The Search Engine Update, Feb. 18, 2003, Number 143


Hello Everyone–

What I originally thought would be a fairly light mid-month issue turned into a giant one. Happy reading. I’m now off to do some site updates. Assuming no one else buys anyone else, I might get through quite a bit before the next newsletter!


Many New Sessions At Search Engine Strategies Boston

Yada, yada, yada — every issue, I tell you about the upcoming Search Engine Strategies conferences. Well, listen up! The next show in Boston from March 4-6 has a number of new and unique sessions you may be interested in.

We’ve expanded the popular session on how search engines deal with Flash from our Dallas show to now cover other non-HTML content, such as PDF files, images, audio and video. A new session on how to write effective search engine advertising copy has been added. A session exploring issues relating to search engine marketing and ad agencies is new, as is another about search engines and branding issues. A session exploring the future of search engine marketing is offered, while the popular session on search engine legal issues returns.

But there’s more! Our session on Budget SEO has been expanded to cover often overlooked but still helpful tactics. A new “Start To Finish” session will follow the process of optimizing a web page from the beginning to end product. Two other new sessions examine alternative PPC search engines and search issues relating to shopping and merchant sites.

And there’s more! Overture will be doing a keynote presentation at the end of the first day, followed by free drinks at the Overture cocktail party. When you’re good and relaxed, then wander over to the Evening Forum, where everyone lets down their hair and the discussion flows. Suitably relaxed, you can catch another keynote address from Yahoo on the second day, then attend the first meeting of the new, Search Engine Marketing Professionals Organization at the end of that day.

In addition to all this, we still have the usual and popular sessions that focus on how to improve editorial and paid listings on search engines. Sessions feature experts in search engine marketing, as well as confirmed speakers from, AltaVista, Ask Jeeves/Teoma, FAST/, Google, Inktomi, LookSmart/WiseNut, Lycos, Overture and Yahoo.

Sign-up by calling (203) 662-2976 or online, via the URL below, which also provides detailed information about sessions.

Search Engine Strategies Boston: March 4-6, 2003

Search Engine Strategies is also returning to Australia, from March 26-27. I won’t be “chairing” that show, but Jupitermedia’s staff in Sydney has assembled an agenda full of search engine marketing topics for the event. More details can be found below:

Search Engine Strategies Sydney: March 26-27, 2003


Call For Speakers

I’m looking for three speakers to take part in next month’s Boston Search Engine Strategies show. To increase the odds in your favor, tell me succinctly what you’d like to talk about in the session and note any previous speaking experience.

To be considered, get in touch by February 20. I’ll respond to those who are selected by February 24. Those chosen will get a free pass to the entire event. Transport and accommodation are not covered.

Please don’t ask to speak on any other panels besides those that I’ve mentioned below. The agenda is done, and aside from what I’ve listed, there are no other speaking opportunities. Also, PLEASE! PLEASE! PLEASE! don’t respond unless you ALREADY know you are able to attend.

Here are the openings:

Shopping Search & Merchant Sites (March 6): This 75 minute session has an overview speaker discussing how shopping search sites operate, plus includes short presentations from both DealTime and Froogle. I need a fourth speaker to talk for 10-15 minute as a “case study” example of someone who gains visitors via major shopping search engines.

Doing It In House Forum (March 5): This 75 minute session already has three speakers discussing various aspects of how they handle search engine marketing in house. I need a fourth speaker prepared to discuss how they manage both paid listings and non-paid optimization, in house. You only need to provide a short, informal 5 minute overview, then take part in the Q&A period. I do not need someone from an search engine marketing firm but rather someone who does this work for their own company, and only their own company.

Campaign Case Studies (March 5): This 60 minute session has three presentations in all, each going for about 15 minutes, about how a site marketed itself via search engines. I need a third speaker to discuss a paid listings campaign that they’ve done recently.


Overture To Buy AltaVista

So you were supposed to get the newsletter yesterday, but I missed my filing deadline for a good reason — the breaking news that Overture intends to purchase AltaVista in a $140 million cash and stock deal. The story below has all the details, as we know them so far. Expect follow-ups as Overture begins to digest its purchase.

Overture To Buy AltaVista, Feb. 18, 2003


Singingfish Grows As Multimedia Search Provider

Looking for audio or video files from across the web? Singingfish has offered its multimedia search engine to help you in this since mid-2000, but the company recently signed a deal to power audio-visual searching in Microsoft’s Windows Media Player client. The deal means that Singingfish now provides the multimedia searching capabilities for two of the web’s largest digital media players and give the company a Google-like dominance as a multimedia search provider. But what exactly is the multimedia content that Singingfish provides access to through searches at its own site and through client players? And what are the issues that site owners with this content should be aware of? The article below provides an in-depth look.

Singingfish Grows As Multimedia Search Provider
The Search Engine Update, Feb. 18, 2003


Navigational Keyword Space Heats Up; Watch Those Claims!

In October, I wrote about confusing claims being made by companies selling navigational keyword products. Sadly, readers continue to report to me that such claims continue, and the situation is likely to get worse, as the keyword navigation space heats up in 2003. In the article below, I take a close look at the relaunch of Netword, as well as reseller complaints relating to the growing service of iGetNet. My hope is the article will help you pick through the hype and confusion to make a correct choice about whether to buy a particular product.

Navigational Keyword Space Heats Up; Watch Those Claims!
The Search Engine Update, Feb. 18, 2003


Google Buys Blogging Company – But Why?

News broke earlier this week that Google has purchased Pyra Labs, the company behind the popular weblog creation tool and Blogspot, a weblog hosting service. So far, Google is staying quiet about what it hopes to gain by such a purchase, leaving plenty of people speculating.

Search Engine Watch associate editor Chris Sherman and I certainly want in on the speculating fun! Chris gives a rundown on the purchase and his perspective on it, in his Puzzling Out Google’s Blogger Acquisition article, the second one listed. As for my view, well, see the first article.

Google Buys Blogging Company – But Why?, Feb. 18, 2003

Puzzling Out Google’s Blogger Acquisition
SearchDay, Feb. 17, 2003

Search Engine Resources

Dave’s Quick Search Taskbar Toolbar Deskbar

Like the Google Toolbar, this gives you access to Google without having to first visit the Google web site. Unlike the Google Toolbar, it has a number of other options built into it, such as the ability to query other search engines such as FAST and Teoma, as well as a range of specialty search services. This can be done using a menu-system or by special prefix codes in front of your query. The toolbar also has a built-in calculator, currency converter, translation tool and other features. This installs into your Windows taskbar, rather than into your browser. It also requires a 400K download. Thanks to the tip from reader Peter Stephenson.



Got Netscape but you want the Google Toolbar, which is only for Internet Explorer? Then check out the volunteer-created Googlebar for Netscape. Reader Jonathan Mendelson says that while it’s not a 1.0 release, he’s found it to work perfectly.


Google Adwords Checker

A find from Catherine Seda’s “Search Engine Advertising” newsletter (, this tool is designed to monitor your paid listings on Google from between every 10 minutes to every 10 days. It provides a variety of ways to measure what terms are performing and estimate your competitors’ max bids for different terms. It does not appear to do automatic bid management, however. Cost begins at $50 per month per “seat,” which appears to be each login account you have with AdWords, rather than individual campaigns.


Search Engine Dictionary

A find from, this site provides a definition of terms related to search engines.

SearchDay Articles

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

What’s New at AltaVista and MSN Search
SearchDay, Feb. 13, 2003

Both AltaVista and MSN Search rolled out incremental improvements this week proving that the quest for more relevant search results is continuing full steam ahead.


A Visual Bookmark Manager
SearchDay, Feb. 12, 2003

NetVisualize Favorites Organizer is a bookmark manager with an interesting twist: In addition to storing URLs, it also captures a thumbnail image of each of your favorite pages.


Optimizing Flash for Search Engines
SearchDay, Feb. 11, 2003

Your glitzy Macromedia Flash animations may dazzle and impress, but over-reliance on Flash may render your website all but invisible to the major search engines.


Wikipedia – A Collaborative, Multilingual Encyclopedia
SearchDay, Feb. 10, 2003

Wikipedia is an ambitious project to produce a free and complete encyclopedia in every language, written by hundreds of volunteers working collaboratively together.


Home-Grown Search Engine Optimization
SearchDay #459, Feb. 6, 2003

Managing a search engine optimization effort needn’t be stressful if you follow these tips from a panel of experts. Search Engine Watch members should follow the link to a special members-edition of this article.


A Portal for the Semantic Web
SearchDay #458, Feb. 5, 2003 is an information and community portal dedicated to the next generation web — a virtual wonderland where we’ll be able to do all kinds of cool things, including finding information with nearly effortless ease.


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

“Just Issued” Info Retrieval Related Patents and “Just Filed” Patent Apps
The ResourceShelf, Feb. 17, 2003

Roundup of a variety of new patents or patents-pending relating to search.


Web search finds local angle, Feb. 14, 2003

Metamend releases a new product to place geographical GIS data into meta tags on web pages. It’s not said whether special geographical meta tags are created or whether the information is placed into other tags like the meta keywords or description tag. Regardless, no major crawler-based search engine is looking for this type of information to produce geographically targeted results.


Google goes public
Red Herring, Feb. 14, 2003

Google doesn’t need to go public, but the tech industry would be happy if it did, since that might inspire confidence in the sector.


Google refuses to remove filth from site
Cheshire Chronicle, Feb. 14, 2003

Don’t let these perverts win
Cheshire Chronicle, Feb. 7, 2003

A web designer in the English city of Chester did a search for “chester guide” and was shocked to find “Chester’s guide to: Picking up little girls” listed as the second result. The content of that page, which I’ve seen in following up on this article, is pretty disgusting. However, it does not appear illegal under UK law. That means when Google was asked initially to remove the site from its listings, the search engine responded that this was something it wouldn’t do.

The second article documents that after a reader campaign by Chester’s local paper, Google still hadn’t dropped the page. One reader got an official Google response that said, “Only an administrator can, by including code that blocks our robots or placing a request with us, prevent his/her page from being listed.” That’s not correct at all. Google can and does pull pages from its index for various reasons, without administrator consent.

Interestingly, the page now is no longer listed in Google at all — not just in response to a search for “chester’s guide” but even in a search to specifically see if Google carries the page in its index. In all likelihood, Google ultimately responded to pressure to drop the page — and in this case, good. Some editorial discretion is welcomed.

The page remains on the web, of course — that really is something that Google cannot control. And since it’s on the web, any other search engine might find it. That’s why you see it in the indexes at Inktomi and AltaVista. But it doesn’t rank well for “chester guide” and probably other innocent searches that people might do, so those two search engines escape the wrath that came down upon Google.


Overture Inks Search Pact with MSN Japan, Feb. 13, 2003

Overture gets an expansion of its test to provide paid listings to MSN Japan, with contracts for the Internet Explorer search pane and the MSN Search Japan site running through December 2003 and 2004, respectively.


The Danger of Defining “Ethical” SEO in Terms of Search Engine Compliance
SearchEthos, Feb. 12, 2003

Techniques of search engine optimization that some search engines say they dislike aren’t necessarily morally wrong or unethical. Instead, showing harm to users may be one way of defining what’s right or wrong.


Yahoo Promises More Search Moves, Feb. 12, 2003

Yahoo has a big day for financial analysts and talks more about the importance of search. Note that the October 2002 search overhaul mentioned in this article didn’t make Yahoo into routinely the first or second most-used search engine. It has been that way for months, if not years. Yahoo also expects to roll out paid listings into non-web search areas of its site. The company reiterated that it felt buying Inktomi’s crawler technology made sense but that outsourcing paid listings to Overture also remains the right choice, for now. In the future, however, Yahoo might change, if it determines that’s in its best interests.


Paying Per Click, Getting the Most Out of Overture, Google and Others, Feb. 12, 2002

Lots of practical advice on doing well with cost-per-click search advertising.


Can you ethically cloak your Web content?, Feb. 12, 2003

The ethics of cloaking get debated during a meeting of the Irish Internet Association.


Google Named Brand of the Year, Feb. 11, 2003

Readers of Interbrand’s name Google brand of the year. Out of 1,315 votes, Google received 15 percent, followed by second place Apple with 14 percent, Coca-Cola with 12 percent and Starbucks with 11 percent. Google ranked fourth, last year.


Yahoo UK! admits! scam!
The Register, Feb. 11, 2003

Fraudsters! have! been! telling! people! in! the! UK! that! they! need! to! pay! to! renew! their! Yahoo UK! listings! They! don’t! need! to!


Overture Doubles Keyword Price With No Notice to Advertisers
Direct Newsline, Feb. 10, 2003

Minimum bids at Overture US rose from $0.05 to $0.10. Lower bids are grandfathered, but this story looks at complaints that the official notification from Overture gave people little chance to react to the change.


Hunting for Google’s Cache, Feb. 10, 2003

Darn! Google didn’t cache it. Well, maybe they did, and you just need to know how to look more closely for the cached copy. Greg Notess shows you how.


Merchants Outbid for Top Billing
New York Times, Feb. 10, 2003

Fraudulent retailers may outbid legitimate firms for top rankings in paid listings. Those legitimate firms think that paid listing providers ought to screen out the fraudsters. An analyst rightly says the paid listing providers have little incentive to take aggressive action. Overture rightly comments that it’s hard to screen nine million listings to determine the legitimacy or reputable nature of a vendor, but that the company will and has taken action when it gets credible reports of problems. Google declines to say much of anything about the issue.


Google falling victim to success
Oakland Tribune, Feb. 10, 2003,1413,82˜10834˜1170210,00.html

Staying on top of the search race may be harder for Google, now that its competitors are have improved and are focusing renewed efforts on search. Another “challenges Google faces” story, and another one where Google declines to comment, leaving competitors like Ask Jeeves and Yahoo to speak for them.


Is Net Surfing a Dying Sport?
IDG News Service, Feb. 7, 2003,aid,109264,00.asp

Scarlet Pruitt, who wrote this story, called me soon after she got the StatMarket press release showing that more people were reaching web sites via direct navigation than by following links and search engines. “Is search in trouble,” she asked. Not at all, I said. Go back and ask StatMarket to break out the ALL the stats. She did, and it turns out that navigation to web sites via search engines is up — way up.

We went through this already last year. StatMarket issued a similar release in February 2002, saying that direct navigation was up, with 52 percent of internet users getting to web sites that way, up from 46 percent the year before. The gain came out of the combined “Web Links/Search Engines” category, which dropped from 53 percent to 48 percent. That prompted some stories that search engines were a dying breed.

When I did my follow-up on the story (, I asked StatMarket to break out the figures separately for “web links” versus “search engines.” It turned out that traffic from search engines had stayed steady, with 8 percent of users getting to sites that way.

Similarly, breaking out the figures from the current year shows that far from being in trouble, search engines made a big gain. Search engines went from sending sites 8 percent of their traffic in Feb. 2002 to 13 percent of their traffic in Feb. 2003. The gain that direct navigation got came solely out of the link surfing category.

Finally, some may wonder why if search engines are so popular, sites still are only getting a relatively small 13 percent of their traffic from them. My past article ( explains this “search gap,” as I call it, and why making a good first impression is crucial.


Overture Plunges as Costs Rise, Feb. 6, 2003

Overture sees its stock price drop after announcing that costs will rise and profits will be lower, due to investments to improve advertiser tools, international expansion and the need to share 63 to 64 percent of its revenue with distribution partners. Previously, the company had put the range at 61 to 63 percent.


Search values
Netimperative, Feb. 6, 2003

Lots of stats and perspectives on search engine marketing, especially from several search engines, with a UK-focus.


Hiring a Professional SEO Web Search Guide, Feb. 5, 2003

Tips on hiring a search engine marketing firm.


The Lunchtime Effect
ClickZ, Feb. 5, 2003

If paid listings were like television ads, the vendors selling it would essentially be telling you that you need to have your ads running with every program they have, all throughout the day and night. While you still can’t pick and choose distribution partners, with a little work, you can at least chose when you want to run your ads. Carefully thinking about your “dayparts” may give you better performance, as Kevin Lee explains.


Local lawyers duke it out in cyber spat
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Feb. 4, 2003

Wow, flashback to the 90s, because here’s a retro case involving meta tags. Milwaukee’s lawyer Gerald P. Boyle, who represented serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, claims in a suit that the use of his name in a meta keywords tag is causing competing lawyer John Cabaniss to ranking in the top results for “gerald p. boyle” at Google. Google doesn’t index the meta keywords tag, so if that’s the chief evidence in this case, it’s going to be a short one. Of course, Cabaniss doesn’t help himself by incorrectly saying about Boyle, “He just has to get better meta-tag people.” Put gun in hand, aim at foot — now shoot!

The page in question has already changed on Cabaniss’s web site, and it has no meta keywords tag on it. The cached copy at Google of the older version of the page also shows no meta keywords tag in use, so you almost wonder if there was ever one at all. Regardless, the main reason that page is currently ranking well at Google is because Boyle’s name is used in the title tag of the page, as well as in the body copy of the page.

The page talks about a case that Boyle lost, so using his name is also probably fair game. The key challenge will be to convince a judge that Cabaniss created this page solely in hopes of getting people to his web site if they searched on Boyle’s name. For past issues involving meta tags and lawsuits, see

======================== Turns Up a Strong Fourth Quarter, Feb. 4, 2003

FindWhat’s earnings are up, but its operating margin is expected to drop during 2003. Blame expansion costs, the need to share more with distribution partners and litigation costs for a pesky little patent case involving Overture.

List Info

How do I unsubscribe?

+ Follow the instructions at the very end of this email.

How do I subscribe?

The Search Engine Update is only available to paid members of the Search Engine Watch web site. If you are not a member and somehow are receiving a copy of the newsletter, learn how to become a member at:

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?

+ Send a message to

I need human help with my membership!

+ Send a message to DO NOT send messages regarding list management or membership issues to Danny Sullivan. He does not deal with these directly.

I have feedback about an article!

+ I’d love to hear it. Use the form at

Related reading