September 30, 2002
News, News, News...
Google news has been causing a stirring debate amoung many in the editorial industry. The 'Global News Stand' (where Google becomes a news stand you visit to pick up the news headline you want) idea appears to be catching on. One real issue for current news sites was described well by Chris Sherman from Search Engine Watch; 'News sites that insist on employing a user-registration scheme could get hurt by Google News, warns Chris Sherman, a search-engine industry analyst, because their content would be invisible to Google and the potential millions of Net users it can attract. What savvy publishers of registration-required sites must do, he says, is work with Google in order to be included in their news searches.'
: Google News Could Change Online News Industry
September 27, 2002
Inktomi turn seven...
Happy birthday to Inktomi
who launched to the public in 1995. If you haven't heard about Inktomi before it may be because they run behind the scenes of many major search and meta-search engines including MSN and Looksmart (Search Day
September 26, 2002
Overture UK expanding daily...Overture UK
are leading into more European sites every day now. It appears they have set up strong competition in the UK market already against leading UK PPC engine Espotting.com
. The latest email from Overture UK lists the following sites as newly acquired for results listings: www.tiscali.co.uk (multi-media searches); www.lycos.co.uk ; along with niche portals with special interest users www.myvillage.com ; www.peoplesound.com and www.vitaminic.co.uk.
Google and My Little Pony?
A Webmasterworld discussion appears to have cracked the likely reason for the background colours on Google Adwords changing frequently: 'I heard that adwords ads change color because Google have a direct feed from the Favorite Color Poll at the My Little Pony website. The color of adwords ads changes dynamically based on the current results of the poll.'
September 25, 2002
FindWhat on a market push...FindWhat.com
(a PPC search engine) have been growing at a steady rate over the past year. With what looks like a new push from Find What, the company plans to sell a new private-label service for large Internet portals. It's first customer is reported to be Terra Lycos.
'FindWhat.com, which also licenses for-fee results to such companies as Excite and Webcrawler, will now allow major Web portals to brand their own listing service using its back-end technology and tap their own sales forces to cross-sell search marketing with online advertising.': Zdnet News.
On the same day as this is announced I received an email from FindWhat offering a 'Pop-Under Promotional Campaign': 'If you are interested in receiving traffic from searchers visiting websites specific to [this term], those opt-in users will receive a contextual pop-under ad containing the top 10'. FindWhat traffic can already be fairly low quality in my experience (from what I've heard this varies greatly on different terms). As I see it, using pop-unders for a PPC really just increases the risk of fake or low converting click-throughs. It would be interesting to see where they are sourcing the traffic from, something like Gator perhaps?
September 24, 2002
Google News Beta
Google have their latest news site 'Google News
' live with 'approximately 4,000 news sources worldwide and automatically arranged to present the most relevant news first'
After spending some time sorting through the content I was impressed with the features offered. Perhaps the most appealing is the 'Auto-generated xx minutes ago' titles on both the full search pages and each headline. This gave a feeling of fresh content at your fingertips. One thing I found an annoyance is the default listing of the headlines being sorted by 'relevance'. With a news site the aim in my opinion would be to deliver the latest news sorted by time. Sorting by time is an option to be clicked but doing this on every search is a frustration.
Also very interesting is the inclusion of pictures on the frontpage of the news site. This is a radical change for Google who have always been adamant about the use of text without pictures in content based searching. What will the purists think and is this a prelude to the future of Google?
September 23, 2002
Dealing with ODP Editors
Being listed in a human powered directory can have it's share of difficulties given the range of interpretations each editor is open to. The editors of the Open Directory Project
(ODP) deal with continual spam and dodgy tactics so care needs to be taken that you do not 'at a glance' fit into that catagory. This forum discussion
(as a live example) covers the main points you need to be aware of when dealing with problems. If you are still finding yourself stuck when submitting then using the Open Directory Project Public Forum
may help. This forum was setup and is sponsored by the members (editors) of the ODP Community. You can also email the editor dealing with your submission. With a properly worded, reasonable argument for your case you may well get the listing you are looking for (if deserved).
September 20, 2002
All you ever wanted to know about Meta-Search Engines...
Search Engine Watch has had a week devoted to Meta Search Engines. Each of the articles throughout the week has attempted to give the reader a bit more information to help with your online searching needs.
If you're scratching your head already and wondering exactly what a 'Meta Search Engine' is - a 'Meta Search Engine' is an tool that takes what it sees as the 'best' results from other search engines, groups them, then displays those results on it's own pages.
September 19, 2002
If you are looking for a laugh, try going to Google
and entering 'internet hell'. Being greeted with 'Welcome to AOL Anywhere' would have to be my definition of 'internet hell' as well.
European Search Engine Chart
From Webmaster World search engine forums, one of the administrators has put together an excellent European Search Engine Chart
September 18, 2002
Fast searching Flash
Earlier this week Fast
announced it has added the capability to search Flash files. Fast are one of the first to enable users to search the common but highly graphical files. The functionality will be made available to FAST's portal partners, such as InfoSpace, Lycos, Tiscali, and T-Online (my views on spidering flash files
Basic searching can also be further expanded via AllTheWeb's Advanced Features Form.
September 17, 2002
Overture might take off your listings but it wont say when...
Overture have announced their 'Click Index' which is hailed as 'one of the methods Overture uses to ensure listings are meeting user expectations'
The Click Index is Overture picking a CTR (Click-Through-Rate) that they believe your listing should be achieving. If you are not getting a high enough number of clicks on any given search term then Overture will take your term off and you will get none.
Added to the idea that you are now going to have to increase your work load to make sure a particular CTR is met, you will also not have the faintest clue what that CTR needs to be to keep your listing live! From the Overture FAQ pages on the Click Index:
How do I know what the acceptable Click Index levels need to be?
The acceptable performance level for each listing varies by search term and by the listing's position within a search term marketplace. Because the Click Index criteria is proprietary information, we cannot divulge detailed information about our criteria. We can say that our technology evaluates the click-through rate and position of a listing, and compares it to other listings within a certain marketplace.
Google already run this system in their 'Adwords Select' listings however at least you are made aware that your listing will be dropped if you go below a CTR of 0.5%. What will Overture's minimum CTR rate be? - your guess is as good as mine...
September 13, 2002
China no-longer blocking Google
After a few weeks of increasing reports of blockages from the Chinese Government. It appears they have lifted the block on Google
without any reported explanation.
It has been reported (thanks Kal
) that AltaVista accidentally sent out an email detailing discretionary rejections of express inclusion URL's for many customers. This has left a 'bad taste in the mouth' for some of those affected (forum discussion
September 12, 2002
Adaptive Search and the engines fight back
The University of Mainz and the German Institute of Artificial Intelligence have put together an 'adaptive search engine' (Phibot
) which '...uses some nifty technology that literally helps the engine automatically learn the difference between 'good' and 'bad' results, over time.': courtesy of SearchDay
. Apparently the system does this through tracking current searches by any specific user.
Considering that one of the arguments some people have against a search engine such as Google is the amount of information gathered and held about an individual user, it would be interesting to see their opinion on this. Conversely, if you're interested in supporting the research then Phibot is looking for more users to expand it's test base.
Both Google and AltaVista are fighting back against the Chinese ban. According to an article on 'The Register' Google have been in talks with the Chinese government but have yet to resolve the issue. AltaVista have not yet had a response from their contacts but they have suggested Chinese users can go to one of their international sites, raging.com which has not been blocked.
September 11, 2002
Google celebrates while Yahoo cuts back
Google turned four yesterday (at least the incorporation of the company did). For a quick reference on where it all came from and how the company has progressed have a look at the Google time-frame
Yahoo have at the same time confirmed
it has cut its sales staff by 5% 'as part of an effort to streamline that unit's functions'
September 10, 2002
Has Google looked in the mirror lately?
A Google mirror site
that reverses the Google search engine has been touted as the answer
for the Chinese firewall ban on Google. The actual 'mirror' goes far enough to display Google results in reverse. If you're actually trying to use the site, reading through a mirror appears to be the best alternative.
September 9, 2002
Opera aim high with V7.0
Internet browser has a small cult like following on the web which Opera is determined to lift to mainstream status. Opera's key distinction from other browsers, (IE or Netscape) has always been it's speed in loading simple flat HMTL pages from a product with a small download time. The disadvantage (especially for programmers) is the lack of support of Dynamic content (eg DHTML). All that has been tipped to change with an Opera 7 Sneak Peek
attempting to push the browser into the limelight and mainstream usage. With current level's sitting on approximatley 95% IE, 4% Netscape and 1% for all others, internet browser wars appear to be a thing of the past. For any real take off it might be that Opera would need to squeeze their product into an automated shipping agreement with one of the major hardware suppliers.
September 6, 2002
Keyword Research and Analysis
Keyword research combined with informed decisions based on the findings is an essential part of building traffic and therefore increasing ROI (Return On Investment) for you website. There are a variety of tools available for researching what terms your potential customers are typing into their favourite search engine. Here are a few which can start you down the right track:
There are many other keywords analysis tools on the web however the above (when taken as a whole) can give a good indication of your customers search trends. Implementation of the analysis given from the keywords suggested is whole other matter :).
September 5, 2002
Inktomi and 'Conceptual Search'
Inktomi updated it's index last month in the ongoing bid for the highest number of listed pages. As well as updating the index they also introduced what has been termed 'Anti-Proximity searching' by Danny Sullivan.
'take a search for "york." On Google, 8 out of the top 10 results all have to do in some way with New York... However, with Inktomi, 8 out of the top 10 results all have to do with places that in some way are related to the single word "York," '
'When a search is done on the single word, it will scan the documents retrieved and may downgrade those from the common term list. In other words, it can see terms that are often in close proximity with the word York and use this anti-proximity filter to let pages for just the single word York rise to the top.'
I see this as a positive move. There are too many search results in the general 'common list' which out-weigh the search term that a current user is targeting.
Search Engine Watch : Inktomi Increases Size, Introduces Anti-Proximity
September 4, 2002
Google and the Chinese Government
In the headlines this week since Monday, the Google site has been banned by the Chinese Government
. Google have since hinted that they will fight the Chinese ban
; 'We are currently working with Chinese officials to get our full service restored to the millions of Chinese users who depend on Google every day,'
. Google is translated into Chinese and the suggestions concerning the blockage hinge on the Communist government cracking down on internet content it views as subversive or corrupting.
Netscape will not give up...
'According to StatMarket, Netscape can only boast 3.4 percent of the market, while IE holds sway over 96 percent of the market. With those level's of figures it is open to question why AOl/TimeWarner continue to keep the Netscape division running while Netscape try again with Version 7.0.
September 3, 2002
Dealing with Directories and Geo-targeting
The first and formost thing to remember is that Directories are powered by people. Your submissions will be read, reviewed and placed by someone just like yourself. Honesty and simplicity are the key factors in making an editors life that much easier and therefore providing you with the listing you (hopefully) deserve. Geo-targeting has now also been pushed by Directories at a few of the Search Engine Conferences. Most of the Directories will allow duplicate listings in both your specific catagory as well as under your regional area. You can read more on what the Directories say in Notes on the SES Conference - Dealing with Directories
September 2, 2002
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