoseek Releases New Intranet Search Software
+ Shopping Search Round-Up
+ Submission Changes At MSN Search
+ Latest Ratings Show Changing Audience Shares
+ Opinions On Submitting Sought
+ Search Engine Notes
+ Search Engine Articles
+ Subscribing/Unsubscribing Info

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General Notes

Hello Everyone-

I've been busy doing a lot of updating throughout the site, including adding some new resources to the various search engine listings in the Facts area of the web site. The Measuring Link Popularity page and the Search Engine Alliances page have also been updated.

I've created a new Directory Sizes page that compares key data between various directories. You can see the number of editors, categories and listings for major directories, in as much as this information is known.

Sadly, I'm retiring the Search Engine Profits page. I'll leave the page up for the next few days, but with a notice that it will soon be removed. It's actually one of my favorite pages, but there hasn't been enough time to maintain it properly.

The search engine ratings pages have all been updated, and there were so many significant changes that I've decided to cover them in a separate article, below.

The MetaCrawler Top Search Terms page has been updated with October 1998 information, and November 1998 information will be posted shortly.

You can find links to all the pages above on the site's What's New page, listed below.

What's New


Becoming A "Site" Subscriber

At the beginning of each Search Engine Report, I run a standard message about becoming a Search Engine Watch "site" subscriber. I wanted to take a moment in this issue to explain more about what that means. This won't be a regular interruption, but I thought it might be useful to describe the concept and benefits in more detail.

There's a lot of information provided at the site for free, and in addition, even more is sent out free via the Search Engine Report. In return, I've encouraged those who find the information useful to show their support by becoming paid subscribers of the Search Engine Watch web site.

As an additional incentive, paid subscribers get certain benefits. There's an entire "Subscribers Only Area" of the web site, where you find more information about topics such as meta tags and how search engines deal with dynamic web pages.

There is also a Fact File section, which several marketing people have reported to be extremely valuable when doing research. It is a compilation of articles and resources dealing with search engine advertising, revenues, demographics, places where people discuss search engines, and other topics.

Subscribers get access to an offline edition of the site, so that they can reference content at will. There's also a place where I post pages that I'm working on but which aren't quite ready for proper publication.

Subscribers also receive a different newsletter called the Search Engine Update. Much of the content is similar to the Search Engine Report, but I go into more depth about some subjects in the Update. It also comes out twice per month. A complete subject index is available to subscribers and makes it easy to locate past articles by topic.

Of course, I suspect most people subscribe because of the pages that are devoted to each of the major search engines. These provide more details about submitting, what's considered spamming, important design issues relating to relevancy and other topics. They are mostly of interest to web marketers, but general searchers may also find it useful to read about under the hood issues.

A subscription is $29 per year and provides all the benefits above. That's about the price of a good specialty book, and this one gets updated regularly. FYI, the subscription fee is increasing as of January 1, 1999 to $34. So if you've been thinking about subscribing, the time couldn't be better.

I hope you'll consider becoming a subscriber. If you do, I'm sure you find it provides a good value. You can find more details, and a sign-up form, at the URL below.

Subscribing Information

Search Engine News

AOL Buys Netscape

AOL bought Netscape -- is there anyone who still hasn't heard? I'm stepping back from this one, because there is plenty to read in other places. When the dust settles, I'll jump back in and report on the actual changes that take place as they relate to search and navigation.

I will make a comment regarding the consolidation issue that's everywhere. At the end of 1996, top executives at the major search engines -- and many analysts -- all agreed that by the end of 1997, we'd see a consolidation in the industry. The mentality was very much that you can only have Coke or Pepsi -- not a variety of choices.

As 1998 closes, there are more search and navigation sites than ever before. Yes, newcomers such as GoTo and Snap lack the traffic of the major players like Yahoo, Excite, Infoseek and Lycos. Those companies benefited from having been first movers on the web, and for having a core product that everyone needed: search.

I think search is going to remain a product in demand, and that's why these new sites will survive and even more may appear. Search services are like shoes. What fits one person perfectly may not be good for someone else. People also own different pairs. There's room for many pairs on the shelf -- or many search services on the web.

Of course, I don't expect these new sites to suddenly have the traffic the major search players command, traffic that has turned them into "portals" that route millions of people to destinations on the web. But I also think it's foolish to think we may have a few major sites that control what we visit, in the way we have tended to have major television networks that control what we see.

The web is not television. It is a completely new medium, and despite its fast and incredible growth, things are far from set in stone. Big money in the form of AOL, Microsoft and others will have an impact in making big sites that stand above others and which influence where we go. But it's cheap for anyone to publish on the web, a key difference from other media. And good content attracts: just ask the people at NASA.

I think at the end of 1999, people will still be watching for the consolidation in portal sites in the same way they have been with search sites. I doubt it will come. I could be wrong, but by then the Millenium Bug will have plunged the world into such turmoil that no one will remember.

Below are news roundups on the AOL-Netscape story and two particularly interesting articles:

Wired News: AOL Eats Netscape The making of the Netscape buyout,4,29146,00.html

ZDNet News Special Report: AOL To Merge With Netscape

The birth of an Internet network?
Salon, Dec. 1, 1998

Scott Rosenberg writes convincingly that the merger is not the death of the Internet, of independent web sites, or the creation of a mega site that will rule all. I couldn't agree more.

Netcenter partners react to buyout, Nov. 24, 1998,4,29228,00.html

A good round-up of what major search sites think of the deal. In short: we're not scared.

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NewHoo Becomes Netscape Open Directory

(note: this was written before the AOL merger, but I think you'll find it is still mostly applicable)

Netscape has acquired the volunteer-compiled NewHoo web directory, which has been rebranded as the Netscape Open Directory. It is currently being made available through and will be offered later within the Netscape portal site. The announcement came on Nov. 18, and terms of the deal were not disclosed.

NewHoo launched in June with an interesting premise: volunteers would be enlisted to compile the directory, which aimed to be more comprehensive and fresher than the Yahoo directory.

Since that time, NewHoo has compiled over 100,000 web site listings. That's well below those available from competitors such as Yahoo, LookSmart and Snap, but NewHoo also has a huge staff of over 4,000 editors. None of the major directories comes close to having this much surfing power.

On paper, NewHoo's staffing structure meant it could be a powerful force -- but few were using it. "Traffic was nowhere near major portal level," said Rich Skrenta, NewHoo's former CEO who now leads engineering for the Netscape directory.

Now Netscape will now be routing significant numbers of visitors to the directory. The site is already available under the auspices of, where Netscape has made its browser source code available to developers for reuse and new development. Netscape intends for its directory listings to be open for reuse in the same way.

"Hopefully it will make people more comfortable about participating in the open directory," said Skrenta. "The goal is really to make the biggest and best directory of the web. We want there to be one of them, one big giant authoritative directory of the web. In order to do that, you have to give it away."

It will be interesting to see exactly how people make use of the listings, especially if Netscape's rivals decide to repackage them within their own sites. But the move with primarily seems to be a way for Netscape to put a positive spin on making money off a directory compiled by thousands of unpaid workers.

That money will come from the other place where Netscape will publish its directory: within its own portal site. This will occur over the next six months, as Netscape decides exactly how to integrate the listings into its channels.

While Netscape has been busy recasting itself as a search-and-navigation portal this year, the NewHoo acquisition is the first real-step the company has made toward backing up its words with original content.

Netscape has always repackaged its portal content, first from Yahoo, and now even more dramatically from Excite. Repackaging may be fine for the captive audience Netscape controls via its browser and its default web pages, but compelling content is what's needed to let Netscape be a player independent of its browser.

Yahoo is the classic example. Its reputation as the best place to locate information on the web is what drives millions to its site, and that reputation is built on its human-compiled directory.

Netscape has made a number of content deals recently, but none of these has substantially improved its search and navigation offerings. NewHoo offers a solid core that Netscape can truly build upon -- and a solid reason for users to consider the service.

NewHoo's volunteer editors are its greatest strength. One analyst quoted in the Wired story below sounds almost dismissive of these volunteers: "How valuable an editor is Joe in Podunk who happens to like Pearl Jam," he asks. The answer is a lot more valuable than an overworked generalist editor with no real passion about the band.

After all, volunteers usually take up subjects in which they have an interest or a degree of expertise. That means they may know the topic far better than a generalist editor may, and so are likely to produce higher quality listings.

One need only look at the web to see this. Many of the best entertainment web sites are volunteer efforts created by fans, which often make "official" web sites look poor in comparison.

At the moment, this potential is best seen in what Skrenta calls NewHoo's "bright spots," scattered areas in the directory where editors with special interests have expanded listings well beyond Yahoo. Compare Yahoo's Thyroid Disease category to NewHoo's Thyroid Disorders category, for example.

In another example, I found a NewHoo category called "Urban Speleology," which is about exploring manmade tunnels and caverns, such as missile silos. Yahoo has no matching category -- this is clearly a case where someone has an interest in a subject that's expressed by organizing web sites for the web as a whole.

(Correction: I learned after this was written that Yahoo does have a similar category: Urban Exploration)

Of course, NewHoo's top level subject of Spelelogy is woefully under populated when compared to Yahoo. The directory has a long way to go until its bright spots become the norm. But by their sheer numbers, NewHoo's editors have the potential to divide and conquer the web in much greater depth than can rival directories.

NewHoo's editors can also be its greatest weakness. Some editors sign up with their own agendas. Shortly after the directory launched, there were several public complaints about editors that listed their own sites as cool and then did little more to maintain their categories.

Skrenta says this is mostly corrected now, with editors tending to police themselves and report any undesirable actions.

Behind the scenes, NewHoo operates dramatically differently than directory leader Yahoo.

Yahoo believes in centralizing its surfing staff as much as possible: most of them work in the same building in Santa Clara, California -- even some of those responsible for non-US listings. Srinija Srinivasan, who runs Yahoo's listings, has told me in the past that she feels this central gathering is vital to assembling an effective guide.

A central gathering doesn't mean central control. Classification rules at Yahoo don't come down from on high. Instead, editors may respond to the rapidly changing web on a day-to-day basis. While they have a high degree of individual control, they also work with each other to decide when to create new subcategories or to reorganize existing ones. That's where face-to-face contact is seen as essential.

In contrast, NewHoo editors are spread across the globe. Skrenta says they live in 229 countries and speak at least 20 languages among them. Face-to-face contact is impossible, but they still work together via email.

"Usually, editors within a particular category will communicate quite a bit," Skrenta said. "People tend to converse with editors around them, and it does tend to flow down in a tree," he added, referring to the fact that editors that oversee categories higher in the directory tend to watch over the progress of subcategories that are produced by other editors.

NewHoo even lacks someone watching over the entire directory structure. It has no counterpart to Yahoo's Srinivasan. NewHoo's five founding employees, now employed by Netscape, have left things mostly to the volunteers. Nor is there a desire to change this.

"We don't have any plans to build up a big editorial staff inside of Netscape. The model is to put this in the hands of the people on the web and let them at it," Skrenta said.

I'd be surprised if this hands-off approach lasts long. I suspect it will be essential that the guide eventually have at least some top-level editors on staff, as it continues to grow. But the crucial question is whether the mass of volunteer editors will keep working for free.

Netscape's not the first to take advantage of free labor. Community sites like GeoCities and Tripod have made use of their members' efforts to sell ad space for some time. But in return, members have been given free web space.

In contrast, it seems NewHoo editors have been working under an esprit de corps, inspired by the opportunity to build a new and valuable resource for the web community. They still have that opportunity, but they are also building something valuable for a large company that stands to benefit.

Of course, without Netscape's support, the NewHoo directory likely would have continued to be a good idea, but one that few people would know about. The greater exposure in partnership with Netscape is a huge benefit that editors are receiving, and a reason for them to stay on, Skrenta says.

"For them, as a NewHoo editor, they have a lot more exposure now. More people are going to see and use their work. They all seem pretty jazzed about it," he said.

Netscape Open Directory Project

NewHoo: Yahoo Built By The Masses
The Search Engine Report, July 1, 1998

More details about the service, with information on the end that covers submission.

Netscape Acquires NewHoo
Wired, Nov. 18, 1998


Searchopolis Offers Kid-Friendly Search

Last month I wrote briefly that Searchopolis, a new kid safe search engine, had opened in beta. This month, I have more details about how the filtered search service works.

Searchopolis is backed by N2H2, a Seattle-based firm notable for the Internet filtering service that it provides to schools and businesses. That service, called Bess, works with proxy servers to prevent access to sites that have been identified as objectionable or off-limits.

Human editors identify sites for the block list, and these are classified into 30 different categories of objectionable content. These includes sites about pornography and hate talk, or sites that may be banned by employers because of productivity issues, such as sports and job hunting sites. Categorization gives filtering customers a wide degree of choice over what to block, and even what time of day to block it.

N2H2's clients are mostly schools, and despite filtering, they were finding that a kid safe search engine was needed. That's because in response to innocent searches, objectionable sites were appearing in the results at the major search services -- complete with graphic descriptions.

N2H2's filtering package kept children from actually reaching these sites, but it did nothing to prevent objectionable material from appearing in search descriptions. That lead the company to consider providing its own search solution.

The company teamed up with Inktomi, which provides the power behind Searchopolis. The brains behind what to filter comes from N2H2's block list, which covers about 8 million web pages. FYI, the company estimates that about 8 percent of the web is pornographic in nature or would be considered objectionable by its standards.

N2H2 provides Inktomi with an updated block list twice a week. It also continually tests Searchopolis, to see if any material may have slipped through.

As a further method of protection, the public version of Searchopolis uses a slight date restriction, so that pages only a day or two old won't immediately appear. Editors use a version without this restriction, which helps them spot problems before the public would even see them. I doubt the restriction will impact the quality of most searches, and it is a fair trade-off to help keep the results clean.

Searchopolis isn't the only filtered, crawler-based search service. AltaVista and Lycos both offer filtering solutions. These put more emphasis on automatically tagging pages as objectionable when they are spidered. In contrast, N2H2 believes its human approach will provide more accurate screening.

"Typically, keyword filters are prone to block out sites that contain that word," said Jim O'Halloran, N2H2's marketing director. "The upshot with the human review is that we overcome that restriction, because our reviewers immediately see what is pornography."

In other words, keyword filters can inadvertently screen out valuable material, such as pages that mention "breast" because they discuss breast cancer treatments. However, AltaVista has said its filtering software is smart enough to let "good" pages through. And both AltaVista and Lycos also make some use of human-compiled block lists.

The Searchopolis results certainly looked very clean, when I ran some test queries. Those looking for kid safe search will welcome it as a new option to choose from.

Searchopolis also has a partnership with LookSmart, which provides a branded-version of its directory for the service. There is nothing expressly kid-oriented about this, in comparison to kid-directories such as Yahooligans and Disney's DIG. But it does provide users the ability to browse sites without encountering vulgar or sexually explicit descriptions.


Kids Search Engines

You'll find services meant to be safe and friendly for children here, including Yahooligans and DIG. Information about AltaVista and Lycos filtering options is also available.


Infoseek Releases New Intranet Search Software

Infoseek has released a new version of its intranet and web site search software, Ultraseek Server 3. The company also announced a new add-on for the package called CCE, for Content Classification Engine, which organizes information automatically into Yahoo-like categories of information.

With CCE, users can browse topics and see documents available in a list format. Also, when users perform keyword searches, they are shown related topics in the same way the Infoseek web-wide search engine currently presents matches from its directory within its search results.

CCE can create a basic directory structure quickly with two techniques. It can import and analyze information from a site map and classify documents accordingly. Also, by examining the directory structure of a server, it can make educated guesses about how to categorize documents.

For example, all documents relating to employee benefits might be kept in a benefits directory on a server, while employee contact details might be in another directory. If this type of structure exists, then CCE will take advantage of it to build a category tree.

Administrators can also add new topics and change categories, as desired.

As for the core Ultraseek Server software, it offers new support for XML, SSL encryption, date range searching and extended lexical support for 10 different languages. The package is currently used at over 500 sites. Clients include companies such as Ford, Boeing, Hewlett-Packard and CNN.

Pricing for Ultraseek Server begins at $995 for 1,000 document sites, with price breaks as document numbers increase. CCE pricing starts $4,995 for sites with up to 50,000 documents. The software can be downloaded online via the URL below.

Infoseek Software

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Shopping Search Round-Up

'Tis the season…but there just wasn't time to do a proper review of shopping search sites in time for the holidays. Instead, I offer up some important related announcements that you may find interesting.

Both Yahoo and Excite rolled out one stop shopping services, just in time for the season. The services aim to make shopping easier by letting users register once, then purchase from multiple merchants without having to reenter payment details.

Keep an eye on these services. There have been many attempts at creating virtual wallets for use on the web, but none of them have become widely accepted. But if Yahoo or Excite end up with a large base of registered shoppers, they could offer their databases to any merchants to use as a standard. That means you could go to an online shopping site, indicate that you had a Yahoo or Excite profile, and then have the site recover this information for you to speed your checkout.

Yahoo Shopping features products from over 2,700 merchants, a huge gathering. You can search or browse offerings, add products to a virtual cart, then enter payment and shipping details once regardless of the number of merchants involved.

The service then remembers this the information, for use if you shop again. Only your credit card number is not stored, to ensure that no one can hack into your account and go on a spending spree. There are also options to specific different shipping addresses per order, in case you are sending gifts.

Excite's system is called Express Order, and it currently only works at the just-launched Holiday Shoppe, which features seasonal products from about 20 participating merchants. Express Order will be extended to all Excite merchant partners, in the future.

Establishing an Express Order profile is straightforward. You simply select an item in the Holiday Shoppe, and then a single profile page appears. You provide billing, shipping and payment details, which are then passed on to the merchant and saved for use later.

A nice touch is the ability to store everything but your credit card number. That will reassure the suspicious that no one can hack into their account and go on a spending spree. Also, if you have an existing Excite personal account, your Express Order information will be linked to this. It also makes establishing an Express Order account just a little faster.

Also at Excite, Consumer Guide reviews are now available within the Shopping Channel. You browse major product types to find reviews of different models from the consumer review publication.

Meanwhile Buyer's Index, a search engine of shopping sites, has added information from two online consumer protection sites to give shoppers more information about online merchants.

Buyer's Index lists information from 10,000 companies, and shoppers can look for products there through keyword searches. Now the service also displays BizRate and Public Eye symbols within its merchant listings. Buyers simply click on the symbol to see that merchant's reliability report at the BizRate or The Public Eye web sites.

Finally, Catalog City is a relatively new site that allows you to search for mail order catalogs or online merchants. It also offers one stop registration and a shopping cart system, like those described at Yahoo and Excite, above.

Happy shopping, everyone -- and happy holidays!

Yahoo Shopping

Excite Holiday Shoppe

Excite Consumer Guide Information

Buyer's Index

Catalog City


BizRate polls customers about satisfaction, after they have purchased from its 60 gold certified merchants. The company also performs reviews of its 400 silver certified merchants.

The Public Eye

The Public Eye collects customer satisfaction reports from shoppers that purchase from over 3,500 Public Eye Platinum certified merchants. Public Eye also uses undercover shoppers to test the reliability of some 500 Gold certified merchants.


Submission Changes At MSN Search

MSN Search has begun accepting direct submissions to its index. Those with access to the paid Submit It submission service can access this feature now, and by the middle of the month, anyone should be able to submit using either the free version of Submit It or a form at the MSN Search page.

An MSN Search submission page also means that MSN Search will have its own submission policies. These are still being developed, but so far, MSN Search General Manager Bill Bliss says that the service is inclined to limit sites to submitting only one URL -- whatever the site's home page is. After that, the service will leave it to Inktomi to look for additional pages.

Expect there to be changes and more details as MSN Search deals with submission issues for the first time.

MSN Search

Submit It

See the second URL for information specifically about submitting to MSN Search via Submit It.


Latest Ratings Show Changing Audience Shares

I've posted the latest search engine rating results from Media Metrix, RelevantKnowledge and NetRatings. Although Media Metrix and RelevantKnowledge have merged, separate data is still provided from both, at the moment.

There are some notable changes, which I'll summarize briefly below:

Yahoo has seen a drop each month since May in its share estimate from Media Metrix. The same is true at RelevantKnowledge, except for one month. NetRatings also shows an overall decline. It's not a plunge -- Yahoo remains comfortably above its rivals -- but it is noticeable and has gone on long enough to feel like a trend.

Excite is also showing a decline according to two of the services. The drop is most noticeable at Media Metrix.

Lycos has overtaken Infoseek's number three spot, or number four if you count Netscape as a search site, according to all the ratings services. RelevantKnowledge and NetRatings still show it as a neck-and-neck race, while Media Metrix shows Lycos comfortably ahead.

Both HotBot and Snap had dramatic rises at Media Metrix in October, about double their share from June 1998, and putting them both in the 8 percent range. The services have been running television ads recently, which seem to have paid off. But at NetRatings, the increases are not so dramatic. Perhaps those surveyed by Media Metrix watch more TV.

Finally, at RelevantKnowledge, GoTo posted a significant jump, up to a nearly eight percent overall share.

Search Engine Status Reports

You'll find links to pages that provide more information about the latest ratings at the top of this page, in the "Popularity" section.

HotBot Commercials

Haven't seen the HotBot commercials? Tune in online.


Opinions On Submitting Sought

Submitting to search engines can be confusing for many people. There are questions about meta tags: how to format them, how many times can terms be repeated, and should you use them at all. People don't know how often they should submit, or if they should submit all their pages. Rules can be conflicting about what's considered spam and what's not.

I'm planning a poll to see what exactly is most problematic for people, which perhaps may lead to some common standards and solutions. Before doing so, I'd like to hear from site owners about what they consider to be the biggest concerns. In this way, I can better understand what to ask.

So if you are confused, concerned, perplexed or troubled -- come vent. Or even better, post some thoughtful, specific suggestions or wish list ideas. Go to the address below, scroll down to the Search Engine Watch section and choose the Search Engine Watch Feedback link. You'll see a folder called Submission Guidelines for your comments.

Search Engine Watch Forum

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Search Engine Notes

Search Engine Conference Announced

Last April, I had the pleasure of attending the Infonortics search engine conference in Boston. The two-day event had a full schedule of interesting speakers, who covered everything from web search engines to video indexing.

Information for the 1999 conference is now available. It will again be in Boston, from April 19 to 20. There will be speakers from Direct Hit, IBM's Clever Project, Ask Jeeves and Northern Light, to name only a few. I'll also be doing a session on web searching trends.

Search Engines and Beyond


HotBot Beta Site Available

HotBot's beta site is open to the curious. The main difference you'll discover is that top web sites as ranked by Direct Hit are presented directly within the search results page, rather than being an option that users see only if they click on the Direct Hit link.

HotBot Beta Site


Trademark Search Made Easy

Enter a few words, and you can quickly discover if a US trademark has been registered containing them. It's free, easy and comes courtesy of the US Patent and Trademark Office. The link above is to the "Combined Marks" search page, which is very easy to use.

U.S. Trademark Boolean Search Page

Trademark Spies Get Better Tools For Keeping Up With Competition
Wall St. Journal, Oct. 20, 1998

More details about the free trademark search service offered by the US Patent Office, which went live in August 1998, and how it can be used by individuals to monitor important business moves.


MetaCrawler Owner Launches Portal

Go2Net, which owns the popular MetaCrawler metasearch service, has launched a new portal site that incorporates information from its various web properties. The site is in beta and available at the URL below. You'll find MetaCrawler forms a central anchor point for the portal, but the metasearch engine also continues to operate as a separate service.



SearchUK Adds Keyword Prompter

SearchUK, which indexes pages from United Kingdom web sites, has added a keyword prompter to its service. By selecting "Show Related Words" just above the search results, the service will present a list of alternative terms that can be used to refine a query.



Photo Search Fight Continues

Last month, I wrote that photographer Leslie A. Kelly complained to AltaVista regarding its new photo search service, alleging that it infringed upon his copyright and trademarks. Since then, AltaVista has removed his images from its index and told Kelly that it considers the matter closed, he reports. Kelly says he will press on until the service compensates him for use and damages. He has also sent a letter to Lycos, alleging similar infringement of his material in its photo search service.

Search Engine Articles

Find it on the Web
PC Magazine, December 1998

The magazine released its annual survey of search sites. Editors' Choice awards went to Yahoo for simple search, Northern Light for advanced search, Ask Jeeves For Kids for kids' search, and MetaCrawler for metasearch. Honorable mentions went to Google for simple search and HotBot for advanced search. The article is a great round-up of large, small and niche services. I only wish the reviews had been longer, and that the services not selected as top picks had still been rated, somehow.


PC Computing 1998 MVP Awards: Search Engine
PC Computing, December 1998

HotBot takes the top honors in the search engine category, while Excite and Yahoo get finalist mentions. Infoseek's Express metasearch software took the MVP for web utility (see second URL).


Netscape, Infoseek reshape deal
Bloomberg, Nov. 29, 1998,4,29298,00.html

Infoseek's rotation within Netscape's Netcenter is to be reduced next year.


Tag, You're It! XML Supercharges the Net
Industry Standard, Nov. 13, 1998,1449,2518,00.html

How XML is being used for some specialty search needs.


A Flap over Snap
Wired, Nov. 20, 1998

Snap Online is being sued by Snap Technologies, claiming trademark infringement. Details about the complaint.


Search Engine Optimization: The Science…And The Art
ClickZ, Nov. 19, 1998

A follow up to Joel Gehman's ClickZ article, where I agree that aggressive optimization can potentially be a time waster, but urge that passive changes built into a site from the start can make a dramatic difference for web site traffic. Lots of tips. If you feel lost in all the details of search engine optimization, this is a good place to get a bigger picture of the very basic things you should be doing systematically throughout your site.


Portals on new search, Nov. 16, 1998,5,28518,00.html

Those upstart portal companies better watch out -- once digital television and other hybrid electronic devices become widespread, more established media companies will take the lead. Well, so some analysts believe. Of course, portals like Yahoo and Excite already attract much traffic without being a default home page within Internet browsers. I suspect the real upstarts will be players who think their next-generation access boxes that no one has will translate into instant web market share.


Uneasy Allies: When Portals Go Retail
Industry Standard, Nov. 16, 1998,1449,2498,00.html

An interesting look at the relationship between retail merchants and portal sites such as Excite.


Keywords Threaten Domain Name System
TechWeb, Nov. 9, 1998 ordered to cease and desist, Dec. 1, 1998,4,29396,00.html

The owner of is upset with SmartBrowsing and keyword addressing systems that may stop him from cashing in on those actually trying to reach So, he's considering a lawsuit. Meanwhile, Netscape is threatening him over his site, claiming trademark infringement.


Why Yahoo is Good (But May Get Worse)
Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox, Nov. 1, 1998

A short but interesting look at some key strengths and weaknesses with Yahoo, ranging from the technical to the financial.

End Notes

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