The Search Engine Update – Number 160

In This Issue

+ Search Engine Watch News
+ SES Chicago Agenda Available!
+ Search Engine Articles By Danny Sullivan
+ SearchDay Articles
+ Search Engine Articles
+ About The Search Engine Update

Search Engine Watch News

Hello Everyone–

There won’t be an installment of my local search series this week. Sorry! There was so much material to prepare for this edition of the newsletter that I’ve run short of time. It should resume next week.

For all of you associated with the yellow pages industry who’ve been contacting me — YES! — I do know that online yellow pages are a great way for searchers to find local content online. I’ve been saying in the series all along that I’ll be looking at this, and I will, promise.

Within the site, I’ve updated several of the search engine ratings pages that I maintain, specifically:

+ A new Hitwise Search Engine Ratings shows which search engines are most popular, based on visits. Figures are for September 2003.

+ The comScore Media Metrix Search Engine Ratings page has been updated with figures showing top search engines in the United States for August 2003.

+ The Nielsen NetRatings European Search Engine Ratings page has been updated with figures showing top search engines in various European countries for September 2003.

Occasionally, people ask me why the Nielsen NetRatings page for the US market hasn’t been updated in months. The reason is that NetRatings hasn’t provided new search-specific figures. I’ve been told they’ve been working on a new system for these. When it’s ready, I’m supposed to receive new figures. I’ll let you know when that happens.

All the pages I’ve mentioned can be found on via page below:

Search Engine Ratings and Reviews


SES Chicago Agenda Available!

The next Search Engine Strategies conference in the US comes to Chicago from December 9-11. The show features the best sessions from our San Jose event earlier this year plus new sessions including Auditing Paid Listings, SEM En EspaÑol, Search Engines & Affiliates, Getting Local, Click & Convert and Outsourcing SEM.

The conference features speakers from major search engines as well as search engine marketers sharing their experiences and tips. The conference web site provides full session descriptions, and there’s a special Session Itineraries page to guide you on what to attend, whether you are interested in free/organic listings, search engine advertising, are new to search engine marketing or experienced. To learn more or sign-up, call (203) 662-2857 or visit the URL below.

Search Engine Strategies Chicago

In Germany, Search Engine Strategies Munich is but a week away. Most sessions will be conducted in German, though I’ll be doing an introductory course in English. A full agenda for the event, to be held November 10-11, can be found below.

Search Engine Strategies Munich

Many dates for other Search Engine Strategies events next year have also been announced. More information can be found via the URL below.

Search Engine Strategies

Search Engine Articles
By Danny Sullivan

Surprised Google & Microsoft Talked Takeover? You Shouldn’t Be!
SearchDay, Nov. 5, 2003

A headline frenzy was sparked last Friday when the New York Times reported that Microsoft had talked with Google about a possible takeover within the past two months. No one should have been surprised that the companies have talked about a possible purchase. It made sense then. As for now, a more realistic possibility is that the two might partner in the short term. A look at why a takeover would have made sense, why Google can go it alone as a media company, what Google might and might not do with cash from an IPO and how there will probably be no real losers in the search sweepstakes that’s underway.


Google Kills eBay Affiliate Spam Quickly, Others Survive
The Search Engine Update, Nov. 5, 2003

AuctionBytes has had a series of stories looking into how an eBay affiliate was driving traffic to eBay from Google through cloaked content. The tactic is nothing new when it comes to search engine optimization. However, it is notable how quickly Google responded to the public outcry over this, while similar situations that are known or reported continue.


Google Faces Fight Over Ads & Trademarks In France
The Search Engine Report, Nov. 5, 2003

Days after Google was fined by a French court for selling ads linked to the terms claimed as trademarks, news emerged that Louis Vuitton launched its own trademark-related action against Google. A look at some of the complicated issues involved.


Local Search Part 3: Google Gets Local With AdWords
SearchDay, Oct. 28, 2003

Google’s new regional targeting feature for AdWords lets advertisers target their ads to any of 210 specific local regions in the US. Part of a continuing series on local searching.


Google Buys Sprinks, Plans IPO
SearchDay, Oct. 24, 2003

In a busy financial day for Google, the company purchased Sprinks, the former paid listings division of PRIMEDIA’s, while it was also reported that an initial public offering is planned for early next year. NOTE: Google has since added a page answering some advertiser questions about the transition to Sprinks:, while a post from the I-Search mailing list ( reports that existing Sprinks advertisers cannot add funds.

SearchDay Articles

Here’s a recap of recent articles from Search Engine Watch’s daily SearchDay newsletter:

Going Shopping? Ask Jeeves for Advice
SearchDay, Nov. 4, 2003

As the online shopping search space continues to heat up, Ask Jeeves has entered the fray with powerful enhancements to its smart search capabilities that help in all phases of the shopping process.


Search Engine Milestones for October 2003
SearchDay, Nov. 3, 2003

Notable news and announcements from the web search world during the past month.


Search Engine Forums Spotlight
SearchDay, Oct. 31, 2003

Links to this week’s topics from search engine forums across the web: Search Engine Chart – The State of Cloaking Today – Selling Rubbish – Turning Down Work Due to the Product – Can I Do Caching Like Google? – Google Aided Deep Search – Speaking Of RFPs… – GoGuides is now – Can You Achieve Inbound Link PR With Affiliate Codes? – Google Considers Online IPO Auction


Google’s API: For Fun, Not Profit (Yet)
SearchDay, Oct. 30, 2003

The Google API is a fun way to use Google for things as varied as solving crossword puzzles to creating recipes, but it’s not yet ready for prime-time applications.


Analyzing Search Engines as Investments
SearchDay, Oct. 29, 2003

Search has become increasingly popular, but do the common stocks of search engines make a good investment? High-tech investment analysts share a glimpse of the techniques they see to value publicly traded search firms, and which companies appear to be succeeding.


Amazon Debuts New Book Search Tool
SearchDay, Oct. 27, 2003

“Search Inside the Book” allows you to search the full-text of more than 33 million pages from over 120,000 printed books.


Search Forum Spotlight
SearchDay, Oct. 24, 2003

Links to this week’s topics from search engine forums across the web.


Balancing Paid and Organic Search Listings
SearchDay, Oct. 23, 2003

Do you really need both ‘organic’ or ‘natural’ listings, generated by search engine optimization (SEO), and paid placement, aka pay-per-click advertising (PPC), to be successful on search engines?


Want to receive SearchDay? Sign-up for the free daily newsletter from Search Engine Watch via the link below:


Search Engine Articles

Special thanks to Search Engine Guide,, for spotting some of the articles listed below!


Unusual Power Web Searching Commands
Online, Nov/Dec. 2003

Greg Notess provides a roundup of unusual searching commands that can be useful in the right situations.


Lycos drops Overture amid dispute
CBS MarketWatch, Nov. 4, 2003{DC717AA3-518A-4ABA-96C0-46E94C4E232A}

Terra Lycos files a lawsuit against Overture in a contract dispute and also drops Overture paid listings from its search pages at and Google’s paid listings are now being used instead, in cases where Lycos doesn’t have its own interally-sold Lycos AdBuyer listings, Unpaid and paid inclusion results continue to come from LookSmart and Yahoo-owned AllTheWeb.


Digging Deeper into Search-Friendly Design – Interview with Shari Thurow
Search Engine Guide, Nov. 3, 2003

Two part article that covers Shari Thurow’s simple but effective tips on building content that’s friendly to humans and search engines alike.


Why an SEM RFP Is a Mistake
ClickZ, Nov. 3, 2003

Submitting RFPs to search engine marketing firms is a bad way to truly understand vendors. Indeed, you’ll probably find many good vendors may not even respond. RFPs are often badly written and ask questions that can’t be properly answered. Fredrick Marckini urges an open conversation model. For more thoughts from vendors about this, also see this recent thread from the High Ranking Forums:


Are eBay Affiliates Spamming Google with Your Words?, Nov. 2, 2003

AuctionBytes has had a series of stories looking into how an eBay affiliate was driving traffic to eBay from Google through cloaked content. The tactic is nothing new when it comes to search engine optimization. However, it is notable how quickly Google responded to the public outcry over this, while similar situations that are known or reported continue. For a longer look at this issue, see Google Kills eBay Affiliate Spam Quickly, Others Survive,


eBay’s Whitman: Google Is Not a Threat
Reuters, Nov. 3, 2003

eBay’s CEO Meg Whitman dismisses that Google is a threat to eBay. Nor would I see Google’s Froogle shopping search engine as a threat to eBay, since Froogle provides no functionality for merchants that lack online stores. That’s eBay’s strength. However, her faith that Google’s focus on “search” means it wouldn’t get into online auctions may be misguided. Google got into blogging earlier this year, and that has nothing to do with search. Google might easily unveil a system to let companies list products for sale, perhaps through a Google version of Yahoo Merchant Solutions, The might very well be a threat to eBay.


Former Overture executive joins Microsoft
Reuters, Nov. 2, 2003

MSN is breaking up into two divisions. One will focus on communications, involving portal features such as the Hotmail email service and the MSN Messenger instant messaging service. The other focuses on information, which includes search. Along with this change, MSN also announced that it had wooed former Overture chief technology officer Paul Ryan to work for Microsoft. His new title is telling: general manager of MSN monetization. Capturing Ryan suggests that in addition to building its own crawler-based search engine, MSN is now aiming to move forward with its own in-house paid listings program, as well.


Friendster spurns Google
San Jose Mercury News, Oct. 31, 2003

The “we’re all about search” pitch from Google was proven outdated when the company bought Blogger earlier this year, a move that had nothing to do with search or organizing information. Now it turns out Google wanted to purchase Friendster, an online dating site. I suppose that’s at least a little more search-centric, but it would still have been a stretch from the company’s supposed stated mission.


In What’s Google Really Worth
BusinessWeek, Oct. 30, 2003

Alex Salkever deconstructs the notion that Google might be worth up to $25 billion. Coming up with that figure by using eBay and Yahoo are benchmarks is probably misguided, given that those companies have business models so much different than that of Google, he says. In contrast, looking at pre-Yahoo-owned Overture is much more instructive. Doing so, as well as a look at enterprise search company Verity, puts Google’s potential valuation much lower.


Study: Overture Better Than Google, Oct. 30, 2003

Jupiter Research found that Overture had the best features and management interface of major paid listings providers, according to interviews that were done with experienced marketers and Jupiter’s own experience using the toolset. Google ranked second, followed by now-Google owned Sprinks. Also rated was FindWhat. Despite coming in second, don’t read the report as a sign that Google will necessarily lose advertisers. Overture and Google have completely different distributions, so most advertisers find it necessary to buy with both, in order to extend their reach as far as possible.


Google’s Popular Toolbar
New York Times, Oct. 30, 2003

Google’s Toolbar has a great pop-up blocking feature, but that also means pop-ups you want can go unnoticed. I can attest to this, as my online bank recently switched to a system where a pop-up was needed to log-in. It took me ages to remember the Google Toolbar was blocking this. If you’re using it, remember that overriding the pop-up (easily done) may be the solution to a web access problem you may be having. And designers, as this article covers, take note that you may need to consider dumping the pop-ups.


Espotting boosts client base but loses Yahoo
Netimperative, Oct. 30, 2003

Yahoo Europe has now switched from Espotting’s paid listings to using those from Yahoo-owned Overture. Espotting says that a diverse distribution base should help it ride out the loss.


Amazon: Sales up from book search, Oct. 30, 2003

Amazon says its new “Search Inside The Book” feature has boosted sales.


Ask Jeeves scraps it out with search engine giants
Red Herring, Oct. 29, 2003 Jeeves scraps it out with search engine giants

Ask Jeeves is the minnow swimming among the big fish of Google, Yahoo, MSN and AOL. But the company’s thinks it can thrive and survive, despite being dependent on Google’s ads.


Amazon: Searching and Searching, Oct. 29, 2003

This reviewer is not enamored with the new Amazon “Search Inside The Book” feature, finding it yields too many results. And for his query, you can see the problems. Sorted by Average Customer Review, a search for “italian vegetarian cooking” brings up The Beatles Anthology as number two, with Come As You Are: The Story Of Nirvana in sixth. Those are just two matches that immediately leap out as bad. Sticking with the default “Featured Items” is much better.


LookSmart: Determinedly Second-Tier, Exploring Options, Oct. 29, 2003

LookSmart is still pondering the best way forward in the wake of news that its distribution with MSN will end this January.


The Amazoning of Google? Search Firm Looks for Book Content
Publishers Weekly, Oct. 28, 2003

Google’s apparently been trying to get publishers to help it create a full-text book search engine, similar to the one Amazon’s just launched. Google may have agreements already to carry up to 60,000 titles.


What weblogs are news?
Scripting News, Oct. 28, 2003

Earlier this year, grumblings were heard over bloggers not being accepted as part of Google News. Now there’s more noise, and rightly so. Google’s standard response seems to be that it doesn’t “include news-related blogs,” leaving it open to the accusation that it rejects possibly good content simply because of the content management system that’s used. Google should accept any type of good news content, blog or not. There are plenty of good reasons why a blog-based news source (or any news source) might not be accepted, such as the perceived quality of content, freshness or expectation that the source will be there tomorrow. Rejecting something just because it uses a blog publishing system isn’t a good reason. (permalink to this item)


AOL’s Happy Secret
New York Times, Oct. 28, 2003

Google’s apparently making oodles of cash for AOL, but the company is also reorganizing its own in-house advertising efforts.

======================== Challenges AOL and Google over Search Patent, Oct. 28, 2003

Online auction service Bidway claims that AOL and Google are violating a patent it holds about using ZIP codes to deliver personalized results. Google doesn’t actually use ZIP codes for the localization it has rolled out (see As for AOL, the localization it’s doing doesn’t involve Google’s new service, to my knowledge. Somehow, I don’t think this suit will be going far. By the way, I’m told from a reader that InfoSpace has a US patent (6,295,528) covering the use of DMA-targeting to provide localized results. Google most definitely does that.


Google searches for winning ad strategy, Oct. 28, 2003

I suspected Google would use little of Sprinks, and that appears to be what’s happening, given that advertisers aren’t able to continue funding their Sprinks accounts. So, I don’t buy into the “they need something more” argument of buying Sprinks some voice in this article. That doesn’t discount the fact that contextual ads from Google and others face challenges in the coming year, as the article also outlines.


Critics Take Wary View of Shopping Web Link
New York Times, Oct. 27, 2003

In a real coup for shopping search engine, it now has a deal to be featured on the Consumer Reports web site. The magazine is hoping that the arrangement will not hurt the impartiality that it is known for.


Sharpen Your Internet Searches
BusinessWeek, Oct. 27, 2003

Succinct tips on searching the web better.


Feeding Frenzy, Part 1
ClickZ, Oct. 24, 2003

Shopping search engines are a great way for online retailers to reach out to new customers. Don’t neglect them. This article covers how to feed these creatures with your content.


Spammers Clog Up the Blogs
Wired, Oct. 24, 2003,1282,60912,00.html

Looks more at the problems that “trackback” spam poses to blog operators who use Movable Type, which I covered generally in terms of search engine impact last issue in


Blogrunner Launches “Portal” Of Weblog Resources
ResearchBuzz, Oct. 22, 2003

Review of a new portal of blog content.


Yahoo vs. Google vs. Microsoft, Oct. 22, 2003

Who’s the bigger competitor to Yahoo, Google or Microsoft? Yahoo CEO Terry Semel groups MSN and AOL together as competitors while putting Google “kind of out there on its own.” Did Yahoo ever consider buying Google? No clear answer, on this one. Semel does say he “thinks” Yahoo owns some of Google. It’s odd to hear the CEO suggest that he doesn’t know. The answer is that Yahoo indeed does own a small portion of Google.


Blog on, Oct. 21, 2003

Good interview with Blogger creator Evan Williams, especially covering issues such as the impact of bringing blogging into Google.


Search the Web More Efficiently
Pandia, October 2003

Multipart article with a variety of useful tips on how to search better.

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