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Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Google #1 Search Engine for Business Users

The search engine business searches go to first is Google, which 66 percent of the respondents say they use most. The other top search engines among the business community include Yahoo (15.25 percent) and MSN (7.8 percent).

Google: 66.37%
Yahoo: 15.25%
MSN: 7.8%
AOL/Netscape: 4.16%
Lycos: 0.55%
AltaVista: 1.55%
FastSearch: 0.35%
Excite: 0.70%
Hotbot: 0.30%
iWon: 1.21%

To an even greater extent than the online public at large which uses Google about 23% of the time , the business community overwhelmingly uses Google to conduct its searches. Yahoo (at 15.25%) and MSN (at 7.8%) combined only represents 23% of use.

The survey of business users and their search behavior conducted by, a search engine marketing and interactive agency, also reveals that members of the business community rely more heavily on organic search results than paid search listings.

The survey, which was conducted between October 1st and 31st, polled 475 respondents and has an overall margin of error of 2.6 percent. A white paper with survey results can be accessed at
Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Open-Source Search Engine : Nutch

A group of international developers are working together to produce an open source search engine that may rival the commercial search bandits. From the Nutch project’s site:

Nutch is a nascent effort to implement an open-source web search engine.

Web search is a basic requirement for internet navigation, yet the number of web search engines is decreasing. Today’s oligopoly could soon be a monopoly, with a single company controlling nearly all web search for its commercial gain. That would not be good for users of the internet.

Nutch provides a transparent alternative to commercial web search engines. Only open source search results can be fully trusted to be without bias. (Or at least their bias is public.) All existing major search engines have proprietary ranking formulas, and will not explain why a given page ranks as it does. Additionally, some search engines determine which sites to index based on payments, rather than on the merits of the sites themselves. Nutch, on the other hand, has nothing to hide and no motive to bias its results or its crawler in any way other than to try to give each user the best results possible.

Nutch aims to enable anyone to easily and cost-effectively deploy a world-class web search engine. This is a substantial challenge.

Nutch will definately be worth keeping an eye on.


Search Advertising Blocker Threatens WebMasters in Addition to Search Engines

First we had spam filters, then pop-up blockers, and recently spyware removal tools have become popular. Time to add one more to the list which has the potential to hurt the search engine marketing industry even more than a Google update, search engine sponsored listing blocking.

The InterMute, Inc. company announced today the latest version of its best selling Internet ad blocking software which gives users the option to block paid or sponsored Search Engine results, the fastest growing segment of the online advertising industry.

There may be some credence behind the need for more regulation of the search advertising industry, according to a recent study, nearly half of those surveyed among the business community state that they do not recognize the difference between paid search listings and unpaid.

While some search engines, Google for example, make an effort to differentiate its ads from its organic search results. Other search engines like MSN search do not do so good of a job, cloaking paid results with organic.

Intermute’s AdSubtract Pro with search engine advertising blocker has the potential to start a worrisome trend which could put a large dent in the search advertising industry.

Their new feature, dubbed New Search Sanity, lets the user block paid or "sponsored" listings from showing up on the most popular search engines including, Google, Yahoo, Overture, MSN, AOL, AltaVista, AllTheWeb and LookSmart. The tool even has the power to block contextual advertising, such as Google’s AdSense.

The ability to block AdSense ads will put AdSubtract Pro in the sites of webmasters, since AdSense dollars go to the owners of the sites it is advertised on.
Saturday, December 06, 2003

Hotrate Reborn as Illumirate -- lighting your way through the web

I asked Barbara York the new owner why the name IllumiRate. Here is her response: "First, one of the platforms for the directory is the fact our editors' assess many of the sites we add. Therefore, I wanted to keep the "Rate" portion of the name.

Don't know if you had a chance to see our logo, but I think the candle that stands in for the first "I" in our name pretty much explains the concept.

IllumiRate is a "turn" on the word "illuminate" -- thus the slogan "Lighting your way through the Web".

Have you been "illumiRated"? Browsing this directory is an "IllumiRating" experience? For editors: Become a member of the "IllumiRate Nation"!

There are all sorts of phrases that could be used in connection with upping the power, high-voltage, etc., and other "light" connotations that are possible with the name.

Finally, having been a student at William & Mary, and an overall huge fan of the Williamsburg, VA, area, I have a soft spot in my heart for the holiday Grand Illumination celebration. Thus, when having a huge brainstorming session in my kitchen, we all came up with the name "IllumiRate".

Hope this better explains my objectives when choosing "IllumiRate" as our directory's new moniker. :-)

BTW, we do have a direct free submit for sites to be added to our waiting list at"

By Aaron Wall of Search Marketing Info
Monday, December 01, 2003

Directory For Sale

About a month after splitting up the GoGuides.Org Directory is now on sale with a minimum bid of $10,000. On their home page it reads "Notice: GoGuides.Org is for sale! If you think you have what it takes to run one of the fastest growing and most popular human edited directories on the net then this opportunity is for you. Offers will be accepted till 12-3-03. If the minimum reserve price is not met the directory will not be sold. If the directory is sold the buyer must agree to continue running all advertisement, all listings, and agree to continue developing this directory as a spam free community. Minimum Bid Price: $10,000.00 US Dollars. All offers must accompany a 20% down payment of the bid amount via paypal to be considered legitimate. For more information contact us at with your offered bid."

by Aaron Wall of Search Marketing Info
Thursday, November 27, 2003

CNET Search Show Best Conversions for Consumer Electronics Sites

In a independent study of millions of visits to Web sites selling consumer electronics and gift items, WebSideStory, Inc. ( ), today announced that from May-October 2003, visitors from’s search engine had the best visit-to-order conversion ratio. CNET’s conversion ratio was 28% higher than the conversion rate from the next most efficient search engine.

CNET topped the list with 1.64 % of all visitors converting to immediate orders, followed by AOL (1.28 percent), Overture (1.25 percent) and iWon (1.15 percent), according to the new study by WebSideStory’s StatMarket ( ), a leading authority on global Internet user trends. The data for the study is based on more than 10 million search engine visits to prominent e-commerce sites, which sell a broad range of gifts and electronics products and services.

These sites use WebSideStory’s HitBox Web analytics services. “StatMarket has always been a leading source of reliable data on the quantity of visitors that search engines refer to other sites globally,” said Geoff Johnston, vice president product marketing for StatMarket. “This new study focuses on the quality of the visitors the search sites are delivering.”

The data on visitors to electronics related sites is part of a larger study on visit-to-order conversion ratios from search engines to e-commerce sites overall. The full study from StatMarket analyzes more than 29 million visits from hundreds of search engines worldwide to dozens of prominent e-commerce sites. The search engine visits include those generated by both paid search keywords and organic listings. All orders resulting from search engine visits were generated in the same session. The study does not include shopping-specific search engines.

Search Engine Gifts/Electronics Sites
Order Conversion Ratio
CNET 1.64%
AOL 1.28%
Overture 1.25%
iWon 1.15%
LookSmart 1.14%
MSN 1.04%
Yahoo 1.01%
Netscape 0.93%
Lycos 0.92%
Google 0.85%


Google Update Takes Bite Out of Retailers News from Search Engine Journal

Retailers got a taste of the power of Google this month, as the search site changed the way it combs through the Web, knocking some companies in its rankings - and in the wallet.
Google’s November update tries to crack down on some ways that companies game the search engine - for example, by embedding keywords in their pages to get prime placement in search results.

A tiny bookseller from Peoria, Ill., who loads his page with hidden text containing popular titles, for instance, could appear next to giants such as Barnes & Noble and

Google continues to tweak its ranking formula, trying to produce the most “authoritative” sites, not the ones with the best tricks. And during this past week, just in time to kick off the holiday shopping season, those changes have bumped many retailers off the top of the heap.

“Small companies rely on Google rankings for most of their business,” said Serge Thibodeau, who runs a company called Rank for Sales that customizes retail Web sites to improve their placement. “Many, many people are angry about this.”

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Google IPO and The Future of Google

An upcoming cover story in FORTUNE magazine reveals internal disarray at Google, and raises troubling questions about the company's future. The story comes out as talk continues to swirl about Google's expected IPO next spring, which could raise as much as $2 billion. The story, "Can Google Grow Up?" appears in the December 8 issue of FORTUNE, available on newsstands December 1 and at on November 24.

FORTUNE talked to Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, CEO Eric Schmidt, and top executive Omid Kordistani. In addition, FORTUNE conducted more than two dozen interviews with employees, investors, business partners, and people exploring employment or business deals with Google, along with veterans of the search, online advertising, and computer business - and what it found was a talented company facing trouble.

"(Google) has grown so fast that employees and business partners are often confused about who does what," reports FORTUNE writer Fred Vogelstein. Stock- and option-stoked greed is creating rifts within the company, and heated questions continue about who is really in charge: CEO Eric Schmidt or co-founders Brin and Page, reports Vogelstein.

As one CEO puts it, "My take is that they are crumbling under the weight of their own success." Says an investor, "Google has a lot of momentum, but its current position is probably not defensible."

The bottom line? Google's numbers are strong and revenues continue to soar. But with competitors gearing up for a search-engine battle and turmoil within, Google could be worth much less by the time investors in the IPO are able to cash out.

Microsoft Invests $100 Million into MSN

Microsoft has announced a $100 million investment in its MSN portal worldwide. $30 million will be diverted into "EMEA" (Europe, the Middle East and Africa) the company has announced.

The investment is focused in attracting advertisers to the portal at a time when advertising, particularly on Web sites and by high-tech companies is drying up.

Ever aggressive, Microsoft has a slew of experimental new advertising formats it wants to try out on surfers including full-page ads that that appear while a Web page is being downloaded or 'scratch-off ads', that reveal themselves when brushed by the mouse pointer.

Saturday, November 22, 2003

Google Algorithm Changes

There are hundreds of pages of text on the recent Google changes. Basically there is believed to be a commercial filter which penalizes sites for the combination of optimized inbound links, high keyword density, and close keyword proximity.

I have writen a couple articles covering the changes at Google.

Google Sells Christmas
Death Before Birth - The Life Cycle of a Search Engine
Google Buys New Algorithm

by Aaron Wall

Friday, November 21, 2003

Add Skoobie Web Search to your blog!

Enhance your blog with web search, or add a list of key word related search results reflecting the topic of your site. Or do both! It is free and super easy...just copy and paste a few lines of html. As an affiliate, we'll pay you 40% of all click through revenue generated from your site."
Thursday, November 20, 2003

Spyware Targeted by Center for Democracy and Technology

The Center For Democracy and Technology released a report criticizing spyware and downloadable adware programs for deceiving consumers and wreaking havoc with their computers.

The Washington, D.C.-based CDT is a public policy non-profit that advocates privacy, freedom of expression and open use of Internet technologies -- and challenging surveillance on the Net is one of its top issues.

The PDF report, "Ghosts in Our Machines: Background and Policy Proposals on the 'Spyware' Problem," was released on Wednesday.

Overture and United Online (Juno, NetZero) Renew

Overture Services, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Yahoo! Inc., and United Online, Inc., provider of value-priced Internet access services, today announced a three-year renewal agreement in which Overture will provide its sponsored search results to the United Online properties. In addition, Yahoo! Inc., the parent company of Overture, will provide United Online with its own algorithmic Web search results.

Under the agreement, users of United Online brands NetZero, Juno and BlueLight Internet services may perform keyword searches in the search box located on the NetZero, Juno and BlueLight Internet start pages and other areas of the services under the heading "Powered by Yahoo! Search."

"United Online is a leader in value-priced Internet access and we are pleased to continue our relationship with them as their sponsored and Web search provider," said Ted Meisel, president, Overture. "The extension of this relationship reinforces the strength of the Overture network for marketers."

Google Update

Google recently introduced a new keyword phrase filter during its most recent update. Some phrases were unchanged, but many highly optimized and highly competitive phrases were drastically altered. Some webmasters saw their sites drop from top listings to not being in the top 1,000 sites. Unlike other filters, this spam penalty does not affect a page or sites overall perceived value. The end effect is lowered rankings for various specific searches for that page.

If you have a couple commonly paired words on your website such as "search" and "marketing", the new filter will check to see how the words are placed on your page (and possibly in incoming links). The new algorithm is looking for more naturally existing context to prevent search engine optimized websites from dominating search results. Essentially the goal of this filter is to get webmasters to adjust their content to be written for the users and not search engines. The problem with this logic is that good SEO typically falls in line with good site and page structure.

The filter is selective in that it is only enabled for some terms on certain searches. The filter can be overridden by placing a - character for the terms. If you search for search marketing you will find Commision Junction where my site was once listed. If you search for search-marketing you will see my site. If you search for search marketing info, you will see that the filter in not enabled for that search.

Off the start the filter was set rather corse, but it appears to be shifting more in line with reality. Some of the decent optimized sites are appearing back in the place where spam was just filling the results. Just this morning I saw a clients website pop up for two seperate phrases he was tripped for.

This filter marks the first time in search engine history where webmasters have not been able to reengineer exactly what the search engine did. Currently I do not recommend making any chages while Google is still fine tuning the filter.

by Aaron Wall @ Search Engine Marketing Info

More information on Google's Update and Site Dropping
Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Business Blogs: Declare your independence

I'll bet you never thought of it this way.

A business blog helps your business declare its independence.

Because of the ease of writing and publishing a blog on the internet, the blogger is no longer in a dependent state. Their company webmaster, or the other various company departments, no longer serve as gatekeepers for spreading the word.

In the early days of the internet, companies were urged to "get online" and establish an "internet presence". Part and parcel with that move to the internet, was the addition of a technically capable webmaster, to code the web site.

While many webmasters are very competent at their job, of coding and web design, they are not always proficient at marketing, public relations, or search engine optimization.

Often they will insist on their special design for a web page, regardless of whether or not it helps market the business and its products. Concerns about building the best possible site for gaining high Google, and other search engine rankings, are often not even considered.

By self publishing a regular (at least three times per week) business blog, there is no need to wait on anyone else to post your thoughts. The talents of the webmaster can be put to better use in adding more pages of content to your regular company web site. The blog adds even more content to the web site, resulting in a rise in the search engine rankings.

Google loves more fresh content.

If your webmaster services are subcontracted out, by the time or by the job, you'll save money too!

Most companies have public relations departments, who funnel corporate communications through their offices. A steady stream of press releases and media contacts are their regular output. Often their turnaround time is not optimal for breaking news.

A daily blog entry can cut through that time lag, reaching customers and suppliers in an instant. The weblog post has the advantage of being seen as written by a "real person". The blogger's words are not filtered through committees, various departments, and edited to homogenized flak. That may increase your credibility factor with the media.

By establishing a company blog, the business can still reach the media for press coverage. In fact, the unfiltered blog articles might find daily visits from working journalists searching for news items. The blog provides news, in nice easy to digest, bite sized portions.

Business blogs help you to become more independent. You are able to get your message out to your various target markets faster. By not having to request coding help from webmasters, and additional written work from marketing and public relations departments, they are free to do other work too.

That saves personnel, time, and money in both the short and longer terms.

Overall, everyone within and outside of the company benefits.

All because you decided to become a business blogger.

Wayne Hurlbert writes about the value of blogs for businesses on Blog Business World. Wayne also provides roller derby news and commentary from a business perspective on Wayne's Derby World.

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