Submit Express Newsletter #63
January 15, 2004
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1- News Summary
2- Search Engine Year in Review: 2003
3- Google Algorithm Update Causes Havoc
4- 2003 Top Search Terms
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1- News Summary
We would like to thank all of our many loyal readers and customers who have helped us have another outstanding year. We sincerely wish all of you a very healthy and prosperous New Year filled with success and happiness.
Our thoughts also turn to the year that has passed, and all of the many interesting twists and turns that the search engine world has seen. For those of us who are closely associated with search engines, it has been a year to watch consolidation of many large search engines, and see the resurgence of search engine optimization and marketing as a key component of any serious online business.
Below you will find a summary of the major search engine news stories from 2003. You will also find an article about the latest Google Algorithm changes back a couple of month ago that has caused havoc and what to do to combat it.
What anxiously await another interesting year in 2004. We already know about couple of major changes that will be happening very soon. MSN, will be dropping LookSmart as a backup provider by end of January. They are going to launch their own search engine, but before they do so, we might see them using Inktomi as their primary provider for a few months.
Rumor has it that Yahoo will be dropping Google as their primary provider and use Inktomi, a company they purchased in 2003. We are actually a little relived that search market will not be such a big monopoly by Google and looking forward to these changes, which at the end will benefit all internet users.
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2- Search Engine Year in Review: 2003
The following is a brief overview of the year's search engine events, along with our thoughts on the significance of the news as it relates to online businesses.
January 15, 2003 - Froogle shopping search engine beta site launched by Google. From these humble beginnings we expect to see Google fully dominate the market for product search in a few years.
January 21, 2003 - Teoma Releases Version 2.0. This search technology has been applauded by critics and was even thought to help Ask.com compete with Google. To date it hasnt really made any difference.
February 15, 2003 - Google buys blogger (Pyra Labs). The phenomenon of web logs or blogs has reached full steam in 2003 - it remains unclear on exactly what Google will do with this purchase. Some search engine critics have suggested that the prevalence of hyperlinks in blogs is actually adding irrelevant content to Googles search results.
February 19, 2003 - Overture buys Alta Vista and FAST Search. Overture and Google played cat and mouse in 2003 with regard to the paid- placement space. The once mighty Alta-Vista is now simply a traffic driver for Overture but not nearly as effective as the Google.com site.
March 4, 2003 - Google Issues a press release announcing the launch of content targeted advertising. With this step, Google went head-on against Overture in the paid search results category.
March 10, 2003 - Disney closes Go.com - switches to Overture results (since switched to Google Adwords). Once a top search destination in its own right, the shell of Go.com becomes a simple feeder site for paid search.
March 12, 2003 - Dealtime acquires epinions. Epinions was an early entrant into the shopping search engine space. This entity later becomes shopping.com.
March 19, 2003 - Yahoo completes Inktomi acquisition. Afraid of becoming too dependant on Google, and forking over too much of its traffic - Yahoo buys a Google competitor. Inktomi is a formidable technology, but has yet to be fully implemented at Yahoo - well see.
April 21, 2003 - Overture completes acquisition of Fast. Along with the AltaVista acquisition Fast was intended to boost search traffic for Overture.
April 24, 2003 - Google acquires Applied Semantics. This company of highly educated linguists was seen as a great compliment to Google - the natural search abilities developed by Applied Semantics could help in search results, and their vast pool of paid search URLs became the property of AdWords.
April 28, 2003 - Overture completes Alta Vista acquisition.
June 3, 2003 - ValueClick acquires Search 123. Smaller player acquires a much smaller version of other pay-for-performance search engines.
June 18, 2003 - Google extends AdSense program to all website owners in affiliate type model. The rest is history is there ANY site out there that hasnt implemented Google AdWords to make a few extra bucks?
June 30, 2003 - Overture responds to Google AdSense by launching its own contextual advertising product Content Match. The tit for tat battle between Overture and Google continues.
July 14, 2003 - Yahoo announces an agreement to buy Overture (and by default of earlier Overture acquisition - Alta Vista) in a deal valued in excess of $1.5 billion dollars. Yahoo had already placed Overture search results at the top of its listings, so it just bought the whole thing.
September 3, 2003 - FindWhat.com announces its acquisition of Miva Corporation - supplier of e-commerce shopping software and services to small and medium-sized businesses. Pay-for-performance search meets a leading ecommerce shopping engine - were still trying to figure out what this is all about.
September 7, 2003 - Google celebrates its 5 year anniversary. Gee, it took Google a WHOLE 5 years to crush every other search engine out there? Time flies.
September 15, 2003 - There are rumors of MSN developing a new search engine. MSNBot has been spidering internet websites.
September 15, 2003 - A proposed settlement to the LookSmart Class Action Lawsuit was accepted.
September 15, 2003 - Verisign begins re-directing non-existent .com and .net domains to a sub-domain of its own web site in an ill conceived and poorly received program entitled Site Finder. Every other web property shuddered when Verisign took control of the entire Internet for a few days. ICANN threatened them and restored order.
October 2, 2003 - LookSmart relaunches its paid listings program in a failed attempt to counter the growing popularity of Google and Overture contextual advertising programs. An also-ran who came late to the paid placement party makes a last ditch attempt.
October 7, 2003 - Microsoft announces that LookSmart listings will be dropped from the MSN search engine results in January 2004. Ouch!
LookSmart gets kicked while theyre down. This could be the date when the new MSN Search will be launched.
October 24, 2003 - Google announces its acquisition of Sprinks and also its intention to go public sometime in 2004. Financial analysts begin valuing the IPO at $15 - $20 billion. The big get bigger and the rich get richer.
November 6, 2003 - Google introduces the Google Toolbar. Maybe a shot at Internet Explorer - somehow this thing is supposed to bypass a web browser to give you search results. But then, dont you need a browser to go view the results? Maybe we just don't understand this one.
November 17, 2003 - Google shifts its algorithm - a fairly common occurrence, in slang terms a "Google Dance". But the "Florida Update"
as it becomes known creates a vastly different set of search engine results at Google for certain keywords. This update effected many highly placed commercial web site results it is still being felt.
Details: See Below Article
November 19, 2003 - AOL acquires audio and video search engine Singingfish. So AOL apparently wants to be able to sort out rich media content and deliver it- consistent with their move into broadband delivery.
December 17, 2003 - Google introduces book searches. Watch out Amazon.com.
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3- Google Algorithm Update Causes Havoc
Sometime around November 17, 2003 Google went through its usual, if not entirely predictable, reshuffling of its search results that has become known in search engine parlance as the "Google Dance".
However, unlike other Google search results updates, the "Florida Update" - as this event has come to be known - caught a good many search engine professionals and online business owners off guard. The reason? Many search results were shifted dramatically from their previous positions, in some cases entire blocks of the first 100 results were replaced with new listings. This had the effect of demoting previously high-ranking sites and relegating them to the netherworld of Googles search results in pages 4 and up.
While the Florida Update has confused, frustrated and angered many professional search engine marketers and their clients - small to medium sized online businesses - Google has been characteristically silent on exactly what was changed in the search algorithm and why.
The only comment that can be found on the subject comes via a quote from Forbes magazine in which Wayne Rosing, vice president of engineering at Google, said the change is part of the Silicon Valley- based company's efforts to provide high-quality search results.
"This particular change affected more people, but our testing shows there was a significant quality improvement for our users," said Rosing.
Shortly after the Florida update, several people reported an interesting trick to figure out if the new Google Algorithm affected your rankings. The trick is to add a non-existent garbage term to the end of your keyword with a dash before it. For example if your keyword is "laptops," you would search for "laptops -dsfdsfdf." However, you will have to add one garbage term for each additional word in your search term. For example if your keyword is "used laptops," then you would search for "used laptops -dsfdsff -dsfdsfdsf." If you search for our given example, you will see different results in the top 10.
There are a number of theories that have emerged - we will list and examine a few below. Remember - these are peoples opinion - not fact.
Until Google makes some type of official announcement, speculation is all that we have.
Speculation #1: Google quashed commercial results to increase revenues in its AdWords paid listing program prior to going public. The idea here is that by relegating lucrative commercial search listings to the unread bottom of the search results, the businesses would have to resort to Googles AdWords program to get back to the top of the search results. The resulting revenue increase would benefit Google by inflating the IPO stock price.
Speculation #2: This is just a regular and innocent attempt by Google to reduce the prevalence of search engine spammers. This theory notes that some of the demoted sites could be construed as "artificially"
increasing their Google rankings via multiple interconnected and commonly owned and linked web sites.
This is known in search engine marketing lingo as "gaming the system"
or "spamming the search engines". Since Google frowns on the practice of interconnecting sites with one common owner simply to increase rankings, the update is viewed as justified to reduce these artificially inflated search results.
Speculation #3: In order to remove patent restrictions Google introduced a newer "patent-free" algorithm. There has been speculation that the technology that drives Googles search results may have been patented and licensed from Stanford University and/or The National Science Foundation. This theory holds that the algorithm change was implemented in order to avoid paying royalties on these patents.
Speculation #4: The Florida Update represents a complete and total sea change in the way that Google calculates search results. This group suggests that the Applied Semantics technology acquired by Google is now being used on a search-by-search basis - in effect applying an "expert system" to "learn" which results are best for users. As search after search is conducted, the system adjusts the results based on what users end up clicking on. This theory holds that traditional "spidering" on sites and current PageRank systems will become less and less important to search results.
Speculation #5: The Google systems and algorithm simply became overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude and complexity of the Internet - in effect they have run out of computational overhead. Some have suggested that the new search results are in essence a "bug" in the Google code - brought on by the incredibly daunting task of evaluating the billions of web pages out there and sorting them into meaningful results.
Further, the prevalence of blogs and blog cross-links seems to have thrown a curve into the Google algorithm mix.
There are many, many more theories and variations on the above listed hypotheses. With all the secrecy surrounding Googles ranking algorithms, their updating process in general, and their future plans, we may never know what really happened in the Florida Update. Like I said before, at this point - speculation is all we have.
Based on an analysis and research done by us here at Submit Express, we have figured out that the new algorithm lowers rankings of those sites that are over optimized for those keywords that are repeated too many times in the following areas: anchor text of incoming links, Site Title and Page Content. Our recommendation at this point to those that have been affected is to analyze their own rankings first and make adjustments to their site by lowering keywords in some of those areas.
Anchor text of the incoming links, seem to be he most prominent factor.
We would suggest that if you used keywords in your site links, to remove them or not to use the same keywords too many times.
Again our own analysis may not be 100% accurate, but this is our closest guess to what may have happened.
In addition to the above algorithm change, Google also started listing
3 Froogle results on top the Google search results for certain terms.
If you are not familiar with Froogle, basically it is a shopping search engine that Google launched about a year ago. For more details see our newsletter article from January 2003 at:
The Froogle results will only appear for certain ecommerce related products. You can see an example by typing in "Dell laptops" in Google.
We wish good luck to those that have been affected by this latest Google fiasco.
Article by: Pierre Zarokian, President of Submit Express and Derek Vaughan, Director of CPU Review Web Hosting Directory
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4- 2003 Top Search Terms
Every year some of the top search engines release their most searched terms of the year. In 2003 some of the following terms made it to the top results:
1. britney spears
2. harry potter
5. david beckham
6. 50 cent
8. Lord of the rings
9. Kobe Bryant
10. tour the france
See more Google top terms at:
Lycos Queries (Previous year's terms in parenthesis):
1. kazaa (2)
2. Britney Spears (4)
3. Dragonball (1)
4. Paris Hilton (-)
5. IRS (7)
6. Kobe Bryant (-)
7. Christmas (9)
8. NFL (6)
9. Pamela Anderson (10)
10. Brooke Burke (34)
See more Lycos top terms at:
2. Harry Potter
3. American Idol
4. Britney Spears
5. 50 Cent
8. Paris Hilton
10. Christina Aguilera
See more Yahoo top terms at:
1. Song lyrics
3. Free Ringtones
7. Driving Directions
9. Baby Names
10. Prom Dresses
Ask Jeeves has not published more results online as of publication of this newsletter.
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