The Search Engine Update – Number 153

In This Issue

+ Search Engine Watch News
+ Early Bird Deadline For SES San Jose Approaching!
+ Yahoo To Buy Overture
+ Reader Q&A: July 2003
+ Search Engine Resources
+ SearchDay Articles
+ Search Engine Articles
+ About The Search Engine Update

Search Engine Watch News

Hello Everyone–

As you can imagine, this past Monday turned out to be a very long day. A link to my write-up about Yahoo’s plans to acquire Overture is below in the newsletter.

The unexpected news made me push back a planned write-up about important changes to LookSmart. I’ll come back to this, and I’ve added a few notes associated with a story on the changes, in the Search Engine Articles section below.

I’ve also been trying for some time to bring you all an update on the status of the Open Directory Project. Sadly, no one at AOL Time Warner, which owns the Open Directory, responds to messages I’ve sent. This is something that generally only happens when a company doesn’t know what to say — and I take it as a bad sign for the ODP.

You may recall from last month’s Q&A feature that I had a reader who couldn’t get a submission processed through the ODP. I’m not talking about getting listed. I mean the reader simply couldn’t even get the form to work, without receiving a server error message. This was a result of the ODP not having the resources to function properly.

The ODP is apparently having a system upgrade (see and, so perhaps the news will be better after the scheduled completion date of July 21. Or perhaps not. I’ll bring more news as it comes in. You can also try monitoring things at the Open Directory’s support forum,, or at the directories forum of,


Early-Bird Deadline For SES San Jose Approaching!

If you’re thinking of attending the Search Engine Strategies show in San Jose from August 18-21, act before August 6, if you want a discount on the admission price.

This is the first four day Search Engine Strategies show that we’ve ever had, and you’ll find it packed with sessions that I’ve programmed for people of all interests and levels. Whether you’re new to search engine marketing, advanced, interested in organic listings or paid advertising, there are panels designed for you.

I’ll be doing one of the keynote talks at the conference and moderating sessions every day. I’ll be joined by Search Engine Watch’s associate editor Chris Sherman, as well as over 50 different search engine marketing experts. Speakers from major search engines are also involved, including confirmed panelists from, Ask Jeeves/Teoma, Google, LookSmart, Lycos, MSN Search, Overture (AltaVista/AllTheWeb) and Yahoo/Inktomi.

Session itineraries, daily agendas, registration information and more about the show 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


Yahoo To Buy Overture

Yahoo is to acquire Overture by the end of 2003, in a move that has repercussions throughout the search landscape. My rundown on what this means for Overture, Yahoo, MSN, Google, advertisers and searchers can be found in the article below.

Yahoo To Buy Overture
SearchDay, July 15, 2003


Reader Q&A: July 2003

Readers have recently asked:

+ Is paid inclusion for crawlers like AllTheWeb and Ask Jeeves/Teoma worth the bother?
+ Is Cold Fusion a problem for Google? Can it follow from a form to pages generated from it?
+ I received a bogus invoice about getting listed on search engines! How can companies like this be stopped?
+ Google’s broken! It no longer lists descriptions for many URLs. Why?
+ Google’s homepage now has porn links on it! Why hasn’t there been an outcry over this?
+ I was contacted by a company that swears they have an agreement with Microsoft to sell navigational keywords that work with the MSN 8 browser. Is this real?
+ The wrong domain name was printed on our packaging, and we can’t buy the name from the company that actually owns it. How can we solve this problem with search engines?

Answers to these questions can be found via the article below:

Reader Q&A: July 2003
The Search Engine Update, July 17, 2003

Search Engine Resources

False Oracles: Consumer Reaction to Learning the Truth about How Search Engines Work
Consumer WebWatch, June 30, 2003

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that a new study of how consumers understand paid listing disclosure would be available (Report Shows Confusion Over Paid Listings, The actual report is now available for download, via the URL above.



Shopping search engine that pulls back likely product pages from across the web, rather than relying on merchant feeds. It sends your query out to one of four major search engines (Google, AllTheWeb, Inktomi or Teoma) but then should only list pages where you can actually buy a product you are interested in. The site launched last September and remains in beta mode.



Tired of manually checking to see if your submission to the Open Directory was processed? Seotie is a free, web-based tool that promises to monitor for you.



Matt Wells is an Infoseek refugee. A search engineer there, he’s gone on to create his own crawler-based search engine, Gigablast. The index size is tiny — only 200 million web pages. The smallest of the major search engines, Teoma, has 500 million plus, while others are well above the 1 billion range, capping out at Google’s over 3 billion. But hey, you gotta start somewhere. If you want an alternative crawler view of the web, give it a look. Want to be listed? If your pages haven’t been already crawled, use the site’s Add URL form to submit up to 100 per day. They’re supposed to be added within a few minutes. If your pages link back to Gigablast, they are rewarded with a “Gigaboost” ranking bump in the results. The site was launched in beta form in July 2002 but “Gigablast 2.0” was recently released in June, which can handle more queries, has the ability to 400 million pages and offers improved phrase matching.


Powercons Toolbox

The Powercons Toolbox is a small, graphical box that sits to the right of web pages you view and offers button-activated access to a variety of surfing utilities called bookmarkets. Among these is the ability to highlight words and then send them as searches to Google, AllTheWeb, the Open Directory, as well as the Go Guides, JoeAnt and Gimpsy directories. The toolbox can be customized, offers keyboard shortcuts and is a light 100K download. Requires Internet Explorer 5.0 or higher.

SearchDay Articles

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

Optimizing Keywords for Search Engines
SearchDay, July 16, 2003

New to search engine optimization? Here’s how to get started with selecting the most search engine friendly keywords and phrases that can help visitors find your site.


Measuring Search Engine Marketing ROI
SearchDay, July 14, 2003

Spending on search engine marketing is rising dramatically, yet surprisingly few companies are measuring the effectiveness of their campaigns.


Search Engine Forums Spotlight
SearchDay, July 11, 2003

Links to these forum topics: Indented results in Google; Moving pages to a new Website; Log file hiccups; Any suggestion on sales tracking system?; Microsoft brains go head-to-head with Google; Fed up- SEO without usability.


The Internet Under Surveillance
SearchDay, July 10, 2003

One of the key architects of the Internet is calling for users to exercise ‘due diligence’ to assure that governments do not censor information for political purposes.


How to Build Your Own Search Engine
SearchDay, July 9, 2003

Want a detailed glimpse into the black boxes we call search engines? Mining the Web is a textbook that discusses everything from building your own crawler to the future of information finding on the web.


Power Searching with Vivisimo
SearchDay, July 8, 2003

Vivisimo is a capable metasearch engine, serving results from multiple engines simultaneously. Dig a bit deeper and you’ll find some powerful, unique features not found elsewhere on the web.


Online Before the Internet
SearchDay, July 7, 2003

Most people think the word ‘online’ means the Internet. But there was an ‘online’ before the Internet, and some early pioneers have published a fascinating account of creating the world that was the principal ancestor of the web.


Search Engine Forums Spotlight
SearchDay, July 3, 2003

Links to these forum topics: Brand names banned from bids; Turning corporate speak into useful web copy; Google’s AdSense: A boost for information sites?; How do I check how many pages Google has indexed?; The Web’s 10 most influential people; Why didn’t my web designer take SEO into consideration right from the beginning?


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


Search Engine Articles

Search for Iraqi ‘WMD’ becomes big hit on Google
AP, July 15, 2003

Enter “weapons of mass destruction” on Google, and you’ll reach a very funny web page. It’s a take-off on an Internet Explorer error page that makes references about being unable to locate weapons of mass destruction. For the record, Inktomi and AllTheWeb also make this one of their top ranked pages, as well.


World’s poor to get own search engine
BBC, July 15, 2003

The concept behind this experimental search engine at MIT is that you email a query, then receive back pages that seem to best answer your questions. The idea is that those in poor countries will save on bandwidth costs.


Yahoo Move Alters Paid Inclusion Industry, July 15, 2003

In contrast to this article, I think paid inclusion is going to be in decline. Paid inclusion emerged because companies like Inktomi and LookSmart needed a way to offer their partners revenue. Google, in contrast, has never had a compelling reason to offer it. It already makes money directly for itself by selling paid placement. If it wants more money, rather than doing paid inclusion, it can simply expand the presence and amount of paid placement links. Now Yahoo owns three different companies that have paid inclusion programs. Like Google, I think Yahoo will find it easier simply to focus on the paid placement side of things.


Yahoo finds itself in search spotlight, July 14, 2003

Good after-the-purchase announcement coverage full of figures, such as now often-repeated estimates of how much paid listings will generate in revenue in the coming years and the possibility that Overture will need to pay Microsoft $50 million if the acquisition by Yahoo goes through. Not sure if I agree that Yahoo will reign in the amount it offers to partners to carry listings. In fact, the opposite might happen. Yahoo may consider any deal it gains to be extra revenue it wasn’t expecting to earn. Given this, it can afford to be more generous, especially if it believes that will hurt Google and build the Yahoo search brand.


Google moving in Mtn. View
San Jose Mercury News, July 12, 2003

The Googleplex, Google’s headquarters, is moving — but only a few miles away, to more room in buildings owned by Silicon Graphics.


Personalized Web Search Company Formed by Members of Stanford’s PageRank Project
ResourceShelf, July 12, 2003

Personalized search has often seemed like an obvious way forward for better results, but companies in the field have all disappeared over time. Ask Jeeves-owned Direct Hit abandoned research into this, then newcomer Outride was bought by Google, where the technology has yet to reemerge (see Other newcomer BuzzNotes also failed to make a go of personalized search. Now may be entering the space — and may (or may not) have some Google connections, as well.


The SEM Content Conundrum
ClickZ, July 11, 2003

Contextual ads are not the same as search ads — so when your search ads are placed in a contextual setting, you need to be monitoring performance closely. Tips on how to do the necessary measuring.


Autonomy Buy Bolsters Technology, Customer Base, July 10, 2003

Enterprise search company Autonomy has purchased video search company Virage.


MSN, eBay Ink Search Ad Pact, July 10, 2003

eBay’s cut a deal to give it prominent placement on MSN’s search results pages. Try a search for “barbie” at MSN Search, and you’ll see eBay in the Features Listings section. Not sure if that’s part of the new deal or an example of an existing direct ad relationship with MSN. Regardless, notice the repetition. As eBay also bids on Overture, it appears in the Sponsored Sites area. Even more, look at Amazon — an ad deal with MSN puts them into Features Listings, then the ad deal with Overture puts them in Sponsored Sites, then the paid inclusion deal with LookSmart gets them into the Web Directory Sites area. Not bad — unless you’re a user looking for a little variety in your search results.


Google Field Search Problems
SearchEngineShowdown, July 10, 2003

I’m glad Greg Notess wrote this up — I meant to for the newsletter earlier this month but ran short of time. Yes, the intitle and inurl commands are definitely broken at Google, which the company acknowledges. They told me at the end of June that this was anticipated to be a temporary problem and one caused by system upgrades. Supposedly, it will be corrected in the near future.


Tips to Avoid AdWords Hassles
ClickZ, July 10, 2003

Practical tips on meeting guidelines for the Google Adwords program.


LookSmart Inks Search Deal with Lycos, July 9, 2003

LookSmart listings will begin appearing on Lycos later this year for “commercial terms,” in a new deal between the two companies. Lycos tells me that they will be showing 10 LookSmart results head of AllTheWeb listings for 50,000 terms that LookSmart has determined are commercial in nature. LookSmart is also guaranteeing that despite the commercial emphasis, Lycos should feel the results displayed will all be relevant to users.


Feedster Updates Its Search Engine
ResearchBuzz, July 9, 2003

Feedster has added the ability to search using a variety of commands, such as by title and language. As for the comment about search engines indexing more XML and less HTML, that’s not really a solution. Search engines could already support fielded searching using HTML meta tags. The problem is that they don’t trust that information, based on long experience of seeing it misused. RSS so far doesn’t appear to have a major trust problem, but RSS content also doesn’t appear to be exposed to anywhere near the audience that search engines interact with. As RSS grows as a distribution source, expect to see trust factors become a bigger issue.


Google cache raises copyright concerns, July 9, 2003

Google’s cached pages is a great feature, but is it legal under copyright laws? Google says yes but others aren’t so certain. Eventually, a court case may decide (none have been filed, but this is predicted to happen). Nice details here about the caching feature. Google says most people actually don’t make use of this. Also interesting to read that the New York Times may be getting some express help from Google to “fix” the problem of its content being cached. Of course, once the content is pulled into a registration area, the cached version of the original article ought to disappear within a week to a month — so it’s more of an irritating factor for the NYT than a crisis. Note that Google is no longer the only major search engine to offer caching. Yahoo does, as well. Yes, Google powers this caching at Yahoo currently. However, I’d expect this will remain as a feature when Inktomi results take over. Finally, Google says that using the no cache tag doesn’t affect rankings. That’s true. But Google has also said that sites using the tag may open themselves up to more scrutiny for potential spam violations. In short, use it, and you make yourself suspicious.


LookSmart Combines Small, Large Biz Products, July 8, 2003

The Yahoo-Overture announcement meant I had to bump back my own write up on this important news from LookSmart. Don’t worry — I’ll be coming back to this story in more detail by the next newsletter. In short, anyone can now purchase multiple listings in LookSmart, which increases your ability to do well for a variety of terms. In the past, this was something only offered to those willing to spend $2,500 per month with LookSmart. Per click fees stay at $0.15 for the first 5,000 clicks per month (LookSmart says most small businesses will be under this amount). After that, you may pay higher per click fees depending on the industry your listing is judged to be in.


Court backs thumbnail image linking, July 7, 2003

It’s OK for search engines to show thumbnail images in search results but the legality of displaying full-sized images remains to be determined, a US appeals court has ruled. The decision comes in the case of Kelly versus Arriba Soft (Ditto). Previously, Kelly had won a ruling by a lower court that showing full-sized images violated copyright. More background on the case and other related ones can be found on the Image & Multimedia Search Complaints page,


Overture Extends MSN Deal Abroad, July 7, 2003

MSN extends its agreement with Overture to provide paid listings for sites in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and South Korea through December 2004. This happened before the announcement that Yahoo was to acquire Overture.


Moreover cheers Yahoo deal
netimperative, July 7, 2003

Yahoo has cut a deal to use Moreover’s news search service within Yahoo News. Chris Sherman will be doing a follow-up to this story for SearchDay, so watch for more details. Also makes you wonder if the next Yahoo search acquisition might be Moreover, as a way to beef up Yahoo’s service against Google News.


Sprinks to sign
CBS MarketWatch, July 6, 2003{9A4C0995-D7A0-46B8-A00A-DCD1C7461C3D}

MSN may have cut a deal to carry Overture’s contextual ads, but over on MSNBC, contextual links will be powered by Sprinks exclusively, for the next nine months.


Sergey Brin and Larry Page on TV: A Conversation at a Recent Conference
ResourceShelf, July 6, 2003

The Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossberg interviews Google cofounders Sergey Brin and Larry Page. ResourceShelf’s Gary Price provides a transcript and comments. Agree entirely with Gary’s surprise to see Mossberg assume that all search engines other than Google “disguise” paid listings. Also note the contextual ad horror stories that Gary provides, such as ads about airline tickets showing up on an Amazon page about a Sept. 11 book.


Proximity Searching in Google
Microdoc News, July 4, 2003

Haven’t tested this myself, but a nice article on using the wildcard symbol to do proximity searching on Google.


Can the IAB be our search guide?
netimperative, July 3, 2003

The Internet Advertising Bureau in the UK is considering publishing standards to govern search engine marketing. I haven’t seen any details about this, so it’s hard to say how the IAB thinks it might impose such standards on third-party search engine marketing firms — if these standards are even intended for them.

In this commentary, Adrian Moss thinks the big issue they need to take on is banning cloaking and that there should also be a worldwide blacklist of sites deemed not to be following standards.

One problem with this idea is that many of the search engines either don’t outright ban cloaking or allow it under the guise of “trusted feed” programs, as described more in my past article, Ending The Debate Over Cloaking,

As for a blacklist — sure — I’d love to see the search engines publish a list of firms they have banned. That would help the public be more careful about who they choose, plus it would let the firms that do get blacklisted actually have some official notice that this has happened. The search engines could do such a thing tomorrow, if they wanted. Why won’t they? Legal fears seems to be the primary reason.

For past articles about efforts to establish standards for search engine marketers, see the end of the Search Engine Spamming page, Also see the Search Engine Standards, Please! story,, which has a section about standards that search engine marketers may want search engines themselves to follow.


Freeserve to drop Google searches
PC Pro, July 3, 2003

Google’s out at major UK ISP Freeserve, replaced by Overture-owned AllTheWeb listings.


Must….roll…rock…up…hill… again…
Traffick, July 2, 2003

Thank you, Andrew. Yes, most site submission services do little for you. If they simply pass your URL to an Add URL page, it’s something you can do all by yourself in just minutes for free (follow tips at The same is true for other things Andrew warns about. Here are some rules of thumb to consider. Anything that’s only $9.99 probably isn’t that worthwhile. Anything that employs jargon and words you’ve never heard of, especially to explain why they aren’t “bad” from a search engine perspective, might be something you should be wary about. And anything advertised on a search engine by no means is necessarily “approved” by that search engine.


CompUSA Taps Range Online for Search Marketing
DMNews, July 2, 2003

Financial analysts depend largely on published revenues from Overture and other search engines to gauge the size of the search engine marketing space. Unfortunately, that leaves off money earned by third-party search engine marketing firms. Those still dismissing some of these firms as being in a “cottage industry” should think again. For example, Range Online Media projects $30 million in revenue, for this year. That’s a lot of cottages, honey.


Search engine personalization: An exploratory study
First Monday, July 2003

Important caveat: this paper was written based on research done in May 2001, so today’s reality may be much different. Much of what the paper describes as search personalization features I’d largely call portal features, such as the ability to have a calorie calculator or a stock portfolio. The conclusion seems to be that many portals offer features that may be of interest, but these features can be difficult to find or configure by visitors.


Optimising for Inktomi And how it can help on Other SEs!, July 2003

I’ve never been a fan of the concept that you should do some type of specific actions to please one particular search engine. In general, there are key things that you should do that work across the board. Nevertheless, if you want some Inktomi-specific tips, then Barry Lloyd has some suggestions in this article. Plus, he finds the ground work for Inktomi can translate into later Google success.


Q&A with Krishna Bharat of Google News, July 2003

This is from Google’s “Google Friends” newsletter and a short, good read for more insight into how Google News operates.


Searching about Search Engines, June 30, 2003

Looking for news and resources about search engines? Here’s a comprehensive guide to what’s out there, from blogs to books.

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