The Search Engine Report – Number 89 – April 2, 2004

In This Issue

+ Search Engine Watch News
+ Search Engine Strategies Goes International
+ Search Engine Articles By Danny Sullivan
+ SearchDay Articles
+ Search Engine Articles
+ Search Engine Resources
+ About The Newsletter

Search Engine Watch News

Hello Everyone–

What a month! I think this is the biggest recap of search engine news I’ve ever done. And somehow, I suspect future months will simply get busier.

I’ve spared you listing all the articles that ran immediately after Yahoo rolled out its new paid inclusion program and the debate that ensued. As our own SearchDay article below explains, a controversial part of the program is charging everyone a per click fee to be included.

I’ve been working hard on a follow-up piece, which will reference many of these articles. This will run in four parts through April, beginning sometime next week. I’ll be looking at why the debate over paid inclusion has been reinvigorated, examining much of the confusion generated and where things may go in the future.

If you get SearchDay, you’ll be alerted to when articles are posted. Otherwise, I’ll catch you up in the next edition of this newsletter.

Want a head start? I’ve covered many of the key issues in past articles on paid inclusion that you’ll find here:

In the meantime, the short answers to the most popular questions I’ve heard are below:

  • Yahoo may pick you up for free, and you may already be listed for free.
  • If you are listed for free, there’s no reason you necessarily need to do paid inclusion.
  • If you aren’t listed, you can try submitting using the new Yahoo Add URL page: You’ll need to be a logged-in Yahoo member to reach this. Becoming a member is free.
  • If you still don’t get listed for free, paid inclusion can make that happen.
  • Will you disappear if you run out of money? Yes, if you are only listed in the paid inclusion database. However, over time, you may also be added to the “free” database. If that happens, you are supposed to be able to drop out of paid inclusion safely with no ranking penalty.

Again, a longer follow-up piece is in the works. In the meantime, our earlier SearchDay piece below already provides a lot of information.

Within the web site, you’ll find a freshly updated Metacrawlers & Metasearch Engines page. It has new services reported in past newsletters. You’ll find it here:

I’ve loads more updating to do, with my priority to bring some of the tables and charts up-to-date with the most recent changes in how various search engines are powered.

Yahoo, of course, shifted to using its own search technology back in February. In the middle of March, AllTheWeb switched over to Yahoo Search. Now this week, AltaVista has made the move. With the major musical chairs now over, I think it’s safe to jump back in and rechart everyone safely!

Finally, have you ever see an item in the Search Engine Articles or Search Engine Resources section of newsletter that you want to reference with a hyperlink? This is now easily done. Simply view the online version of the newsletter (see instructions at the bottom on doing this). Click on the associated permalink near the item, and you can jump people right to it.


Search Engine Strategies Goes International

Search Engine Strategies just had its largest and most successful show in New York last month. Now the show moves outside the US to Tokyo, Toronto and London.

The Toronto and London shows cover search engine marketing issues, just as with the SES shows held in the United States. You’ll find a variety of sessions that feature search engine marketing experts as well as search engine representatives themselves.

If you want to know more about targeting the Canadian audience, be sure to attend the Toronto show next month in May. It will have sessions specifically on this topic and involve local speakers. A full agenda and registration information can be found here:

Search Engine Strategies Toronto: May 11 & 12

The London show in June will have sessions about targeting the UK and Europe, as well as local speakers. Attend that, if you want to understand how to reach the UK and European audiences. The agenda has just been posted here:

Search Engine Strategies London: June 2 & 3

A link to our Tokyo show, as well as basic information about our August 2-5 show in San Jose, October 27-28 show in Stockholm and December 13-16 show in Chicago can be found via the URL below:

Search Engine Strategies

Search Engine Articles
By Danny Sullivan

Google PageRank, Meet Yahoo Web Rank!
The Search Engine Report, April 2, 2004

Yahoo has launched a system to show the Web Rank popularity of pages viewed by those using its toolbar. It’s similar to the Google Toolbar’s long-standing PageRank meter — and brings with it some of the same potential problems.


Welcome To The Google Desktop?
The Search Engine Report, April 2, 2004

Will Google’s new Gmail free email system be just the first of many things we begin moving to a new Google Desktop? If so, Microsoft might have a lot more to worry about than web search. But might concerns over privacy prevent Google’s success?


The Ads Google Just Says No To
The Search Engine Update, April 2, 2004

Want to buy an ad on Google? You might find it rejected after the fact for a variety of unpublished reasons. A look at some cases and the issues they raise. This article is only available to Search Engine Watch members. What’s a member? See


Froogle Gains Through New Placement
The Search Engine Report, April 2, 2004

This week’s format change at Google greatly increased the use of its Froogle shopping search engine, according to measuring service Hitwise.


Google Tops, But Yahoo Switch Success So Far
SearchDay, April 5, 2004

New stats from web analytics firm WebSideStory highlight the news often heard before: Google’s most popular, when it comes to search. But they also reveal that Yahoo’s recent replacement of Google results with those from its own crawler-based technology doesn’t appear to have cost it visitors.

The second URL leads to a longer version of the article for Search Engine Watch members that examines how Yahoo’s drop may not be due to Google’s popularity and how MSN is performing better than you might think.

What’s a Search Engine Watch member? See


Google Launches Gmail, Free Email Service
SearchDay, March 31, 2004

Google is launching a new web-based email service called Gmail that it hopes it will allow people to search their email as easily as they search the web — as well as provide Google with a more permanent connection to its users.

The second URL leads to a longer version of the article for Search Engine Watch members that examines additional options of Gmail, hopes by Google that it will help in personalization of search and how Gmail potentially gives Google portal-like “stickiness” to lock users to its site.

What’s a Search Engine Watch member? See


Google Loses Tabs In New Look, Gains Web Alerts & Personalized Search Results
SearchDay, March 30, 2004

Google has rolled a new look that involves dropping its famed search tabs, along with debuting a web alerts service and a personalized search results option.


New Look In July, New Search Engine Later, Says MSN
SearchDay, Mar. 25, 2004

MSN announced a redesign for its MSN Search service last week, a cosmetic change that better delineates paid placement listings. But the July release will not coincide with the launch of new underlying technology. And the future paid inclusion at MSN is undergoing active debate.

The second URL leads to a longer version of the article for Search Engine Watch members that looks at Yahoo-powered MSN having different results than Yahoo itself, hiring efforts by MSN, issues of integrating MSN Search into the operating system and continued use of LookSmart data in a limited form by MSN.

What’s a Search Engine Watch member? See

SearchDay Articles

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

Paid Search Programs Finally Growing Up
SearchDay, March 31, 2004

The search industry has come a long way since the days of running poorly targeted banner advertisements on search results pages. Enhanced keyword targeting capabilities and powerful new bidding and analysis tools have raised the value of search as a promotional channel.


Dogpile Enhances Toolbar with News Feeds
SearchDay, March 29, 2004

Dogpile has rolled out a new version of its toolbar that adds an intriguing twist to its well-known web search capabilities, providing a built-in ‘ticker’ that tracks your favorite RSS feeds.


Ranking the Quality of Online News
SearchDay, Mar. 24, 2004

How good are the 4,500 news sources from around the world that Google News continuously crawls? Newsknife is an intriguing measurement tool that rates news sites for quality.


Affiliate Programs: Moneymakers or Brandbusters?
SearchDay, Mar. 23, 2004

Search engine affiliate programs offer the promise of greatly increasing your online exposure and sales, but be careful: They can also displace your firm in search engine results and dilute your brand image.

The second URL leads to a longer version of the article for Search Engine Watch members that offers specific tips for effectively working with and managing affiliate partners.

What’s a Search Engine Watch member? See


Yahoo News Upgrades To Take On Google News
SearchDay, Mar. 22, 2004

Yahoo released a new version of its news search engine late last week, a new move in what may be a modern-day version of the great newspaper wars.


Search Engine Forums Spotlight
SearchDay, March 19, 2004

Links to this week’s topics from search engine forums across the web: Why Would Anyone Bid $5.00 Per Click – Search Engines and AdSense – Geo-Targeting Content – Search Engine Optimization Implications? – Google Shows a Map to Your House – Google Tweaks Local Search Out of the Labs – What Does Traffic Estimator Include? Indexing Pages in Hebrew – Yahoo, What Gives? How Do You Tell If You’re Penalized?


Google Pushes Local Search Into the Limelight
SearchDay, March 17, 2004

Google has officially moved local search out of Google Labs and into beta, introducing several noteworthy new features at the same time.


Ask Google: What Does the Web Think Of…
SearchDay, March 16, 2004

Curious to know what the web has to say about a person, place or thing? An amusing tool searches Google and shows you what website owners think about the name or topic you enter.


Onfolio: A Powerful New Web Research Assistant
SearchDay, March 15, 2004

Managing web research just got a lot easier, and a lot more fun, thanks to a new program called Onfolio.


Outsourcing Search Engine Marketing
SearchDay, Mar. 11, 2004

Search engine marketing is crucial for the success of online businesses — but should you take on search marketing in-house, or outsource this challenging task to a contractor or agency?

The second URL leads to a longer version of the article for Search Engine Watch members that goes into more detail about the process of outsourcing search engine marketing and the issues site owners should consider before selecting a partner.

What’s a Search Engine Watch member? See


Yahoo Enhances Local Search with Maps
SearchDay, Mar. 10, 2004

Yahoo’s new Smart View technology pinpoints the location of restaurants, banks, merchants and other businesses and attractions on local maps of cities throughout the United States and Canada.


Measuring Search Engine Success
SearchDay, Mar. 9, 2004

Whether you’re optimizing web pages for top rankings or purchasing paid placement links, it’s crucial to measure the performance of your efforts. A new generation of powerful search engine analytics software makes the job a snap.


Searching for Public Companies Around the World
SearchDay, Mar. 8, 2004

A new search engine focuses solely on investment-related information from more than 12,000 companies around the world.


Google PageRank Lunacy
SearchDay, Mar. 4, 2004

The quest by some to improve their Google PageRank score seems to have reached the point of sheer madness. Even common decency may be abandoned in futile attempts by desperate (or simply less educated) online marketers and others who will seemingly stop at nothing to try and gain links in hopes of seeing more green in their Google toolbar.


Bad Medicine: Study Finds Problems with Online Healthcare Information
SearchDay, Mar. 3, 2004

Searching for health information on the web? Be careful: A new study says that it’s difficult for many people to accurately access and evaluate credible health information.


Yahoo Announces Content Acquisition Program
SearchDay, Mar. 2, 2004

Just two weeks after launching a brand new search engine, Yahoo has announced a content acquisition program that consolidates all of its paid inclusion programs and marks the beginning of an aggressive new campaign to significantly expand both the scope and quality of content available via Yahoo search.

The second URL leads to a longer version of the article for Search Engine Watch members that goes into more details about the Yahoo CAP program, including pricing information and potential ranking problems.

What’s a Search Engine Watch member? See


Search Engine Milestones for February 2004
SearchDay, Mar. 1, 2004

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


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


Search Engine Articles

Search in the Real World
iMediaConnection, April 1, 2004

I always find it amazing that with all the importance of search engines, including the advertising money going to them, there’s seemingly little research done on how we interact with them. See at the very end of this newsletter about the recent Enquiro study, which is an excellent start.

Less scientific, but no less interesting, Lee Watters tried to get a glimpse of search in the real world by talking with 25 of his friends.

We search because it finds things, according to his friends. We want search engines to find things better, somehow, by magic. We may or may not care about paid listings — but we want to know what’s going on. We use Google, mostly.

Notice the classic “I used to favor AltaVista” comment. I hear this preface all the time when teaching classes on searching. People loved, loved AltaVista. When they say they left it for Google, you hear regret constantly in their voices. They didn’t want the marriage to break up, but AltaVista just wasn’t pulling its weight. (permalink)


Search gets sketchy, as engines get the picture, March 31, 2004

Draw a picture, get matching image search results. That’s the hope of an experimental search engine at Purdue University. Story also discusses the new players trying to provide the same type service. Perhaps they’ll be more successful than some players no longer around, after the last round of promised image search advances. Certainly the economic climate may be more favorable now. For a look at some past players, see Searching Inside Of Images, (permalink)


Local Search: Working Hard for the Money
ClickZ, March 31, 2004

Cashing in on local search will require search engines and online yellow pages to work together. That’s one conclusion from a recent Kelsey Group conference on local search. (permalink)


GlobalSpec: Domain Specific Search and the Semantic Web
John Battelle’s Searchblog, March 30, 2004

Review of new engineering search engine and a hope that more vertical or specialized search engines will emerge. I agree — I hope we’ll see more of these.

Back in 2000, it seemed this would finally happen (see The Vortals Are Coming! The Vortals Are Coming!, But the economic slowdown took its toll. Now, perhaps the long overdue explosion of specialty search will happen.

One tool that might help I mentioned ( back in December, Vortaloptics, It’s designed to help people build their own specialized search engines. (permalink)


Google hit with ‘geo-location’ lawsuit, March 30, 2004

Digital Envoy, which provides Google with the ability to target ads by searcher location, is suing Google for allegedly violating its licensing agreement. Google apparently has been using geotargeting on sites in its advertising network, while the licensing agreement only allows for use on Google’s own sites.

Digital Envoy claims this use has greatly increased Google’s revenue, while its $8,000 per month licensing fee hasn’t reflected this. The company didn’t feel a $12,000 per month offer by Google for expanded use reflected a fair value for its services.

Google recently expanded its geotargeting capabilities,, but the case includes geotargeting that happened even before this. (permalink)


Design Matters
ClickZ, March 29, 2004

Don’t lose track of good page design in your quest for better rankings. Good looking, search engine friendly pages are possible. (permalink)


New Google Syntax for Number Range
ResearchBuzz, March 29, 2004

Slick. Ever wanted to search for something that involved a range of numbers, like any pages mentioning the American Revolution and the dates 1776 through 1779? Tara Calishain tells how to do this with Google’s new number range command. (permalink)


Why Topix Is Different: Toward A Sustainable Model For Net Media Companies
John Battelle’s Searchblog, March 29, 2004

Close up on the behind-the-scenes at Topix, a new news search service. I mentioned the service briefly back in February, and we’ll be taking a closer look in the future. In the meantime, John Battelle gives a nice look at how the service categorizes stories both by topic and by geographic location. (permalink)


MSN to add features Google got to first
Seattle Times, March 27, 2004

Microsoft announces plans to expand its news search service, develop a blog search tool and eventually offer an answer search facility. Other coverage of the same:, I’ll also come back to this with a few more details in the near future. (permalink)


Google’s Thumbnails Illegal in Germany, March 29, 2004

A German regional court rules that thumbnail photos used in Google’s news service violate copyright laws. (permalink)


Stoked on search deals, March 26, 2004

Yahoo buys European shopping search engine Kelkoo. Infospace buys yellow pages provider Switchboard. Mamma and Ask Jeeves see big stock jumps. It’s a whole new round of search buying!

The bubble’s not on the advertising side — there’s definitely demand there. But the fever to buy search companies might be too hot. But when Microsoft says they have “regrets” about not having done more in search earlier, folks don’t want to miss out.

One analyst in the story says it is Microsoft’s way to build, not buy — and it will do the same in search. It certainly is doing this, but there have been plenty of times it has bought to get ahead quickly. I think its actually unusual that in the case of search, it hasn’t.

FrontPage — a purchase. eShop? Hotmail? Visio? Vicinity? Purchases (see here and here for more).

Remember MS-DOS? Started off with a license. In fact, Microsoft didn’t even take on Netscape from scratch. The company licensed code from NCSA to get started (see here and here for more).

Microsoft did look at AltaVista last year. After not getting it, it first said it wasn’t really “serious” then declared soon after that it had gained search religion and would build things itself. If it had been willing to sell, Google would have been a killer purchase to have, as I explained in Surprised Google & Microsoft Talked Takeover? You Shouldn’t Be!

Today, Microsoft says it’s continuing onward with its own internal development and says that we might see its crawler appear by the end of the year. But imagine if Microsoft had purchased someone like AltaVista, AllTheWeb or even Ask Jeeves. Rather than being behind an eternity in internet time, Microsoft would be competing just as strongly as Yahoo is now doing.

FYI, 2003 was the busiest year for search acquisitions since 1999, the last time we had a frenzy like this. Search Engine Watch members have access to the Search Engine Acquisitions page (, a useful compilation of past articles by date that documents the buying that’s gone on over the past years. (permalink)


Yahoo finds a friend in MSN, March 26, 2004

Who did MSN put in front of its top strategic partners? Yahoo CEO Terry Semel — whose company is both Microsoft’s current search partner and a chief competitor. Semel wants to encourage cross-network buying, and the idea seems especially that MSN and Yahoo want to jointly get more spending going online. Of course, this cooperation doesn’t appear to extend to getting the buying going on Google, as well! (permalink)


B2B SEM: Sorting Ambiguous Traffic
ClickZ, March 26, 2004

Want B2B traffic? You can’t just rely on selecting the right keywords in an ambiguous world. Tips on how to better qualify and convert. (permalink)


InfoSpace to bring Switchboard on board, March 26, 2004

InfoSpace plans to purchase online yellow pages provider Switchboard for $160 million. Bad news for Verizon, which currently provides its yellow pages data to InfoSpace. (permalink)


Upstart Competitors Try to Outdo Google
AP, March 26, 2004,1759,1555522,00.asp

Everyone wants to be the new Google — but Google is the rare exception that became a huge success. A look at some new players hoping they might beat the odds. Also see a similar BBC story here: and story here: (permalink)


Yahoo says bienvenue to Kelkoo, March 26, 2004

Yahoo plans to purchase European shopping search engine Kelkoo for $579 million. Yahoo has long operated its own internal shopping search engine in the US, which was recently upgraded: In Europe, it seems to have partnered with for this. Now with Kelkoo, it will own European-based technology and a strong brand. In addition, Kelkoo currently powers shopping search at MSN’s UK site and likely other European ones, as well. Google’s Froogle service, now over a year old, still doesn’t carry products outside the US. (permalink)


Microsoft Concedes Misstep in Search Market
eWeek, March 25, 2004,1759,1554638,00.asp

Earlier this year, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates confessed that his company was behind in search and vowed to catch up with Google (and though not said, also Yahoo). Now CEO Steve Ballmer says the company should have done more earlier, as well. He also expects to have the crawler-portion complete within 12 months, but it will take longer to develop a paid listings service. IE — expect to see Yahoo’s crawler-based results disappear first, then Overture’s paid listings further down the line. (permalink)


Five-domain Googlebomb explodes in boardroom
The Register, March 25, 2004

Daniel Brandt of Google Watch fame has created a new site to target Yahoo’s new paid inclusion program: Yahoo Watch, I’ll be looking more closely at the site and issues with Yahoo’s program in general in a multipart series later this month.

In the meantime, Brandt’s not done with Google. He linked to Google’s corporate information page with the words “out of touch executives.” Soon after, the page was driven to the top results at Google for those words.

Of course, the same thing is now true at Yahoo, as even Brandt notes. That underscores what I’ve written many times before, most recently about the “miserable failure” search that happened BOTH at Google and Yahoo: Link analysis flaws aren’t just a Google problem.

The solution proposed by Brandt — don’t let the terms in a link to a page influence how that page might rank — isn’t a solution. There are many, many times that the context of links pointing at pages helps very good pages rise to the top.

For example, say someone is trying to find Google Watch by typing in googlewatch as a single word. Google still manages to get the Google Watch home page site ranked first, even though that word doesn’t appear on the page itself.

There are definitely problems that have been demonstrated by allowing link context to influence what other pages are deemed to be about. Google tells me it has made some limiting of this for adult terms, to help avoid things like what happened to the George W. Bush campaign web site back in 2001. It’s also looking to explore what else can be done, and I’ll revisit this in a future article.

In the meantime, falling back to old-school “on the page” factors (also see here) isn’t a solution and would likely make things worse.

What will help? The two leading thoughts for getting to a third generation of search are personalization (see Eurekster Launches Personalized Social Search) and what I call invisible tabs, the use of specialized search databases.

A big reason both may help is that they greatly multiply the number of fronts where the page spam or link manipulation battles have to be fought.

FYI, MSN Watch has also been founded: Creator Aaron Wall didn’t want to miss out on all the Watch madness. (permalink)


Ruling clouds plans for search functions
San Jose Mercury News, March 25, 2004

The European Union has told Microsoft it has to unbundle its media player. Does that mean plans to perhaps have a super-search tool built into the operating system won’t fly, either? A look at the possible repercussions. (permalink)


All the news that’s fit for searching
San Jose Mercury News, March 24, 2004

Brief look at the Microsoft NewsJunkie project, designed to help push new news to the top and repeat stories down. (permalink)


Is Google telling lies? Just who is Google’s customer?
About Web Search Guide, March 24, 2004

Google’s customer isn’t just the searcher. The site owner and the search engine advertisers are also important clients. (permalink)


Google to find place for Orkut network in search, March 22, 2004

Google CEO Eric Schmidt said recently that its Orkut social networking service will be someday integrated into Google to help it with search. That’s more commitment that when Orkut was launched. Then Google said it had no idea what might happen with the service:

Given that Eurekster was actively using its social network to refine search (see, it was pretty clear Google would ultimately do the same. Be aware that the recently released Google personal search service (see doesn’t yet use Orkut data. (permalink)


Media Planners Face Tough, Time-Consuming Task When It Comes To Search
MediaPost, March 22, 2004

Search is getting more and more complex, as many more smaller players vie for advertiser dollars and even the big players push different products. Then there’s the complexity of just handling the basic keyword-linked paid placement ads. Some ad agencies are outsourcing, but others are deciding they need to face the challenge by building up internally. (permalink)


Ass-Backwards SEM
ClickZ, March 22, 2004

Are you spending on paid listings without addressing problems that may hurt your ROI? Then consider that you’re doing things backwards. (permalink)


Lycos HotBot Offers Free DeskTop Toolbar
Information Today, March 22, 2004

Lycos rolls out a new toolbar that lets you search the web and your personal computer, indexing material in Microsoft Office and other files. Sounds very cool. Pity it fails to load for me. You might have more luck. Gary Price and Barbara Quint did, and they give a good rundown on the tool here.

AltaVista Discovery was the last tool like this. It also let you search the web, files on your computer and even within email: The tool never took off, and it was eventually discontinued. (permalink)


Feds Arrest Alleged Google Extortionist, March 22, 2004

We’ve long done sessions at Search Engine Strategies involving how to monitor your PPC campaigns for fraudulent clicks. Despite safeguards in place by search engines, things still get through. But here’s an extreme case of a man accused of trying to extort $100,000 from Google. He allegedly threatened to “destroy” Google with software that would run up fraudulent clicks on Google’s contextual ads during a meeting with a company. Another good account of the story here from the San Jose Mercury News:

For some past Search Engine Watch articles on the topic of auditing your click charges, see:

Ask the Search Engine: Coping with Fraudulent Pay-Per-Click Traffic

Perfecting Paid Search Engine Listings



Google seeks consensus on personal-info issues
USA Today, March 22, 2004

You’ve read it before, and here it is again. Google — and apparently only Google — makes it easier for people to find out your personal details. As always, this is a problem, but it’s a SEARCH ENGINE problem. If Google is “the biggest privacy invader on the planet,” as a former CTO of the Privacy Foundation puts it, then so is Yahoo and Ask Jeeves, at the very least. They also operate powerful crawlers. And Google cofounder Larry Page is right — it would be nice if the internet, or at least the search engine industry, sought some consensus on how to handle the real concerns people may have. For more on this topic, see also Search Privacy And User Information, (permalink)


Selected Search and Search-Related Papers (Full Text) from the Upcoming WWW2004
ResourceShelf, March 21, 2004

The annual WWW conference is always when interesting search-related papers get released. Gary Price provides a rundown on what’s being covered. (permalink)


Accountant `Googles’ Himself, Sues for Libel
AP, March 19, 2004

An accountant unhappy with the information Google returned on a search for his name has filed a libel suit against the firm. He wants a court to ban PageRank, saying it “reformats information obtained from accurate sources.” PageRank (a popularity score Google uses for each page and only one of many different ranking factors) has nothing to do with it. Instead, it seems that Google listed a page or pages about this person that he claims libel him. The issue really isn’t PageRank but rather should a search engine be liable for the veracity of material it lists? Jennifer Laycock takes a closer look at the story here: In this, she finds PageRank is being confused with how Google creates descriptions or “snippets” for the pages it lists. (permalink)


Yahoo’s New Paid Inclusion
ClickZ, March 19, 2004

Kevin Lee explains why you might want to try (or perhaps resign yourself) to Yahoo’s new paid inclusion programs. (permalink)


AOL got Google warrants in 2002 -filing
Forbes, March 18, 2004

Flash back to 2002, and there were some people surprised that AOL dumped Overture and Inktomi in place of Google. Overture suggested Google was taking a loss (see and also dismissed the idea that having good editorial results for partners was necessary (something it flip-flopped on a year later, when buying AltaVista and AllTheWeb).

Now it appears that AOL gained the right to purchase 1.9 million preferred shares of Google for $22 million. John Battelle estimates selling these might bring in $200 million:

I’m sure the stock warrants sweetened the deal and gave what Google cofounder Sergey Brin described at the time as “competitive monetization.” (permalink)


Doorway Pages or Advertising Pages, What Is The Difference?
Search Engine Guide, March 17, 2004

I always love the conversation with someone who has talked with an SEO firm that wants to get them listed with some type of newfangled pages that explicitly are NOT doorway pages. The person knows doorway pages are bad, but this firm has explained that these are attraction pages, entry pages, infosearch pages and so on — the “good” kind.

Not always — but often — if the SEO firm is coming up with some new name you’ve never heard of, they’ve simply renamed doorway pages to be something they hope will be acceptable. Or as Jill Whalen put it so well, call ’em “zebra” pages if you want, but they probably still are doorway pages and bring with them potential trouble (more on Jill’s classic here:

Dave Wallace takes a fresh look at the type of confusion this renaming can cause. Importantly, he provides a rundown on how he investigates the alleged “advertising” pages to see if they are what he’d consider spammy doorway pages.

Shari Thurow also provides a great rundown on red flags to look for as well as tips on how to tell if a page might actually be acceptable. Her recent article is here: (permalink)


What Is Added Value in Search Capabilities?
Always On, March 16, 2004

Google cofounder Sergey Brin comments on challenging Yahoo’s portal stickiness, calls for paid inclusion listings to be disclosed, discusses the impact ranking changes can have pro and con on businesses, says he’s “not quite satisfied” yet with Google News and says Google will deliver video search at some point in the future. In two parts, with link to first part at bottom of story. (permalink)


Norton Blocks PPC Ads
MarketingWonk, March 16, 2004

By default, the latest version of Norton Personal Firewall now apparently blocks paid listings at Google and Overture. This is the second such software that I’ve heard now that does this. Intermute released its AdSubtract tool formally back in December: Like the Intermute tool, Norton probably does not block paid inclusion listings.

Here’s some irony. Search for personal firewall on Google: The Norton product now blocks ads from its competitors — but also from a company that sells Norton’s own firewall product. A search for antivirus has less impact on Norton but would wipe out ads from its competitors:



eBay Enhances Stores for Search Engine Optimization
AuctionBytes, March 16, 2004

The debate on whether you should have hyphens in your URLs to help search engines recognize individual keywords is long, old and without resolution. I weigh in on the side that it doesn’t make that much of a difference. If your human visitors might benefit from seeing the words, with or without hyphens, then do it. And while Google still says it doesn’t hurt to have overly hyphenated names, I still think that a URL with tons of hyphens is a big red flag that might get a page a closer look.

With that stage set — eBay, buying into the hyphen hype — is making it so those using its eBay stores will have hyphens in their URL. “The result will be that buyers will more easily find your Store when they are searching the web for items you are selling,” AuctionBytes reports eBay as saying.

That deserves a big, big qualification. Buyers MAY more easily find your store because of this, and perhaps they MAY not. For more on the hyphen issue, see (permalink)


Leading Internet Providers Oppose Passage of Spyware Control Act
MediaPost, March 15, 2004

Google and Yahoo are among several prominent internet companies who are urging Utah’s governor not to sign a spyware control act into law. They say the definition of spyware is too broad. (permalink)


Yahoo Gets Boobled
John Battelle’s SearchBlog, March 15, 2004

Booble is an adult search engine that Google has sued, claiming it illegally copies Google’s look and feel. Now another adult search engine has launched to imitate Yahoo. You gotta think they’re just hoping to get sued for the publicity. Google’s suit has brought plenty of attention and traffic to Booble (see for more on that) (permalink)


In Searching We Trust
New York Times, March 14, 2004

The headline says “searching” which suggests this might be a look at how we search in general. But apparently, we still only search with Google. You’ve read this type of story before: Google “miracles,” at least tempered that Google isn’t always perfect. Yahoo is not mentioned once in the entire story. That’s sort of like saying we all watch TV, but that we only watch one channel. Yahoo’s a big whopping search channel that many, many people view. (permalink)


How do I love Google? Let me count the ways
ZDNet, March 12, 2004

Just when you thought the popular press may have been learning there are other search engines than Google, here’s an example where it’s like the good old days of “only Google find things.”

Google definitely won on the lyric query David Coursey was after. But the Boomtown Rats “I Don’t Like Mondays” query I’d give to Yahoo. Both Yahoo and Google have the same first listing that answers the question he was after: But the Yahoo description of that page is much better and actually answers the question without having to go to the page, unlike the case at Google. As for BofA media contact, both Google and Yahoo had the same good page as the first result. And Yahoo, like Google, does list the column that mentioned the Sweden town of Fjuckby. (permalink)


Ten Tips to the Top of the Search Engines
Search Engine Guide, March 12, 2004

Jill Whalen shares top tips she finds to be essential for success with search engine optimization. (permalink)


B2B Search: Playing the Odds
ClickZ, March 12, 2004

B2B search marketing may involve long-term or offline sales, making it difficult for the marketer with a fixed budget to measure success. Some tips on estimating the value of your advertising buys. (permalink)


Feds slap cuffs on Google stock scammer
The Register, March 12, 2004

Google hasn’t announced IPO plans, but that didn’t stop someone from allegedly selling “friends and family” stock options in Google. The man claimed to have such options to sell and made over $500,000 before being arrested by the FBI. (permalink)


Yahoo starts massive European keyword push
netimperative, March 11, 2004

Think search engines will wipe out search engine marketing firms? Yahoo has outsourced search ads that it’s running for its European portal to UK-based WSPS. The firm will oversee Yahoo ads that will run on rival networks such as Google, Espotting and Mirago — as well as on Yahoo’s own Overture. (permalink)


Why Is Search So Hot?
ClickZ, March 11, 2004

Why is search hot? People pay only when they get leads; ads are easy to create; self-service means you can get started in minutes; pricing is transparent. All of which is true, but the number one reason is missing. Ads convert better than in other media because you are targeting people who are expressing an actual need.

You’re not trying to create desire in search, such as a visual TV spot for a new car that someone may not need. You aren’t hoping to indirectly hit desire, such with a direct marketing mailing about products to an audience that you hope may be interested. You are appearing before an audience expressly saying, “I want your product.” The closest comparison to this is yellow pages advertising. (permalink)


Who Wants to be Bought Out?
About Web Search Guide, March 11, 2004

Neglected in the rush to cash in on search has been the role of search engine marketing companies. But attention is now being focused on them as potential acquisitions by ad agencies and others realizing they need a way into search advertising that they long neglected. Thoughts on what may come from Jennifer Laycock, feeling inspired after attending a track on the subject at the recent Search Engine Strategies conference in New York. (permalink)


Questions for Dana Todd, Executive VP of SiteLab International
ClickZ, March 10, 2004

Dana Todd’s well known and popular with attendees at Search Engine Strategies for sharing her decade’s worth of online marketing experience and forthright comments about where the search engine marketing industry is headed. In this Q&A, she discuss the difficulty in getting behind Yahoo’s new paid inclusion program (“they’re shoving it down people’s throats”), the desire to buy contextual ads priced differently than search-targeted ones, thoughts on local ads, personalized search results and the small bubble she sees developing around search engine marketing. (permalink)


Manx Parents Win Google Apology
Isle Of Man Online, March 10, 2004

A search for children’s stories brings up an ad on Google for violent incest. Google apologizes and removes the ad. (permalink)


The perils of Googling
The Register, March 10, 2004

Google — AND OTHER SEARCH ENGINES! — provide ways for hackers and others to research ways into material you may have thought was secure. It’s not something that the search engines do actively. Rather, they simply record material that you may not realize gives away vital clues into your system. This is a nice article that discusses how to protect yourself. The focus is Google-specific, but some of the tips will be applicable to other search engines such as Yahoo, as well. (permalink)


WebSourced parent raises $2.75M
Triangle Business Journal, March 10, 2004

The parent company of search engine marketing firm WebSourced raises money through a stock sale in order to retire debt and raise capital. (permalink)


In search of the deep Web
Salon, March 9, 2004

A look at new efforts to gather up content search engines often miss because it is in the “deep” or “invisible” web that can be difficult or impossible to crawl. Goes past the debate over Yahoo’s commercial paid inclusion program to talk about the company’s efforts to make some non-profit deep data more accessible.

The story asks why deep web content has remained out of view for so long. I suspect the main reason there hasn’t been much progress is because for the most part, users are already overwhelmed with lots of information — and lots of useful information. The search engines are already providing what many people consider good enough.

Dumping in even more material isn’t necessarily helpful. Instead, you want to ensure you can help users refine their queries or direct them to the right type of database. What does someone who enters “chemical and biological warfare threats” want? Public opinion data? CIA reports? Tips on protecting themselves personally? Google doesn’t let us down by not having the report mentioned. It lets us down by not helping us refine the query so we head in the right direction to begin with.

Head over to Vivisimo, and you get a better idea of refinement. Do this query, and you’ll see along the left-hand side that things get categorized. That helps you choose to see matches related to protection or medical aspects. It’s a step forward, yet it doesn’t alienate those who prefer just to get a single list back.

Wouldn’t it be easier if you could just choose to see data from a particular resource, like government pages? Yes, if users actually make that decision. Right now, they don’t when offered only a few “tabs” leading to specialty databases. That’s why another area I think we’ll move forward with is what I’ve described as invisible tabs, to automatically bring out access to specialty databases.

By the way, I did check the query on Google mentioned to see if I could find the Hatfill report said to be absent. Turns out, this query brought up what seemed to be it. But the author of this Salon piece, Alex Wright, tells me its not the same report. It’s a very similar version written for a medical journal, with much the same content as the CIA report, but not exactly the same.



Trademark Infringement Disputes Among Search Providers Heat Up
MediaPost, March 8, 2004

Review of the “Leggo My Trademark” panel at the recent Search Engine Strategies conference, where the panel examines issues such as the American Blind lawsuit against Google and other trademark related problems. (permalink)


PPC for SME: Small But Growing
ClickZ, March 8, 2004

A recent Kelsey Group/ConStat survey found 11 percent of small and medium-sized businesses are already doing search buys and 34 percent were interested. However most, 43 percent, weren’t interested at all. Why not? Of the not-interested group, 60 percent didn’t think it was appropriate for their business. Lots of other interesting stats from the survey, as well. (permalink)


Search Engines Are Revving Up for a Local Fight, March 8, 2004

Revisiting the race by search engines and online yellow pages to capture the revenue represented by getting local advertisers online in search. (permalink)


Trade mark not abused by meta tag and search ads, says UK court, March 8, 2004

An English appellate court ruled that Reed Business Information did not violate trademark laws by using the word “reed” in meta tags on its web site. Reed Executive, an employment agency, had claimed the use of the word in meta tags, as well in search banner ads, diverted traffic from its own employment sites and caused confusion. The appellate court disagreed. (permalink)


Overture to Introduce Local Search Ad Program, March 8, 2004

In the near future, Overture will release a tool allowing advertisers to target ads by US ZIP codes or to a radius around a particular geographic point. (permalink)


Diary of a Google Gazumpee
Search Engine Guide, March 5, 2004

From number one to oblivion on Google. Lesson learned for this web site? Its survival came by not counting on Google solely for traffic. As for jumping on the “search engine optimization wheel” — chasing after tips that give only transient gains — don’t do it. And I couldn’t agree more. As always, focus first on a great site for your customers, with rich content. Long-term search engine success has often flowed from this. (permalink)


Keywords Revisited, Part 3: Paid Research Tools
ClickZ, March 5, 2004

Recap of commercial tools to help you research what terms people may be using to seeking your web site. (permalink)


Search: The Trends
ClickZ, March 5, 2004

Marketers of all types are continuing to discover search — while the marketplace itself continues to evolve. Rebecca Lieb reviews trends that came out of the recent Search Engine Strategies show in New York. Local search is attracting new search players and programs. The search engine marketing industry is getting more formal and mature — yet legal issues still need to be resolved, and chaff of low quality programs and those chasing the search buck are growing. (permalink)


Ask Jeeves to buy Web network for $343 million, March 4, 2004

Ask Jeeves is purchasing Interactive Search Holdings (formerly The Excite Network), which operates iWon, Excite and the MyWay search sites. Ask will pay $150 million in cash, an additional $17.5 million based on performance and issue 9.3 million shares of stock to make the deal valued at $343 million. The deal is expected to close in the third quarter of this year. Ask Jeeves says the purchase will double the amount of search traffic it currently handles. FYI, Search Engine Watch has a follow-up article looking more closely at the purchase coming out in SearchDay in the near future. (permalink)


Search Engine Strategies Notes
Search Engine Roundtable Weblog, March 4, 2004

Couldn’t make Search Engine Strategies? Here are comments on session that Barry Schwartz attended. (permalink)


Contextual Ads, Bidding, and Market Inefficiency, March 3, 2004

In this open letter to Google, Traffick’s Andrew Goodman calls for Google to allow contextual ad buys separately. Add me to the list of people who agree. Contextual ads are not search. Forcing advertisers to only buy them as part of a search campaign makes no sense. The ads appear in a different environment, where you may wish to use completely different creative. There’s also the continuing debate about conversion. Give the advertisers the choice to run both types of ads, or just one of either type. Believe it or not, there are some people who might want to buy only contextual and not search. (permalink)


Hands Off! That Fact Is Mine
Wired, March 3, 2004,1367,62500,00.html

A proposed US law to protect databases has critics claiming it will give companies ownership over facts, which currently have no copyright protections. (permalink)


Industry Players Predict Search’s Future
ClickZ, March 3, 2004

Personalization, ubiquity, a variety of media in search results and genetically engineered search pets were some of the predictions for the future of search put forth by panel of search engine executives at the recent Search Engine Strategies conference. (permalink)


Commentary: Google’s soft spot
Forrester Research, March 2, 2004

I started a long point-by-point analysis of this commentary, because I disagree with many of its statements and conclusions. I may come back to that in the next newsletter, if I have time to do a proper edit of my comments. But in short: Microsoft already has desktop search integration, and that hasn’t kept people from going to Google or Yahoo. Who will “win” here isn’t certain. Google isn’t a portal, and that’s been its strength. But if it needs to be a portal, it seems short-sighted to assume it can’t compete with Yahoo. And the idea that Google will win the ad network battle is weak. Google has a near split with Overture now. As long as the audiences remain unduplicated, I’d expect Overture will continue to remain important. (permalink)


Sullivan: No One Will Win Search War
ClickZ, March 2, 2004

In my keynote at the recent Search Engine Strategies show, I discussed how I don’t feel there will be any single “winner” in the search wars. Instead, I believe that we’ll have major search engines in the way we have major television networks, and despite gains and losses, they’ll all survive. I also feel we’ll have a variety of small, independent players surviving in the way we have cable television channels that thrive.

I also urged that if Yahoo is going to embark on a new chapter in paid inclusion, it get off on the right foot by providing some type of simple disclosure of such links.

Finally, I predicted that instead of purchasing keywords, we’ll eventually buy concepts that relate to an audience we want — such as someone looking to buy a sofa. We’ll pay a price based on the perceived value of that lead, not based on the exact words that lead uses to find us.

Another take on the keynote is here: (permalink)


How to Survive Search Engine Changes
ClickZ, March 1, 2004

Site dropped in Google or Yahoo? Client’s site dropped in Google or Yahoo? Step away from checking your keyword rankings and look instead at your traffic or conversions. It may that there’s no need to go to panic stations. (permalink)


Pay-Per-Click Debuts on
ClickZ, March 1, 2004

SuperPages’ new paid listings program goes live, allowing local advertisers a means to buy their way to the top. And those of you who represent local clients, the program provides a new way to effectively tap into some local searchers you may have been missing. (permalink)


New Web tools aim to customize searches
San Jose Mercury News, March 1, 2004

Overview of recent moves to increase search relevancy through personalization. (permalink)


Yahoo’s Enemies List
Wall Street Journal, March 1, 2004

Yahoo’s human-compiled directory until recently linked to a biography of Tipper Gore, wife for former US Vice President Al Gore, with the title, “Tipper Gore: Enemy Of Freedom.” The biography was the official one published by the White House back when Clinton was president. What was up with that!

I suspect that perhaps there was another link from the Yahoo Directory to a completely different page that called Tipper Gore an “enemy of freedom” because of her past campaign against violent and explicit lyrics in popular music. That page may have died and the link to the biography page got mixed up with it. I did ask Yahoo about this, but I haven’t gotten an answer yet.

However it happened, Yahoo certainly acted quickly after the WSJ opinion piece ran. The link no longer appears. Meanwhile, a search for “enemy of freedom” now makes Yahoo’s Tipper Gore category number one on Google (, no doubt because of references caused by this story. Yahoo will be at least proud that its own crawler results don’t do the same thing. (permalink)


Yahoo evolving robots.txt, finally
The Robots Mailing List, March 2004

Yahoo unilaterally adds a “Crawl-delay” option to the robots.txt command, sparking comment on a list that focuses on crawling. Google made similar unilateral change in the past. It would be nice to see the search engines in general come together perhaps to update the protocol in a coordinated fashion. (permalink)


Keywords Revisited, Part 2: Free Research Tools
ClickZ, Feb. 27, 2004

Ways to research what words your target audience may be using to find you — for free! (permalink)


AOL: ‘Search is just a feature’
CBS MarketWatch, Feb. 27, 2004{0502215A-2988-4CB5-9C25-6E5C95FF4BFD}

AOL has no search “leakage” problem requiring it to buy a search engine, the company says. Instead, by focusing on developing its own service, which uses Google and other databases, it manages to retain plenty of search traffic from those connecting with AOL, the company says. (permalink)


Urchin 5.5 – Web Analytics Product Review, Feb. 27, 2004

In-depth review of the Urchin web analytics tool. (permalink)

Search Engine Resources


News search engine that specializes in culling Apple-related content from the web. (permalink)



Search for web pages in the UK or around the world, via this clean interface. It’s powered by Yahoo, with paid listings from Overture (these are called out by the freesearch logo). Image search powered by Picsearch is provided, as is access to a searchable Cambridge University dictionary. (permalink)


Religion Explorer

Crawler-based search engine designed to bring back information only from religion-related sites of all denominations. (permalink)


Rocketinfo RSS Reader

Free RSS & Atom reader. Monitor hundreds of categorized feeds, locate new ones, add those you’ve found or create custom feeds based on news searching against thousands of news web sites and weblogs. (permalink)



Track changes to 25 blogs or websites via this tool, up to 24 times per day. The service costs $20 per year, or $2 per month, and there’s a 2 week trial. JD Lasica, senior editor at Online Journalism Review, gave it a thumbs-up in this review: (permalink)


Inside the Mind of the Searcher

White paper from Enquiro that covers how people were found to search and interact with listings. I’ve talked with Enquiro Gord Hotchkiss at length about the findings, and they are incredibly interesting. Hopefully we’ll have a good review finished for SearchDay next week. In the meantime, you can download the white paper now. (permalink)


ClickTracks 5 Released

I love ClickTracks. It’s a superb tool for seeing how people click through your site to various goals you have for them — or to discover if they aren’t getting to where you want. The search referral are also wonderful. Now the latest version is out. I haven’t played with it yet, but fellow believer Jennifer Laycock from the About Web Search Guide gives it a rave review: Peter Da Vanzo also raves: (permalink)


Special thanks reader submissions and

+ Search Engine Guide,
+ Search Engine Lowdown,
+ John Battelle’s Searchblog,
+ Web Search Guide,
+ Search Engine Roundtable Weblog,

for some of the items listed in this newsletter.

About The Search Engine Report

The Search Engine Report is a monthly newsletter that covers developments with search engines and changes to the Search Engine Watch web site, You may pass this newsletter on to others, as long either part is sent in its entirety. Please note that long URLs may break into two lines in some mail readers. Cut and paste, should this occur.

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