The Search Engine Update – Number 148

In This Issue

+ Search Engine Watch News
+ Search Engine Strategies Coming To London, San Jose
+ Yahoo’s Search Engine Continues Evolving
+ Google’s Premium Sponsorships On The Way Out
+ Google Buys Applied Semantics
+ SearchDay Articles
+ Search Engine Articles
+ About The Search Engine Update

Search Engine Watch News

Hello Everyone–

I’ve been busy cleaning up some of the bumps from Search Engine Watch’s redesign, such as fixing strangely formatted charts and locating missing content. I’ve also been doing a lot of updating, as I’ve gone along — and there will be more of this throughout May.

Within the Members Area, aside from little fixes, I’ve done a major update to the How Netscape Search Works page, to reflect that editorial and paid listings come from Google. It also explains how Netscape Search now carries up to eight paid listings from Google. Also updated is the LookSmart column of the Directory Submission Chart. Updates to the LookSmart page itself should come shortly.

Links to both pages mentioned can be found from here:

What’s New: Members-Only Area

In the public area of the site, the Who Powers Whom? Search Providers Chart has been updated to reflect new ownership of AllTheWeb and AltaVista by Overture, new ownership of Inktomi by Yahoo and to show new contract expiration dates for Overture providing main editorial and paid listings to Lycos. Similarly, the Major Search Engines page has had ownership updates, as well. Both pages can be reached from here:

What’s New In Search Engine Watch’s Departments


Search Engine Strategies Coming To London, San Jose

Next stop for Search Engine Strategies will be London, on June 3-4. An agenda for our popular show about search engine marketing has now been posted. You can find more details or sign-up for the event via the URL below.

Search Engine Strategies London

Dates for our next US show have also been announced, including our first-ever four day event, August 18-21, in San Jose, California. More details and information will be posted on the conference web site in the near future for this and for our planned Munich and Chicago shows. In the meantime, you can visit and leave your email address, to be notified when details have been posted, via the URL below.

Search Engine Strategies


Call For Speakers

I’m looking for speakers to take part in next month’s London Search Engine Strategies show, mentioned above. Those interested should message to be considered. 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. Please put “LONDON SES” in the subject line of your message.

To be considered, get in touch by May 8. I’ll respond to those who are selected by May 12. 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:

Paid Inclusion (June 3): I’m looking for someone to do a 10 minute case study-style presentation on how they’ve made use of paid inclusion for a specific web site. My preference is for someone who has used several different programs and especially if you’ve made use of XML/trusted feed systems. I’d also prefer a UK or Europe-based speaker.

Search Term Research (June 3): I need someone who can do a 10-15 minute overview of major search term research tools for NON-ENGLISH languages. If you regularly work with European clients, this might be a perfect spot for you.

Writing Search Engine Ads (June 3): I’m looking for one or two people to share tips on writing great copy that attracts clicks but also satisfies the ad standards for Overture, Espotting and Google. You’d have 10-15 minutes to speak. UK/Europe speakers preferred.

Shopping Search (June 3): Are you experienced in getting sites listed within the major shopping search engines that serve the UK? Then I’d love to have you do a 15 minute overview on the listing process and other tips. I’m also interested in a second case-study style person who could share experiences about being part of shopping search.

Dynamic Web Sites (June 4): Operate a dynamic web site and had to make changes to please search engines? I’ve got a spot for a 10 minute case study on your experiences. UK/Europe speaker preferred.

Campaign Case Studies (June 4): I have two spots where each speaker has 15 minutes to discuss how they marketed a particular web site via search engines. UK/Europe speakers preferred.


Yahoo’s Search Engine Continues Evolving

Just seven months after Yahoo made a major change to its search engine, the New Yahoo Search has now been unveiled. What’s different? Quite a bit, but the useful new additions don’t detract from the previous changes. A close look at the changes can be found below.

Yahoo’s Search Engine Continues Evolving
The Search Engine Update, May 6, 2003


Google’s Premium Sponsorships On The Way Out

Google has yet to make an official announcement, but the signs are clear — its CPM-based Premium Sponsorships are to be retired and gone as we know them by 2004. Details, as they’re currently emerging, can be found in the article below.

Google’s Premium Sponsorships On The Way Out
The Search Engine Update, May 6, 2003


Google Buys Applied Semantics

Google has acquired Applied Semantics, a move that gives the company new traffic for its paid listings, new strengths in the contextual advertising space, and also potentially hurts major competitor Overture. Below is my article on the topic, originally written for SearchDay. Search Engine Watch members should follow through from the blue box to the members edition of this article.

Google Buys Applied Semantics
SearchDay, April 23, 2003

SearchDay Articles

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

Optimizing Flash for Search Engines
SearchDay, May 6, 2003

Macromedia Flash and other non-HTML formats can pose problems for search engines, unless you take appropriate steps to optimize the content. Search Engine Watch members should follow through from the blue box to the members edition of this article.


How Search Engines Make Sense of the Web
SearchDay, May 5, 2003

Search engines are essentially massive full-text indexes of web pages. The quality of the indexes, and how the engines use the information they contain, is what makes — or breaks — the quality of search results.


Search Engine Milestones for April 2003
SearchDay, May 1, 2003

The month in review: abstracts from selected press releases and announcements made during the prior month related to web search and search engine marketing.


Ten Tips to the Top of Google
SearchDay, April 30, 2003

Having a Web site that gets found in Google isn’t hard to do, but it can be difficult to know where to begin. Here are ten tips to get you started.


ComScore Launches Search Engine Tracking System
SearchDay, April 29, 2003

comScore Networks, known for its Media Metrix web traffic reports, has launched a new service to track and report on searchers’ actual unique queries across 25 major search engines and portals. Search Engine Watch members should follow through from the blue box to the members edition of this article.


Is Google’s ASI Deal a Threat to Overture?
SearchDay, April 27, 2003

Google’s announcement last week that it was buying Applied Semantics (ASI) sent shockwaves through the financial community, causing internet analysts from Credit Suisse First Boston, Smith Barney and USB Piper Jaffray to lower their ratings on Overture.


Search Engine Marketing Goes Mainstream
SearchDay, April 23, 2003

There was plenty of evidence at Search Engine Strategies 2003 that search engine marketing has gone mainstream. Even the issues addressed by both keynote speakers reflected the classic ‘separation of church and state’ concerns that mainstream media have been discussing for almost 100 years.


Questions and Answers About Changes To SearchDay
SearchDay, April 22, 2003

Both SearchDay and Search Engine Watch have been revamped recently. Here are some of the common questions you’ve asked, with answers and a glimpse of where we’re headed in the future.


Ask Jeeves Serves Up New Features
SearchDay, April 21, 2003

Ask Jeeves introduced several new features today, including a streamlined interface, image search, and what the company is calling ‘smart search’ tools and features.


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


Search Engine Articles

Domain Name Ownership Research Tools
Online, May/June 2003

So many domains these days — how do you find who owns them? An extensive guide to domain name research tools.


Google: An engine of change
San Jose Mercury News, May 5, 2003

You’ve read this type of story before. Everyone uses Google! But is the company too dominant? Are there privacy issues when anyone can be Googled? Should they be regulated. As always, a lot of these issues are more broadly applicable to the entire search engine industry, not just Google. And here’s an interesting tidbit. Tim O’Reilly, founder and president of well-known publisher O’Reilly & Associates, apparently has a small investment in Google.


Inside the Soul of the Web
Wired, May 2003

Another story you’ve likely seen before, but here it is again — watching live queries happening on Google, as displayed on a wall in its reception area. What’s most interesting is the part at the end of the story, where a Google engineer says that if Google doesn’t provide the right information in response to a query for “what to tell a suicidal friend,” he’ll “find better sites and attach them for future queries.” Google has never suggested it does this type of query-linked hand-manipulation before. Indeed, it has always strongly denied it. So, this is definitely on my follow-up list to see exactly what was meant by this.


And You Thought the Web Ad Market Was Dead
BusinessWeek, May 5, 2003

The battle for paid listings in Europe is heating up. Actually, it was already heating up over a year ago (see Europe’s Paid Placement Warriors, However, Overture’s now fighting hard to push back against the early lead Espotting gained in 2001. For 2003, Espotting’s set to earn $100 million in sales but the company almost sounds like a write-off according to this article, with Overture “having nabbed most of Europe’s major players.” Unfortunately, the article fails to back this up, relying instead on proof of this from Overture itself. Nevertheless, there’s no doubt Espotting will have to battle harder in 2003 than ever before. Overture has deeper pockets to help it sweeten deals while Google needs no partners at all to compete — it already has a range of popular web sites throughout Europe, its own.


Google’s Schmidt Takes On Moore’s Law
AlwaysOn, May 2, 2003

This is the fourth of a series of interviews with Google CEO Eric Schmidt and the least Google specific. But links to the other parts can be found from this. Part 1 covers the purchase of Pyra Labs and suggests Google wanted the technology team more than the business. But Schmidt is big on the concept of blogging as the next big wave of communication on the internet, following on web page building and email. Part 2 touches on Google and search privacy issues generally, while Part 3 covers revenue. Earners are the well-familiar ones: selling ads on Google, providing search listings and ads to others, providing enterprise and site search services. No breakdown of which segment is the biggest is provided. In the past interviews I’ve had, advertising has been cited as earning between 50 to 75 percent of Google’s revenue.


Accessible Flash: SEO for Flash
Sitepoint, May 2, 2003

James Ellis provides an extensive tutorial on making Flash sites more search engine friendly, though it is based around PHP.


Search Research Comes of Age
ClickZ, May 2, 2003

Covers new search popularity figures released in April by comScore as well as data-mining that comScore is promising that can be applied for search engine marketing efforts. Also covers other major metrics providers, such as Nielsen//NetRatings, Alexa and StatMarket. FYI, the Search Engine Ratings page ( at Search Engine Watch will lead you to ongoing search figures from NetRatings, a summary of StatMarket releases and in the near future, ongoing figures from comScore.

======================== Expects $10M Profit in 2003, May 1, 2003

FindWhat expects to make a $10 million profit this year. Google’s purchase of Applied Semantics — one of FindWhat’s top five partners — will hurt the company, but it expects to do better in its deal in providing technology for internal paid listings program that Terra Lycos operates. Also interesting is the suggestion that Terra Lycos may give its own listings a more prominent position in the near future. To do this, Overture listings might be pushed into a secondary spot. Terra Lycos did just renew with Overture for three years, but the agreement probably gives Terra Lycos great flexibility on where Overture listings are located.


Yahoo’s overtures to Overture, May 1, 2003

Scroll down to the second item, a revival of the rumor that Yahoo wants to purchase Overture. No hard facts, just more speculation.


The Grammar of Sound
Technology Review, April 30, 2003

Need to search through audio recordings to find particular keyword references? New technology from Fast-Talk Communications aims to make this much easier. Of course, SpeechBot (, has allowed you to do this for ages for selected news content. The service either lets you search against written transcripts to match portions of audio recordings or has used speech recognition to create transcripts where none are available. However, FAST-Talk skips the transcription step used by SpeechBot and other audio-indexing companies. Instead, it makes a sound — rather than word — transcription of a document. This is supposed speed the indexing process.


More Meaningless Metrics?
Traffick, April 30, 2003

Andrew Goodman takes a skeptical view of new search popularity figures from comScore.


China’s Internet Cos Are Creating Alternatives to Google
Dow Jones, April 30, 2003

Let me see if I understand right. Google may face “fierce competition” when it decides to enter the Chinese market, according to one of the new home-grown firms that has sprung up recently to provide search services to that country. This is the same Google that the Chinese government banned, only to back off partially after popular outcry? Methinks Google’s already got a loyal following in China, despite the fact that in Chinese, apparently its name sounds like “dog dog.”


Google Finds a Good Analyst
Fortune, April 29, 2003,15114,447870,00.html

Google has hired former CSFB analyst Lise Buyer to be its “director of business optimization.” Buyers job is to watch that the rapidly expanding company is not making business mistakes, along the way. But is another duty going to be preparing Google for an IPO, Fortune wonders.


Overture’s sour notes
CNN Money, April 28, 2003

Overture has dropped its earnings forecast for the year. Traffic costs and technology investments have eaten into its profit margin, both exacerbated by the increased competition from Google.


Corporations seek better search results, April 28, 2003

Analyzing search requests on corporate web sites — corporate search analytics — can be an important way to understand customers. But will companies really move toward doing this better, when they already tend to do poorly just providing a corporate search facility at all? New analytical tools that are coming up may help.


Google AdWords: Best Practices
ClickZ, April 25, 2003

Expect Google’s ad programs to undergo changes over the coming year, says buyer Kevin Lee. In the meantime, consider ways to make the existing system work better for you, such as using ad groups for better targeting, power posting, running testing multiple ads to find the best creative, using dynamic keyword insertion to easily customize thousands of listings and testing landing pages to improve conversion.


Overture Gets Squeezed, April 24, 2003

A lowered earnings forecast and Google’s acquisition of a former important Overture partner caused several Wall Street analysts to downgrade their recommendations of Overture.


Ask Jeeves Sees Growing Profits, April 23, 2003

Ask Jeeves exceeds its first quarter revenue forecasts and makes a $7.7 million profit. The company expects to earn total revenues of $102 million over the course of the year.


Overture Makes Official S. Korea Debut, April 22, 2003

Overture opens its doors to South Korean advertisers, who will find their links distributed on MSN Korea and through other partnerships.


Overture Closes FAST Deal, April 22, 2003

It’s official — Overture now owns the AllTheWeb search engine, formerly operated by FAST.


Tips and tricks for Google geeks
International Herald Tribune, April 21, 2003

Review of ResearchBuzz’s Tara Calishain’s book Google Hacks (, which isn’t about traditional hacking such as breaking into Google but rather how to make use of the Google API in a variety of nifty ways. My copy arrived just before a newsletter deadline, so I haven’t had a chance to give it more than a flip-through. However, a portion is full of the wonderful searching tips that you’d expect from Tara, while another chapter focuses on the “get listed” information web marketers want, written by’s Brett Tabke.


Upgraded Seeks Everyday Searchers, April 21, 2003

I love this. For years, I encountered people who mistakenly thought Ask Jeeves was the only search engine that would accept a “natural language” search, such as, “What’s the capital of California.” In reality, all major search engines could handle this and still can. Ask Jeeves was simply the only one to encourage you to search this way. In the article above about Ask Jeeves redesigning, the search engine now ironically pleas that yes, you can do “keyword searching” as well as natural language searching. The impression is that keyword searching — such as “california capital” — is somehow more serious than natural language searching. In other words, Ask Jeeves wants you to know that its Teoma-powered results can handle research you might think could only happen at Google.


Ask Jeeves Plans New Marketing Push
April 21, 2003

Following on its redesign, Ask Jeeves is now pondering an advertising campaign to attract users. Such campaigns have never seemed to have built long-term usage in the past, but what the heck, the money is apparently flowing. At least the idea of expensive television advertising appears to have been ruled out while online is being strongly considered. That’s probably a good move. The one search engine I always felt did a good job in building users was Overture, back when it was originally the destination site. Shortly after its launch, GoTo banners were everywhere — and traffic did rise.


In Defense of Dashy Domains
Traffick, April 21, 2003

I wouldn’t put the blame for hyphenated domains on Yahoo, as this article says. Instead, the wave of them emerged soon after longer domain names arrived, where the thought was that embedding keywords would be useful for crawlers. But Balzar’s absolutely right in that they had the biggest impact on human-powered Yahoo. That benefit on Yahoo has now essentially disappeared, and the benefit for crawlers was never there to begin with. However, this article makes an interesting argument that hyphenated domains can give you a visual benefit in search engine results by making your URL stand out more. If you try the tactic, I would still recommend limiting the number of hyphens. For more on the subject, also see the ABCs and URLs page for members,


How to Improve Results and Up Your Budget
ClickZ, April 18, 2003

Don’t just look for ways to save money but cutting waste in search engine advertising. Also consider how to reinvest your savings wisely.


Yahoo Wages Losing Battle In Web Search Market
The Korea Times, April 18, 2003

The NHN portal is the most popular search tool in South Korea, followed by Yahoo and then Daum Communications, according to a recent survey.


Microsoft Research seeks better search, April 17, 2003

A look at how Microsoft wants to ease the ability to search for information, primarily via desktop applications.


Missing Backlinks in Google, April 17, 2003

Google not showing the pages that link to you, even though you know you have some? Jill Whalen correctly explains that for a well established site, this could indicate that you’ve been banned by Google. A look at things to check on and avoid. (For those in the Atlanta area, Jill’s half-day SEM seminar,, is coming there later this month).


FindWhat Raises Bid Price, April 17, 2003

Come September 1, FindWhat is increasing its minimum bid price to $0.05.


Google tactics invade city’s mayoral race
The Globe And Mail, April 17, 2003

It’s not that long until the 2004 US presidential election, and perhaps the Toronto mayoral race is a harbinger of what to expect in terms of political paid listings. Candidates are buying ads linked to their opponents’ names.


Who is Sarah Williams of TrafficMagnet?
Traffick, April 16, 2003

Just like everyone else, I receive spam emails pitching search engine services. I’ve especially enjoyed the multiple ones that have come recently a Mr. Kronis offering advice on “how to optimize and prepare specifically for better results with Google.” He’s clearly visited Search Engine Watch and understood what the site is about – not! Then there’s the generic email that came in today, asking for a link swap and informing me, “An added benefit is increased search engine traffic because the search engines rank sites higher that have a good number of relevant links.” Really? I did not know that 🙂 In this article above, Ed Kohler provides a welcome dissection of a pitch he’s received. And if you were hoping to perhaps ask Sarah out on a date, she apparently doesn’t exist 🙂


China Web alliance takes on Google
South China Morning Post, April 16, 2003

I’ve probably read five different versions of the “Chinese search engine” alliance story and still have yet to fully understand what exactly is going on. This story is the best I’ve seen so far, but it’s far from clear. As best I can tell, the China Search search engine ( was started last September and is backed by the Chinese government. Now a variety of Chinese portal sites, including the popular portal, seem to have agreed to use this government-approved search engine. And users in China are expected to use the search engine since they can’t rely on accessing services like Google and AltaVista — which have been blocked in the past by the Chinese authorities.


Yahoo’s Koogle leaving board, April 15, 2003

One of Yahoo’s original board members Tim Koogle has resigned.


Everything You Wanted to Know about Black Holes
Traffick, April 14, 2003

Might Google’s contextual ads attract fewer clicks than search targeted ones? Might they ever, says Andrew Goodman, after looking at some long-standing ad groups of a friend.

About The Search Engine Update

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