In This Issue
+ Search Engine Watch News
+ SES Dates For 2004 Set
+ Search Engine Size Wars IV & Google’s Supplemental Index
+ SEMPO, Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization, Opens To Members
+ Search Engine Resources
+ SearchDay Articles
+ Search Engine Articles
+ About The Search Engine Update
Search Engine Watch News
I’ve updated the Search Engine Sizes page within the web site — though I need to go back already and bring Teoma up to 1.5 billion documents. If you’re looking for an at-a-glance guide to how large various search engine indexes are, now and over time, this page has it and more. Just remember that the old quip about size not being everything remains true.
Search Engine Sizes
I wasn’t able to finish a story that accompanies that page, about the latest moves on the search engine size front. It will be ready by tomorrow and will go out via SearchDay. More about that story is below in the newsletter.
Next up for Search Engine Strategies is a trip to Germany — Munich, to be exact, from November 10-11. The show also returns to the US when it arrives in Chicago from December 9-11.
In addition, dates for 2004 have now been set. Boston will be March 2-5, Toronto will be May 11-12 and San Jose from August 2-5. London is also on the schedule, but the posted dates of June 4-6 are incorrect. It will likely be the week of June 7. 2004.
Links to general information about each of the shows can be found below. You can leave your email address to be notified when agendas are posted.
Search Engine Strategies
Search Engine Size Wars IV & Google’s Supplemental Index
As mentioned earlier, I wasn’t able to finish a story about the latest search engine size moves before sending the newsletter out. It will be ready by tomorrow (Wednesday, Sept. 3). If you’re a SearchDay reader, you’ll receive it via email. Otherwise, just follow the link below to read it online on Wednesday.
Part of the story deals with the new Google “supplemental index.” I can at least give you some more details about that now.
What are supplemental results? These come from a new, separate index of pages that Google now queries if it fails to find good matches within its main web index. For obscure or unusual queries, you may see some results appear from this index. They’ll be flagged as “Supplemental Results” next to the URL and date info that Google shows for the listing.
Want to see some examples? Try any of these, which were provided by Google, to show when supplemental results might kick in:
- “St. Andrews United Methodist Church” Homewood, IL
- “nalanda residential junior college” alumni
- “illegal access error” jdk 1.2b4
- supercilious supernovas
Again, more about the supplemental index and size developments will be available tomorrow, at the URL below:
Search Engine Size Wars IV & Google’s Supplemental Index
SearchDay, Sept. 3, 2003
Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization Opens To Members
I’ve mentioned SEMPO before briefly in some past newsletters, but now the organization has an actual site up and is open to members, so it warrants a revisit. SEMPO stands for the Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization. The registered, non-profit group aims to raise the profile of search engine marketing, so that potential clients will understand what SEM is and budget money for it. More about the group and why you might or might not want to join can be found in the short story below.
Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization Opens To Members
The Search Engine Report, Sept. 2, 2003
Search Engine Resources
What are the top search engines? HitWise is a service that can tell you. The company has deals with major ISPs that lets it see which sites receive the most traffic. That same data also lets HitWise compile its own database of the search terms people are using. So, if you’ve been looking for an alternative to WordTracker or the Overture Search Term Suggestion tool, HitWise may be for you. You’ll need a big budget, though. Pricing for the search term service is between $2,000 and $5,000 per year, as an add-on to an existing HitWise subscription. A key feature that will make the eyes of search engine marketers bug out is HitWise’s ability to show you reports about traffic to sites you don’t own or deal with. For example, let’s say you are doing the marketing for Ford and wondering what type of search traffic Honda receives. HitWise can tell you that — both the amount of share from particular search engines and actual search terms. The company can also provide an overview of traffic to various industries, as well. For examples of both types of reports, see HitWise’s search terms page: http://www.hitwise.com/ss/searchterms_launch.html. (permalink to this item)
Goal of this new site is apparently to seek out and destroy search engine spam wherever it is spotted by members or reported to the group. What’s spam? The spam reporting page on the site lists a number of commonly accepted trouble areas, such as misleading copy, duplicate pages and hidden text. However, issues such as comment tags used for keywords are not necessarily spam — and neither is cloaking, either through trusted feed problems or not, depending on the search engine.
Fill out the form, and Engine Spam will examine the URL, then get in touch with the allegedly offending web site demanding changes within 48 hours. Should this not happen, the page is reported to various search engines. However, contrary to claims, it will NOT “be taken down off that engine for good.” It MAY be taken down, depending on what each search engine itself decides to do.
Given this, if you get a response, do not consider it an official action by any search engine nor something you need to act upon, especially if you feel you aren’t doing anything wrong. However, it might be a good idea to look over whatever “spam” violations you are being asked about. A search engine might decide to take action, depending on its own guidelines.
FYI, the guidelines that Engine Spam lists appear to have been taken from the Google web site. That makes them applicable to Google but not necessarily other search engines. Engine Spam tells me it is currently investigating 300 sites for spam reports, but no sites have yet been reported to search engines.
BruceClay.com SEO Technical Tips
Short, simple guide to a variety of common SEO questions. What to do with multiple domains? Funnel them — and the technique described isn’t spam, since everything is redirected to a single site ultimately and no pages from the “feeder” site get indexed. Also covers a tip on making table content more search engine friendly and a page checker, which provides server status codes, among other things.
The idea behind Nutch is to create an open-source web search engine where everything is exposed. In contrast, other search engines may be secretive about how they rank pages (implication: Google) or take payment to include sites (implication: all the other major search engines that do paid inclusion). I’m all for more search engines, so Nutch is certainly welcomed.
The big issue, of course, is that if you expose exactly how the search engine works, then some people will do extreme things to rank better in it. Nutch acknowledges this in its FAQ but suggests that by being open source, it will develop better methods to make its algorithm overcome manipulation. OK, we’ll see.
Nutch is being primarily driven by former Excite search engineer Doug Cutting — and the friends of Nutch page lists more Excite alumni, including former Excite cofounder and CTO Graham Spencer, former cofounder and CEO Joe Kraus and former executive vice president Brett Bullington. Nutch’s board of directors includes Lotus and EFF cofounder Mitch Kapor and O’Reilly & Associates Tim O’Reilly (who ironically is also a small investor in Google).
For some recent press stories on Nutch, check out “Let’s go Nutch” from the Guardian (http://www.guardian.co.uk/online/story/0,3605,1022651,00.html), “Project searches for open-source niche” from News.com (http://news.com.com/2100-1032_3-5064913.html) and “Watch Out, Google” from Business 2.0 (http://www.business2.com/articles/mag/0,1640,51462,00.html). (permalink to this item)
This paid listings provider for Latin America cut new deals last month with MSN for the region. TeRespondo will provide up to three paid listings on the MSN properties of T1MSN in Mexico (http://www.t1msn.com), MSN Brazil (http://www.msn.com.br), and other Latin American countries through YupiMSN (http://www.yupimsn.com).
The idea behind WhittleBit is that you get a list of results, then you check those you like and dislike to get it to “whittle” the results more into a list you prefer.
For example, let’s say you search for “flowers” and want results oriented around gardening, rather than sending flowers. Do your search, and top four results are for online florists. Click on the red “thumbs-down” icon for each of these (if things work, the thumbs will be highlighted in yellow). Now thumbs-up the Wildflowers listing. Now choose the Whittle button. Words associated with the florist listings, such as “ftd” and “gift” will be invisibly removed from your search request while new terms such as “wildflowers” will be added.
WhittleBit draws upon Google’s basic results to demonstrate the concept, which creator Ian Clarke admits remains very much experimental. So expect some bugs — and don’t forget that major search engines have some tools somewhat like this already built in, such as AltaVista’s Prisma (http://www.altavista.com/help/search/pp) and Teoma’s Refine (http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/article.php/2159601). (permalink to this item)
New site that lets you see published research projects that Overture is working on, papers authored by Overture staff and so on. Top thing to check out? I’d say the preview of Overture’s plans in the local paid listing advertising space: http://localdemo.overture.com/
Informed Librarian Online
Get a monthly recap of journals, magazines, newsletters and other electronic publications that may be of interest to librarians and research professionals. Registration is required, but it’s also free and easy to do.
For Mozilla users, NeedleSearch lets you bookmark search engines and then directly search against them after that using the toolbar.
PubConference V: London
Consider PubConference to be WebmasterWorld.com come to life. The event is primarily attended by those who share tips on the popular WebmasterWorld.com forum and focuses on swapping information informally, in a pub setting, about search engines. PubConference comes to London on September 20th. The bad news for those interested is that it is officially sold out. Good news is that if some reserved spots don’t get filled, you might make it on the waiting list.
Internet Marketing Master Class
I don’t normally list search engine workshops, because there are so many that I’d be doing nothing but writing them up. However, Mike Grehan’s a top-notch search engine marketer who has teamed up with web metrics guru Jim Sterne to do an introductory course on search engines and success measurement. At about $75, it’s cheap to go — but it’s also in Newcastle, England, off the beaten track for many.
Here’s a recap of recent articles from Search Engine Watch’s daily SearchDay newsletter:
Dogpile Sports a Fetching New Look
SearchDay, Sept. 2, 2003
Meta search engine Dogpile received a major upgrade today, offering a slick new interface and some significant performance enhancements.
Search Engine Forums Spotlight
SearchDay, August 29, 2003
Links to this week’s topics from search engine forums across the web: The Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization – Click-Through Rates With New Google Ad Sizes – Google’s Supplemental Results – Google Driving the Market – State of the Directories – SEO Code of Ethics
Google to Overture: Mine’s Bigger
SearchDay, Aug. 27, 2003
Overture and Google have fired new salvos in the search engine size wars, expanding their databases of searchable web pages by millions of pages.
Searching for U.S. Legal News
SearchDay, Aug. 26, 2003
Suppose you want to find the latest legal news on what’s happening in the U.S. Supreme Court or in a hot area of law like intellectual property or employee rights. Where should you look?
Ask Jeeves Serves Up New Answers
SearchDay, Aug. 25, 2003
Ask Jeeves is expanding its ‘Smart Search’ tools today with direct responses to queries about weather information and numerical conversions.
Search Engine Forums Spotlight
SearchDay, August 22, 2003
Links to this week’s topics from search engine forums across the web: Measuring Pay-Per-Click ROI – New Google AdSense Layouts Available for Publishers – Does Keyword In URL Matter? – How to Optimize a Web Page Checklist – Tracking Words or Sets – Google Camouflage – Search Engine Implication Of Using CSS Rather Than Tables
Lycos Upgrades Tools for Webmasters
SearchDay, Aug. 20, 2003
Terra Lycos has updated its InSite paid inclusion program to woo non-technical users who are new to search engine marketing, but even veteran search engine marketers may want to take a second look.
Search Engines Uncover Compromising Documents
SearchDay, Aug. 19, 2003
Using a search engine and free software tools, it’s possible to dig up hidden — even deleted — information in documents posted to public web sites.
AltaVista Introduces Search Toolbar
SearchDay, Aug. 18, 2003
AltaVista has launched a Search Toolbar that lets you search its web, news and multimedia catalogs while visiting any page on the web.
Want to receive SearchDay? Sign-up for the free daily newsletter from Search Engine Watch via the link below:
Search Engine Articles
Overture goes to court in T-Online battle
NetImperative, Sept. 1, 2003
Enter a new chapter of search engines and legal issues. Overture has apparently obtained an injunction forcing major German ISP T-Online to carry its results. T-Online dumped Overture’s results last month, switching over to Google. Yahoo’s impending purchase of Overture caused the switch. T-Online sees Yahoo as a bigger competitor than Google. Overture claims breach of contract; T-Online claims a change-of-control clause lets it break the contract a year earlier than planned. T-Online results remain Google powered, when I last checked. According to this article, it may be because T-Online has yet to actually be served with the injunction.
The New Overture Best Practices, Part 2
ClickZ, Aug. 29, 2003
Start with Part 1 of this two part article — you’ll find the link from this article. Part 1 introduces new features at Overture, especially those that allow “broad” and “phrase” matching in bids. Part 2 stresses that you’ll want to stick with standard matching to stay on top for important terms, since broad and phrase matching only kicks in when all listings for standard matching have been finished.
AdWords Conversion Tracking to be… Free?!
Traffick, Aug. 28, 2003
Google is considering adding conversion tracking as a feature for AdWords advertisers — and it may be added for free, as well.
Google News Finally Makes the Grade
Online Journalism Review, Aug. 28, 2003
Google News is now to be rated among news generation sites such as the LA Times and the Guardian — and will rank pretty well among the others, too. A look at the addition and how news sites get ranked in general.
The search engine that could
USA Today, Aug. 26, 2003
Google’s about to turn five. A look at how the company has grown and challenges it faces.
Switchboard Rolls Out Paid Link Program
InternetNews.com, Aug. 25, 2003
Online yellow pages provider Switchboard adds paid listings to the mix.
Search in the Spotlight
ClickZ, Aug. 22, 2003
Larger than ever, the latest Search Engine Strategies conference underscored that search is an established industry — and increasingly, an advertising dominated one. A summary of top trends, such as the need to balance paid and free organic listings, the complexity involved in managing paid listings and concern over tracking search listings placed into contextual ads.
Inside Search Engine Strategies, San Jose Day Four
Search Engine Guide, Aug. 22, 2003
Summary of tips from the Converting Visitors session and a rundown on various web analytics and measuring tool vendors.
A study of 17 web searchers found significant confusion about what’s paid and what’s not in search results. Findings from the study were discussed during a session on legal issues at Search Engine Strategies.
I reported on the initial release of this study back in June: http://www.searchenginewatch.com/sereport/article.php/2216101. Some in the search engine industry, when I’ve mentioned the report to them, have been quick to dismiss it due to the small sample size (and generally hadn’t actually read it). That’s a mistake. The report wasn’t done in order apply statistics to a greater whole. Instead, it was done to intimately understand how individual consumers react to existing paid disclosure information.
The findings are well worth reading — the report is free and available at http://www.consumerwebwatch.org/news/searchengines/. I hope to bring a longer summary of key points in a future newsletter. Until then, understand that this isn’t a report condemning paid listings. For example, the report’s second tip for consumers worried about paid listings, on page 41, makes this clear: “Paid search is not evil.” But the report also highlights a serious challenge to search engines in educating the public about paid listings, as this quote about Google’s paid listings from page 31 illustrates: “I like that it is so clear on Google. It actually highlights [paid links” so I can ignore them completely.” (permalink to this item)
Keywords: To Buy or Not to Buy
Wired, Aug. 22, 2003
Bid prices are skyrocketing, say advertisers — which may cause a swing back to looking at organic listings for traffic. But organic listings aren’t necessarily free themselves, when you add in the cost of optimization either in house or through third parties. And not mentioned is the fact that you’ll almost certainly see paid inclusion listings begin to get official preference over unpaid listings for certain terms in the future.
Yahoo Branching Out its Search Roots
InternetNews.com, Aug. 21, 2003
Recaps where Yahoo plans to head in search, in particular how it hopes to integrate search into the overall portal experience it provider.
Yahoo puts Inktomi to the test
News.com, Aug. 21, 2003
Yahoo is testing Inktomi results in Australia, Brazil and the US and fully expects to roll it out across all of its properties eventually. You’ve got to love the quote from Yahoo Australia, about how they’ll switch to Inktomi if it can do as well as current results that come from Google — and the lack of support for Yahoo-owned Inktomi is even more noticeable in another report: http://www.zdnet.com.au/newstech/enterprise/story/0,2000048640,20277513,00.htm. Um — perhaps that evaluation should have been done before Yahoo spent $235 million to buy Inktomi earlier this year?
Contextual Ad Debate Rouses Critics
InternetNews.com, Aug. 21, 2003
The panel on contextual ads at Search Engine Strategies got heated — though as the session moderator, I felt the defensiveness on both sides wasn’t necessary. Panelist Brad Byrd, a marketer, presented two case studies that found Google AdSense contextual placements cost much more in terms of conversion than search-targeted AdWords placement. Another marketer on the panel said his experiences were similar. This put contextual ad providers Google, Overture and Sprinks on the defensive. They shouldn’t have been. Neither marketer said that contextual ads were bad or should be avoided. They simply wanted the ability to purchase and track them separately. Most defensive was probably Sprinks — and no doubt because Sprinks does currently allow for separate purchase and tracking of its contextual ads.
Singingfish Swims With Rich Media
InternetNews.com, Aug. 21, 2003
Singingfish plans to add Flash content to the streaming media material it already indexes later this year.
Consumers Rate Online Search, Portals, and News
MediaPost, Aug. 21, 2003
Google gets top ratings for consumer satisfaction in the search engines category, according to a study by the University of Michigan’s American Customer Satisfaction Index. Google rated 82 out of a total possible score of 100, followed by Ask Jeeves (69) and AltaVista (63). “All others” rated 78. Stupidly, search portals such as Yahoo weren’t included. Instead, they were segregated into a separate portals category, where Yahoo came in tops at 78, followed by MSN at 74 and 65 for AOL. So — Ask Jeeves could fairly say it’s the second best search engine in terms of satisfaction, but had portals been included in that category, it might be a much different story.
Overture steals Freeserve from Google
NetImperative, Aug. 21, 2003
Overture makes it official and confirms what was seen and reported last month — that major UK ISP Freeserve has switched to using Overture-powered results.
Google co-founder: No rush for IPO
News.com, Aug. 20, 2003
Covers a variety of questions I put to Google cofounder Sergey Brin during a “conversational keynote” at Search Engine Strategies. No — Google has no plans to purchase Microsoft. For other reports on the interview, see, “Google Wild About Commoditizing Search” from InternetNews.com, http://siliconvalley.internet.com/news/article.php/3066431, and “Inside Search Engine Strategies, San Jose – Day Three: A Chat With Sergey Brin” from Search Engine Guide, http://www.searchengineguide.com/beal/2003/0821_ab1.html.
Inside Search Engine Strategies, San Jose – Day Two
Search Engine Guide, Aug. 20, 2003
Recaps my keynote where I predict what the search engine landscape will be like in 2004, covers issues raised in the Search Engines & Trademarks session as well as the Cleaning Up The Mess session and summarizes how various firms explained in the Search Engines & Ratings session how they rank search engines by popularity and other metrics.
Search Engine Marketing Forces Unite
InternetNews.com, Aug. 20, 2003
Covers the launch of the Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization, a new industry group for search engine marketing firms.
Chinese Homegrown Search Engine Eyes Overseas IPO
Reuters, Aug. 20, 2003
Beijing 3721, which powers search results for Internet Explorer users in China, is considering a public listing. More accurately, it seems to power a version of keyword navigation akin to the former RealNames, helping those in China enter Chinese characters into the IE address bar to reach web sites.
Trademarks cast shadow on paid search
News.com, Aug. 19, 2003
Trademark issues with search engines are growing, as merchant ponder how to deal with affiliates and others who purchase terms that may also be their trademarks. Ultimately, it’s likely to come down to a court decision over what’s acceptable.
Gunning for search engines
USA Today, Aug. 19, 2003
Review of the three-way race shaping up in the search space between Google, Yahoo and MSN.
Search for Survival Commentary: Who wins as national search goes local?
CBS MarketWatch, Aug. 19, 2003
Search engines know that a lot of searches are local in nature — and they are looking to making local search the next big profit center. But the kings of local search — yellow pages — aren’t going to be shutout without a fight. And the yellow pages are the ones who already have the local advertisers who have yet to discover web search.
The bubble that didn’t burst
The Guardian, Aug. 18, 2003
Behind-the-scenes look at the founding and founders of Espotting, which was bought by FindWhat in June.
MSN Search Tests Worrisome for LookSmart
InternetNews.com, Aug. 18, 2003
MSN has tested new results in the UK that eliminate LookSmart’s listings — which LookSmart admits in its financial filings could bode ill for the company.
Search Engine Showdown, Aug. 17. 2003
Covers why various types of searches at Google may not operate in the way you expect them to, based on how Google’s help pages describe.
Overture’s Conversion Counter — Too Good To Be True?
Traffick, Aug. 17, 2003
Overture’s new conversion counter sounds pretty cool — but Andrew Goodman points out that this free tool may cost you $50 per month in the future.
Updated List of Recent Microsoft Search Related Patents/Patent Apps and Technical Writing
ResourceShelf, July 15. 2003
Rundown on recent Microsoft search patents and research papers.
About The Search Engine Update
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