The Search Engine Update – Number 151

In This Issue

+ Search Engine Watch News
+ SES San Jose Agenda Now Available
+ Google Ends Premium Sponsorships
+ Reader Q&A: June 2003
+ SearchDay Articles
+ Search Engine Articles
+ About The Search Engine Update

Search Engine Watch News

Hello Everyone–

Pages throughout the More About section ( have had slight updates, mainly to add new articles or resources related to the various topics addressed in that section. The most significant changes are:

A new Search Engine Marketing Articles page ( has been created. This page is a compilation of articles from Search Engine Watch and around the web covering the general topic of search engine marketing, which encompasses both promoting sites via free search engine optimization tactics and through paid search engine advertising routes.

Many of the older links on the new page above were previously listed on the More About Search Engine Optimization page, which I’ve renamed Search Engine Optimization Articles (

Now that page is firmly focused on listing articles from Search Engine Watch and around the web that offer tips and tactics specifically about obtaining better free or “organic” listings from search engines. This page also has been updated with links to articles that have appeared in recent newsletters.

You may recall last month I created a new More About Search Engine Advertising page. To keep everything consistent, I’ve renamed this Search Engine Advertising Articles ( It lists articles specifically about getting more out of paid placement and paid inclusion listings on search engines. It’s also been updated with listings from recent newsletters.

Finally, also in the More About section is a new Reader Q&A page (, which provides a compilation of past issues of Reader Q&A. As I’m doing these more regularly, I thought it would be handy to have such a page, for easy reference.


SES San Jose Agenda Now Available!

The first four-day Search Engine Strategies show comes to San Jose from August 18-21, and you can now review the full agenda online.

Be sure to check out the Session Itineraries page, for guidance as to what to attend if you are new to search engine marketing, advanced, interested in “organic” listings or instead paid advertising.

Itineraries, daily agendas, registration information and more about the popular show that I organize on search engine marketing tactics and issues can be found via the URL below:

Search Engine Strategies San Jose 2003

Search Engine Strategies also comes to Munich from November 10-11 and Chicago from December 9-11. Agendas for these shows are not ready, but you can follow the links listed on the page below to get location and registration information or to leave your email in order to be notified when more details have been posted.

Search Engine Strategies


Google Ends Premium Sponsorships

It’s official. Google’s CPM-based Premium Sponsorships are being phased out, leaving CPC-based AdWords as Google’s sole ad unit. The company stopped offering Premium Sponsorships to new customers last week and plans to wean existing customers from them through the rest of this year and the beginning of the next. New campaign management tools are also promised for AdWords users, and Google says there are no plans to rollout paid inclusion any time soon. The full article can be found below:

Google Ends Premium Sponsorships
The Search Engine Update, June 17, 2003


Reader Q&A: June 2003

Readers have recently asked:

+ To be found in both UK and US search engines, do I need to pay inclusion fees twice?
+ Is there a search engine that would allow me to see web sites as they were presented in the past?
+ Is white space and JavaScript before my body copy hurting my rankings?
+ Should we use dashes or underscores in our URLs to separate keywords?
+ How can I get Google to count links to a domain that I accidentally let expire?
+ What does it really mean when Lycos InSite advertises that I’ll be shown on non-US search engines?
+ What are the best resources for finding information about search engine technology?
+ When a search engine spider crawls across your site, does it count as one unique visitor or multiple unique visitors?
+ Do frames still matter given that “paid listings” are the norm these days?
+ Where can I get software to run my own search engine?
+ Is labeling graphics with applicable keywords considered spam?
+ Why am I getting an “Internal Server Error” when I try to submit to the Open Directory?
+ How can I target Germany with pay per click ads?
+ Will search engines see HTML text that’s generated by JavaScript?
+ Do search engines consider mirror pages to be spam?
+ Where can I get software to search my Linux-based web site?

Answers to these questions can be found via the article below:

Reader Q&A: June 2003
The Search Engine Update, June 17, 2003

SearchDay Articles

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

Who Cares About Information Quality?
SearchDay, June 17, 2003

Who cares about reliable, up-to-date information? For best results, you should ask yourself this very important question before beginning your search.


Warning! Content Management Systems Can Damage Search Engine Positioning
SearchDay, June 16, 2003

Content management systems are great for maintaining large web sites, but many systems produce side effects with serious negative consequences for search engine positioning.


What’s it Going to Take to Beat Google?
SearchDay, June 12, 2003

These days, the most popular tech parlor game after guessing Google’s IPO date is speculating what it will take knock the company off its throne as web search champ.


Search Engine Forums Spotlight
SearchDay, June 11, 2003

Weekly recap of popular threads from various search engine-related forums on the web.


GuruNet: A Handy Information Magnet
SearchDay, June 11, 2003

Need a quick fact, or a simple answer to a question? Forget search engines: GuruNet brings you the information you need while you’re working with any application running on your computer.


The Future of Search Engine Marketing
SearchDay, June 10, 2003

What does 2003 and beyond hold in the constantly changing world of search engine marketing? A panel of industry experts looked into their crystal balls to provide some guidance. Second URL leads to edition for Search Engine Watch members.


To Google, and Other Internet Neologisms
SearchDay, June 9, 2003

Google’s lawyers don’t like it, but the search engine’s name has become a generonym, a brand name that people use as a generic word for searching. The word Google itself is a neologism, a variation on the huge number, a googol.


Shopping Search Engines Fuel Online Sales
SearchDay, June 5, 2003

Specialized shopping search engines make it easy for searchers to research and buy products — but they’re also a powerful and cost-effective customer acquisition channel for merchants. Second URL leads to edition for Search Engine Watch members.


Search Engine Milestones for May 2003
SearchDay, June 4, 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.


What’s the Best Search Engine?
SearchDay, June 3, 2003

What’s the best search engine? That depends on who (or what) you ask. Here’s what the search engines themselves recommend.


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


Search Engine Articles

Diversity is Power for Specialized Sites
Alertbox, June 16, 2003

A search on seven different topics at Google brought up 59 different sites, which usability expert Jakob Nielsen says shows that diversity remains in search results and that small sites can indeed do well against big ones. Important note, however. An advocacy group might be banned from buying ads on Google if it is deemed to be “anti” something.


SEM Reach and Frequency
ClickZ, June 13, 2003

Trying to calculate the reach and frequency of your SEM campaign? It’s not as easy as you might think.


Web crawler–anti-piracy super hero
Reuters, June 13, 2003

The Web Crawler is an automated tool designed to sniff out software theft on the internet. Not mentioned in the story is the irony of a tool designed to fight copyright theft perhaps infringing on the trademark of meta search engine


Paid Search Handbook, Part 2
ClickZ, June 12, 2003

Looking for alternatives for PPC campaigns beyond Google and Overture? Here are some options. Also has link to the first part of the story, with more.


Espotting unveils new search partners
Netimperative, June 12, 2003

European PPC search engine Espotting signs new distribution deals with Mamma and Euroseek.


What is the Invisible Web?
About Web Search Guide, June 12, 2003

Some content that crawler-based search engines can’t locate is often referred to as being in the “Invisible Web.” This article examines what makes content hidden.


The Company That Bought The Bust
Washington Post, June 12, 2003

More about how David Seuss managed to buy back his former company Northern Light for about a half-penny for every dollar that Divine paid for Northern Light originally last year.


Betting On The Butler Again
Forbes, June 12, 2003

Ask Jeeves, once the hot stock, is hot again. But what makes the Ask Jeeves stock price only dollars away from Overture, which generates far more revenue than Ask? Well, as this article correctly points out, Ask Jeeves still has a fairly popular search destination site. To some degree, it “owns” visitors unlike Overture, which essentially rents them through partnerships with MSN, Yahoo and others. Ignored by this article is that to maintain that popularity, Ask Jeeves needs good search technology. Fortunately, Ask Jeeves does have this going for it, with the Teoma search engine that it owns. The article does address that Ask Jeeves is making money from a sweetheart deal to carry Google’s paid listings. However, it seems blind to the fact that ultimately, Google competes with Ask Jeeves. Google could decide in the future that since it “owns” the advertisers, it doesn’t want to give as much money to Ask — or any at all.


Some Q&A answers from GoogleGuy, June 12, 2003

Google’s anonymous but official representative at WebmasterWorld provides answers on a variety of questions posted by members.


The Seven-or-So Habits of Highly Profitable PPC Campaigns, June 11, 2003

Spending $25 on ads brought back $9,000 in first day sales. How’s that for ROI? Few campaigns will be this successful, but Andrew Goodman covers tips on what he’s seen in the most successful ones.


How Tweaking a Business Web Site’s Design Can Increase the Sales Leads it Generates by 60%, June 10, 2003

Among other changes, this company increased sales by making custom landing pages for the top 20 keywords sending it traffic via paid listings.


Has Google Ruined the Web?
PC Magazine, June 10, 2003,4149,1118642,00.asp

This is such a bad article in so many ways that it’s shocking that someone with Bill Machrone’s reputation in technology reporting authored it. In the article, Machrone takes claims made by Google Watch, reports them as facts and mixes in technical errors and oversimplifications of his own. Here’s the rundown:

1) “Google also looks at keywords, but not just those in the meta tags. It actually looks within web pages to see where the words are used.”

Other search engines also do this. In fact, that’s been standard practice with search engines even before Google emerged, except for a very short period where Lycos, in the early days, only indexed a short “abstract” of a page.

2) “Because of its patented PageRank algorithm, Google rose quickly to become the dominant search engine on the web.”

PageRank is not the Google algorithm, as Machrone states. Rather, PageRank is one component used to rate the popularity of a page, based on linkage. It doesn’t factor in the other important component Google uses, the context of a link, along with many other factors used to rank pages.

3) “Google takes great exception to people who try to jigger its relevancy scores, and it doesn’t document the safeguards it takes. The service is known to reduce the scores of sites manually if they appear to be abusing its ranking algorithm.”

The statement is true of any search engine that crawls the web, nor is it something that suddenly has happened. There has long been an arms race between search engines and those who want to influence results in ways the search engines disagree with.

4) “Google’s intractable problem is that big sites tend to rank higher because they are extensively linked, while new sites with lower rankings may be so far down on the page that they’re easily overlooked.”

No proof of this fact is offered. It’s a claim I’ve seen made in the past by Google Watch, so Machrone appears to be parroting here. In reality, many small sites do very well in Google.

5) “Google records your IP address as well as your search terms and which sites you actually click on from the returned list. It also places a nonexpiring cookie in your system. I’m not sure why.”

If you don’t know why, then try asking someone — perhaps even Google! Of course, Google doesn’t always answer these days. But if they had, Machrone would have discovered that the cookie does expire. True, it lasts for about 35 years. But as stated in my past article on this issue (, even Google Watch says the cookie expiration date itself is not the real issue of concern.

6) “Bloggers have an inordinately large effect on page ranking.”

Did I understand right? First I’m told little sites get buried by big sites in Google, but now I’m told blogs — which are little sites — have super-Google powers. No proof of this problem is offered, but nonetheless Machrone declares:

“Google needs to address this issue, perhaps by indexing blogs separately from web pages or by standardizing a syntax to suppress (or select) blog results.”

In reality, any network of sites that cross-links might skew link analysis systems. Nor is “blog clog” necessarily the fact it’s made out to be. A search for the ever popular “britney spears” query on Google brings back fan and official sites, rather than blog domination. A search for “bill machrone” doesn’t pull up blogs, nor are searches for “weapons of mass destruction,” “apache web server” or “microsoft” blog-filled.


The Web, According to Google
BusinessWeek, June 10, 2003

Similar to the PC Magazine article above, I have several comments on issues raised with this article. It’s not that I think Google is perfect, but it’s also nice to see some perspective when discussing its problems.

The biggest blame for the lack of perspective in this article falls not on author Alex Salkever but instead Google itself, which declined to comment on the issues raised. This has been a common tactic of Google in the past, not to cooperate on stories that seem to dwell on its “dominant” status. As a result, readers of BusinessWeek won’t get to hear Google’s side of some important matters.

The issue of search privacy is raised, with the Big Brother nomination trotted out — but not the significant fact that Google didn’t make the short list of companies actually chosen to perhaps deserve it. It’s also said that Google has no policies about the confidentiality of data collected using cookies. That’s not correct. Google does indeed have policies on what it does with the information collected (

It’s also too narrow a statement. Even without cookies, Google and other search engines collect search information that could potentially be traced back to users. Potentially, but not easily, as my recent article on this subject points out (

It’s an excellent point raised about people assuming that Google has everything they need to know. It doesn’t. But this belief isn’t new nor Google-specific. Way back in 2000, there was a great study that found search engines as a whole were the top way people looked for information, over friends, books, magazines and so on (

It was stunning to see this finding, since we’d only had search engines for about five years at the time. Search engines the top information resource? They have huge gaps in what’s recorded, and anyone who assumes everything on the web is in a search engine, Google or otherwise, is terribly mistaken. It’s also why I tell people that after about 10 minutes of searching, try seeking information in other ways, if only to avoid “search rage,” as described in this article:

It’s raised that “webmasters are starting to question the opaque rules that Google uses to determine what to index.” Again, neither a new issue nor a Google-specific one. Webmasters have questioned the rules search engines have used to rank and index pages for ages. For example, back in 1998, issues with Infoseek (remember Infoseek?) got a push for standards going:

To its credit, Google probably does more to reach out to webmasters about ranking criteria than any search engine has ever done. But for everything it reveals, people want more. In addition, it faces pressure more than any other search engine before it, since it powers so many searches.

In the past, people might routinely lose rankings at a search engines, but they always had traffic from other search engines that tended to even things out. Today, lose ranking at Google and you’re looking at a huge black hole. Fortunately, some balance will begin to be restored when Yahoo begins using Inktomi results later this year, as it is widely expected to do.

Finally, there’s the usual “should we regulate” Google chorus that often comes up in these type of articles. Back in 1997, as I’ve written before, similar things were said about Yahoo ( Today, no webmaster worries that Yahoo should be regulated. I tend to feel the same will eventually happen with Google. We’ll see more balance in how search results are powered, rather than the current Google-centric universe that can be so worrying to some.


When Google Searching Little Words Sometimes Count
Microdoc, June 10, 2003

I doubt most people really do remove the stop words that Google flags and search again, as described in this article. But the overall point should be well taken. Feel free to phrase your query in natural language at Google (or other search engines), and you may find better results.


Moreover Set to Roll Out New Blog Database
Traffick, June 8, 2003

Moreover apparently is planning news feeds to be powered by blog entries, in addition to existing feeds powered by more traditional online news sources.


Recently Awarded “Search Related” U.S. Patents and Recently Published Patent Applications, June 8, 2003

The headline says it all — a recap of new patents granted that relate to search.


In Google News, the first will be last
The Inquirer, June 8, 2003

Want to be tops in a search at Google News? Perhaps it’s best to be the last to break a story, as this article explains.


Ad Efforts Blossom in Search Engine Arena
AdWeek, June 6, 2003

It’s a new era of search engine advertising — that is, advertising by the search engines themselves. Ask Jeeves, Overture and HotBot are all making moves to get the word out about themselves. Note the statement that Google “hardly advertises at all.” True, in terms of search consumers. But Google does indeed spend on advertising and marketing itself to potential advertisers, just as Overture does.


Inclusion Confusion, Continued
ClickZ, June 6, 2003

Close up with how XML paid inclusion allows you to feed content directly into organic listings and perhaps draw qualified traffic for less than CPC-prices.


Google eyes Kiwi market
National Business Review, June 6, 2003

Google makes a visit to New Zealand, hoping to get AdWords sales going there.


Blog noise is ‘life or death’ for Google
The Register, June 6, 2003

Think Google is blog clogged? Then you’d better be reading the Register, which is making an art form of pushing this theory. This article has a few comments from Register readers who buy into the blog clogged idea (my readers, on the other hand, so far have not reported any blog clog problem).

It’s interesting to see the comment about bloggers who report “cursory references to a place, idea or technology result in search engine-generated traffic” used to support the blog clog theory. In reality, this is NOT a blog-specific thing. Any web site, blog or not, can and does get traffic like this from search engines. The Disturbing Search Requests site ( is a several years-old resource that documents it.

What’s got the Register going so hard about blog clog? Among other things, back in April, Register writer Andrew Orlowski noted ( that a story he wrote coining the term “googlewash” failed to show up in the top results on Google. This is still the case. The “originating” article of this phrase is buried under pages from bloggers commenting about it. Proof positive of blog clog!

Of course, the term “googlewash” specifically was about the activity of bloggers, so any search for that term is more likely to bring up blog-generated content than searches on other topics. For instance, top results for “cars” at Google are notably free of blog entries.

In addition, for all the complaining that the Register has made about Google’s use of PageRank and link analysis as flawed, it continues to overlook the fact that Google also uses of on-the-page factors to rank pages. One of the most important of these is a page’s HTML title.

The Register’s HTML title tags say the same thing for every article: “The Register.” If they were more descriptive, The Register might find its own particular blog clog problem might be corrected. Google News competitor Daypop has even urged the Register to do so (

But let’s not spare Google entirely here. It’s absolutely correct that the Register ought to be in the top results for “googlewash,” regardless of its own on-the-page faults. Link analysis has pioneered by Google has largely corrected this type of fault for other pages, but blog clog definitely has hurt the results in this case (and the same is true at Teoma, where as with Google, the Register doesn’t appear in the first 30 results for “googlewash.” In contrast, Inktomi gets the Register into the fifth spot and AllTheWeb, into the third).

So, blog clog for “googlewash?” Yes. Blog clog for results in general, for the majority of Google’s users? Probably not an issue at all.


LookSmart renews Yahoo distribution agreement, June 5, 2003

LookSmart’s listings will continue to be distributed within Inktomi’s crawler-dominated editorial results. And since Inktomi is now owned by Yahoo, that makes for a Yahoo-LookSmart partnership. Meanwhile, Inktomi is set to continue powering some results at LookSmart’s own sites, making you wonder when LookSmart-owned WiseNut will ever be used.


Google, Lycos Europe team on ads, June 5, 2003

Kudos to Lycos Europe for managing to cuts deals with all three major paid listing providers in Europe. Overture continues to provide paid listings to Lycos Europe for use on search results pages, while Espotting continues to provide paid listing that appear for those who drill-down into directory listings. In this latest deal, Google’s paid listings will now appear on pages within the Lycos Europe Tripod community areas.


Infoseek and Lycos to unite portals
The Japan Times, June 4, 2003

Infoseek may be an abandoned brand in the US, but in Japan it is thriving — and now absorbing Lycos Japan into the Infoseek Japan portal.


ValueClick Buys Search123, June 3, 2003

Ad company ValueClick has purchased cost-per-click search engine Search123 in a deal valued at $5 million.


Google IPO could be new era’s role model
CBS MarketWatch, June 3, 2003{8BBA3847-6451-4C62-B112-DB6007DEDA57}&siteid=mktw

When Google eventually goes public, will it be able to do it “right” in terms of eliminating “friends-and-family” shares and “lockups?” Such moves might show that Wall Street has reformed in the wake of the internet bubble collapse.


AOL Canada inks deal with Google, June 3, 2003

AOL Search in Canada now gains paid listings from Google, in addition to the editorial results it has carried.


NetIQ Rolls Out WebTrends Search Tool, June 2, 2003

WebTrends adds a tool to help you determine if people have come to your site via paid rather than free search listings, among other search engine marketing-related enhancements to the traffic analysis package.


Distributing the Search Burden
Business 2.0, June 2, 2003,1653,49852,00.html

A look at Grub, the company and technology that LookSmart purchased earlier this year to do distributed crawling of the web.


Google wins over SearchKing in PageRank case
Pandia, June 2, 2003

SearchKing’s case against Google involving its PageRank rating is dismissed in Google’s favor.


Seuss Hopes Northern Light Will Rise and Shine
Information Today, June 2, 2003

What happens next, now that David Seuss has purchased the company he once ran? Northern Light will be aimed at the enterprise search market. But success, analysts point out, isn’t guaranteed.


Primedia unit strikes AOL link deal
CBS MarketWatch, June 2, 2003{84A9B55F-82B4-4B68-BAD8-3C2C6E03D2B3}

Sprinks will be powering contextual ad placement on AOL Time Warner-owned Netscape, CompuServe and AOL Instant Messenger.


Putting Online Ads in Context
Business 2.0, June 2003,1640,49475,00.html

Contextual ads from Google and soon Overture may do more than help large publishers. They offer the ability for small players to potentially survive and thrive with revenue.

About The Search Engine Update

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