The Search Engine Update – Number 159

In This Issue

+ Search Engine Watch News
+ SES Chicago Agenda Available!
+ 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–

The work on my local search series has kept me pretty busy, but I’ll be clear of that next week and back to doing some site updating. More news on changes next time!


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

Search Engine Strategies also comes to Munich next month. 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. Please note that our Boston show in March has now moved to New York! More information can be found via the URL below.

Search Engine Strategies

Search Engine Articles
By Danny Sullivan

Reader Q&A: October 2003
The Search Engine Update, Oct. 22, 2003

Answers to the following questions from readers:

+ Will paid ads on Google or Overture hurt your unpaid listings?
+ Why can’t I find the submit link for an Open Directory category?
+ Do I have to pay a new submission fee if I change my web page?
+ Where can I find out the popularity level of shopping search engines?
+ Why did the Open Directory drop my sites?
+ Do search engines read the words within links?
+ How do we get Google to drop misleading and spammy web pages?
+ Is there an easy way to find out what the cost or a particular term is on the various search engines?
+ I don’t see AllTheWeb in the search engine ratings pages you maintain. Why not?
+ I am trying to find out which search engines have the most users and what keywords are used the most when navigating to sites in particular subjects. Can you help?
+ Why do you recommend search engine math commands over Boolean commands?
+ Do you know anything if Froogle will be released in the UK or elsewhere? What other UK shopping search engines are there?
+ Is the meta description tag still worth doing?


Local Search Part 2: Google & Mobilemaps Bring Back Geosearching
SearchDay, Oct. 21, 2003

How Google and Mobilemaps are making it possible to search the web yet filter results to a local level. Second of a three-part series on local search.


New Developments In Local Search: Part 1, Moves By Overture
SearchDay, Oct. 14, 2003

Local searching on web-wide search engines can be disappointing. New moves by some major players may improve this. This first of a three-part series looks at local search listings that Overture is testing.

SearchDay Articles

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

The State of the Search Engine Industry
SearchDay, Oct. 22, 2003

Noted search engine experts and analysts explored the major themes and trends driving the current and future state of the industry in a lively, wide-ranging forum at the Search Engine Strategies conference.


Expand Shorthand Meanings with the Acronym Finder
SearchDay, Oct. 20, 2003

NTK what an acronym stands for? The Acronym Finder is the place to search for abbreviated meanings, IMHO.


Search Engine Forums Spotlight
SearchDay, Oct. 17, 2003

Links to this week’s topics from search engine forums across the web: A Beta-Tester’s Take on Quigo AdSonar – Help? I’m Kinda Stumped – What’s the latest on Ah-Ha and goClick? – Dealing With a Penalized Domain Name – This New [Google” Broad Matching ‘Feature’… – Search Engine Friendly Shopping Carts.


A “Fireside Chat” with Google’s Sergey Brin
SearchDay, Oct. 16, 2003

Is Google God? When will the company finally go public? Search Engine Watch editor Danny Sullivan poses these and other questions to Google co-founder Sergey Brin.


A Multi-Faceted Phone Directory Lookup Tool
SearchDay, Oct. 15, 2003

Argali is a powerful directory lookup application that allows you to search and aggregate results from several web-based phone and email address databases.


British Pathe Develops Huge Historic Picture Archive
SearchDay, Oct. 13, 2003

British Pathe is offering free access to a digitized collection of more than 12 million historic photographs from its 20th century cinema newsreel archive.


Search Engine Forums Spotlight
SearchDay, Oct. 10, 2003

Links to this week’s topics from search engine forums across the web: Keyword Research for Product Research – Paid Inclusion: ‘The Fix Is In’ – Inktomi… Major Changes? – LookSmart Losing Microsoft MSN Deal – LookSmart Loses MSN – Keyword Density – AdSense Click Warfare


What’s In A (Search Engine’s) Name?
SearchDay, Oct. 9, 2003

What’s a Google? Should you be wary of Inktomi? Here’s a look at the origins and meanings of the major search engines’ names.


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


Search Engine Articles

20 Great Google Secrets
PC Magazine, Oct. 28, 2003,4149,1306756,00.asp

Even if you use Google regularly, you may find some useful search tips in this article from Google Hacks coauthor Tara Calishain.


Advertisers attack Google over Adwords enhancement
NewMediaAge, Oct. 22, 2003

Some Google AdWords advertisers are unhappy with how the new expanded matching capability introduced is automatically including terms they don’t want. FYI, you can turn this off, and I’ll take a closer look at this in a future newsletter.


Australian Mooter takes on Google
ZDNet, Oct. 21, 2003,39020645,39117255,00.htm

New search engine Mooter has launched with clustering capabilities. The service has already collapsed due to too many people trying view it after it got a few press mentions, so I can’t tell you how it measures up compared to other clustering search engines such as Best part of this article is the suggestion that LookSmart winning a deal with Mooter to provide paid listings would be a “shot in the arm” for LookSmart. Mooter has nil traffic at the moment, so a deal with Mooter would have little impact on LookSmart’s fortunes. has a nice thread of comments from those who were able to see the site until it went down: (permalink to this item)


FindWhat Surges After Third-Quarter Beat, Oct. 21, 2003

FindWhat reports $2.8 in net income last quarter. The company said it will no longer report some stats such as revenue per click. It said that the merger with Espotting is still being worked out but could still fail to happen. FindWhat also disclosed that two unnamed distribution partners each accounted for more than 10 percent of FindWhat’s income. You can bet one of those is probably InfoSpace, which operates several popular meta search sites that carry FindWhat results, including Dogpile.


Web Campaign ’04: Politicos Embrace Search, Adapt TV Spots To Broadband Video
MediaDailyNews, Oct. 20, 2003

US presidential candidates are looking at search engine marketing as a way to reach out. On a completely different note, I’m still confused about how Arianna Huffington and Peter Ueberroth, both failed candidates in the California gubernatorial recall election, somehow knew I was a registered California voter in order to send me email spam. Not surprisingly, neither campaign ever explained how they got my email address.


Overture and MSN extend sponsored search deal, Oct. 20, 2003

Overture’s deal to provide MSN with sponsored listings has been extended an additional six months. Previously, it was to expire in December 2004. Now it will run in the US and the UK through June 2005.


Links Are All About Reputation – An Interview with Mike Grehan
Search Engine Guide, Oct. 20. 2003

Short interview with search engine expert Mike Grehan on how search engines use links and appropriate link building.


Relevant Links Begin In Directories
ClickZ, Oct. 20, 2003

Directories are dying — someday, I’ll finish a piece I started earlier this year explaining why. The short answer is that today’s crawler-based search engines let you scan every page on every book in the library to find the best and most exact references to what you are looking for. In the directory approach, you were only able to scan the titles of books, a far less comprehensive search.

If directories are dying, does that mean it’s not worth getting directory links? Fredrick Marckini still sees value in doing the old Yahoo-ODP submission rounds. And sure, do the ODP simply because it’s easy way to get a free, valuable link — assuming they get around to processing it.

And Yahoo? Spend the money only because you think the listing within the Yahoo Directory itself will bring you traffic, not because you think it will help you with crawler-based search engines using link analysis. See the Yahoo Directory page for Search Engine Watch members,, for more about this and the concept of “detour traffic.” (permalink to this item)


Why Google should stop being so ‘evil’
The Guardian, Oct. 20, 2003,7496,1066536,00.html

More on the recent move by Google to amend its AdSense terms and conditions. Apparently, those who were tossed out of the program couldn’t log in to check on the money they were owed unless they agreed to new terms preventing them from criticizing the program, a dumb policy for Google to try and impose.


Beyond the Verisign vs. ICANN Battle
BusinessWeek, Oct. 20, 2003

Review of the battle between Verisign and ICANN over Verisign’s SiteFinder service that kicks in if someone tries to reach a web site that doesn’t exist, along with a call for parties to work together to truly help the web user.


Google Ordered to Pay Fine in French Trademark Case, Oct. 18, 2003

Google France fined for trademark violation, Oct. 16 2003

Google’s been fined by a French court for selling ads linked the terms “travel market” and “airflight market” which are apparently claimed as trademarks by two French travel agencies. Google is appealing the case.

Implications for the ability to sell keywords? Hard to say. Excite lost a case in Germany in 2000 for linking keywords to banner ads, yet there was later a settlement and search engines certainly continue to sell terms there today. In the US, the Body Solutions case over keyword-linked paid listings filed last year remains in progress.

Overall, maybe this will be the case that clears up the issue in France. Elsewhere, the legalities remain untested. For history on past cases and the issue in general, see the Advertising & Listings section of the Search Engines & Legal Issues page I maintain: (permalink to this item)


Think Negative
ClickZ, Oct. 17, 2003

With expanded matching capabilities introduced recently at both Overture and Google, marketers need to think more about removing terms they don’t want to target.


Researchers Hope to Improve Web Searches
AP, Oct. 16, 2003

Carnegie Mellon University researchers are using humans to play a game that they hope will lead to better image search results.


VeriSign to restart controversial ‘404’ redirect service Oct. 16, 2003,39024667,10006431,00.htm

VeriSign’s system of capturing traffic trying to reach non-existent domains is to be resurrected. It wasn’t a 404 redirect service, by the way. It has no impact on 404 page not found errors.


Be it Resolved that Paid Inclusion is Search – A Response to I-Search and Paid Inclusion Naysayers
Marketleap, Oct. 16, 2003

My usual reminder: I’m not an opponent of paid inclusion and fully recognize that it has valuable things to offer advertisers and searchers. But I have to strongly object to the suggestion in this article from paid inclusion reseller Marketleap that paid inclusion “online search at its purest.”

What’s online search? Traditionally in web search’s short history, this has been the mechanism of either crawlers or humans finding information from across the web, in order to provide the most comprehensive results possible. But paid inclusion makes it possible to get some of this information that search engines can’t ordinary find, right? Well, it’s one solution. Google, which doesn’t offer paid inclusion, seems to be able to find plenty of dynamically-generated content without needing a program.

As for the idea that XML feeds get subject to great human review, head over to HotBot and do a Inktomi-powered HotBot search for rocket ships. Look down there at number 9: “Rocket Ships on eBay: eBay offers great deals and a wide selection on items related to Rocket Ships!”

What great human review is happening here? Almost certainly, eBay has fed a template with any term it wants to be found into Inktomi, then Inktomi does a fast look to see if eBay actually has matching results at search time. If so, then you get a listing that in turn runs a search for “rocket ships” on eBay — bringing back an eBay page with just four so-so results.

Note also that Walmart and Amazon (twice) have paid inclusion listings that make it into the top results. These are for products of questionable quality to be among the top 108,548 matches found from across the entire web for a search on “rocket ships.” Amazon and Walmart are also listing the exact same book.

Examples like these are enough for some to declaim, “stop this evil paid inclusion.” Yet run the same search over at Google. You’ll find Amazon has product pages in the top two positions, while Barnes & Noble has a listing selling the same book that Amazon and Walmart sell over on Inktomi.

These results are hardly non-commercial. I especially like the one for the rocket ship-shaped, ahem, adult toy. The only difference between Google and Inktomi is that Google isn’t earning money off of these listings (and the company officially denies rumors of a behind-the-scenes paid inclusion deal with Amazon).

Paid inclusion isn’t pure search, but pure search itself isn’t pure. Perhaps the best solution is a little give on both sides. Google absolutely should consider some programs that give web site owners some official channel into talking about how they get listed. And paid inclusion search engines should strongly consider labeling their results and acknowledge to the public that paid inclusion is an advertising program, which is exactly what they tell potential advertisers. (permalink to this item)


Google Alert Shows the Power of Google’s Web API Program
Traffick, Oct. 15, 2003

Interview with Google Alert creator Gideon Greenspan. His free service lets you monitor search result changes on Google. The program isn’t run by Google but does make use of the Google API that it gives to developers of non-commercial services.


An Interview with’s Mel Strocen, Oct. 15, 2003 is now using Alexa web site popularity data as part of its ranking algorithm. More details about how the search engine works. Be aware that ExactSeek has low distribution and usage compared to major search engines, so don’t expect a major traffic rise even if you do rank well there.


It’s a New Blog Search Engine: Bloogz, Oct. 15, 2003

Review of a new blog search engine with multiple language support.


Blog noise achieves Google KO
The Register, Oct. 14, 2003

This article reports how some people are using the “trackback” ability of some blog software to create artificial links to influence their rankings in search engines. “The humble weblog has finally achieved dominance over Google,” it says. Panic stations! Actually, some perspective is in order.

First, some search engine optimizers have long tried to build “artificial” links to their web sites. They use a variety of methods, including the creation of fake web sites they own, the use of web site guestbooks and posting on web site forums. All of these are problems. The blog spam is just the latest and probably getting attention simply because bloggers tend to talk with each other about their sites publicly via their blogs.

As for this being a Google problem, sure, the one example cited is pretty bad on Google. But over at AllTheWeb, you get similar bad results. As always, this is because the major search engines all leverage links, so link spam can have an impact on them all. Why don’t Teoma and Inktomi show the same thing? From what I can tell, it’s because they haven’t actually crawled some of these pages, almost certainly because the dynamic nature of them has put them off.

Again, link spam (blog-based or otherwise) is certainly a problem for some queries, and it’s a growing problem for all search engines. But to say that blogs have “dominance” over Google is a joke. A search on “iraq” doesn’t appear blog dominated nor “george bush.” Fair to say, the vast majority of searches that people conduct aren’t going to be blog dominated.

Blog link spam, as with any link spam, is going to have a stronger impact on infrequent searches that don’t bring up much content. That’s absolutely a problem, but it’s not as big as problem as this article makes out. As for the solution, most likely it will be that search engines will switch to presenting specialized results when it make sense (news search results for topics clearly seemed to be news-oriented) and personalization of results. (permalink to this item)


Are search engines confusing surfers?, Oct. 13, 2003

More on the growing debate over paid inclusion, emerging because the paid inclusion listings seem to be more noticeable in search results. Search engines are complying with FTC guidelines about disclosure of paid inclusion, but it could be that FTC may tighten those rules in the future.


Contextual Advertising, Part 2 of 2
ClickZ, Oct. 13, 2003

A further look at contextual advertising with ample comments and observations from Google.


Internet Search Engine Advertising Shows Major Gains
AdAge, Oct. 13, 2003

Readers of this newsletter know the power of search engine marketing, so there’s not a lot new in this article written for the more traditional media buyers who read AdAge. But do check out some of the stats, which are good. Ford’s online arm is spending 25 percent of its budget on search engine marketing. Edmunds reports a 30 to 40 percent return on its buys. United Airlines wants search to make up 25 to 50 percent of its online marketing budget. And the costs of buying are going up.


Waiting For the Big One: Why a Google IPO appears likely by April, at the latest
Barron’s Online, Oct. 13, 2003,,SB106583046445910900,00.html

Google may have to go public simply because it has too many employees. If I recall correctly, this is one of the main reasons that Microsoft was eventually forced to go public. Latest rumors are that Google makes more than $100 million in profit off up to $1 billion in revenue.


Battered LookSmart says it can look smarter
TheAge, Oct. 11, 2003

LookSmart founder Evan Thornley says LookSmart will announce its plans to survive the loss of MSN in a few weeks.


Google’s Secret: ‘Cheap and Fast’ Hardware
PC World, Oct. 10, 2003,aid,112891,00.asp

A look at the hardware Google uses to search the web.


New Google and LookSmart Tools: A User’s Guide
ClickZ, Oct. 10, 2003

Overview of new features at LookSmart and Google that expand the possible matches that your paid listings may appear for.


Google Rolls Out Keyword Conversion Tool, Oct. 9, 2003

Following on Overture, Google is now offering basic conversion tracking to advertisers.


Using ClickTracks to Control PPC Ad Spending, Increase Sales Web Search Guide, Oct. 9, 2003

I loved ClickTracks 3.0 and am playing with the latest 4.0 version right now. In this review, Elisabeth Osmeloski takes a closer look at the program.


Dialing in on Channel Conflicts
iMediaConnection, Oct. 9, 2003

Kevin Ryan makes some really good points about how affiliate programs and resellers make for consumer confusion when they all vie to sell the same products via search engine listings. Recently, I’ve had a number of advertisers complain to me about this. It’s hard to argue that the consumer is being well-served by listings dominated in this way. It’s also hard to see the search engines changing things on their own, since that means lost dollars to them.


Consumer Information–Product Reviews
ResourceShelf, Oct. 9, 2003

Review of a great resource that lets you locate product reviews, something I’ve found more and more frustrating when done on general purpose search engines.


Yahoo keeps up profit streak, Oct. 8, 2003

Yahoo has its sixth consecutive profitable quarter, earning $65 million in net profit on $357 million in revenue. Yahoo is also to stop breaking out sponsored search revenues in future quarters, saying it’s no longer a distinct business line. Indeed, I would say it is — and not breaking out figures will make it harder for everyone to measure the health of Yahoo’s paid listings operations.


Google Accepts Porn Ads but Refuses Those for Guns, Oct. 7, 2003

I reported on this about a year ago, but here’s a revisit on how gun ads are not acceptable to Google but porn is OK.


New Document Search Engine Web Search Guide, Oct. 7, 2003

Review of new academic and business report search engine SMEALSearch.


Google CEO speaks out on future of search, Oct. 7, 2003

Google CEO Eric Schmidt says personalization is growing as an important part of how Google will aim to deliver good results to its users. And that’s it — no further specifics.


Overture Shareholders OK Yahoo Bid, Oct. 7, 2003

It’s official. Yahoo now owns Overture, and Overture president and CEO Ted Meisel becomes a Yahoo senior vice president.


Google Spam Filtering Gone Bad
Seth Finkelstein, October 2003

GoogleWhack players discovered some queries that should have yielded results were coming up with nothing. Seth Finkelstein investigated and found that it seemed to be an error where Google’s spam filter kicked in, and an apparent bug stopped all but the spam listing to be suppressed through. The bug appears to have now been corrected.

Search Engine Resources

Digital Point Search Engine Keyword Tracker & Keyword Ranking Tool

New free tool that lets you track positions on major search engines over time, including Google (as it makes use of the Google API and is non-commercial, you shouldn’t be violating any Google terms by using this). A backlink tracking tool is also offered:


High Rankings Search Engine Marketing Seminar

Jill Whalen runs the wonderful High Ranking Advisor newsletter,, plus speaks at the Search Engine Strategies conference that I organize. Jill also conducts periodic one-day workshops of her own. If you’re near Tampa, one’s coming there on November 7.



Meta search engine for the US and several European countries, as well as in various subject areas. Has ability to save your results for easy rerunning at a future point.



Chances are, you probably haven’t heard of Mirago. It’s a smallish search engine serving Europe. However, it deserves attention for rolling out an important new feature.

Mirago has paid listings, and like many paid listing providers, it distributes these to partner sites. Advertisers are sometimes concerned that partner sites might not produce good traffic. Indeed, it can be difficult to get many paid listing providers to list all the partners they’ve hooked up with.

Now Mirago is giving advertisers the ability to exclude any particular partner site if they find poor conversions coming from that site. It’s a degree of control I’d hope we’d see the larger players also embrace. More details can be found from the Mirago press release:

About The Search Engine Update

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