The Search Engine Update – Number 164 – Jan. 6, 2004

In This Issue

+ Search Engine Watch News
+ SES Returns To The Big Apple!
+ 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–

I hope you all had a great holiday break. I took a little time off and was relieved to see that no one was bought or sold or went IPO!

Since a new year has begun, it’s time once again for the Search Engine Watch Awards. As with last year, those who support Search Engine Watch by becoming paid members will be able to take part in the nomination round. Then we’ll let any of our newsletter readers vote for their choices among the finalists. My associate editor Chris Sherman and I will review the voting as part of the final decisions we’ll make.

At the moment, I expect to open the nominations on January 21. If you are a Search Engine Watch member, this is the day after your special mid-monthly newsletter goes out. You’ll get full details on how to vote in that.

Voting among the finalists will open to any reader of Search Engine Watch’s newsletters ( on January 28. We’ll let readers know exactly how to vote via SearchDay and perhaps a special mailing. Don’t worry — you’ll get the news!

Winners will be announced by February 6, at the latest.

Those looking for a refresher can find out more about the Search Engine Watch Awards and last year’s winners via the URL below:

The Search Engine Watch Awards


SES Returns To The Big Apple!

The first Search Engine Strategies show ever to be held on the US East Coast was in New York, in 2000. Now, I’m happy to say that it’s returning on March 1-4, 2004. I’ve just posted the full agenda, which features the return of our most popular sessions as well as plenty of new panels and topics. See the agenda links along the left-hand side of the page below:

Search Engine Strategies New York

Dates for several other Search Engine Strategies events in 2004 have also been set. Find out when it will come to Tokyo, Toronto and San Jose via the URL below:

Search Engine Strategies

Search Engine Articles
By Danny Sullivan

Google’s (and Inktomi’s) Miserable Failure, January 6, 2004

A search for miserable failure on Google bring up the official George W. Bush biography from the US White House web site. Dismissed by Google as not a problem, it really points out a case where the real miserable failure is Google itself. NOTE: Search Engine Watch members already read this in the last newsletter, but it’s been slightly updated since then.

SearchDay Articles

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

Super Searchers on Madison Avenue
SearchDay, Jan. 6, 2004

In the high pressure world of advertising, researchers need to be both good and fast. In the most recent addition to the Super Searcher series, some of Madison Avenue’s best information sleuths share their secrets


Search Engine Milestones for December 2003
SearchDay, Jan. 5, 2004

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


Bungled Search Engine Optimization – Cleaning Up the Mess
SearchDay, Dec. 24, 2003

Many advertising agencies, design firms, and even web hosting companies offer search engine marketing services for their customers. However, some of the methods they use to obtain top positions are considered to be spam by the major search engines. How do you tell the difference?


Search Engine Contextual Ads Gain Momentum
SearchDay, Dec. 23, 2003

A relatively new form of search engine advertising has nothing to do with search engine results. Instead, ‘contextual ads’ are displayed on other sites’ Web pages, based on the content of pages people are viewing.


Search Engines and Trademark Issues
SearchDay, Dec. 22, 2003

The use of trademarked phrases in search engine marketing is controversial, with owners of protected marks at risk of misuse from both competitors and affiliates.


Search Engine Forums Spotlight
SearchDay, Dec. 19, 2003

Links to this week’s topics from search engine forums across the web: Kanoodle Kontext to Rival AdSense – Large Companies Using Pay Per Click – Adsense As Pay for Inclusion? – Thoughts from the Search Engine Strategies Conference – Google AdSense: Disqualified for Invalid Clicks – Google Apologizes – Google Tracking Clicks – Kanoodle Lands Major Investor.


The “Secret System” of Search Engine Advertising
SearchDay, Dec. 18, 2003

Search engines have become one of the fastest growing venues in the advertising market, bringing clients from the old world of traditional advertising to the new world of paid listings. Yet while ad revenue increases for the search engines, so do the concerns for some long-time search advertisers who have invested a huge stake in the industry.


Google Introduces Book Searches
SearchDay, Dec. 17, 2003

Google has launched an experimental program that indexes excerpts of popular books, blending the content from these works into regular Google search results.


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


Search Engine Articles

Toolbars: Trash or Treasures?
Online, Jan/Feb 2004

A guide to the many search toolbars now littering our desktops, looking at what’s offered, options and possible problems.


Yahoo to drop Google as main search engine -WSJ
Reuters, Jan. 6, 2004

File this under duh. Yahoo is going to drop Google for its primary web search results. We’ve expected this since Yahoo paid nearly $250 million to buy Inktomi last year. It’s been a mystery why it’s taken Yahoo so long. In fact, the sometimes voiced explanation from Yahoo that the transition would happen when Inktomi was “ready” is downright embarrassing. Inktomi is apparently good enough for MSN to make full use of it later this month but owner Yahoo still needs to test it? Anyway, Yahoo’s been quietly telling paid inclusion providers that Inktomi will go live as early as the first quarter of this year. Expect a new, unified paid inclusion program to also be rolled out around the same time. (permalink to this item)


Yahoo Gets Set to Give Google Run for the Money
Wall Street Journal, Jan. 6, 2004,,SB107334921060956000,00.html

This is the source of Inktomi rollout timing. In addition, the story also discusses that Yahoo plans to use personalization and customization to improve the search experience, plus the company plans to expand the use of paid inclusion. Yep — there’s a good way to come out strong against Google, by confusing consumers with more paid content mixed in with what many consider to be unsold listings. Relatively few details on exact plans are in the article, but that’s not surprising given that Yahoo hasn’t been talking much specifically about what will happen in the future. (permalink to this item)


Overture Will Separate Bidding for Contextual Listings, Jan. 6, 2004

Overture plans to offer contextual ads as a separate buy, but the price of those ads will go up. Google is apparently sticking by the idea that its contextual ads won’t be sold separately. Expect that will probably change, both due to advertiser demand and to avoid being outdone by competitor Overture.


Google AdWords Tips & Tricks, Jan. 6, 2004

Quick tips to consider trying for getting more out of your Google AdWords campaign.


Yahoo CEO Semel: Search is everywhere in 2004, Jan. 5, 2004

Yahoo CEO Terry Semel tells conference attendees to expect Yahoo to make all types of content searchable.


Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs to Manage Google IPO
Bloomberg, Jan. 5, 2004

Google’s still not confirming anything, but bankers are leaking the news that Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs Group are to handle its rumored IPO.


Why Ad Agencies Fail at Search Marketing
ClickZ, Jan. 5, 2004

Strategies of ad dominance, making use of traditional copyrighting or relying on image over substance may work in the real world but not necessarily in the search engine marketing one.

By the way, affiliates aren’t just problematic for search engines. These days, Google AdSense affiliates are a problem, as well. More and more I come across spam pages that not only have managed to rank well in Google, but they also make money by carrying Google’s own AdSense ads. The success of Google AdSense ironically has become a new major threat to the relevancy of Google’s results. (permalink to this item)


Google’s House of Cards
ClickZ, Jan. 5, 2004

Advertisers and publishers are upset at Google due to falling ROI on ads and lost rankings from free listings. Advertisers also continue to want AdSense offered as a separate purchase and at a lower cost. Is this Google’s House of Cards, where large revenues may suddenly disappear. Could be. It could also be an opportunity for the company to finally do what advertisers want and win back some lost friends by rolling out a separate program.

By the way, I’d counter that Google is indeed in danger of losing its sterling reputation with users. Twice over the holiday break, I’ve picked up popular magazines discussing how Google is losing its relevancy. Some of the arguments were incorrect, but readers may not understand this. Instead, the word of mouth going around is that Google has lost its shine — and upset advertisers and web site publishers will only add fuel to looking for proof of this. (permalink to this item)


FindWhat Adds New Division, New Tool, Jan. 5, 2004

FindWhat completes its purchase of Miva, a maker of ecommerce and shopping cart software. The company also rolls out “IntelliMap,” a broad matching tool that groups similar words, misspellings and punctuations together under a single term.


Beyond Google: Narrow the Search
AP, Jan. 4, 2003,1282,61783,00.html

A look at tools that automatically categorize and sometimes even visually present search results. There’s nothing new about the concept. Northern Light did auto-categorization back in 1997, and AltaVista had a visualization tool in the same year, to name only some examples. They never caught on, but perhaps the new crop may have more luck — though even these “new” tools mentioned are all more than a year old.


Jupiter: Tough Year Ahead for Paid Inclusion, Jan. 2, 2003

Paid inclusion revenues will dip in 2004, according to Jupiter Research, due to the dropping of LookSmart by MSN. Revenues are expected to rise in subsequent years, but by how much depends on how well paid inclusion is embraced by Yahoo and MSN.


Search Engine Marketing Recap of 2003
High Rankings Advisor, Dec. 31, 2003

Jill Whalen’s High Rankings Advisor newsletter is always an excellent read. In this issue, she recaps topics raised over the past year, ranging from the debate on cloaking to spam on Google.


Top Terms What Were We Looking for on the Web in 2003?, Dec. 30, 2003

Recap of top searches done in 2003, according to Lycos.


2004 Search Engine Predictions From SEO Professionals
WebProWorld, Dec. 29, 2003

What the coming year may bring, from various search commentators.


Australia’s Answer to Google? Nah.
John Battelle’s Searchblog, Dec. 29, 2003

I couldn’t have said it better. Start up Mooter plans an IPO, apparently because what the heck, Google’s doing it, so we can too. Of course, Google is estimated to be earning revenues up to $1 billion (versus nothing at Mooter) and doesn’t crash when more than 25 people try to search at the same time.

I will say this for Mooter — I did find it useful for a complicated query I tried recently, just as visual tool Grokker was also useful. I may revisit this more in the future and better illustrate how and why such categorization or visual tools can be useful, in the right instances. But neither is a Google killer in terms of the vast majority of searches that are done. (permalink to this item).


Online Data Conflict With Desire for Privacy
AP, Dec. 26, 2003

A look at the issue of balancing privacy in the wake of easier access to personal details via the internet and search engines. It’s summed up nicely in the closing paragraph, where someone asks Google to remove their phone listing but then uses Google herself to look up details about a potential date.


Flurry of Online Ad Industry Acquisitions Begs Questions, Gets Answers
MediaDailyNews, Dec. 22, 2003

Over the past year, there’s been a flurry of partnerships and acquisitions. Much was search related. Here’s a recap of deals you heard about and perhaps some you didn’t.


Report: Local Search Worth $2.5 Billion by 2008, Dec. 23, 2003

Local paid listings are expected to generate $2.5 billion in revenue by 2008, according to a research report by The Kelsey Group. The report estimates that 60 percent of searches are local in nature.


Lycos Europe, Overture Expand Deal, Involve Yahoo, Dec. 23, 2003

Lycos Europe renews its deal with Overture and plans to do something else with Overture-parent Yahoo. My guess would be to make use of a new paid inclusion program that will be rolled out using Inktomi branding, rather than the current FAST branding. That won’t be a big Yahoo gain, however, as Yahoo already owns the AllTheWeb search engine, which is still referred to in some circles as FAST.


Understand Search Results Pages
ClickZ, Dec. 22, 2003

Want to be successful with search engines? Then you’d better understand where the results they show are coming from. The article provides an introduction to some common concepts about search engine results pages, or SERPs.


The “Florida Update” … Exposed ? (Google Patent Problem)
JimWorld, Dec. 22, 2003

This was a gem coming out over the holidays. Turns out, Stanford University owns the patent on PageRank, a part of the Google ranking system. Google apparently says it has full rights to use the patented work, so potentially, it’s not a problem. But author John Cokos theorizes that the recent Google ranking changes were due to its need to wean itself off of PageRank for a complication-free IPO.

More likely, the changes are due to the fact that no major search engine can continue to depend on link analysis as much in the past, as search engine marketers have gotten smarter about linkage. So the latest changes at Google are more a return to the “arms race” in the past between marketers and search engines, and one you can expect will continue for any search engine that relies on automated gathering to power its search results.

By the way, Google most definitely was talking about “organic” issues at the recent Search Engine Strategies conference in Chicago. The company was on a number of panels that dealt solely with organic issues, and its representatives certainly did not sit there and say nothing.


Some See Google Dutch Auction in 2004
Reuters, Dec. 21, 2003

Will Google do a “Dutch Auction,” which is less lucrative for bankers and their special friends?


Watching SEM Dials and Gauges
ClickZ, Dec. 19, 2003

If search engine marketing were an airplane that you flew, then here’s a guide to important dials that should be monitored for a safe flight.


Kanoodle Debuts Set-And-Forget Search Terms, Dec. 19, 2003

Kanoodle introduces dayparting, the ability to have your ads run for set periods of the day, or on particular days or in particular months. It’s a first for any US-based paid listings provider, though European provider Mirago deserves credit for being the first in the industry, to my knowledge, with the feature. Mirago rolled its dayparting feature out in November:


Google Extends AdSense Overseas, Dec. 19, 2003

Publishers in Spain, France, Germany, Italy and Japan may now apply to carry Google AdSense contextual ads.


Is Google good for you?
BBC, Dec. 19, 2003

BBC technology columnist Bill Thompson plans to break his Google addiction in hopes of finding more refined search tools that he’s sure exist. The truth is somewhere in between. Many people are indeed addicted to Google and fail to seek other resources, when they should. But Google isn’t exactly sickly sweet Coke or fast food for search. It still manages to provide a decent meal much of the time.

You shouldn’t feel you need to “give up” Google because its somehow “bad” for you, any more than you should give up any search engine that is working for you. But when things don’t taste right for a particular query, yes! Get out of the restaurant and try something new.

The second URL leads to a follow-up article by Thompson, as he pursues his New Year’s resolution, exploring some of the many alternative search tools out there. (permalink to this item)


Search Engine Strategies Conference Chicago 2003 Reviewed, Dec. 19, 2003

Collection of articles covering various topics at the show.

======================== Adopts New Moniker, Dec. 18, 2003

Second-tier paid listings provider changes its name to Enhance Interactive.


Citysearch Optimizes for Paid Search, Dec. 18, 2003

Citysearch redesigns to make itself more search box-oriented.


Harness the Power of Any Search Engine Onto a Cool Toolbar
ResourceShelf, Dec. 18, 2003

Review of NeedleSearch toolbar that lets you tap into any search engine. But be forewarned — it’s only for the Mozilla browser.


Google, In Print
PublishersLunch, Dec. 17, 2003

Long look at the new Google book search feature, with a survey of various publishers. Some were surprised to be included, while others had previous conversations with the company. Google also has just gained a former Random House exec, likely to help in its new efforts.

Also includes good details of plans apparently to let registered users (which would be a first for Google) read up to 10 percent of a book per month. The business model also seems not to be selling the actual books but using the book content as fodder for hosting Google’s own AdWords listings. That would be another departure for Google — traditionally, the service has not tried to keep people within its own site.


Kanoodle Nets Sprinks Team, Hopes To Emerge From Obscurity
MediaDailyNews, Dec. 17, 2003

When Google bought Sprinks last year, it quickly moved to shutdown that contextual ads competitor and put its own Google AdSense product into distribution. Smart move — wiping out both a competitor and gaining traffic share in one go. But Google didn’t pick up some Sprinks executives as part of the acquisition.

Now a trio of them have flown over to Kanoodle, where they hope with new funding to build a new contextual ads product to take on Google. The coup gives Kanoodle potential in terms of knowledge, but it has a huge job to even approach the distribution that Sprinks once had due to its association with, much less touch the juggernaut that Google AdSense has become. (permalink to this item)


Google Here, There, and Everywhere
BusinessWeek, Dec. 16, 2003

As Google and other search engines make it easier to access all types of information, will publishers be finding themselves paying more for essential inclusion?


Going Deeper than Google
Fortune, Dec. 16, 2003,15704,563090,00.html

Review of Grokker, which lets you “fly” through results found by Google and other search engines.


Google makes friends in high places, Dec. 16, 2003

Scroll down, and you’ll find an item about a recent visit by former US president Bill Clinton to Google, the latest in a list of celebrities and politicians to make the stopover. Gwyneth Paltrow, former US president Jimmy Carter and former US vice president Al Gore have also been by. Current US president George W. Bush, the victim of two Google Bombing pranks (see, not surprisingly hasn’t called by.


Google Abuses Search Leadership
FTPOnline, Dec. 15, 2003

This open letter to the US Federal Trade Commission about alleged restraint of trade by Google actually has little to do with any type of search “monopoly.” Instead, it mainly focuses on Google’s oft-criticized (and deservedly so) changes imposed on those carrying its contextual ads. Publishers are forced to agree to new terms in order to get paid for ads run before the terms were altered. It also complains that the pop-up blocker in the Google Toolbar potentially restrains advertising, though the letter fails to explicitly suggest Google has done this to sell its own search and contextual-based ad products. (permalink to this item)


aQuantive picks up Colo. tech firm that helps track Net ads
Seattle Times, Dec. 16, 2003

aQuantive has acquired paid listings management tool maker GO TOAST.


ClickTracks: Powerful Data Without the Mess
Traffick, Dec. 15, 2003

Review of the ClickTracks web site analytical tool.


GooglePrudery: Booted for Dissing Dubya, Dec. 15, 2003

Blather found itself running afoul of the Google advertising police, who pulled its ads for because the site had content that “advocated against George Bush.” What was this verboten content? Blather linked to George W. Bush’s official biography as part of the Google Bombing prank (see to make it number one at Google for a search on “miserable failure.”

Ironically, by this argument, Google itself should not be able to carry its own ads, given that its own search results are content that some would see as advocating against Bush.

In a further irony, while Blather is not allowed to pay Google to carry its ads, Google seems to have no problem with Blather carrying Google’s own ads — even on the evildoers page in question: (permalink to this item)


Business Users Search Engine Survey
WebAdvantage, Dec. 3, 2003

Survey of 475 business owners found that it’s practically 50/50 over whether someone knows if a listing is paid. The next question is flawed, asking what percentage of the time people click on sponsored links. If half those surveyed don’t know what a sponsored link is, then including this same group in the subsequent question (as apparently was done), means you’ve got answers from people who don’t know enough to answer at all. The same is true for another question on how often people find what they want with sponsored links.

Google far outdistances other search engines in a question on usage, and the vast majority say they’ll go past the first page of search results. That’s not just a remarkable stat. It goes so far against what we see with usual searcher behavior as to be suspect. I wonder if those on the survey mistook the idea of going past the first page to mean they’d look past the first page LISTED, rather than the first page of RESULTS. (permalink to this item)


Interview with Craig-Nevill Manning
e-Marketing-News, Dec. 2003

Mike Grehan asks Google senior research scientist Craig Nevill-Manning about how the Froogle shopping search engine got started, issues in compiling its data, and touches briefly on the recent ranking change with web results. Interview comes after a rundown of thoughts and coverage from the recent Search Engine Strategies conference.


How To Prosper With The New Google
SEO Research Labs, Nov. 16, 2003

Don’t let the date fool you — this guide by Dan Thies is up-to-date on some well-thought out speculation on the latest changes at Google.


Die Zukunft der Suchmaschinen, Directories und Ads
Optimierung.Net, Nov. 11, 2003

If you speak German, this is a short interview with me about search engines.


Special thanks to:
+ Search Engine Guide,
+ Web Search Guide,
+ Search Engine Lowdown,
and reader submissions for some of the items listed above.

Search Engine Resources

SEMPO Job Board

You know search engine marketing is maturing when it gets its own job board. Courtesy of SEMPO, find or post SEM jobs here.



Search Engine Marketing Association 7 is a new organization for French search engine marketers that especially aims to resolve disputes about paid listings linked to trademarks outside of courts.


Advanced Searchbar

I’m waiting for someone to create ToolbarManager, which will manage all the various search toolbars that keep springing up. Here’s another one. It gives you access to 60 search engines, plus push button access to disk utilities, webpage translation, a calculator and other features. Downside is that it’s a 1MB download.


Digital Point Keyword Suggestion Tool

Enter a term, then get search term counts back from the popular Overture and Wordtracker tools, side by side.


Free position ranking tool that lets you check one term at a time on several major search engines. You can also enter a URL to learn its exact Google PageRank score.


Google 2003 Year-End Google Zeitgeist

End of the year wrap up of top queries at Google.

About The Search Engine Update

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