The Search Engine Report – Number 80


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In This Issue

+ Search Engine Watch News
+ SES San Jose Agenda Now Available
+ Microsoft’s MSN Search To Build Crawler-Based Search Engine
+ Overture’s Content Match Takes On Google’s Contextual Ads
+ Google AdSense Expands Contextual Ad Placement Program To Small Sites
+ Search Engine Resources
+ SearchDay Articles
+ Search Engine Articles
+ About The Search Engine Report

Search Engine Watch News

Hello Everyone–

No major site changes or news to report this month. Happy Canada Day to all of my Canadian readers! And an early Happy 4th Of July to my fellow Americans!


SES San Jose Agenda Now Available!

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

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

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

Search Engine Strategies San Jose 2003

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

Search Engine Strategies


Microsoft’s MSN Search To Build Crawler-Based Search Engine

In April, news emerged that Microsoft intended to make a huge new investment in web search. Now signs of that investment are appearing. Microsoft’s MSN Search site posted a large list of jobs in May, then drew much attention last month when official information about its own search spider “MSNBOT” was posted to the public. So what’s the future for MSN Search? The details are still being determined, the service says. However, building its own crawler-based solution to gather editorial listings is seen as a key element needed to win in the search sweepstakes against Yahoo and Google. More about the company’s plans can be found in the article below.

Microsoft’s MSN Search To Build Crawler-Based Search Engine
The Search Engine Report, July 1, 2003

Search Engine Watch members edition:

What’s A Search Engine Watch Member?


Overture’s Content Match Takes On Google’s Contextual Ads

Overture finally unveiled its contextual ads program, called Content Match, officially this week. The program places Overture’s paid listings on web pages, rather than within search results. More details from me can be found in the SearchDay article listed below. Note that even though it’s dated tomorrow, you can read it today!

Overture’s Content Match Takes On Google’s Contextual Ads
SearchDay, July 2, 2003


Google AdSense Expands Contextual Ad Placement Program To Small Sites

Google has expanded its contextual ads program to allow many more content sites to carry its paid listings. The new Google AdSense program allows site owners to sign-up for the program in a self-serve manner, similar to becoming an Amazon affiliate. More details from me can be found in the SearchDay article listed below.

Google AdSense Expands Contextual Ad Placement Program To Small Sites
SearchDay, June 18, 2003

Search Engine Watch members edition:

What’s A Search Engine Watch Member?

Search Engine Resources

LookSmart LookListings

Today, LookSmart is supposed to unveil a revamped LookListings program which allows any site to purchase multiple listings. In the past, this was only available to large businesses that agreed to spend at least $2,500 per month on cost-per-click fees. I expect to come back and look more at this change in the near future.


Wondir Concentrated Beta Test: July 1

Wondir is having a “concentrated beta test” tonight — July 1 — from 9 to 10PM Eastern Time. The idea of these tests in the past is to have enough people gather so that the potential of Wondir, which offers real-time answers, can be shown. For more about the Wondir project, see Chris Sherman’s past SearchDay article,



New directory that lets you locate web sites geographically in the United States. Let’s say you want to buy a suitcase and wonder if there’s a business that sells them in Newport Beach, California. First, you enter the US state: California, into the OffRamp.US home page. Next, you enter a US ZIP code or a city: in this case, Newport Beach. Next, you can browse through businesses alphabetically by business category, such as Luggage Shops. As a result, you get a list of web sites to businesses in Newport Beach that should be luggage shops.

Unfortunately, of the 11 sites I received for this query, only 2 were actually in Newport Beach or immediately adjacent to it. The other results were quite some distance away. This is because the site considers anything within a 50 mile radius of a ZIP code to be local. This can be adjusted manually from 10 to 100 miles.

Another problem is the lack of keyword searching. It’s impossible to enter something like, “suitcase shops in newport beach, california.” Instead, “drilling down” is the only option, and should you not know that “Luggage Shops” is the category for places that sell suitcases, you’re out of luck. Nothing in the S category will guide you to the right place. OffRamp.US tells me a keyword search solution should be coming in about 3 weeks.

The site currently has 800,000 listings, which have come in from site owners over the past six weeks. (Permalink to this item; longer review with submission details available)


Technorati Anywhere

I love Technorati, because it lets me plug in the URL of any web page and quickly see what bloggers are saying about it — the blog “Link Cosmos.” If you like the feature, then consider using the Technorati Anywhere. Visit the Technorati site, then look for the Technorati Anywhere link near the top left-hand corner of the home page. Right click on it to add to your Favorites or Bookmarks. Now when you are at a particular web page, select Technorati Anywhere from your Favorites/Bookmarks list. A new window will pop up showing you the “Link Cosmos” for that page. Don’t like pop-up windows (even when you trigger them) or using a pop-up blocker? Then use the non pop-up version that’s offered. (Permalink to this item)



The idea behind the new Morgle is that if you know a company’s telephone number, you can enter it and be directed to the web site. However, listings are very few and based on self-reported information. Chances are, you’ll have more luck entering the company’s name into Google or another mainstream web search engine.



I mentioned Feedster back in April, as part of my RSS: Your Gateway To News & Blog Content article. At the time, I also mentioned another newly-started RSS search engine, rssSearch. Now the two have merged, with the Feedster name remaining.

As before, Feedster lets you search against content distributed in the popular RSS format. That means it’s essentially a blog search engine for many people, since so many blog entries are distributed via RSS. However, some non-blog newsfeeds are also included, and Feedster plans to increase these in the coming months.

New since I last wrote about Feedster is an Images tab. Added several weeks ago, this gathers together images from blog posts on the current day, to try and present a visual look at that day’s blogging world. “It’s a nice indicator of trends. For example, in the days leading up to the Matrix, all the blog images were matrix related,” says Feedster creator Scott Johnson.

Also new is the ability to sort results by BlogRank. BlogRank? “BlogRank is a calculation that says, ‘if a blog is linked to part of a blogroll then its important.’ The more blogs incorporate a blog into a blogroll, theoretically the more important the blog is. So Doc Searls and [Dave Winer’s” rank very highly. The only issue here is that bloggers often don’t update their blogroll regularly, so how accurate it is, is unclear,” Johnson said.

Feedster says it gets BlogRank data from BlogStreet, another excellent site worth a look by those looking to navigate what’s going on in the blogging world. (Permalink to this item)


Blogging Headline News

This news site samples 12,000 RSS feeds, selecting about 5,000 posts three-times a day to feature in about 130 different categories. It’s designed to be an “online blogging magazine.” You can also keyword search for material.


Looking for a computer file? Recently relaunched lists over 300 million files located on FTP servers across the web.


Search Engine Lobby Group

This new organization is intended to lobby search engines for transparency about their practices and procedures. It’s especially aimed at helping small and medium-sized businesses who may have felt cost-per-click advertising has become too pricy, leaving them dependent on organic listings that can be fickle.

The new group sparked quite a discussion on WebmasterWorld about whether the group was merely an attempt to help the main firm backing it, which is known for aggressive search engine tactics, or whether it indeed may be a way to rectify real concerns some have.

Sadly, that thread ( appears to have been pulled. However, another thread with debate can be found at the ihelpyou forums (

New Media Age also has a short article ( with comments from the group’s founder on the organization’s goals and some anonymous criticism from others, at the end. (Permalink to this item)


Secrets 2 Moteurs

Search engine news for the French audience.

SearchDay Articles

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

Search Engine Milestones for June 2003
SearchDay, July 1, 2003

Notable news and announcements from the web search world during June 2003.


Google Releases Updated Search Toolbar
SearchDay, June 30, 2003

Google has released an updated version of its popular toolbar, offering several new useful functions unrelated to search.


A Gaggle of Search Engine Toolbars
SearchDay, June 26, 2003

Wrapping up search engine toolbar week, here’s are brief looks at toolbars offered by smaller firms not associated with the larger search engines.


Dogpile’s Toolbar Fetches More than Search Engine Results
SearchDay, June 25, 2003

The Dogpile toolbar consolidates a variety of useful web and specialized searches into a single, easy to use interface.


HotBot’s Swiss Army Knife Deskbar
SearchDay, June 24, 2003

HotBot has released its Quick-Search Deskbar, which not only provides instant access to the search engine, but is jam-packed with other useful tools and goodies as well.


Search Engine Toolbar Week!
SearchDay, June 23, 2003

This week, both InfoSpace and Lycos are introducing search toolbars, making it easier than ever to locate information both on the web and residing on your own computer.


Speed Up Your Searching with HydraLinks
SearchDay, June 19, 2003

HydraLinks is a simple utility that lets you manipulate and save search results to a customizable list, speeding up your searching and letting you easily share results with others.


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

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


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

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


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

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


Search Engine Forums Spotlight
SearchDay, June 11, 2003

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

The month in review: abstracts from selected press releases and announcements made during the prior month related to web search and search engine marketing.


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

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


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


Search Engine Articles

Is Google God?
New York Times, June 30, 2003

Could we now make it a requirement that anyone planning to write about Google must use at least one other search engine? Perhaps then we’ll see some perspective. This opinion piece hits a new Google high — Google as God.

If Google is God, then someone should explain to columnist Thomas Friedman that the search engine universe, like ancient Greece and Rome, has several of them. Other search engines have the incredible power to show you what people are searching for worldwide, just like Google (see What People Search For,

Google’s most God-like power is based on a quote in the column from a new wi-fi company’s VP, who says, “If I can operate Google, I can find anything….which is why I say that Google, combined with wi-fi, is a little bit like God. God is wireless, God is everywhere and God sees and knows everything.”

Sorry to say, but Google and other search engines don’t find everything. They are imperfect gods. I love them, and we all certainly depend on them more than ever before. But, I still depend on my telephone, friends, magazines, libraries, email, books and other forms of information to locate what I want, as well.


Information Foraging: Why Google Makes People Leave Your Site Faster
Alertbox, June 30, 2003

This has little to do with Google specifically, but I’m sure putting Google in the headline will grab some readers. The overall point is valid. Search engines (not just Google) make it easy to locate good sites. If a user can’t find what they want easily at your site, by following the information scent, they’ll move on. Good, basic tips to follow. And also be sure to read my past article, Avoiding The Search Gap,, which is on the same topic.


Is SEM Becoming Unaffordable?
ClickZ, June 27, 2003

The price of paid listings is rising, but following the right tactics can ensure you’re getting the most out of your spend.


Surfers impatient with search engines
BBC, June 27, 2003

Web searchers generally only visit the first three web sites listed in search results, and one out of five visits will last for a minute or less. Those are the findings from a Penn State analysis of 450,000 queries run on in a 24 hour period. More than half of all searchers will visit only one site in the top results and more than 80 percent will stop after visiting three. Only 19 percent will go to the second page of results and fewer than 10 percent go to the third page. The Penn State press release also has a few more stats,

Takeaway? Getting in the first page of results is crucial, as any good search engine marketer knows. But it’s also important that you make a good impression, lest your visitor decide to move on to someone else. Again, see my Search Gap article,, for more about this.


Google Toolbar ‘BlogThis’ Rankles Rivals, June 27, 2003

As I’ve written in the past (, Google seems to have purchased Blogger almost accidentally. The company apparently needed funds, and Google felt it would figure out something to do with the technology or the people. But it was an incredibly dumb business move in that it immediately set Google up as a rival to other popular blogging tool providers, such as Radio UserLand and Moveable Type.

Whether Google actually wants to compete with these other tools is beside the point. The fact is that every action Google now makes in the blogging world will come up for intense review by an extremely vocal audience.

Case in point — the latest version of the Google Toolbar makes it easy to blog a page you are visiting. The functionality only works with Google’s service, and free accounts are suggested, if you don’t have an account. Those from competing blogging tools aren’t pleased that the toolbar doesn’t interact with their services.


FindWhat Pursues Scammer, June 27, 2003

Like others, I got one of the spam mails last month offering access to a database of FindWhat advertiser email addresses. Unfortunately for FindWhat, the suggestion is that they sold the data. In reality, FindWhat says the company offering the “database” simply crawled FindWhat’s listings, then did WHOIS lookups to find email addresses. There was no cooperation on FindWhat’s part.

FindWhat has further told me that advertisers should not have been billed for any clicks generated as part of the email harvesting effort, that they believe no information has been sold and that they are taking “aggressive” legal action against the company.

That company also seems to seems to have borrowed content from the site ( is not connected with the database sale and tells me the other site has taken its content without permission.


Use IRTA to Measure Search Engine Marketing Success
Marketleap, June 26, 2003

How do you know if you are successful with search engines? I’m listed! So what, do you actually rank well for anything? Yes! So what, does anyone actually search for those terms? Yes! So what — are you making sales? Ultimately, it’s this last part that’s most important. IRTA summarizes these four aspects succinctly and is well worth understanding, to ensure you are focused correctly with your efforts.


Small Businesses Embrace Search Engine Marketing, June 25, 2003

A survey finds that search engine marketing is being used by 17 percent of small businesses. That puts it seventh behind other advertising options such as radio, magazines, direct mail, newspapers, running a web site and the top choice, Yellow Pages ads. However, the take up is seen as significant and perhaps eventually posing a challenge to Yellow Pages advertising.


How Marketers Are Measuring SEM Efforts
eMarketer, June 25, 2003

How are people tracking the success of search engine marketing campaigns? Most, 41 percent, say they track clickthrough or “general activity,” which I presume would be log analysis of site traffic and perhaps even rank checking. Then 31 percent say they do no measuring at all, followed by 16 percent that measure conversions and 11 percent who measure ROI.

Another stat shows that 35 percent are currently evaluating search engine marketing as part of their overall marketing mix (it’s unclear whether this is paid listings, organic listings or both). Then 23 percent say SEM is a significant part of their mix, while the same amount say they don’t do it at all. Finally, 18 percent say SEM is a small part of the mix. Stats are from a survey done by WebTrends and iProspect, across 800 marketers that participated in a web conference.


A Supercharged Search Engine for Lawyers
BusinessWeek, June 25, 2003

Electronic files offer potentially wonderful information to litigants in a case. But sorting through the information can be a nightmare. New technologies offer to sort through the mess.


The Google backlash
Salon, June 25, 2003

Is Google’s popularity causing a backlash against it? When Salon writer Farhad Manjoo asked me, my response was immediate. Absolutely. Google is no longer some tiny, start-up company. It’s a search behemoth, and behemoths of any type make some people nervous.

As always, there are some serious concerns about Google, as explained in this article. And as always, many of these are applicable to other search engines, as well. Google, by the way, continues to deny that it is downweighting blog links. But as my Coping With GDS, The Google Dance Syndrome article ( from last month explains. Google does say it may consider various factors on how to credit links of any type, blog or not. Also, Google does not name its updates, as stated in the article. Updates have been named by the community.


eBay Starts Keyword Advertising, June 24, 2003

Want a higher profile on eBay? Now you can purchase banner ads on a cost-per-click basis. You cannot link these to content outside of eBay, however.


CMU trio develops Internet search tool that sorts results in helpful clusters
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, June 23, 2003

Vivisimo isn’t a new tool, as this article states — but nonetheless, it’s a great site for anyone to try. Profile of the technology and people behind the company and web site that Search Engine Watch named “Best Meta Search Engine” earlier this year.


Google, MapQuest in Keyword-Ad Deal, June 23, 2003

Google’s AdWords paid listings will now be appearing on AOL Time Warner-owned MapQuest pages.


Overture: A Tricky Next Movement
BusinessWeek, June 23, 2003

Overture isn’t expecting the record earnings it had in the past, as the company spends to build out an editorial product to better compete with Google. Many analysts think the company will succeed in the transition it needs to make and maintain partnerships with Yahoo and MSN. Interesting stat that paid listings now make up 33 percent of $6.6 billion in online ad spending. Also note that Overture is on the BusinessWeek “Info Tech 100” list. Overture’s more an ad company than a tech company, and so is Google, in many ways. Technology is vital to what both companies do, but the products they have are much more related to media and advertising than technology.


The Power of Copy
ClickZ, June 20, 2003

The copy on your pages isn’t just helpful for organic search engine optimization. It can pay off on the paid listing side, as well.


Does Google’s AdSense Make Sense
ClickZ, June 20, 2003

Google’s AdSense program promises to help small publishers make money off their web sites. But poor targeting may not mean this is a great thing for advertisers.


Schoolfriends make dotcom fortune
Evening Standard, June 20, 2003

Sebastian Bishop and Daniel Ishag started Espotting in their living room and now have sold it for $160 million to FindWhat. A bit more about the pair.


FindWhat Acquires Espotting, June 18, 2003

US-based paid listings provider FindWhat and Europe-based paid listings provider Espotting have agreed to merge. It’s a big deal for both companies but probably means little to the typical advertiser.

If you were targeting the US via FindWhat, the merger doesn’t mean that you’ll suddenly have your ad running in Europe — nor might you want that to happen. Similarly, those who have used Espotting in Europe won’t magically appear in the US.

Overall, you’ll probably still have to pick and choose the countries you want to target. With Google, you can do this via a single account. With Overture, that doesn’t happen. It will be interesting to see if the combined FindWhat/Espotting will take a more Google-like approach to this issue.


EBay vs. Google: They compete more than we know
CBS MarketWatch, June 17, 2003{983DBE9C-4D4A-4789-9591-8F9BF4658751}&siteid=mktw

If you have products to sell, eBay or search engines such as Google are natural places to consider. Both have huge audiences that are explicitly saying they want your product.

Interestingly, I’ve found people tend to do either one or the other. For example, my neighbor is our local eBay guru, purchasing all types of products at garage sales (OK, he calls them car boot sales), then makes a bundle getting a good price on eBay.

I love talking with him, because I learn all sorts of things about “eBay optimization.” But does he know anything about search engines? Nope — and yet this could be another venue for him. This great article explores how there are these two different venues, the eBay marketplace and search engines — though only Google gets named among the other important search engine choices.

Is eBay Google’s competitor for advertisers? In a way, sure. But eBay lends itself especially to people like my neighbor, who don’t want to operate web sites. In contrast, to succeed with Google and search engines in general, you’ll need a more concrete location in cyberspace.


Search Players Agree on Industry Challenges, June 17, 2003

Disclosure of paid inclusion comes up as an issue during a panel with search engine executives at last month’s Ad:Tech conference. Google criticizes the practice while those on the panel offering paid inclusion provided a defense. Other issues such as locally targeting paid listings and building brand identity were also discussed.


DealTime Lowers Minimum Bid, June 16, 2003

Shopping search engine DealTime has lowered its bid prices to bring in more advertisers.


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

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


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

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


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

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


Espotting unveils new search partners
Netimperative, June 12, 2003

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


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

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


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

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


Betting On The Butler Again
Forbes, June 12, 2003

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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


Inclusion Confusion, Continued
ClickZ, June 6, 2003

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


LookSmart renews Yahoo distribution agreement, June 5, 2003

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


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

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


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

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


ValueClick Buys Search123, June 3, 2003

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


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

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


AOL Canada inks deal with Google, June 3, 2003

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


NetIQ Rolls Out WebTrends Search Tool, June 2, 2003

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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