The Search Engine Report December 3, 2001 - Number 61

December 3, 2001 - Number 61

By Danny Sullivan
Editor, Search Engine Watch
Copyright (c) 2001 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,

The report has over 170,000 subscribers. 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

+ Site News: Help With The Search Engine Watch Awards!
+ Search Engine Strategies Comes To Denmark This Month!
+ Search Engine Marketing: You Like It, You Really Like It!
-- (full story online, link provided)
+ Going Beyond HTML Raises Security Concerns With Google
+ Lycos To Charge For Search? Well, Not Really...
+ LookSmart Adds Paid Listings Option For Small Businesses
+ New Google Toolbar Lets Users Rate Pages
+ Yahoo Expands Paid Placement Listings
-- (full story online, link provided)

+ Lycos Inducts The First Lycos Elite List
+ SearchDay Articles
+ Search Engine Resources
+ Search Engine Articles
+ List Info (Subscribing/Unsubscribing)


Hello Everyone--

The time for the next Search Engine Watch awards is coming, and you are invited to participate. In about a week, I'll be posting a form allowing you to suggest categories for the awards. We'll likely be repeating all the same categories from last year, but there may be new categories you think should be added. If so, let us know.

In January, an actual voting form will go online. It will allow you to send me and Search Engine Watch associate editor Chris Sherman your thoughts about which search engines deserve awards, for their work during 2001.

To know when the category suggestion form is live, keep an eye on the What's New page, below. To learn more about the awards, see the information from last year's awards, at the second URL listed.

Search Engine Watch What's New

Search Engine Watch Awards


Search Engine Strategies Comes To Denmark This Month!

Search Engine Strategies returns to Europe this year, coming to Copenhagen on December 12. The day-long event features sessions designed for both beginners in search engine marketing and those who are experienced.

I'll be speaking at the event, along with other experts and search engine representatives from FAST, Google, Inktomi,, LookSmart and Overture. The program is being organized by I-Search moderator Detlev Johnson and European-based search engine marketing expert Mikkel deMib Svendsen.

Those interested in sponsoring or exhibiting at the event should contact Frank Fazio Jr,, for more information. Those interested in attending can find the conference agenda and more information via the URL below.

Search Engine Strategies Denmark


Search Engine Marketing: You Like It, You Really Like It!

Last month, I wrote about how I was going to begin using the term "search engine marketing" rather than "search engine optimization" to cover the wide range of activities that involve obtaining traffic from search engines. Apparently, readers like the idea. Over 30 people sent emails to me on the subject, with the vast majority of them in favor of the change. A sampling of responses, from those for and against, can be found below:

Search Engine Marketing: You Like It, You Really Like It!
The Search Engine Report, Dec. 3, 2001


Going Beyond HTML Raises Security Concerns With Google

Now that Google is indexing a wide range of document types beyond HTML and plain text formats, potential security concerns are cropping up, both for searchers and webmasters.

From the searcher point of view, the concern is that you might unwittingly open yourself up to viruses that are embedded in non-HTML files, such as Word macro viruses.

Until recently, search engines only delivered you to "safe" HTML or text files. It was possible that even these type of files might try to harm you, such as via JavaScript exploits. However, anyone who browses the web was already exposed to such potential threats routinely, and they generally don't have problems.

In contrast, people do not routinely open data documents such as Word or Excel files from those who they do not know. Google has changed this, because its search results now contain direct links to such files from across the web. These direct links mean that users might unwittingly open infected files.

For example, try a search for "clearcutting and fish populations in idaho." The second result is an oddly named document called "Clearcutting in." If you were to click on this link, instead of the document loading in your browser, your computer would instead launch Microsoft Word (assuming you have it installed).

This is because the link leads to a DOC file, a data file used by Microsoft Word. Such files can contain viruses, and if you open one without protection, you'd be exposed to any virus inside.

The safe alternative is to always view such results using the "View as HTML" link that Google provides. You'll see this link any time Google lists a non-HTML or text format file. By following it, you will be shown a safe, HTML version of the listing in your browser.

Ideally, Google would switch things around. By default, I think the main link should bring up the safe HTML version while the "View as HTML" link would instead say something like "View Original File Type." That would greatly reduce the odds of searchers getting accidentally infected by a virus. Google says it's something they'll consider.

"We're going to continue to take a close look at this, because as you know, our users and their experience with Google is our number one priority," said spokesperson David Krane.

Krane also said that Google is noticing that when non-HTML content is offered, many users are opting to use the "View as HTML" choice. Aside from avoiding viruses, another good reason to do this is because the HTML versions are typically smaller than the actual data files, which means they load faster.

Another important point to note is that while the potential for viruses to hit searchers exists, the reality is that this hasn't seemed to have actually happened.

"We've yet to see email from any of our users complaining about computer viruses that they obtained via our search results," Krane said.

Meanwhile, some webmasters are reportedly shocked to discover that Word documents, Excel files and other material they make available through public web sites can now be found by searching at Google. There's even the further concern that some of these documents might contain sensitive information, such as credit card numbers or password information.

The reality is that Google hasn't "created" a security problem with these documents. It has simply exposed them. ANY document that is made available on an Internet server (be it web, FTP, Usenet, etc.) can be found by anyone. People can (and do) even create their own spiders to seek documents of particular types, such as email harvesters that roam the Internet in search of email addresses.

If a document is sensitive, don't place it on the Internet, period. What if you must expose it to the Internet, so that selected individuals outside your company or organization can access it? Then establish a password protection or "authentication" system for your web server, and make these documents only available to those who have a username and password.

Authentication systems will stop crawler-based search engines in their tracks. It's an even better solution that using a robots.txt file, because listing sensitive data that you don't want indexed by a spider in your robots.txt file is essentially a menu for any human who reads the file to find that information. An authentication system reveals nothing, and it has the added plus of keeping humans out, as well.

Keep this in mind. None of the major search engine spiders will try to access authenticated information. However, a custom spider or a nefarious human may still try to hack their way in. Authentication is a barrier to them, but not absolute protection.


Google Unveils More of the Invisible Web
SearchDay, Oct. 31, 2001

In-depth review of new coverage of non-HTML files provided by Google. Search Engine Watch members -- use the link on this page to reach the members-only edition written for you, which covers issues about making sure the titles of your non-HTML documents make sense and how to prevent non-HTML documents from being indexed.

New internet search could turn up viruses
New Scientist, Nov. 28, 2001

Touches on issues in the story above, with more quotes from Google.

The Google attack engine
The Register, Nov. 28, 2001

Hackers might be able to use Google to attack servers, switches and routers, this article says.

Google, others dig deep--maybe too deep, Nov. 26, 2001

A long, in-depth look at the security concerns, with quotes from various analysts.


Lycos To Charge For Search? Well, Not Really...

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

Last month, the head of Terra Lycos in the United States told Reuters that the company was looking to diversify its revenue stream by charging for subscription services, including search.

Is it really true? Will Terra Lycos be the first major company to try to charge for search since Infoseek's failed experiment with the model, back in 1995?

Nope, it's not true, at least from a searcher's perspective. What Terra Lycos means by search "subscriptions" are really services aimed at the web site owner market.

"The initial services are going to be targeted at the web site owner. They will not be paying for search results but more services that a web site owner would want to utilize," said Bryan Burdick, vice president of portal services for Terra Lycos.

But what about consumer search subscriptions? Might that also happen? Not likely, says Terra Lycos:

"We have no immediate plans to have consumer-oriented subscriptions," Burdick said. "It would be pretty difficult for anyone out there to start charging for their existing search results set," he explained. "There's really not much you have invested as user."

By the way, last month I praised Lycos for finally clearly labeling the paid listings it carries as "Sponsored Search Listings." Sadly, not three weeks later, the company was back to its old habits, calling them "Featured Listings" and now "Products & Services."

Terra Lycos Says Exploring Paid Services
Reuters, Nov. 8, 2001

Original article where subscription search and other services from Terra Lycos are mentioned.

How Yahoo Will Make You Pay, Nov. 23, 2001

A look at how Terra Lycos-competitor Yahoo may try to get users to pay for services through its access partnership with SBC Communications.

Time For The Search Dividend?
The Search Engine Report, April 2, 2001

Some previous comments from me on the idea of search subscriptions.


LookSmart Adds Paid Listings Option For Small Businesses

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

A new program from LookSmart has made it possible for small businesses and others with low publicity budgets to get listed within the paid placement area of its search results.

Called "Site Promote," the program that launched last week lets site owners pay a monthly fee of $20 or $30 to appear within the "Featured Listings" area of the LookSmart search results page. These are paid listings that appear above LookSmart's editorial results.

The fee doesn't guarantee placement for any particular words, as is the case with Overture. It also only covers either up to 133 or 200 clicks per month, depending on the level selected.

The new Site Promote option is part of an overall revamp LookSmart has made to its listings offerings for small businesses. All its small business products have been consolidated into a new "LookListings Small Business" area, which sits in contrast to the existing "LookListings" products that are aimed at large advertisers.

The new "My Account" tab in the small business area lets you manage all URLs you've submitted to LookSmart. You can update a URL to change a description or choose to enroll it in the Site Promote program.

Only those who submitted since last week will have existing accounts. However, LookSmart says it soon will add historical data and automatically create accounts for many who have submitted in the past. Emails with account information should go out, in the near future.

LookListings Small Business



New Google Toolbar Lets Users Rate Pages

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

Sung to the tune of "Don't Worry, Be Happy," with apologies to Bobby McFerrin:

Here's a little page I found
I sure hope it won't let you down
If it does, push Unhappy

If you see a page that's good
You can make your thoughts understood
Push Happy, push Happy

A new version of the Google toolbar now in beta testing sports a new look -- happy and sad faces that let toolbar users rate web pages.

Google unveiled the new version at last month's Search Engine Strategies conference in Dallas. The company hopes that the happy or sad votes it received will help it better understand which pages are satisfying Google users and which may not.

If you see a page you like, push the happy button on the toolbar. Google will register that you are pleased with the URL you are viewing. Found a spam page, or just a low quality page that somehow ranked well in Google's results? Then push the unhappy face. You can even use this if you get an entire list of results at Google you think are bad. Just leave the results page up in your browser and push the unhappy face.

Google says that excessive clicks are watched for. Google also assures that it has mechanisms in place to ensure good sites don't get penalized by competitors voting against them.

"We do have a lot of safeguards in place to make sure someone can't hurt someone else unfairly," said Matt Cutts, the software engineer overseeing the new feature.

Google predictably didn't go into specifics about how this would be done, but the key reassurance to take away for the moment is that the voting data is not automatically being used to alter rankings. Instead, it is currently used as a flagging mechanism, to help Google understand which pages should be subjected to human review.

"It won't be used in the production system until a human has validated it or until we fully trust the methodology," Cutts said.

Google Toolbar With Voting Feature

If you have the Google toolbar already installed, then uninstall it to use the new version. Click on the Google logo that appears to the left of the search box, then select Uninstall from the drop-down options. When you are told the toolbar has been removed, close ALL Internet Explorer windows you may have open.

Next (and also do this if you never had the Google toolbar), use the URL above, then the new beta version with happy and sad faces allowing you to vote will load. You won't see the faces immediately. Instead, you'll need to click on the Google logo, then select "Toolbar Options" from the drop down list. When the options page loads in your browser, check the "Voting Buttons" choice.

Also be sure to read the "Privacy Implications" link that appears at the bottom of the page. Basically, this warns you that information about sites you view with the toolbar is automatically transmitted to Google, if you use the "PageRank" or "Category Buttons" option. However, the privacy policy further explains that if you explicitly use an option that communicates with Google, such as the highlighting option or the new voting option, then information about what URL you are viewing is sent each time you use that option.

I trust Google and so am not worried about this -- if you aren't so trusting, then read the privacy policy carefully, to see if it settles your concerns.

Google may let surfers rank search results, Nov. 27, 2001

A look at Google's efforts, with lots of quotes from experts about how it may fare against search engine spammers. Remember -- the data is not currently being used in an automatic form and even if it does go live, it would be only one part of many things in Google's ranking algorithm. Also, a minor but important clarification. Direct Hit is actually the first company that had a large scale system to let web surfers determine the popularity of how sites should rank in search results. However, this measurement is done passively, by measuring clicks. Google is the first major search engine to debut an active user rating system.

An "X-Ray" Toolbar for Web Surfers
SearchDay, Nov. 19, 2001

Alexa's been letting users rate web sites for literally years. Discover how this is just one of the many useful things that the Alexa Toolbar aggregates about web sites and makes available with a simple click of a link.


Yahoo Expands Paid Placement Listings

Yahoo is now carrying paid placement listings on its search results pages, rather than just within its category pages, through a deal cut with Overture (the former GoTo) last month. When you conduct a search, the first three paid listings from Overture for that same search now appear in the new "Sponsor Matches" section of the Yahoo search results page. Listings four and five from Overture also appear at the bottom of the Yahoo results page, in the "More Sponsor Matches" area. More about the new deal and how it is not a big concern for searchers can be found via the URL below:

Yahoo Expands Paid Placement Listings
The Search Engine Report, Dec. 3, 2001

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


Lycos Inducts The First Lycos Elite List

Forget the "50 Best Dressed People," the "25 Most Hunkiest Men" and other popularity lists. Lycos has weighed in with a new list based on search popularity: "The Lycos 50 Elite."

Each week, the Lycos 50 site summarizes the current top 50 search topics and other search trends, based on what people look for at the popular Lycos web site. However, the new Lycos 50 Elite list honors those topics that have remained popular over the entire two years that the Lycos 50 has existed.

Those honored in the first compilation of the list are Britney Spears, Pamela Anderson, Jennifer Lopez, the WWF, tattoos, Pokemon, Dragonball and Las Vegas. They have been in the Lycos 50 since it began. Honorable mentions also went to topics that made the top 50 list for at least one year: the Backstreet Boys, the Bible, Eminem, Final Fantasy, Harry Potter, Marijuana, 'N Sync, Napster, Sailor Moon, The Simpsons, Skateboarding and South Park.

Lycos 50

If you see a yellow star next to a particular search topic, that tells you the topic is a Lycos Elite award winner. Click on the star to learn more about the topic's elite status.

Lycos 50 Elite

The actual list that the stars mentioned above lead to, with details about those inducted into it.

SearchDay Articles

Here are some recent articles that may be of interest, from Search Engine Watch's daily SearchDay newsletter: Spared from Extinction
SearchDay, Nov. 29, 2001

A U.S. Bankruptcy court has approved InfoSpace's $10 million bid for certain Excite@Home assets, including domain names, trademarks and user traffic associated with the Web site.


Build Your Own Portable, Personal Search Engine
SearchDay, Nov. 27, 2001

Take a page from Google's playbook and create a searchable cache of important web pages with your own portable, personal search engine.


Fyuse: An Eclectic "My" Portal
SearchDay, Nov. 26, 2001

Fyuse takes the concepts of web-clipping, push-technology, affiliation and distributed content and encapsulates them into a slick, easy to use personalized portal customized to your tastes.


Search Engine Glossaries
SearchDay, Nov. 20, 2001

Baffled by Boolean? Confused about cloaking? Stumped by stemming? What you need is a good search engine glossary.


Search Engines with Autopilot
SearchDay, Nov. 14, 2001

If you're often repeating the same query, you can both improve your results and take the drudgework out of searching by taking advantage of search engines that 'fly' on autopilot.


FAST Search Engine Shifts into High Gear
SearchDay, Nov. 13, 2001 search has snuck up on all of the major search engines with new features, speed and customization capabilities, and is now a viable challenger to pack-leader Google.


Evaluating Information Sources
SearchDay, Nov. 12, 2001

Think before you spam: How to distinguish the good from the bad, the ugly, and outright bogus online information.


Special Search Tools & Products Issue
SearchDay, Nov. 8, 2001

Guest writer and respected industry expert Avi Rappoport provides an update on developments in the world of search tools and products that make sites and intranets searchable.


Getting Down to
SearchDay, Nov. 7, 2001 was once best known for spending an all-time record $7.5 million for its domain name. Today, it has quietly become one of the web's most substantial and useful resources for business research and information.


Grab Those Eyeballs with AltaVista Listing Enhancements
SearchDay, Nov. 6, 2001

AltaVista's Listing Enhancements let webmasters add logos, icons and other visual pizzazz to make their sites stand out among ordinary plain vanilla search results.


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

ResearchBuzz & ResearchBuzz Extra

I've mentioned ResearchBuzz in this newsletter before, but it is worth repeating both for regular and new readers. Tara Calishain's regular newsletters provide a wealth of information for searchers, especially regarding specialty search engines. Her regular newsletter is free, and those who support her work with a subscription receive ResearchBuzz Extra, which provides even more great information from Tara, such as last month's news search engine "bakeoff." Consider a subscription, both for the information and to help the author behind it.

iLOR HydraLinks

Earlier this year, I wrote about how I liked some of the features that Google-powered iLOR made available, such as the ability to easily build a custom list of sites you want to visit or to find your way "back" via an "anchor" to your original page of search results. Now you can have such features at Google, another search engine or anywhere you browse the web, via this new software from iLor. It downloads in less than two minutes and is available as a free trial, for 30 days. After that, you have to pay the somewhat steep $30 registration price. The second URL has my earlier review of iLOR.

Search Engine Articles

HyperBee Search Engine Follows Seti@Home Model
Newsbytes, Nov. 9, 2001

The idea here is to allow anyone to run crawling software on their computer, then forward the finds to a central repository. In this way, a massive network of computers would be formed, with far more crawling power than even the might of Google, currently the web's largest crawler-based search engine. The flaw is that by allowing anyone to contribute pages, the project will almost certainly find itself buried in spam submissions.


Seeking snapshots in search results, Nov. 9, 2001

eVision will be powering a new image search capability for those hunting through the massive collection of image files that Corbis owns. Corbis-competitor Getty has also added new search capabilities to its site. A look at these latest developments in image search. By the way, my comments in this article are about general web-wide search. I don't see image search as replacing that at all. But for situations where you want image-based results -- as when searching for images -- then absolutely, an image-oriented solution is great.

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

I didn't get Part 1 or 2. Can you resend it?
+ No, but you can view the entire issue online, via the link above.

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