The Search Engine Report – April 2, 2003 Number 77

About The 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.

Did you know that there’s a longer, more in-depth version of this newsletter? The twice-monthly “Search Engine Update” newsletter is just one of the many benefits available to Search Engine Watch members.

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In This Issue

+ New Search Engine Watch RSS Feed & Other News
+ Search Engine Strategies Coming To London, San Jose
+ Loving Each Other More: Search Engines & Blogs
+ RSS: Your Gateway To News & Blog Content
+ Making An RSS Feed
+ Search Privacy At Google & Other Search Engines
+ Google And The Big Brother Nomination
+ Yahoo To Buy Espotting?
+ Disney Would Sell Infoseek Search Tech, Switches Go To Google
+ Search Engine Resources
+ SearchDay Articles
+ Search Engine Articles
+ List Info (Subscribing/Unsubscribing)


Hello Everyone–

Sometime next week, Search Engine Watch will undergo its first significant redesign ever. We’ve done a lot of work behind the scenes to ensure that links to old articles and favorite pages you might have bookmarked will continue to work. However, as we hit the inevitable bumps, we’ll move quickly to smooth the ride. Hope you like the new look, once it’s unveiled!

I’m happy to announce that at long last, there’s an RSS feed of the latest Search Engine Watch stories that’s now available. If you have an RSS reader, you can use the link below to add our feed to your subscriptions. If you pull RSS headlines into your own web pages, then certainly feel free to use the feed, as well.

Search Engine Watch RSS Feed

For those wondering, “What on earth is RSS?,” don’t worry. In this newsletter, I’ve done a series of articles that cover what RSS feeds are and how you can use them to read customized news and blog information, as well as to distribute your own content.

In other news, one of the things that emerged out last month’s Search Engine Strategies conference was a meeting to organize a new group for search engine marketers. Called SEMPO, for Search Engine Marketing Professionals Organization, the group is intended to help promote search engine marketing. Barbara Coll is currently chairing the work to formalize the group. She’s received a huge outpouring of support from those who were at the inaugural meeting.

If you weren’t there — don’t panic! To participate, you can join the Yahoo Groups list where discussion on how the group should be formalized is happening. I plan to come back to the idea behind SEMPO hopefully for the next newsletter. But Barbara already has posted some background information that you may find useful, as well as instructions on how to join the discussion list, at the link below.

Its SEMPO Time!!!

Finally, I’m pleased to announced that Search Engine Watch was just named a Top 100 web site for computing by PC Magazine. Our review can be found below:

Search Engine Watch Review by PC Magazine,4149,908209,00.asp


Search Engine Strategies Coming To London, San Jose

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

Search Engine Strategies London

Dates for our next US show have also been announced, August 18-20, in San Jose, California. It’s also looking likely that we’ll extend the show by one day, based on how popular the Boston show was. More details and information will be posted on the conference web site in the near future. In the meantime, you can visit and leave your email address, to be notified when details have been posted.

Search Engine Strategies San Jose


Loving Each Other More: Search Engines & Blogs

My recent exploration of blogging has left me with the thought that there’s a good reason for Google or someone else to create a robust, blog-specific search engine. In addition, there are certainly things it would be nice to see bloggers do to make their content more accessible to ordinary web search engines. In the story below, I explore the timely content that blogs provide, work they can do to make themselves more search engine friendly and some thoughts on what search engines might do on their end.

Loving Each Other More: Search Engines & Blogs
The Search Engine Report, April 2, 2003


RSS: Your Gateway To News & Blog Content

RSS allows blogs, news sites and other sources an easy way to distribute their content. The article below explains how RSS can be a great way foranyone to receive customized news information from growing number of sources, plus it examines ways to search and explore RSS and blog-oriented content.

RSS: Your Gateway To News & Blog Content
The Search Engine Report, April 2, 2003

Search Engine Watch members edition:

What’s A Search Engine Watch Member?


Making An RSS Feed

RSS is a method of distributing links to content in your web site that you’d like others to use. In other words, it’s a mechanism to “syndicate” your content. It can be an easy way to draw attention to your material, bringing you some traffic and perhaps a little net fame, depending on how good your information is.

Making An RSS Feed
The Search Engine Report, April 2, 2003


Search Privacy At Google & Other Search Engines

There’s been some pretty scary statements made about Google and the privacy of search requests recently. Yes, there are privacy issues to be aware of when you do a search at Google. However, these issues are just as much as a concern for other search engines you visit, as well. More importantly, the fear that you personally could be tracked isn’t realistic, for the vast majority of users, at least by Google itself. In the article below, we’ll take a closer look at just what exactly Google knows about you, when you come to do a search — and see why you needn’t be so worried, for the moment.

Search Privacy At Google & Other Search Engines
The Search Engine Report, April 2, 2003


Google And The Big Brother Nomination

In February, Google was nominated by the Google Watch web site for Privacy International’s 2003 US Big Brother Awards. Google was not selected as one of the Big Brother finalists, which certainly indicates that Privacy International itself did not see the company as among the largest threats to privacy. Nevertheless, the nomination has caused some to wonder about the privacy of their search requests at Google. In addition, some allegations made in the nomination have been transformed by others as proof of privacy violations, without being closely examined. In the article below, I explore each of the major allegations that Google Watch made against Google as evidence of it being a threat to privacy and of “Big Brother” behavior. At the end of each allegation, I’ll provide my own verdict about how seriously a typical person may wish to consider each claim.

Google And The Big Brother Nomination
The Search Engine Report, April 2, 2003

Search Engine Watch members edition:

What’s A Search Engine Watch Member?


Yahoo To Buy Espotting?

The New York Post broke a rumor that Yahoo is interested in acquiring Espotting, a European paid listings service. Espotting denies the rumor. But, if such an acquisition does occur, it could signal that Yahoo really does wish to operate its own in-house cost-per-click paid listings program. Some observation and more about the possible move can be found below.

Yahoo To Buy Espotting?
SearchEngineWatch, March 18, 2003


Disney Would Sell Infoseek Search Tech, Switches Go To Google

The Walt Disney Internet Group says that it has been approached by companies looking to acquire the search technology and patents it has left over from the company’s purchase of Infoseek, the search engine later transformed into Go. Realistically, the search technology is worth nothing. Infoseek’s technology last operated to crawl the web back in January 2001 — and even then, the technology was dated. More about the story, as well as the fact that Go is now being powered by Google rather than Overture, can be found below.

Disney Would Sell Infoseek Search Tech, Switches Go To Google, March 18, 2003

Search Engine Resources

Groowe Toolbar

Finally! Here’s a toolbar that gives you easy access to searching Google and many other search engines, as well. With a click, you can query Yahoo, Teoma, AllTheWeb, AltaVista, MSN Search and others. In addition, it makes it easy to perform specialized searches with many of the search engines it supports. Get images back from AllTheWeb, or search only against Yahoo’s human directory, or get news results back from AltaVista. It’s a quick download and definitely a keeper in my browser. I’ll still have the Google Toolbar (, since Groowe doesn’t duplicate some of the Google Toolbar’s special features. That’s OK — the two can sit alongside each other.


Open Directory in French

This site gives you access to the Open Directory’s French-related listings through a French-language interface.


Open Directory Weblog

Some editors at The Open Directory Project are now contributing to a web log thatcontains news and information relating to theODP.



Want a simple way to see what paid search listings are available for different topics from the web’s two biggest providers, Overture and Google AdWords? Then download AdPile! This handy “meta ad” search utility pulls back results from both paid listing networks and combines them into a single page.

Those setting the program to the “US/Global” region also get results from two other providers, FindWhat and LookSmart. Those choosing the “UK” region see major European paid listing provider Espotting as a third provider.

AdPile is billed as an online shopping search and comparison shopping utility, and it certainly will be helpful to many in shopping mode. However, don’t forget that there are a variety of true comparison shopping search engines that pull back results from online merchants. See for a list of these.

AdPile is a small 400K download, which then allows you to search from within the program. It would be great to see a non-software based version as well, and the company says one will be out shortly.


PubConference IV

The community convenes once again for a day primarily dominated by informal discussions between themselves about search engine optimization. The latest event happens April 26, in Boston. New this year will be a pre-PubConference in the morning, featuring presentations and a Q&A session with search engine representatives.


Hack HotBot

HotBot has announced a contest for designers to create “skins” to customize the look and feel of the search engine’s interface. The company plans to award a projection TV system to the winner.

SearchDay Articles

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

Search Engines 101
SearchDay, April 2, 2003

Use these outstanding online resources to get the equivalent of an introductory semester of “search engines 101” — without having to go back to school for your education.


Magnify Your Search Results
SearchDay, March 31, 2003

A software utility that grew out of visual perception research at Xerox’s famous PARC labs magnifies critical information on web pages, making it “pop out” and appear to float above the background.


Aggressive Linking – The Only Search Engine Optimization Strategy You Need?
SearchDay, March 20, 2003

Is an aggressive linking strategy alone sufficient to garner high search engine rankings? A search engine marketing firm in England says it is, and has built a web site to prove that the strategy really works. Search Engine Watch members should click through to the special members-edition


Gary Price’s List of Lists
SearchDay, Mar. 27, 2003

Looking for a list of top-ranked companies, cities, actors, and so on? Your number one choice should be Gary Price’s newly revitalized and updated List of Lists.


Honing Your Web Searching Skills
SearchDay, Mar. 25, 2003

Want to sharpen your Internet searching skills? A series of “teach yourself” tutorials developed by a group of subject and information experts offers a first-rate learning experience for novices and experts alike.


Free Business Research from Dun & Bradstreet
SearchDay, Mar. 24, 2003

It’s a rarity these days to find high quality business information on the web that’s free of charge, but Dun and Bradstreet’s Zapdata offers it in droves.


Local Weather + 5 Search Engines = WeatherBug
SearchDay, March 19, 2003

WeatherBug is an interesting service that brings you local weather from more than 6,000 weather stations, with a search box that lets you get results from five major search engines.


Stung by Unethical Search Engine Optimization – A True Story
SearchDay, March 18, 2003

Even knowledgeable, ethical professionals can get swindled by unsavory search engine optimization techniques. Here’s how one firm discovered — and fixed — the damage inflicted on an unwary online retailer. Search Engine Watch members should click through to the special members-edition.


The Second Eigenvalue of the Google Matrix
SearchDay, March 17, 2003

Want an analytical peek at some of the core components of Google’s famous PageRank algorithm? These two papers from Stanford offer some heavy-duty insights into Google’s operation.


Writing for Search Engines
SearchDay, Mar. 13, 2003

Creating search engine friendly web pages goes far beyond tweaking codes — it’s a delicate balancing act between pleasing the search engine and the people who will ultimately read (and act) on your content.


DealTime to Acquire Epinions
SearchDay, Mar. 12, 2003

Shopping search engine DealTime is acquiring Epinions, one of the web’s most popular consumer opinion and review sites.


Visualizing Google
SearchDay, Mar. 11, 2003

A company specializing in uncovering criminal connections and terrorist networks has released a visualization tool that reveals hidden relationships in Google search results.


Keep an Eye on iPhrase &Search Engine Forums Spotlight
SearchDay, Mar. 10, 2003

iPhrase Technologies, which powers both Yahoo and Lycos Finance search, has been chosen to power the search functions for the Accessible Technology Knowledgebase.


Secrets of Successful Search Engine Optimization
SearchDay, Mar. 6, 2003

Despite persistent myths, there is no silver bullet: The best search engine optimization firms conquer client marketing challenges through research, education and plain ol’ hard work. Search Engine Watch members should click through to the special members-edition.


Maximizing Search Engine Visibility
SearchDay, Mar. 5, 2003

This definitive guide to search engine optimization and marketing offers solid fundamental advice for creating search engine friendly sites, at the same time debunking myths and snake oil “techniques” that can bedevil the unwary webmaster.


On the archive page below, you’ll find more articles like those above, plus have the ability to sign-up for the free newsletter.

SearchDay Archives

Search Engine Articles

NOTE: I wasn’t able to fully complete the usual review I do of search engine related stories for the month of March, because some of my own stories took an unexpectedly large amount of time to finish. I’ll try recap any important missing stories from the last week or so of March in the next newsletter. In the meantime, Chris Sherman has a nice recap feature of his own from SearchDay well worth reviewing:

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

A roundup of notable news and announcements from the web search world during the past month.


How Google Grows…and Grows…and Grows
Fast Company, April 2003

Profile of Google and how it aims to serve its users, with a special look at comments from Google staffers on the front lines of assuring quality. Also a great glimpse into the internal workings of the company, where product developments are more likely to come through serendipity and personal interest, rather than from top-down direction.


Search Engines Are Picking Up Steam
BusinessWeek, March 24, 2003

Another look at how search engine marketing is growing. It was 23 percent of the $6 billion spent on internet advertising last year. It’s expect to rise to 43 percent this year, or total at least $2 billion. The story also explores how competition between search engines — and owning search technology — is heating up.


New Allies in the Fight Against Research by Googling
The Chronicle Of Higher Education, March 21, 2003

Before Google there were libraries. And libraries contain unique resources that remain valid, despite the omniscience incorrectly associated with Google and search engines in general, by some students. A look at how librarians are trying to raise awareness of other information resources that are available.


Agog about Google: Europeans tag along
International Herald Tribune, March 17, 2003

A look at how Google has grown in Europe, as well as an examination of other popular search destinations.


Grub Joins Forces with LookSmart
Grub, March 17, 2003

LookSmart has acquired distributed crawling company Grub.


Media Expectations Of What Google Can Do
Microdoc, March 14, 2003

Here’s a great article that analyzed 412 news stories about Google, to determine what search activities people do the most. Based on news reports, we check on ourselves the most, then do searches to test how well Google itself works, then try to thwart plagiarism. Many other activities are listed. Of course, this reflects only what activities are named the most in news articles. What broad activities we actually do may be much different. The Google Zeitgeist page,, does provide information about top queries. However, it doesn’t reveal search behavior statistics.


Creating Google-Free Space that Protects Your Privacy
SearchEthos, March 14, 2003

Concerned that those using Google and other search engines may stumble across personal data you’d rather they not see? Here are some tips that may help.


Stalkers, the merely curious troll for lost acquaintances online
Reuters, March 12, 2003

You’ve read this story before in the past, but here it is again. Anything you put online can be found by a search engine, big or small, Google or not. So if it is private, sensitive or generally something you don’t want the general public to see, don’t put it online!

By the way, the haystack analogy I’m mentioned saying in the article doesn’t make complete sense, because you didn’t get the entire thing. In the past, some people have said that a good search engine needs to have lots of pages recorded, because having only a few is like only searching through only part of a haystack. What if the needle is in the other part?

Today, I believe you are seeing more concern about private information appearing in search engines because they are recording much more of the metaphorical haystack out there. AltaVista in 1995 had 20 million pages — today, Google and others record over 2 BILLION. In short, they get more of the haystack, which increases the odds that your needle will be in it. In addition, they do a better job of being magnets to pull those needles out, instead of making you feel lost in the hay.


Search Guiding More Web Activity, March 12, 2003

In March, I explained how some new stats from StatMarket at first glance gave the impression that search engines had declined in popularity as a way for sites to get traffic. I further examined how in reality, the stats showed a doubling of popularity. Now StatMarket has issued a new release of data that clearly shows this doubling, the way they should have done the first time. Nice thing about the new release is further details of the percentage of search referrals for several major countries, rather than just a worldwide figure.


Yahoo’s original investor leaves board
San Jose Mercury News, March 12, 2003

Venture capitalist Michael Moritz was an original investor in Yahoo and his company was an original investor in Google. Moritz has also been a board member with both companies, but now he has resigned from Yahoo’s board. Moritz himself gave no reason for leaving. Now that the Yahoo-Google partnership is deteriorating into competition mode, some speculate Moritz may have decided Google will be the winning team.


Cut Online Ad Costs by 90% & Raise Sales – 5 Tips for Search Marketing, March 11, 2003 needed to increase revenues in 60 days. The company dumped its spending on keyword-linked banner ads and instead tried paid placement with Overture and Google, as well as paid inclusion with LookSmart. Formerly spending up to $150,000 per month, the company now spends only $10,000 per month but has seen a “drastic increase” in sales volume. Well worth a read, especially the portion of canceling with Overture due to concerns over fraud detection and getting Google to remove paid ads linked to’s trademarked domain name.


Search Engines’ Influence on Shopping
eMarketer, March 11, 2003

DoubleClick found that 41 percent of those who went to a web site to research a product purchase got there via search engines, the top referral choice, in December 2002.


CitySearch to Start Search Engine
New York Times, March 10, 2003

Citysearch homes in on local ads, March 10, 2003

Want a geographically local audience in the US via search? A new program brings cost-per-click paid listings to Citysearch’s locally-oriented web sites. The articles above detail the move.


GuruNet resource tool surpasses search engines
Wall St. Journal, March 9, 2003

GuruNet got some rave reviews for its ability to turn words on a page into links that brought back information from encyclopedia or search engines. This was literally last century, in 1999. But rave reviews don’t always translate into user adoption — and users seemed quite happy to keep going to search engines, rather than use GuruNet. The utility then suffered through a company and product name change and seemed abandoned, until being resurrected this month.

Now the program has been expanded, given back its own name and again has a rave review, this time from the Wall Street Journal’s personal technology columnist Walter Mossberg. Will history repeat itself, with the tool unlikely to see wide adoption? Probably, especially with the new US $35 price tag. But there’s a free 14-day trial, so certainly check it out at Also see this past SearchDay article about GuruNet and similar products:


More European search oriented sites
Pandia, March 9, 2003

Looking for sites offering information about European search engines? Pandia has some suggestions for you.


Translating Flash for search sites, March 7, 2003

Macromedia is reaching out to search engines to help make Flash content created with its software more accessible. That’s great news, assuming your Flash files contain some substantial textual information. If they don’t, then expect you’ll still have problems with search engines.


Context Is King, or Is It?
ClickZ, March 7, 2003

Kevin Lee’s firm is one of the few that was involved with a months-long beta test of Google’s new contextual ads, so he has lots of experience about how well they seem to convert. Sometimes the ads embedded into a content page did much better than compared to being in Google’s own search results, while other times, they did much worse. Lesson to take away? Monitor your conversions and perhaps opt-out of contextual ads, if you see a big drop.


Guide to Meta Search Engines
Microdoc, March 7, 2003

Review of major meta search engines, with a nice chart showing what resources they draw from.


Google: Net Hacker Tool du Jour
Wired, March 4, 2003,1377,57897,00.html

Another “let’s blame Google” story. Guess what? If you don’t configure your web server correctly, Google — and any other search engine — might index pages that allow people to hack into your server.


Interview with John Marshall of ClickTracks, March 2003

I’ve just started playing with ClickTracks (, and I’ve liked what I’ve seen. The log analysis tool’s strong suit is the ability to show you visually exactly what links on your pages have attracted clicks. It’s wonderful! I especially like how you can identify a target audience — say those who eventually see a particular page — then monitor which clicks in your site have sent those people traffic. It’s a tool well worth checking out. This looks at key features and offerings of the product, via an interview with the company’s CEO, John Marshall.


Chester’s Guide to Molesting Google
Seth Finkelstein, March 2003

You may recall last newsletter I noted how Google finally pulled a page that was top ranked for a search on “chester guide” because it was deemed to have illegal content. Some citizens of the city of Chester in England were understandably upset to see this page — “Chester’s guide to: Picking up little girls” — appearing in a search that many might do in relation to their city. Google originally said there was nothing it could do, then decided the page was illegal for some undisclosed reason and so could be removed from its index.

As I pointed out last time, the page was also listed in other search engines, which escaped being called onto the carpet by those in Chester. Seth Finkelstein points out in his article the same thing (and The Register is unfair to say he’s fudging the results. He simply does it in a way to quickly show that the page does exist in the indexes of other search engines). Finkelstein also adds that this page apparently isn’t serious — it’s one of many examples of sick humor being offered by the hosting web site. The page in question also now has a disclaimer saying “this is humour, but not for the sensitive.” This was not on the page during the time the debate raged.

What’s being lost in all this debate is the original issue I pointed out last time. It’s not a question of whether the page should be pulled or not, for reasons legal or otherwise. The question is, should this page have been top-ranked for “chester guide” in Google. The answer is quite simply, no. It’s not at all what the vast majority of searchers on that term would have expected. Those going to the page — supposedly humorous or not — would have been exposed to some pretty disgusting reading.

The answer would have been for Google to simply have adjusted things so that the page did not rank well for this particular search. Google is loathe to do things like this. Nevertheless, it would have been the right thing to do. The citizens of Chester would have had their concerns addressed, the vast majority of searchers would have benefited from the change, and anti-censorship campaigners like Finkelstein would be appeased to some degree knowing that the page had not been outright dropped.

Ironically, a search for “chester guide” now brings up Finkelstein’s article about the controversy, in the exact space where the page in question had been before. That pretty much assures that for the near future, Chester the city will continue to be associated with this page. Moreover, in this case, it now becomes completely relevant for Finkelstein’s article to appear for that search, since it documents the controversy at Google about that phrase.


A Review of Image Search Engines
TASI, Feb. 2003

Comprehensive look at finding images online.

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