The Search Engine Update – Number 158

In This Issue

+ Search Engine Watch News
+ SES Chicago Agenda Available!
+ Search Engine Articles By Danny Sullivan
+ SearchDay Articles
+ Search Engine Articles
+ About The Search Engine Update

Search Engine Watch News

Hello Everyone–

You may have noticed that I’ve begun sending more and more articles that I’ve written out via Search Engine Watch’s SearchDay newsletter, rather than trying to publish them to coincide with when this newsletter goes out.

This new system has worked out very well for me, especially in that preparing my usual recap of search engine news from across the web takes so much time now, given all the news that’s out there. It’s also a nice way for me to give my diligent and hard-working associate editor Chris Sherman a break from the daily news grind.

While I always recap articles that appear in SearchDay, I’ve decided to break out those I’ve authored separately, for those who take a particular interest in items I’ve written. You’ll find this recap in the Search Engine Articles By Danny Sullivan section below.

In another change, readers of this newsletter will be familiar with the regular recap of search engine articles from around the web that I regularly provide. Sometimes, my commentary about particular issues is long. To date, I haven’t yet broken these commentaries out as standalone articles, though I might start doing this in the future.

In the meantime, as an experiment, I’ve begun adding “permalinks” to the end of some summaries. What this means is that when viewing the online version of this newsletter, you can click on a permalink reference and go directly to a particular commentary. That makes it easy if you want to bookmark the commentary or pass the exact reference on to others.


SES Chicago Agenda Available!

I’ve just finished the agenda for our next US Search Engine Strategies show, which will be held in Chicago from December 9-11. For it, I’ve taken the best of the sessions we had during our San Jose show earlier this year plus added some 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 experienced 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. More information can be found via the URL below.

Search Engine Strategies

Search Engine Articles
By Danny Sullivan

AOL Renews With Google
SearchDay, Oct. 7, 2003

AOL has renewed its agreement with Google for search results in a new multiyear deal.


MSN To Drop LookSmart
SearchDay, Oct. 7, 2003

LookSmart has announced that its deal to provide Microsoft with listings for its MSN Search service is not being renewed, leaving the company without its most important partner.


LookSmart Sponsored Listings To Take On Google & Overture
SearchDay, Oct. 2, 2003

LookSmart has relaunched its Sponsored Listings program using a new bid-for-placement model, a move it hopes will let the company win distribution partners from rivals Overture and Google, as well as increase its advertising revenues.

SearchDay Articles

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

Google Testing Frequent Searcher Program
SearchDay, Oct. 6, 2003

Ever wonder just how often you use Google in a day? Soon you may be able to get an exact count thanks to a Google search counter the company has been quietly testing with a small group of users.


Search Engine Forums Spotlight
SearchDay, Oct. 3, 2003

Links to this week’s topics from search engine forums across the web: Free $50 AdWords Credit via Yahoo – Lycos to Use AdWords – What Is Web Copy? – Keywords in a URL – Resubmitting to Dmoz? How to Correct a Bad Description? – Java Menus or Text Menus – Developing a Score Card for Keywords – Zeal – How Valuable? – Opinions on Froogle


Search Engine Milestones for September 2003
SearchDay, Oct. 1, 2003

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


A Personal Search Engine for the Web and Your Computer
SearchDay, Sept. 30, 2003

Dynago DART combines a crawler, search engine and content analyzer that lets you organize, re-use and discover new patterns in your own personal information.


Using Google to Search Your Personal Blogsphere
SearchDay, Sept. 29, 2003

Adding a free ‘blogs I read’ search box to your own weblog provides your readers with an easy way to use Google to search the web, your site or just the blogs you read.


Search Engine Forums Spotlight
SearchDay, Sept. 26, 2003

Links to this week’s topics from search engine forums across the web: Gigablast Inventor Interview – SEO and Reciprocal Links – ODP Spam Handling Suggestion – Google Backlinks and PageRank Should Be Abolished – Link Popularity Improvement Methods – Microsoft Goes After Google


A Conversation With Gigablast’s Matt Wells
SearchDay, Sept. 25, 2003

Most major search engines rely on an army of hundreds of people to create and maintain their services. Not Gigablast — it’s a high-quality search engine built and operated by sole proprietor Matt Wells.


How Can Google’s Gold Be Inktomi’s Spam?
SearchDay, Sept. 24, 2003

While there are some universal guidelines about search engine spam, each major engine has policies that can occasionally appear out of sync with others.


Yahoo Launches New Product Search
SearchDay, Sept. 23, 2003

Yahoo’s new product search engine combines the best aspects of the company’s existing shopping platform with new advanced search features, including product information gathered from the entire web.


Dealtime Relaunches as
SearchDay, Sept. 22, 2003

Shopping search and product review site Dealtime officially changed its name today to, marking another milestone in the fascinating journey of a storied domain name


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


Search Engine Articles

Special thanks to Search Engine Guide,, for spotting some of the articles listed below!

Why Sharis Berries is happy to let affiliates pay the search freight
Internet Retailer, Oct. 7, 2003

Some companies have learned to hate their affiliates, finding they make it expensive when they wants to directly purchase advertising. But Shari’s Berries loves them. They don’t advertise directly and instead let the affiliates do the heavy work. But from a searching perspective, it’s more than a little annoying that this strategy means that Google and MSN results, as cited in this article, are essentially full of junk pages that all lead back to the same company. It’s the search equivalent of walking into a store and only seeing one brand on the shelves.


iProspect Selected to Inc. 500 List of the Fastest Growing Companies in America
iProspect Press Release, Oct. 7, 2003

I don’t often run links to press releases, but this is notable. Search engine marketing firm iProspect has been named by Inc. Magazine as the 47th fastest growing company its Inc. 500 list. The list ranks privately held companies according to sales growth. Watch the list, because I’m sure in the coming years, you’ll see many more SEM firms move up for similar recognition as the market grows.


Web Searches: The Fix Is In
BusinessWeek, Oct. 6, 2003

BusinessWeek did more than 30 interviews and analyzed dozens of searches to conclude that paid inclusion seems to provide ranking boosts to customers. Unfortunately, the Lamps Plus example listed is a bad one. The person wasn’t listed with LookSmart, which is the primary data source MSN search uses. He signs up and suddenly discovers he’s ranking better.

Of course. He wasn’t present before, and by getting in, there was a good chance he’d naturally rank well. The same would be true if he wasn’t listed in Google, then got spidered. He might then suddenly rank better there, as well. In contrast, the only way to know if paid inclusion really gave Lamps Plus an actual ranking boost, rather than just a chance at ranking well, would be to see if they were already listed, then shifted their listings to a paid inclusion program and found a favorable ranking change.

Despite the Lamps Plus example being bad, other examples like “green sleeping bag” being full of paid inclusion listings do underscore the idea that paid inclusion content seems favored and sometimes can be terribly off-target. It also remains true that paid inclusion content can be helpful in some instances and that “pure” search results are hardly pure. It’s just that the search engine itself receives no money directly.

Overall, I think the reason bad paid inclusion results are so annoying is because part of the paid inclusion pitch by search engines offering it is that content is carefully reviewed for quality. Discovering off-target paid inclusion listings causes you to lose faith. In contrast, bad “free” listings can at least be excused since no particular oversight is promised.

For further examination of paid inclusion, see, which provides a summary and past articles I’ve written. (permalink to this item)


VeriSign Shuts Down Site Finder, Oct. 3, 2003

VeriSign agrees to shut down its SiteFinder service that was grabbing traffic for .COM and .NET domains that failed to resolve to working web sites.


Google to Expand Keyword Matching, Oct. 3, 2003

Later this week, Google will allow advertisers to more broadly match terms.


Keyword Research: Optimization for Conversion
ClickZ, Oct. 3, 2003

Think beyond keywords as just a way to attract visitors. Do you know which ones actually produce conversions? And do you know which ones produce quick versus slow conversions?


Virus Blocks Search Engine Access, Oct. 2, 2003

I’ve changed the name of the article listed above primarily to draw your attention to the fact that a new virus is causing some people to be unable to reach their favorite search engines. Called Qhosts, it reroutes users trying to reach popular search engines such as Google or MSN to other locations. A variety of anti-virus makers have issues patches. This article points you at some solutions. (permalink to this item)


Searching For Holiday Profits, Part 3: Landing Page Optimization
ClickZ, Oct. 3, 2003

What you say on your landing pages is crucial if you want to drive conversion. Some tips to consider.


Google shafts blogger, adds gagging clause to Adsense
The Register, Oct. 2, 2003

Disturbing report about Google dumping one of its AdSense content providers, leaving the person with no ability to dispute allegations of fraudulent clicks. Also highlights a new clause preventing those in the program from discussing it.


New Family Friendly Search Engine Web Search Guide, Oct. 1, 2003

Review of new family-friendly search engine Family Source.


Punctuation at Google and Minor Site Updates
Search Engine Showdown, Oct. 1, 2003

Google doesn’t ignore the ampersand or underscore in your searches, as it might with other types of punctuation.


Nip and Tuck – Three Quick Tricks for Writing SEO Copy
Search Engine Guide, Oct. 1, 2003

Tips on writing copy that pleases crawler-based search engines and humans.


New Search Engine Focused on Business Documents is Now Available on the Web
ResourceShelf, Oct. 1, 2003

Review of new business research search engine.


Google Gets Personal, Oct. 1, 2003

Google has acquired Kaltix, a start-up company of three people that attracted attention back in July and August, just after it launched. The company promised advances in personalized search but provided no further details. Now Google’s bought them, likely because was an easy way to get three good people along with some personalization technology that might be leveraged. It’s the second firm dealing with personalization that Google has purchased. Outride was the first, acquired way back in September 2001. Two years later, Google has yet to do anything concrete with that technology. For more, see Google May Get Personal, (permalink to this item)


Promoting Your Website with RSS Feeds
Web Marketing Today, Oct. 1, 2003

Lots of tips on getting going with RSS to distribute your content.


Google bowls Yahoo a googly, Sept. 30, 2003

Google is the top search site in the UK, according to a new survey.


Lycos Goes Contextual with Google, Sept. 30, 2003

Terra Lycos, which owns sites such as, will carry Google’s contextual AdSense ads.


Search Engine (Optimization) Blogs Reviewed
chriSEO, Sept. 30, 2003

Looking for blogs about SEO? Here are some links.


Is Google worth as much as Yahoo?
CBS MarketWatch, Sept. 30, 2003{DCCC9C0A-8F8D-4E0A-9B5F-A67E7DBC9871}

Latest valuation of Google? How about $17 to $19 billion, say sources who make that estimate off prices Google is using when it acquires smaller companies. But actually achieving that valuation when it goes public will be difficult, says CBS MarketWatch’s Bambi Francisco.


The Coming Search Engine War, Part 2
ClickZ, Sept. 29, 2003

Everyone’s coming after Google. How can it fend off competitors? Keep up with any new features offered by others and constantly rebuild its service as the “next” great thing. Sure. But the argument that “better” isn’t as good as being “what’s next” doesn’t hold up, in my view. The search engine space is littered with companies that promised to be the next best thing but which didn’t deliver the goods.

Google won droves of AltaVista users because it offered better results. But isn’t that because it was perceived as the “next generation” of search? Perhaps — but it was also better. After all, Direct Hit also emerged at the same time as Google. It was also a “next generation” service. Yet Direct Hit never gained Google-like traffic and no longer exists today. Why? Because its results clearly were not better.

WiseNut and Teoma both emerged as the “new kids” of search in 2001. WiseNut is nowhere near a threat to any major search engine. For that matter, neither is Teoma, in terms of traffic — but at least Teoma has some small following. Teoma will argue that it is the “next generation” of search, but I’d say the gains its made compared to contemporary WiseNut are due to it being better.

No doubt that as Microsoft, Yahoo and others try to win the hearts of searchers, you’ll keep hearing about how they are the “next generation” in various ways — just as Google will keep rolling out changes to its own service. But such words will mean nothing unless backed up by performance. To date, no search engine has won long-term users through marketing spend and pitches. Just ask Northern Light, which spent millions on television ads only to disappear. Want more? Drop by sometime and I’ll show you some funny commercials that HotBot, Lycos and Excite all made to attract users — none of which kept those users in the long term.

The big winners we have today, Google and Yahoo, built their audiences on the back of strong word of mouth for having great technology or methods to deliver search results. The same is true for the minor winner of Ask Jeeves. The other big winners, AOL and MSN, won their audiences not through marketing but because their browsers (the AOL software; Internet Explorer) drive large numbers of users to their services. (permalink to this item)


What next for Espotting?
NetImperative, Sept. 29, 2003

FindWhat is renegotiating the terms of its merger agreement with European paid listings service Espotting. The move puts Espotting in a weak position, with this article saying the merger seems essential to Espotting’s survival.


Death of Gnutella – Triumph of Google
Gnutella News, Sept. 29, 2003

Could Google be the next Napster? Absolutely. There’s no doubt Google could build a compelling MP3 search service, if it wants to. But that will only happen if the company is convinced that there aren’t going to be legal repercussions. Otherwise, don’t hold your breath. There’s plenty of other things Google can focus on in the meantime.


Google FS paper online, and a look at patent history
Ars Technica, Sept. 29, 2003

Those interested in the file system that Google uses will find a reference to a recently published research paper here.


Librarians Better Than Google, Study Says
AP, Sept. 27, 2003

Cornell University reference librarians do a slightly better job answering questions via its free email service than those who pay for answers using the Google Answer service. The score was so close that no winner was declared. The survey itself can be found at


FindWhat Enters Japan Partnership, Sept. 26, 2003

FindWhat is providing the backend technology to Mitsui, which will sell paid listings in the Japanese market. Mitsui doesn’t yet have a distribution network, however.


Searching For Holiday Profits, Part 2: Seasonal Keywords, Listing Expansion
ClickZ, Sept. 26, 2003

Get ready for the holidays by looking at ways to expand and target your seasonal terms.


Have I been kicked out of Google? Web Search Guide, Sept. 26, 2003

Ways to tell if you’ve been banned by Google or other search engines and tips on getting back in.


Google News Creator Watches Portal, Quiet Critics With ‘Best News’ Webby
Online Journalism Review, Sept. 25, 2003

Krishna Bharat, the scientist who developed Google News, comments on the service. He touches on how a news site is defined, why press releases may show up in search results and discusses some criticisms that have been aimed at the service by journalists.


Google, Amazon in a war of search words, Sept. 26, 2003

Google keyed an employment ad to appear on its web site anytime someone searched for the name of the president of Amazon’s new ecommerce search unit.


Amazon Plans Search Service to Drive Sales
Dow Jones, Sept. 25, 2003,,SB106443868213489300-search,00.html

Amazon’s entering search — lookout Google and Yahoo Maybe. Search is multifaceted, and what Amazon is planning may not go head-to-head with what Google or Yahoo focus on.

In particular, Amazon has quite a bit of knowledge on how to make a ecommerce search solution for merchants. Want to sell products and services on your own web site? Then why not try Amazon’s proven, tested software that comes out of its long experience in being an ecommerce merchant.

Google offers nothing like this. It does have enterprise search software — the Google Search Appliance — but it’s definitely not an ecommerce shopping cart solution. Similarly, Amazon’s A9 seems to be aiming to make software that will help merchants sell to shoppers, not to let employees search the corporate web site.

I can also read the article another way, which makes it sound like Amazon may be planning some type of shopping search software that consumers might run. If so, that would go much more against Google and Yahoo. And if so, it will be Amazon’s second run at this. Alexa zBubbles rolled out in late 1999: To my knowledge, it died a quiet death.

Second URL leads to a longer Wall St. Journal article on the subject, available to those with WSJ subscriptions. (permalink to this item)


Google in need of a Friendster indeed?, Sept. 23, 2003

Rumor is that Google might be interested in acquiring Friendster, the friendship and dating web site.


Yahoo sees sponsored searches doubling
Reuters, Sept. 19, 2003

Yahoo expects to earn $5 billion from paid search in 2006, up from $2 billion estimated for this year.


Speedy Returns Are Google’s Goal
E-Commerce News, Sept. 18, 2003

A look at equipment behind the scenes in a recent server upgrade done by Google.


Search tool scans blogs for business
ZDNet UK, Sept. 18, 2003,39020645,39116478,00.htm

News search provider Moreover has rolled out a blog search service for businesses, aiming to help them tap into consumer trends and opinions.


Overture Enters Spain, Sept. 17, 2003

Overture opens for business in Spain, the latest country in its European expansion.


New Search Algorithm Hears ‘People’s Voice’
NewsFactor, Sept. 16, 2003

The Vox Populi search algorithm is designed to automatically determine which words should be assigned more weight when performing a query. No test service using the algorithm is apparently available, however.


Buy Jeeves? No, sir.
CNN, Sept. 16, 2003

Ask Jeeves has seen its stock price skyrocket — but is it really worth that much? For various good reasons, probably not, this column concludes.


Finding Old Usenet Posts
About Web Search Guide, Sept. 11, 2003

Looking for old Usenet posts? Google Groups is a great resource, but there are a few other options to try, as well.

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