The Search Engine Update – Number 162 – Dec. 2, 2003

In This Issue

+ Search Engine Watch News
+ SES Comes To Chicago Next Week
+ Search Engine Articles By Danny Sullivan
+ SearchDay Articles
+ Search Engine Articles
+ Search Engine Resources
+ About The Search Engine Update

Search Engine Watch News

Hello Everyone–

No changes to Search Engine Watch to report this issue, but there’s plenty of search news listed below to keep you busy! Readers of SearchDay will know I promised a story for tomorrow, Dec. 3, updating recent changes at Google. That’s pushed back to Friday now. I needed more time to complete it.


SES Comes To Chicago Next Week

Search Engine Strategies arrives in Chicago next week, running from December 9-11. The conference features speakers from major search engines, including Ask Jeeves, Google, Inktomi, LookSmart, Overture and Yahoo, 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, depending on your skill level or interest.

To learn more or sign-up, call (203) 662-2857 or visit the URL below.

Search Engine Strategies Chicago

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

Searching With Invisible Tabs
SearchDay, Dec. 2, 2003

Behind the scenes, search engines will one day automatically push the correct tab for your query and retrieve specialized search results. This should ultimately prove an improvement over the current situation where everything is answered by web page matches.


Google, Overture Limit Pharmacy Ads — But Not In Free Listings
The Search Engine Report, Dec. 2, 2003

Overture and Google have reacted to pressure to drop ads for unlicensed online pharmacies in the United States. But while the ads will be gone, the access to sites selling prescription medicines without proper approval will remain virtually unchanged.


Google Dance Syndrome Strikes Again
SearchDay, Dec. 1, 2003

There’s been a new outbreak of Google Dance Syndrome, causing some web sites last month to lose top positions for some search terms. However, unlike previous outbreaks, a cure exists that makes it easy to compare results from old to new Google. These comparisons have some marketers convinced that recent changes at Google are designed to boost ad sales, a charge Google flatly denies.


Local Search Part 5: Citysearch Brings Local To Searchers & Merchants
SearchDay, Nov. 20, 2003

Citysearch has long offered local content to searchers. But the company has made new moves to bring local merchants into the world of search advertising by introducing a cost-per-lead program. Citysearch’s content and its new advertising program bridges a gap between search engines and online yellow pages.


AOL Buys Singingfish, Rolls Out More Search Changes
SearchDay, Nov. 19, 2003

AOL has acquired Singingfish, a multimedia search engine, and unveiled additional features to the AOL Search service designed for its members.

SearchDay Articles

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

Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization Debuts
SearchDay, Nov. 26, 2003

At the gala inaugural meeting of the Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization, the group’s board outlined the organization’s mission and extended a welcome to all search marketing industry professionals.


Dayparts & Other Search Engine Paid Listings Evolutions
SearchDay, Nov. 25, 2003

When it comes to gaining the most bang for the buck from paid search engine listings, micro-managing is a good thing, says our panel of experts.


Overture & Google Unveil New Advertiser Tools
SearchDay, Nov. 24, 2003

Overture’s new Marketing Console is a performance marketing tool, while Google’s Auto-Optimization feature automatically optimizes advertiser campaigns.


Search Engine Forums Spotlight
SearchDay, Nov. 21, 2003

Links to this week’s topics from search engine forums across the web: New Google AdSense Case Study Available – Stop Words on Broad/Phrase Matches? – ODP Essay: Beating the Odds – URL Structure, Query Strings in URL – Article About Penalizing for Exact-phrase Match? – Using SSI [Server Side Includes” – Nov 2003 Google Update – Google + Opera = Scumware? – Making Topical Pages – Common Usability Mistakes – Links AWAY from a Web Site – How Search Engine Friendly Is PHP [PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor”?


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,, and Search Engine Lowdown,, for spotting some of the articles listed below!


Can Google Grow Up?
Fortune, Dec. 8, 2003,15114,548765,00.html

A look inside Google, posing questions about whether the company will continue to succeed. Google is called arrogant, apparently by those who try to negotiate deals with it. Growth has left employees and partners confused about directions. Contract employees without stock options, making up 30 percent of Google workers the story says, have resentment against those who do. And who is in charge, the founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, or CEO Eric Schmidt?

Google better look out, the story warns, because Microsoft is going to “push” it off tens of millions of PCs. Keep in mind that Google is not preinstalled on the vast majority of PCs out there, so this isn’t a new threat. And if Microsoft does manage to find a way to prevent users from actively seeking out Google, as they do now, then Yahoo faces the same challenge.

As for Yahoo, it already competes head-to-head with Google and has done so since it bought Inktomi last year. The partnership with Google was effectively over then, but most likely for contractual reasons, Yahoo has continued to park the $235 million investment it made in Inktomi on the sidelines while it continues to use Google. When Yahoo finally shifts fully to Inktomi, it won’t be a surprise or shock to Google.

As for what happens if a “good enough” search engine is in the hands of a Google rival — Yahoo and MSN have already have “good enough” search engines. Google’s survived that just fine, so far.

None of this is to downplay the fact that Google has challenges ahead, including much stronger and dedicated competition that it ever has had before. However, some perspective on that competition is also important to keep in mind. This is a weak time for Google? Yahoo’s still trying to absorb Overture, which itself just absorbed two other companies — and Inktomi continues to linger. As for MSN, it’s still hiring for the “army of brainiacs” the article says it already has for web search. Google’s competition is going to be tough, no doubt. But right now, that competition faces disarray of its own.

The article looks at how Schmidt focused Google on earning money, though AdWords actually predates him. Schmidt joined in early 2001. Google started running “text banners” at the end of 1999, then opened its self-serve AdWords program in late 2000 — not February 2002, as the story says. Instead, that date is when AdWords opened a new CPC-based product that ran alongside the preexisting CPM-based AdWords. Today, CPM has been entirely replaced by CPC — and the shift is likely what made even more money flow in.

The article has some good figures on number of employees and revenues, though public sources for the revenue figures aren’t cited. Google itself has never released these. It also covers concern that AOL is said to have about Google’s growth.

Finally, this story leads off recounting how I shot softball questions past Sergey Brin earlier this year at the San Jose Search Engine Strategies conference. I did not ask, “How did Google become such an icon?,” as the story says — but the fault here is mine, given that our own SearchDay coverage of the interview suggests this: What I actually asked was, “Did you envision that kind of success,” describing the growth Google’s seen since it has grown in 1998. That’s something entirely different.

Other questions included, “How will an IPO change Google?,” “How do you respond to critics you say you are too powerful?,” “Will you ever do paid inclusion?” and “Where do you go next to improve relevancy as link analysis begins to look less and less useful?” Those aren’t exact quotes, but they capture the fact that it wasn’t all softball questions, at least to me. But Fortune writer Fred Vogelstein tells me he really mean this to capture that the spirit of the interview was friendly and casual, rather than aggressive. That’s absolutely true. (permalink)


‘Tis the Season: Build a Search Engine Marketing Budget
ClickZ, Dec. 1, 2003

Overview of types of fees you might want to budget for to undertake a search engine marketing campaign with the aid of an agency.


Webmaster World announces Search Engine Marketing PubConference VI
Pandia, Nov. 25, 2003

PubConference, a periodic gathering of members, gets more organized and expands for its next show in February.


Lycos Wants to Give You a Second Opinion, Nov. 25, 2003

The Lycos Side Search browser plug-in (see gains new shopping search results.


These Sites Are a Shopper’s Dream
BusinessWeek, Nov. 25, 2003

You can tell that the holiday shopping season is approaching because of all the stories about shopping search engines that are beginning to appear. This one looks at shopping search engines from a business perspective, in terms of how much they earn.


Shopping Search Engines Rev Up
AP, Nov. 24, 2003

Buying products online? Consider trying a shopping search engine. This article looks at these services from a consumer’s perspective.


Search Meets Marketing Savvy, Nov. 24, 2003,,10363_3113051,00.html

Review of new feature in Atomz, a site search solution, that lets you promote special offers tied to search terms.


Top Five Search Engine Optimization Myths
ClickZ, Nov. 24, 2003

Shari Thurow covers promises you might hear from some SEO companies that she warns should make you wary, such as guarantees about free positioning, instant link popularity and off-site microsites.


LookSmart Enhances Full-Text Article Search, Nov. 24, 2003

LookSmart has long offered the site, which is a useful way to search through periodicals that regular search engines might not have access to. Now the LookSmart site has gained an “Articles” tab to alert those visiting LookSmart itself that article research is offered.


Microsoft aims for search on its own terms, Nov. 24, 2003

Work that Microsoft is doing to make searching your desktop as easy as searching the web.


SEM Arbitrage: Golden or Cooked Goose?
ClickZ, Nov. 21, 2003

Getting affiliates to generate search traffic can sound attractive. But if they’re making a profit on the difference between what you pay them and what they earn, you might be missing opportunities.


Yahoo buys Chinese software firm, Nov. 21, 2003

Yahoo gets into the keyword navigation space — at least in China.


Rocketnews Will Soon Offer New Search Features, Nov. 21, 2003

New options are coming to the Rocketnews news search service, such as headline title searching and the ability to go back in articles for six months.


Overture unveils ad-tracking system, Nov. 20, 2003

Overture rolls out a low-cost conversion tracking tool that anyone can use to track ad campaigns, not just Overture-based ones.


Retailers Rise in Google Rankings as Rivals Cry Foul
New York Times, Nov. 20. 2003

A look at complaints from those selling gift baskets that spam is crowding them out of getting free listings on Google. For a similar look at these type of issues, see the article I wrote last month summarizing how complaints caused Google to go after an eBay affiliate:

======================== book-buying aid splits authors
Philadelphia Inquirer, Nov. 20, 2003

A writers’ advocacy group discovered that Amazon’s new “Search Inside The Book” service allowed people to print out more than 100 pages from a single book. The worry is that people might use the system as a way to get books for free — though the complicated effort involved would be a strong deterrent.


Google Applies Double Standard to Political Vendors
Accuracy In Media, Nov. 19, 2003

Google banned an advertisement for a anti-Clinton book, citing its criteria of rejecting “anti” ads. Ads for Ronald Reagan-related material was then rejected because of other “anti” items for sale on the same web site. However, other web sites selling such material, such as bumper stickers against George W. Bush, have been allowed to advertise.


A Selection of Recently Awarded Search Related Patents and Recently Published Search Applications, Nov. 19, 2003

Gary Price’s regular round-up of recent search-related patents.


An SEO Copywriting Makeover Turning “Not” Into “Hot”, Nov. 18, 2003

Two-part case study about turning copy into content that pleases search engines and humans.


The Pay or Not-to-Pay Conundrum
iMedia, Nov. 17, 2003

All search is paid, regardless of whether it’s “free/organic” or paid listings, says Kevin Ryan. And he’s largely correct. As I and others have said many times, anyone who believes that “unpaid” results have no commercial presence or represent some type of level playing field is mistaken. SEO, which he calls “pray for positioning,” should be understood as the search engine equivalent of PR. That’s one reason why it got a bad name with some advertisers — they assumed it was advertising or it was sold in that way. PR is a different creature from advertising, just as SEO and paid placement are different.

Search Engine Resources

Page and Brin’s Blog

Even devoted Google loyalists will probably have a chuckle at this fictional web log.


SEO Count

Web-based rank checking tool to see how you are performing on Google. Claims to be the only product like this that meets Google’s terms of use, since it makes use of Google’s API to gather results. But the API agreement is supposed to be for non-commercial use, so how can SEO Count use it while also charging customers between $50 to $175 per year for its service? SEO Count requires you to get your own Google API “key” (which is easily done), rather than using its own.

I’ve asked Google twice if they consider the service acceptable but have never gotten an answer. However, SEO Count creator Barry Schwartz tells me he’s gotten the all clear. Specifically, Google’s legal department did ask for the service to stop using the name Google Count, as it was formerly known. In that same email, the site was warned not to use the Google API in any manner.

“I emailed back explaining my case, and she [a Google lawyer” said she would ask the Google API team. I then changed the name, the logo and text from Google Count to SEO Count. The lawyer thanked me and the Google API Team sent me back a generic message that it is ‘OK to us if its OK with the TOS [Google API Terms Of Service”’,” said Schwartz.

Schwartz had his lawyer review the API terms and determined that everything was fine to continue.

“He said based on what it reads, I can have SEO Count and sell it to others. But he also said that Google retains the right to discontinue my service. In the API TOS, it states they have the right to do so,” Schwartz said.

Schwartz said the service now has about 150 non-trial users and that he’s not heard back from Google. (permalink)


Google Rankings

This free site lets you do on-the-fly free rank checking at Google. It claims to have the permission of Google’s legal department to do so.



Who’s winning hearts and minds in the upcoming US presidential campaign? Enter a keyword, and see how the candidates stack up based on Google data. I’m sure if I studied the methodology, I’d understand why Joe Lieberman is ranked number one for “prayer” while John Kerry is top ranked for “farms.” Or maybe I wouldn’t. It’s always dangerous to use search engine counts to make definitive statements about popularity. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun with the site!


Search Engine Decoder

I’ve never tried to create a gee-whiz visual chart of search engine relationships, because I’ve always found the crossing over of arrows pointing here and there make such charts unusable. They look cool, but an Edward Tufte-style simple table is actually more useful. To find mine, see But for a new twist on the graphical version, see the Search Engine Decoder, above. It succeeds because selecting any particular search engine shows relationships only for that search engine.

========================= Consumer Demand Index

See what people are searching for at Watch how the number of turkey fryer searches skyrockets as Thanksgiving in the US approached!



You’ve seen pop-up blocking software — even the Google Toolbar will do this for you. But here’s something I’ve never seen before, software designed to block paid listings on search engines.



Back in 2000, I wrote ( about a number of new tools that emerged to perhaps make it easier for sites to offer specialized search results, results that were “vertical” in a particular area such as golf or entertainment. Sadly, a wave of vertical portals or “vortals” never came, as many of the tool providers went under during the dot com bust. Recently a reader asked me if I’d heard of this company. I was pleased to discover it’s a new entrant into the vortal tools space. Though founded in 2000, it only began offering services in September.



In October, I mentioned Mirago because the European search engine had taken a lead in rolling out the ability for its advertisers to pick and choose exactly how their paid listings would be distributed:

Now Mirago has pushed further, introducing dayparting. Advertisers can specify that they want their ads to show up only on certain days or during certain parts of the days. More details can be found here:

Mirago’s head of technology Derek Preston tells me the company has added these two features because they’ve heard advertisers at recent Search Engine Strategies conference asking bigger players like Google and Overture to offer them. So now the question is, will these bigger players follow Mirago’s lead.

About The Search Engine Update

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