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Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Google Market Value Tops Fity Billion

Google market value surges past $50B, tops Yahoo so now they're worth more in dollar value than Yahoo. That goes right in line with being worth more in search value and relevance.

I've written before that Yahoo has their fingers in so many pies that they don't have the necessary attention on search that Google does. Google buys small companies that offer services, software and add-ons which increase the value of the search experience.

Yahoo buys companies when they think they might be able to squeeze some extra bit of profit from them and add to the already confusing array of services which take an alphabetical list of 109 Yahoo "properties", broken down by each letter of the alphabet.

Yahoo bought up all the available search "properties" within the last couple of years and, as I said in mid-July of 2003, "Well if it is a horse race, Yahoo may gain on leader Google if they are able to integrate their Inktomi and Overture (and by extension, Altavista and Fast/AllTheWeb) purchases into relevant search results that searchers trust. But all of the Jockeys on those horses will be whipping their charges toward the finish line with an eye to the winning purse."

The fact is - Yahoo search is no better than Google now that they have bought up all real competitors. Referred traffic from Yahoo search results to web sites is still only one fifth that of Google.

The new MSN search may pose a threat to Google if they continue on their current path toward relevant search results. As of October 2004, Google market capitalization of $52 billion with shares hovering around $160 per share price, reflects the true value of Google.

Yahoo is kind of like a WalMart "Portal" that has everything under one roof with over a hundred wildly diverse "properties" that don't contribute to search relevance or company value. Google confirmed today that they have no intention of becoming a portal, but instead intend to keep the laser focus on search that made them number one. This emphasis was underlined by CEO Eric Schmidt's comment in the Financial Times of London, “We are not building a browser.”

Now the market has confirmed what searchers already know, that Google is tops in financial relevance as well as search relevance.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Google Desktop Search - Security Risk

I suppose I was naive when I cheered the new Google Desktop Search tool thinking it was ONLY a great way to help ease my computer info-glut and help organize my hundreds of hard-drive stored documents, emails and files. It seems that now I have to worry about how bad guys and busy-bodies will use it to spy on me!

The Google Desktop Search Tool Poses a Security Risk to users of public or networked computers according to an Information Week article. If you use public computers at work or at libraries, internet cafes, Kinko's or the local Mailboxes Etc. store, now you've got to worry that previous users of that public machine, or worse, the business owner or employees, have installed Google Desktop Search on that machine to purposely spy on users.

It's possible to retrieve secure pages from the Desktop Search memory of machines running the program. While it is possible to turn off that function - bad guys using Google Desktop search specifically to spy on you won't be turning it off, eh? So now I've got to do that every time we use a public computer.

Although I wrote previously of my love for the Google desktop search tool - it appears to have a BIG downside. The slippery slope of good tools being used for illicit purposes could destroy a great piece of software because it is simply too powerful.

The public will be up in arms over Desktop Search and Google may have to withdraw it from public Beta. Though Google seems to have weathered the storm over a similar uproar about the searchability and thus the privacy of their beta G-mail webmail, it could be a bigger storm brewing over Desktop search. We'll watch for comment from privacy advocates on the subject.

At this point it is tempting to simply shrug and say, "I hope Google figures out how to stop illicit use of the Desktop Search Tool," it's not likely. More likely is that it will become one more headache to network administrators at businesses who have to write scripts to stop the installation of Desktop Search and small business owners who must find a way to stop employees from installing it on public computers at internet cafes, just as they must currently watch for key logging software and other spyware on public computers.

We'll all have to be extremely cautious when using public machines at those small businesses and libraries and we'll have to check for the Google Desktop Search icon in the system tray of virtually every computer we use to be certain that our use is not monitored.

Protecting private passwords for online banking sessions while in Kinko's and keeping online job searches out of the view of our bosses will get even tougher for employees using networked machines at work.

I'm STILL in love with Google Desktop Search for my own machine at home but now I fear Google Desktop Search on public machines. The issue doesn't stop with Google because both Microsoft and Yahoo are racing to develop a desktop search of their own. It means they'll all have to either make it possible for ALL users to disable their desktop search tools temporarily or create entirely different machines for public use.

I've long made it a practice to open the browser preferences to clear the web history and dump the cookies from machines I've used at conference press rooms and internet cafes in dozens of cities. That drops my web mail passwords and online banking sessions from the cache, so I don't have to fret over who might be able to retrieve passwords after I'm gone. I do it automatically now every time I use a public machine.

But now I've got to look for Google Desktop Search before I use a public machine and turn it off while I'm using that machine. Grrrrr! You have to take the good with the bad I suppose.

There's a lot to love about Desktop Search but I simply HATE that others can use it to spy on me. I have no doubt that it will be used by both bad guys for identity theft and by nosey snoops, who are simply busy-bodies, to virtually look over my shoulder in secret.

I'm sure Desktop Search will be used by parents to monitor instant messaging chats, emails and internet travels by their kids and possibly by spouses to check up on their sweethearts. I'm not at all concerned that anyone will use my home machine and Google Desktop Search to check up on me. (Although I've been startled at phrases that turn up in the occasional spam from my in-box in Outlook that turns up in Google Desktop Search) I'm more worried that people will use it as a spying tool on public computers.

I've also written before on the privacy risks of Google online searches in an article on how to protect yourself from the Google Reverse Phone Lookup. You can enter any phone number in the search box at Google and see the owner of that phone numbers' name, address and a map to their front door! Google seems to be too powerful for its own good sometimes. Fortunately there is an opt-out method at Google, but the databases they draw upon are a bigger problem.

I'll continue to use Google Desktop Search on my home machine and will continue to love the tool for my web centered work online to search for client emails, documents and previously visited researched web sites. But now I'll be even more wary - on public machines - of bad guys and of Google Desktop Search. Damn those bad guys!

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Yahoo! Search Cleans Cluttered Look

Yahoo! Search has introduced a Google clone search page but who will see it? If you visit the Yahoo home page, you'll see a couple of hundred links to all their services such as Yahoo Jobs, Yahoo Dating, Yahoo Finance, Yahoo Mail, Yahoo Movies, Yahoo Stores, Yahoo News, Yahoo Web Hosting, "More Yahoo" and "Even MORE Yahoo" links near the bottom of the home page, blah blah blah, etc. But they've put up an elegant Google clone for their search page at That nobody will ever see unless it is bookmarked or typed directly into the browser address bar!

Yes, you can search from the Yahoo home page and that is the most prominent of all the Yahoo's glut of stuff, but I'll bet they posted this spare little copy of Google's home page to appease those who don't want to wade through the rest of the mess to get to search. This placement means that only those of us that purposely AVOID their home page and jump right to search by typing into the address bar will find that page. That's the equivalent of MSN of course where you must type in to see THEIR spare search page. But MSN has at least kept some elements of branding in the design of that page, while Yahoo has made their page LOOK like the Google home page with a Yahoo logo.

I can't wait to see if they integrate Yahoo Desktop Search into the browser in the same way Google did . . . Stay Tuned.

Desktop Search Tools Chase Google

Mike Grehan chronicles The race for Total Search after Google introduced their Beta Desktop Search Tool last week.

After trying the tool and writing the review linked above, I can't wait to see how Yahoo stacks up in their inevitable attempt at Desktop Search and how Microsoft integrates the tool into the Longhorn operating system. I'll wager they don't measure up in speed or in the elegant integration of Google Desktop Search to the browser, but will take a look as soon as they become available for public review.

Targeted Link Text - Links Value

There can be no disputing the value of inbound links as an SEO strategy and part of that strategy involves using targeted keyword phrases in the linking text. I've written before of "Linking Psychosis" and believe firmly that many webmasters go entirely insane with their linking strategies. In seeking the Golden Egg of SEO, some go to extremes and seek "Google Bombing" techniques.

But I'm a bit baffled as to any debate between whether content or linking is "King" as mentioned in the following article by Phil Craven. In the SEO forums I have found that many amateurs put a single Golden Egg in one basket and believe that they've found the solution to top ranking. To some that is linking campaigns, to others it is building solid, substantial, relevant content. I'll bet you can see which way I lean on the subject ;-)

While inbound links are important, they are only one element in complete SEO. Site architecture, interior linking structure, proper use of Title tags reflecting individual page content (rather than sitewide tags), limiting outbound links to relevant topical link partners, distribution of press releases and articles, themed structure of content directories, and dozens of other fine points of SEO all contribute to top ranking.

Diversification of SEO strategies will gain and maintain top positions in the SERP's no matter what algorithm changes are made by the search engines. Don't focus on a single Golden Egg for your SEO strategies. That said, here are some valuable thoughts on linking strategy to consider as ONE element in your search engine placement.

Value of Links and Targeted Link Text
by Phil Craven

A wander around the various search engine optimization forums reveals that people are divided into two groups as to how search engines rank web pages. One group insists that "content is king", and the other insists that "link text is king". The 'content' group recommend adding good quality, on-topic, optimized, content pages to the site and the rankings will come. The 'link text' group recommend adding links to pages, with the targeted searchterms in the link text, and the rankings will come.

So which group is right?

Certainly, the 'content' people are right in that good quality, optimized, content pages will get some top rankings, but only if the targeted searchterms are not being competed over very much.

Page content is what search engines ranked pages on in the old days, and they still do to some extent. But that began to change when a couple of engines introduced "link popularity" (linkpop) into the equation. The more links that a page had pointing to it, the better it did in the rankings. Even so, content was still the king.

Then along came Google with a new idea. Instead of using links to a page as simply an additional ranking factor, they based their whole engine on them, to the extent that they called their engine a "Hypertextual Web Search Engine" - "hyper" as in hyperlink (clickable link), and "textual" as in the link text that is clicked on. The Google search engine was, and is, based on links and link text (sometimes called "anchor text"). Google's idea was that a link from one page to another page is a vote by one page for the other page, thus making the recipient page more important. They also decided that the clickable link text is likely to provide an honest and condensed idea of what the recipient page is about.

Wih their new idea, the relevancy of Google's search results far surpassed that of the other engines, and Google grew to become the #1 search engine of them all. The other engines had no choice but to follow suit. Page content still plays a part in the rankings, but the biggest single ranking factor of all is link text. Links to a page, with targeted link text, can push the page to the top of therankings. As an example, type "miserable failure" (without quotes) into Google and look at the #1 result.

An even better example is a search on Google for "computers" (without quotes). Look at the source code of the #2 result (Apple). The word "computers" doesn't appear anywhere in the page, and yet "computers" is a very competitive searchterm. Google's cache of the page states that "These terms only appear in links pointing to this page: computers". It is the link text in the links pointing to that page that has pushed it into the #2 position for a very competitive searchterm.

Those are examples of the ranking power of link text. The reason it happens is that Google stores each word on a page in what they call "barrels". But they have two groups of barrels. The small group contains words that occured in URLs, Titles, and link text. The large group of barrels contains words that occured anywhere. When processing a search query, the Google engine first tries to find enough results (about 40,000) from the small group of barrels that contains link text words. If they can compile enough results from there, they don't even look in the group that contains the rest of the words on a page. The group of word barrels that contain link text is the first place that Google looks for results to a search query. That's why link text is such a powerful ranking factor, and it's why link text alone can push the recipient page to the top of the rankings for competitive searchterms.

Do All Links Count?

There is some discussion around the seo forums as to whether or not some links count less than others. One idea is that multiple links from the same site, whether internal or from external sites, are devalued. Another idea is that internal links count less than external links. There may be some truth in the ideas, but they are just ideas and nobody outside Google really knows, so it is best to assume that all links to a page count.

Link Acquisition

Acquiring links can be time-consuming and tedious. There are a number of ways to get them, some being easier than others. Wherever you get them, make sure that their link text is the searchterm that you are targeting, and that each link points to the page you are promoting for the particular searchterm. Pointing all the links to your home page, with various target searchterms, won't achieve the same as pointing targeted links at specific pages within the site.


Join forums and place links to your site(s) in your signature line. Use your main searchterms as the link text. But before spending time writing lots of posts with your signature line in each post, make sure that the forum is spiderable by checking the robots.txt file, and make sure that non-members don't have session IDs in the URLs (some engine won't spider URLs with session IDs in them). Also make sure that links in signature lines are not hidden from spiders (view the source code to make sure that signature links are in plain HTML and point directly to the site).

Link exchange centers

Find and join free link exchange center like There you can find a categorized directory of websites that also want to exchange links. Be careful not to sign up with FFA (Free For All) sites because they are mostly email address gatherers and you can expect a sudden increase in email spam soon after you sign up. Also, only sign up with centers where you can approach other sites personally, and where they can approach you personally.

Do not join any link farms!!! Link farms, such as, sound excellent, but search engines (Google in particular) disapprove of them as blatant attempts to manipulate the rankings and they will penalize sites that use them. Once a site has been penalized, it is very difficult to get the penalty lifted, so avoid all link farms.

Email requests

(a) Search on Google for your main searchterms and find the websites that are competing with you. Then find which sites link to them by searching "". Email them and ask for a link exchange. (b) Search on Google for websites that are related to your site's topic, but not direct competitors, and ask them for a link exchange.

Buy them

There are websites that want to sell links, and often the link will be placed on multiple pages, or all pages within the site. It's possible to approach individual sites where you would like your links to appear, but it is much quicker, easier and more reliable to use a middle-man service (or broker).

Link brokers offer links for sale on behalf of other websites (you could use the service to sell links on your site!). With these services, it is usual to be able to choose the topic of the website(s) where you want to place your links. One such reputable broker is


There are even links for sale by public auction, such as the one at LinkAdage Auctions.


Inbound links are important for websites that want to move up the rankings. Inbound links, with the right link text, are essential for achieving top rankings when there is any competition for the searchterms.

Most websites do not naturally attract links, and link acquisition can be time-consuming, tedious, and frustrating. Many websites that are approached by email will say no, but some will say yes. For top rankings, it is a almost essential to take the time and get many inbound links. It should be treated as an ongoing task.

About the Author:

Phil Craven is a well-known SEO and author of many widely read search engine optimization articles. His top-ranked "Seo Forum", at, helps many novices and webmasters to learn and improve their search engine optimization skills.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Google Drives 70 percent of Traffic to Most Web Sites

Google Drives 70 percent of Traffic to Most Web Sites so why pay attention to the little guys? I wrote the above linked article about Google traffic numbers in July of 2003 and have continued to monitor search numbers from the various engines on sites I own and those of clients to see if that percentage changes.

The numbers from Google took a dip in February of 2004 when Yahoo dropped Google resutls frorm their web search after a long search partnership and after Yahoo went on a buying spree of search properties including Overture, Inktomi, AltaVista and AllTheWeb.

Curiously though, the numbers haven't changed substantially. Google referred traffic from most sites is still very near, and in some cases higher, than the 70 percent of traffic it used to refer. Changes in Google algorithms along with generally lower numbers of traffic referred from virtually ALL engines.

Continuing to watch the traffic statistics from all search engines has lead me to conclude that as a search engine optimization specialist, I will pay attention only to the top three - Google, Yahoo and MSN. Now some folks have told me it's foolish to look only at the big boys when optimizing web sites for clients, but how many other industries pay any attention to aspects of their business that lead to less than three percent of their business before working on improvements to double digit changes? And what CEO in his right mind would ignore making improvements to an area of his business that delivers nearly three quarters of his customers?

Three percent is the amount of search traffic that comes from ALL other search engines to those sites I monitor for clients. MSN and Yahoo send consistently small numbers of between 15 to 25 percent of total traffic referred from searches, so they are worth paying attention to and worth optimizing for. But no other search engine sends more than a couple of clickthroughs per day to any of my own or to client web sites. Why pay to be included in unknown search engines that send fewer than a few visitors a year?

All of this is a prelude to introducing the following article by guest writer Dean Phillips, who has contributed two other pieces over the past week. Dean discusses how he received a solicitation to submit his site to the Azoos search engine for a "review" fee of $69.95. this seems nothing short of absurd to me when I've never seen a single referred visitor coming from that engine to my site or those of clients.

In any case, here's the article. I hope very few folks are paying to submit to any search engine any more, including Yahoo SiteMatch, which Dean discusses in another article here.

Azoos Search Engine: An Unbiased Review

by Dean Phillips

Someone sent me the following e-mail today:

"Your site is missing from Azoos.Com's Internet search engine! To submit it, simply click the *ADD URL* button found at

As one of the Internet's 20 most visited unique search engine databases, Azoos offers sites like yours valuable traffic that only your competition is enjoying! Submitting your site to Azoos takes only ONE minute and GUARANTEES INCLUSION .... TODAY!

Thousands of users visit Azoos EACH day but can't find YOUR site. With a simple look and an easy-to-use search tool, Azoos appeals demographically to the NOVICE INTERNET USER - a targeted group likely to make purchases from sites like your own! Featured in a recent issue of SEARCH ENGINE WATCH, Azoos is one of the Net's hottest up and coming search engines for end users -- Make sure YOUR site is included TODAY!

If your company's website can't afford to miss out on even a few thousand potential hits, it can't afford NOT to be listed with Azoos!

Goto and click "ADD URL" -- let the traffic flow....!"

Joanna R. Heth
Internet Position Analyst

The Internet's COOLEST Search Engine!
Why should we crawl the web...when we can RUN it?

***Add YOUR Company's Web Site To Azoos.Com TODAY!!!***

I honestly don't know who sent me that e-mail. But it definitely wasn't from Azoos. Whoever sent it didn't bother to sign his or her name. The e-mail simply said "Check this out!"

I have to admit, that e-mail got me more than a little curious about Azoos, so I did a little digging and I found the following press release:

Not only has Azoos.Com managed to remain one of THE fastest services of its kind when it comes to including user-submitted URLs in its vast database, it’s now also one of THE fastest search engines on the ‘net! Thanks to the implementation of new technologies developed & improved by its software engineers during the last six months, Azoos has joined the ranks of those search engines capable of returning results in less than 1 second!

But unlike other high-end search engines who boast comparable speeds, Azoos.Com goes one step further by guaranteeing instant placement for webmasters who submit their company’s webpage via the engine’s "add url" feature. Combined, these elements make Azoos the ONLY key player online capable of speedy search results AND speedy spidering of user-submitted sites!

In an age where so many sites have given up their individuality to become "meta" search engines; pooling the databases of other engines to produce unoriginal search results,--Azoos.Com remains true to traditional search engine format by selecting its own data, spidering URLs from its own database, & producing its own unique search results.

And while so many other successful engines have gone on to charge fees as high as $300 or more for website "reviews," Azoos still bills its instant-add submission service at only $69 for a guaranteed listing and site spidering.

As Azoos representative Andrew Greenstein says, "We originally set out to create a search engine that offered something unique not only for the end-user but for the site submitter as well. Now that our search technology has improved so dramatically, it’s clear that our initial vision has become a reality and our primary goal has been achieved."

And although the bright yellow search engine may still have a long way to go before it can compete with the "big boys" in terms of audience size, Azoos.Com may very well be one of the most promising prospects on the debt-riddled Internet today.

Well, I can certainly agree with them on one thing. They do indeed have a long way to go, before they can compete with the big boys--a very long way!

Here's the problem as I see it with Azoos. They want $69.95 to add you to their database. This despite the fact that not one of the top search engines charges money to spider your website. And those colors are brutal on the eyes! Whose brilliant idea was that? Blue text on a screaming yellow background, with a design reminiscent of the Cartoon Network.

I wasn't impressed, and I certainly wasn't interested in spending $69.95 to be included on some cartoonish looking search site.

While I was there I figured I'd check out their search function. I did a few searches and got some satisfactory returns. Nothing special, but satisfactory. Also, their traffic count is low, comparatively speaking, for a search engine.

In conclusion, I can't recommend Azoos. There are just far too many superior, free alternatives!

Dean Phillips is an Internet marketing expert, writer, publisher and entrepreneur. Questions? Comments? Dean can be reached at mailto:

Visit his website at:

Friday, October 22, 2004

Yahoo!/Overture Site Match: A License To Steal

Yahoo!/Overture Site Match: A License To Steal

by Dean Phillips

Unless you've been living in a cave somewhere, I'm sure you've heard by now, Overture now offers the Yahoo! Search Inclusion under its own branded name--Site Match.

According to the page info from Overture, submitting your site to individual search engines is expensive and time-consuming. But with Site Match you can reach millions of users by submitting your pages through one program that powers search results for top web portals such as Yahoo!, AltaVista, AlltheWeb and other sites.

Summary of Site Match Benefits (according to Overture):

* More exposure for your site--reach more than 75% of active internet users

* A simple, single point of submission to multiple web portals such as Yahoo!, AltaVista and AlltheWeb

* Frequent refresh of your pages--every 48 hours

* Daily reporting to track and optimize performance

* Pricing--Hybrid of Inclusion and Pay-Per-Click

Site Match uses a hybrid of the old Inktomi paid inclusion program and the pay-per-click search listings. When you start a Site Match subscription, a non-refundable annual review fee is charged for setting up your account and for quality review of your pages. Once your pages are accepted into the program, a cost-per-click fee is charged for each lead driven to your site.

URL Submission (non-refundable annual fee, per domain)

First URL: $49

Next 2-10 URLs: $29 each

11th URL and beyond: $10 each

Cost-Per-Click Fee:

Tier 1 Categories: $.15

Computers & Software
Education & Career
Entertainment & Attractions
Jewelry & Watches
Music & Video
Sports & Outdoors
Toys & Baby Equipment

Tier 2 Categories: $.30

Financial Services
Flowers, Gifts & Registry
Health, Beauty & Personal Care
Home & Garden
Professional Services
Real Estate
Telecom & Web Services
Travel $.30

Okay, now that we've gotten the preliminaries out of the way, here's the real deal on Yahoo!/Overture's Site Match:

It's a license to steal! It really is. Here's why:

Site Match isn't a true pay-per-click program, like Google's Adwords or Overture's own pay-per-click program.

What's the difference? With Site Match, you don't have any control over how much you pay for a particular keyword. I'll talk more about that later.

Site Match charges you $49 to "review" your URL, at which point you get included in the databases of several search engines, including the new Yahoo! search engine. By the way, paying the $49 annual fee doesn't improve your page ranking one iota.

It's also important to point out, this isn't the same thing as Yahoo!'s Submit Express,where you have to pay $300 to have them review your site for possible inclusion in their directory, without any guarantee whatsoever.

With Site Match, you're guaranteed that your URL will be included in their various databases, and will be spidered regularly. This is how it works: If your listing is shown for a particular query and someone clicks on it, you get charged an additional 15 or 30 cents -- over and above the $49 annual fee! That's one reason why I call Site Match a license to steal. Here's another:

If your URL already happens to be in the search engine databases, you're now paying money for clicks you would have previously gotten for free.

It's really a bad deal, because for most sites, paying more than $.10 per click will end up costing you money.

If you've participated in a true pay-per-click program, you already know that there are many keywords, especially generic terms, that are worth little or nothing, so you'd never bid on them to begin with--or you'd bid very low.

But with Site Match that control is completely taken away from you because, the way the program is set up, you have to pay a minimum of $.15 to $.30 per click, no matter what.

Personally, I think you should avoid Site Match like the Bubonic Plague!

Dean Phillips is an Internet marketing expert, writer, publisher and entrepreneur. Questions? Comments? Dean can be reached at mailto:

Visit his website at:

Thursday, October 21, 2004

DMOZ: Open Directory Project Losing Relevance

DMOZ: Rotten To The Core

by Dean Phillips

I knew things were bad at DMOZ. But I guess I didn't realize
how bad, until I started eavesdropping on a few forums, and
reading the avalanche of e-mails I received on the

When it takes up to two years to get a web site listed,
there's a serious problem. When perfectly qualified web sites are
rejected for no other reason than the fact the editor considers them
serious competition to his or her own site, there's a serious

When you e-mail DMOZ about the status of your web site and
don't even receive a courtesy response to your questions,
there's a serious problem.

When you have egotistical DMOZ editors fighting each other
to have their own web sites listed, there's a serious problem.

And quite frankly, I don't see how the mess DMOZ has created
can be fixed. With an apparently endless backlog of web sites
waiting to be approved, how can they possibly catch up. The
answer is, they can't.

But this isn't just a performance issue we're talking about
here, this is a morality issue. The very fact that it's a
matter of public record what DMOZ is doing speaks volumes
about the character of many of their editors.

After all, much of what I've written negatively about DMOZ
came directly from the mouths and/or keyboards of DMOZ
editors themselves. At least they claimed to be DMOZ
editors. And for the life of me, I can't imagine why anyone
would want to own up to that dubious distinction, unless it
were actually true.

This is what one DMOZ editor had to say. "Since I became an
editor for DMOZ a few weeks ago (albeit for a tiny category)
I have seen on the DMOZ editors board that there are a lot
of good volunteers there who work hard to try to keep the
directory up to date and useful. Its a shame because there
are also seem to be a lot of editors there who are lazy, or
who have let the "power" of being an editor go to their
heads. (The people who DON'T ever post on the editor message
boards, or update their categories, etc.)

I think some method to allow webmasters to check the status
of their site submissions (and to know why their site gets
rejected if it is something fixable, and the site is related
to the category and not just a spam submission, etc) would
be an excellent first step to improving the system.
Unfortunately the editor management system seems to be circa
1998 ... I am only guessing based on design/functionality,
but I assume big changes are not coming any time soon."

Even Google may have come to the realization that
DMOZ may have finally run its course. Previously found via
its own tab, the Open Directory has been demoted to
the "more" page.

This was Google's explanation for the demotion. "We analyzed
what people were using, and that had become less popular
over time. As the web grows, directory structures get harder
to use. It didn't seem to be worth the real estate on the
home page." Ouch!

Demoting the directory may also be a way for Google to
eventually distance itself from the Open Directory Project,
which powers it. The volunteer-produced directory was added
back in 2000, near the height of the Open Directory's

Today, there are often complaints that the ODP, has not keep
up with submission demands. In addition, there have been
delays in getting the most current data out in a format that
ODP partners such as Google can use.

Ultimately, any problem with the Open Directory--which is
not in Google's control--still reflects badly on Google.

I do have a solution to this whole DMOZ mess, if anyone
wants to hear it. I say nuke the site for morbid, and put it
out of its misery!

Dean Phillips is an Internet marketing expert, writer,
publisher and entrepreneur. Questions? Comments? Dean can be
reached at mailto:

Visit his website at:

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Bad Search Terms Can Booby Trap Your Content

How Bad Search Terms Can Booby Trap Your Content
by Heather Reimer, © 2004,

Web users type in some pretty far-out search terms when looking
for information online. People are in a hurry and often don't
bother with spelling, correct syntax, or logical phrasing. So
they enter terms like:

"girl sport shorts"
"car used for sale"
"copywriting engine optimization search services"

Those terms end up in lists of keyword phrases churned out by
keyword suggestion tools such as Overture's. Hard to believe but
Overture claims that last term is queried over 5 times a day...
respectable numbers but how on earth do you write a term like
that into copy that flows and makes sense?

Those of us who write search engine optimized copy have to face
this dilemma regularly:

Do we use a slightly bent phrase that is frequently searched on?
Or do we opt for a safer, more correct term? The answer can be
found simply by looking at the mangled copy that results from
using offbeat or grammatically garbled search terms.

For example, look at what happens when I substitute the third
phrase above, "copywriting engine optimization search services",
for the more understandable term "search engine copywriting" in
this passage from my site:

"Professional copywriting engine optimization search services
from incorporate your top keyword phrases
smoothly and seamlessly into website copy that's interesting,
persuasive, and grabby -- in other words, copywriting engine
optimization search services that search engine spiders and
humans will find equally enticing."

See what I mean?

The Optimizers Vs. The Search Engine Copywriters

Some search engine optimizers look only at the numbers when
selecting keyword terms. Their primary goal is to increase their
clients' rankings and traffic. And that's fine, except it
overlooks the fact that all the traffic in the world isn't worth
a hill of beans if the copy isn't capable of converting it into

Forcing awkward terms into our web content can seriously handicap
its ability to communicate clearly and persuasively because it:

- Makes our copy hard to read.
- Causes our readers to stumble and do mental double takes.
- Slows or derails their progress towards the action/order pages.
- Annoys them to the point of abandoning our site.
- Diminishes respect for our business because we apparently can't
write in coherent English.

Worst of all, the repetition of badly-chosen search terms can make
our copy confusing and mind-numbingly boring. And the need to
repeat these phrases frequently on the page for optimal saturation
means the copywriter no longer has as much freedom to use better,
more appropriate words to create emotions and desires. He/she is
too busy trying to shoehorn awkward search terms into stilted
copy that will never have the pizzazz to persuade.

Keywords of Concrete

Appealing to the emotions is a very important part of successful
copywriting. Keywords that have gone bad are like concrete shoes,
weighing down your text, making it clumsy, unappealing, and
unable to "dance".

So next time you have to select keyword phrases, try to balance
their search popularity with their writability into coherent
sales copy. Your site visitors will give you their gratitude and
respect. And maybe even their business.

Heather Reimer is an experienced web site copywriter / search
engine copywriter. Ask her for a FREE content analysis on your
site, full of tips to make your copy more compelling and search
engine friendly. E-mail to
or visit

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Google Desktop Search versus Microsoft Windows Search

Google Desktop Search versus Microsoft Windows Search
or "Honey! Have you Seen My Keys, Glasses, Tivo Remote?"

by Mike Banks Valentine © October 17, 2004

Google Desktop Search Software can't find your lost keys or
tell you where you left the Tivo remote control, or that your
glasses are on top of your head, where you left them. But the
beta software from Google Labs is nothing short of mandatory
for those with more emails, Word documents, Powerpoint, Excel
and PDF files than they know what to do with. That's me.

New fixtures in our lives can become near necessities pretty
quickly. You know, like the Tivo remote when you want to skip
repetitive loud jingles in commercials. I've even begun to
start reaching for that Tivo remote out of habit when I've
missed an important news item on the car radio! Wait, Back up!

I'll grin as I catch myself doing this, while wondering why
that Tivo functionality isn't built into our new car radio.
My wife has told me she does the same thing. Now I believe
I've been just as spoiled & smitten by Google Desktop Search!

Once you install the software at
and try it a few times, you'll be hooked. In fact, if you're
like me, you'll wonder how you got along without it! My wife
is less impressed, but she also said to me, "I KNOW where
stuff is on my computer!" That's because she only has emails
and occasional Word documents and photos on her machine and
knows where each of them are stored.

Those of us who use the computer all day long, every working
day, have multiple folders, long lists of emails, downloaded
files, emailed receipts from online purchases, ebooks, PDF's,
spreadsheets, client information and files, PowerPoint files,
and web pages we've visited while doing work all day long.

Have you tried using the Windows built-in search lately? The
search function is accessed by clicking the "Start" button,
where you see the option "Search" and then options including
"For Files or Folders", then "On The Internet", then "Using
Microsoft Outlook" and "For People". Clearly, you must know
where your lost item MIGHT be & decide to search only there.

Your choices expand and you choose where to look from among
MORE places your lost item MIGHT be found so Windows knows
where to look. Choose from among "Look for Files or Folders
Named" and then "Containing Text", the infuriating "Look In"
choices "My Documents" and "Desktop" and "My Computer" and
"Local Hard Drives (C)", and inexplicably - "Browse"! Might
as well do that first by opening every folder and browsing!

My experience has been that I don't remember where it is, and
THAT is why I need to search for it! And most often, Windows
search function fails to find what I've misplaced - BECAUSE I
LOOK FOR IT! That is certainly NOT a useful search tool.

Google has completely resolved this problem and eliminated my
frustration with Google Desktop Search Software. It's a 400k
application that takes less than a minute to download on a
dial-up modem! This powerful tool is tiny, fast and nothing
short of amazing in it's functionality.

The first thing you see after installation is completed is a
note in your browser window that says "Indexing has Begun" or
something similar. I tried to use Google Desktop Search to
find the cached page of that window, but it didn't turn up.
I went to their "Help" pages and found that it's because I am
using FireFox Browser and "Web pages which you view in Firefox
aren't added to your Desktop Search index". They apologize and
promise future Mozilla Firefox support.

But Desktop Search does show you cached copies of every web
page you've visited in Explorer and search result pages show
the Title of each page, along with a thumbnail sized image of
those pages to the right of those results!

But that is only the beginning. I did a search for a phrase
from an email to a new client as my first search in Google
Desktop Search. A search for three words brought up several of
the emails we had exchanged, a (Word) contract with my client,
cached web page with thumbnail image and yes, the email I was
looking for was among the results. Very impressive and FAST!

The results page has links across the top including "All - 3
emails - 2 files - 1 chats - 6 web history" with the number of
items that match each type of result in Google Desktop Search.
If you click one of these links it shows results only in that
file type or email results or web pages. All results display
as "Cached" in browser windows, including Word documents, so
that each software needn't open for that document! I love it!

If you click the "emails" link from those in the top of the
Desktop Search links, it lists only the emails that turned up
with the search words in them, then click on any one of those
results and it shows the email in the browser window. At the
bottom of that page it shows "< Older | Newer >" links to see
them by date, then "View Entire Thread (2)" and "Reply",
"Reply to All", "Forward", "Compose", "View In Outlook" links,
which to me, makes Microsoft look awful! (Again, sigh)

Why? That functionality is not even an option in Outlook or
Explorer - even with the so-called integration that has courts
trying to separate Windows software bits out of the operating
system, and Microsoft claiming that would harm Windows! Google
provides a powerful little bit of code that does all this as
a stand alone tool which outperforms Windows search tools in
speed and functionality in a 400k application! FOR FREE!

Google Desktop Search even performs searches in the background
when you search the web with Google online and inserts their
odd little Desktop Search logo beside the first result on the
search results page - which is a result from your computer!
The first time I saw this, I was unaware of how it was done
and found it quite disturbing that my private hard drive was
indexed by Google for all to see!

I looked closely at the result and clicked the "About" link
beside my personal email description in the Google Web Results
page. It took me to a Google page that set my mind at ease by
telling me that "These combined results can be seen only from
your own computer; your computer's content is never sent to
Google (or anyone else)." Whew!

On top of all this magical stuff, Google online search pages
now have another link on the page labled "Desktop" right next
to the Froogle link because it is inserted by the browser if
you have Google Desktop Search software installed on your own
machine! (This browser integration does work in Firefox.)

There's a cute little item at the bottom of the Desktop Search
that tells you "Searching 5,834 items" which references their
"Searching 4,285,199,774 web pages" online, and seems downright
charming by comparison. If Google can search billions of pages
online, then surely my few thousand files are nothing for them
on my comparatively tiny machine, eh?

This all adds up to an incredibly fascinating bit of software
that I simply cannot live without, now that I've seen it work.

I can't wait until Google turns their attention to helping me
to find my lost keys! Results page shows "Black jeans, laundry
basket - Cached 3pm Sunday - 6 keys"
Mike Banks Valentine practices Search Engine Optimism at: and operates WebSite101 Small Business Ecommerce Tutorials at:

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

MSN Search technology preview

The Second Look at MSN's Search technology is available for public beta testing. I've given it a spin myself and must say that I'm impressed. Although they have no ads on the SERP's of the preview site, I'm sure they will load it up with the 15 or more Overture "sponsored sites" which clutter the results pages on the current search results by the time the new public beta reaches its official launch.

I've publicly complained about the lack of click-through traffic from both Yahoo and MSN search pages. Even though most of my web sites and those of clients are very highly ranked in all three search engines, Yahoo and MSN send less than one quarter of all search traffic to any of those sites. Google sends the rest - over 75% of search traffic referred comes from searches originating on their multiple English speaking sites. (UK, Australia, Canada, etc.)

Is that because nobody can see past the PPC ads (Overture Sponsor Ads) on MSN search? No, the "Sponsored Sites" aren't THAT dominant on the SERP. Is it because only one fourth the number of people search at MSN and Yahoo? No, it can't be explained that way either. Who knows? Maybe those who search at MSN and Yahoo simply want to search without visiting the sites that turn up top ranked? Could it be that the blue color and the "Sponsored Sites" label actually dissuades people from dropping down to the organic results and those sponsored links are more clicked at MSN than at Google. I just don't know.

If the test I ran today proves to be a reflection of where they are going with their new search technology though, I'll be nothing short of ecstatic on public unveiling of the "New" MSN search. As a matter of fact, I may be about to fall in love with MSN search.

In this test, I did some searches for several terms I am targeting for myself as well as several other phrases I'm targeting for SEO clients. ALL of those searches rank our sites in the first page or two of all three of the top tier search engines. The search I'll emphasized here in this test though, was for the phrase "Domain Name Tutorial".

I chose that phrase because, inexplicably, it doesn't rank well for me at the current official MSN search and may prove to be a perfect example of the difference between the new and old versions upon public launch sometime later this year (according to rumors circulating in the forums).

Google ranks our domain name tutorial at #1 in results, the current "official" MSN search ranks it somewhere in sludge of all castoff sites. In other words, I couldn't find it in the first 200 results at the current "official" MSN search and wasn't in the mood to click through any more results pages to find it.

A search for Domain Name Tutorial at the public beta of MSN search ranks it at #1 as well as Google, which Google delivers a full 90% of all search engine referred traffic to that Tutorial.

I use a web traffic statistics service to monitor my web stats and the report I spend the most time pouring over a couple of times a week is the "Search Phrase" report, which shows what search phrase brought the click-through to my site from the search engines.

The current MSN search shows visitors in ones and twos for several of my top ranking search phrases, while Google sends hundreds per day on several of those searches. If MSN made the beta search site official, would we see any higher traffic numbers from them? That question has got dozens of webmasters speculating in the forums about what they can expect from MSN when they go live with their new technology in the near future.

I'll be very happy if the results do reflect where they are headed, since it's hard to beat number one for those search phrases I tested today! This test leads me to believe that MSN is emphasizing directory and filenames that include keywords and are weighing inbound links pretty heavily. Page structure, title tags and text links also appear to be weighted substantially in their new algorithm.

Yahoo currently shows two "Sponsor Results" offset in blue, at the top of the SERP's when you've done a search for anything that has PPC bids at Overture, as does Google (Yahoo adds three more at the bottom of the page and Google none). MSN shows three PPC ads labled "Sponsored Sites" offset in a very pale green at the top of the SERP's and one at the bottom of the page following organic search results. Will MSN continue showing more ads than everyone else and, consequently lower organic search click-throughs?

All I can do at this point is to cheer MSN on and hope they continue on their current path as demonstrated at the beta site. It will make everyone (webmasters counting on organic search) happier if MSN starts sending more search traffic to their sites, rather than to the "Sponsored Sites." Conversely, Overture advertisers may start wondering where their PPC traffic has gone. Maybe then those heavy PPC players will start to see the value in organic SEO.

I wonder if MSN is toying with the idea of their own PPC program . . .

Branding versus SEO Search Engine Dilemma

Branding Versus Search Engine Optimization
by Kevin S. Kantola

Branding versus search engine optimization is a marketing dilemma that larger companies will need to come to grips with on the Internet. Often companies will need to decide whether to promote their own brand name as their main keyword phrase or optimize for a more generic keyword phrase.

For instance, one search engine report states that 1.3 million visitors per month search for the term "Best Buy." This same report states that the term "electronics" is searched for by 1.1 visitors per month. The obvious choice in this scenario is for Best Buy to optimize for their own brand name first and the word "electronics" second.

But take a competitor such as Fry's Electronics. Approximately 95,000 visitors search for the term "Fry's" every month, far short of those who search for "electronics". Does this mean Fry's Electronics (a partner with should optimize for "electronics" first and Fry's (and/or second?

Currently, a search on Google for "electronics" will show that Best Buy does not show up in the first two pages. Fry's ( is on the second page. But let's take a further look to see who is in the number 1 position: Sony.

Sony, with 450,000 searches per month for the word "sony", has managed to grab the number one spot for its brand name and the generic name "electronics". A search of the Sony homepage source code will reveal that this page is optimized for both words, "Sony" and "electronics." By optimizing for both words Sony has nabbed a lot of traffic neglected by Best Buy and perhaps even exceeds Best Buys traffic in doing this.

Another issue in branding is trademark infringement. Courts have upheld that websites using another company's branded name in its metatags is engaging in trademark infringement. For instance, a site about cats would be infringing if it put the name Best Buy in its metatags in hopes of gaining traffic from this trademarked word. Large companies have to protect themselves from others stealing traffic that is rightfully theirs. These companies cannot however protect a generic term such as "electronics" as that is fair game for all electronics companies.

So, in order to create the largest return on investment, large companies need to optimize their websites both for their own brand names and for the generic, high-traffic keywords and keyword phrases relevant to their sites. Otherwise, they are letting tons of online business just slip away.

Kevin Kantola is the CEO of Search Engine Optimization Resource ( and has written many online and offline articles over the past 20 years.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Google PageRank and Alexa Traffic Rank

It's The Same Deal For Both Search Engines And Real Estate
By Kirk Bannerman

It's all about location, location, location!

In the past...back in the days when Google was IT when it came to natural search results...everyone was very focused (or shall we say obsessed?) on Google page rank.

Now that Google is a public company and the search business has become competitive (most notably due to the serious search capabilities now being offered by Yahoo and Microsoft, via MSN), Google has become much more "private" or secretive about things like page rank, backlinks, etc.

As a matter of fact, many are of the opinion that Google is now intentionally displaying outdated page rank and backlink information on the Google Toolbar in an effort to mask the true workings of Google and to frustrate the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) community, which had become fairly skillful at "playing the Google game". If this is the case, then Google page rank fixation is now pure folly.

Another factor that is closely watched by webmasters is the Alexa traffic rank. This traffic rank is based on three months of aggregated historical traffic data from millions of Alexa Toolbar

However, the Alexa user base is only a sample of the Internet population, and sites with relatively low traffic will not be accurately ranked by Alexa due to the statistical limitations of the sample.

Alexa's data come from a large sample of several million Alexa Toolbar users; however, this is not large enough to accurately determine the rankings of sites with fewer than roughly 1,000 total monthly visitors.

Generally speaking, traffic rankings of over 100,000 should be regarded as not reliable because the amount of data that Alexa has available is not statistically significant.

Who said the emperor is wearing no clothes?

With the questionable current accuracy of two of the hallowed benchmarks of search popularity, where does that leave us? It leaves us exactly where we should have been in the first place, not obsessing over Google Page Rank or Alexa Traffic Rank, but instead focusing on the most important thing of all...and that is, what is your position in the listings when a person searches for your key words.

For both search engines and real estate, it's all about location, location, location!

Kirk Bannerman operates a successful home based business and
coaches others seeking to start their own home based business.
Visit his website Legitimate Home Based Business for more details.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

New Google Traffic Estimator Tool Up - Got Suggestions?

Monday, October 04, 2004

Class Action Attorneys Chase Vioxx Rankings

Last week the drug manufacturer Merck pulled their pain relief medication Vioxx (rofecoxib) from the market due to studies linking higher incidence of heart attacks and strokes to long term use of their medication. The highly profitable medicine was aimed at Rheumatoid Arthritis sufferers and others who weren't able to stomach aspirin, which is arguably more effective for most pain relief.

Top search engine rankings for the trademarked word "Vioxx" were dominated by the Merck-owned by the web site as of September 30, 2004. The site is likely to keep that ranking now that hundreds of thousands are flocking to the search engines and typing in "Vioxx" to learn if they or their loved ones are at risk of heart attack from taking the medication. Taking the second position is the FDA page outlining the recall and linking to more info at the FDA site Third place for the single word "Vioxx" also belongs to an FDA page and fourth and fifth positions are owned by a site that appears to be a drug index

Sixth place is currently MedicineNet, a medical site that dominates for many drug and medical terms due to extensive discussion boards and informational pages about thousands of medical conditions and their treatments. Seventh through tenth position has CNN's news story on the recall, then Yahoo News with a similar story, two online pharmacies with curiously blank pages. Come on guys! Sell Tylenol from those pages and get some benefit from the increased traffic!

News organizations are all linking to site from online news stories about the health concerns and financial repurcussions to Merck of the sudden recall. Merck has run full page ads in top newspapers nationwide addressing the sudden action and sending those millions of readers to the site and site to read disclaimers and learn how to get refunds for the medication they already have in their medicine cabinets. Their inbound links will soar at a point when they probably want most to present their own case to the searching public.

Pay-per-click advertisements were posted by agressive class action attorneys to run alongside organic search rankings and appeared immediately on the day of the recall announcement. The first search for the word Vioxx done at Google on Friday October 1st brought up an advertisement for as the first result in the Adwords listings along the right side of the page. The bids were about two dollars a click on Friday, but are rapidly escalating as ever more law firms jump into the bidding war. Estimated at $12 a click by Monday October 4.

The real test comes now for organic search engine optimization firms as they set out to gain top rankings for their class action attorney clients. Interestingly, I've just finished reading the John Grisham novel, "King of Torts", about a young "mass torts" attorney that made over an hundred million dollars by being the first to run nationwide television ads seeking clients injured by a faulty drug manufactured by a giant pharmaceutical company. Although the protaganist in the story has a web site to collect leads, nothing is mentioned about PPC advertising.

In "King of Torts" nothing is ever mentioned about organic search engine rankings for his web site either. Settlements seem to have came faster than it would be possible to gain top rankings for a highly competitive search phrase. It will be extremely interesting to watch domain name sales related to Vioxx, since keywords in domain names always help rankings. Some that are showing up in PPC ads include the previously mentioned,,, and

As of October 4th, 2004 the only NON-news related site in the top 30 sites at Google that is NOT an online pharmacy, a government agency such as NIH (National Institutes of Health) or an information based site is a site that emphasizes big class action suits, not surprisingly, which has a PageRank of 5 as of October 4th at 5pm Pacific time.

The final ranked site in the top 30 for the single word "Vioxx" at Google is the legal information site Findlaw in their class action section which asks your zip code on first visit and must use IP delivery for robots visiting the first time since there is nothing on that page about Vioxx if you've never visited the page before.

Now we will see what techniques are used by Search Engine Optimization firms that hurriedly post sites full of links to gain search position for the word Vioxx in order to sell more links to those agressive law firms and attorneys (and so they can run Google Adsense ads with expensive click throughs).

We'll keep this section updated as new sites dominate the phrases related to Vioxx, heart attack, stroke, Vioxx recall, class action lawsuit, Vioxx personal injury claim, Vioxx legal help, About Vioxx

CBS MarketWatch Net Editor Bambi Francisco wrote about this story on Friday
(free membership required to read)

What Makes a Site Rank in the Top Ten?

Everyone wants to know how to achieve top thirty rankings for their own web site in the search engines. Reality SEO looks at different sets of targeted keywords to analyze current rankings for those sites that have done everything well and achieved top ranking.

Reality SEO takes all the important factors into consideration and attempts to determine what got the top spots for the winners. We discuss how each business domain has been able to achieve their high rankings for competitive keyword phrases. Are those rankings well deserved or are they using underhanded techniques to claim first place rankings?

What techniques do they use to beat everyone else targeting the same keyword phrases? Was it inbound links from other sites or straightforward site structure incorporating elementary SEO techniques? Does the site use keywords in the domain name, title tags, headline, body text, embedded hypertext links? What type of internal linking structure do they use?