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Thursday, February 12th, 2004

Lycos No Longer A Search Engine!

By Rebecca LiebInternet News.Com

In two dramatic announcements this week, Lycos U.S. said it will shed its portal strategy to become a vast social network; the company also inked a 5-year deal with 24/7 Real Media to outsource display ad sales, ad serving and analytics for its Internet properties.

“This is totally an untapped space. We’ll enter the market already in the leadership position because of where we’ve been,” said Mark Stoever, executive vice president of Terra Lycos, U.S., of the company’s new direction.

He stressed the new business model capitalizes on the company’s experience in online publishing, dating and search. “Lycos will be the first to bring together the entire spectrum of ways people connect online,” he noted.

Lycos says the revenue potential for its new model lies in subscriptions and contextually targeted ads. Google provides contextual ads for Lycos through a deal with its parent, Terra Lycos (Quote, Chart).

The company plans to relaunch its homepage in two weeks as a “hub for personal connections.” That’s step one in a phased rollout with a corresponding national advertising campaign. Lycos search will emphasize enabling users to navigate between various professional, personal, family, business and affinity sites.

Change Happens

Chances are, the results you see in Google this week are not going to be what you see there next week. We are predicting another massive change to listings over the next week, based on our analysis of how Google is looking at incoming links and its recent behaviour patterns. If you are about to stop reading because this sounds complicated, hold on a minute. Read more…

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Thursday, February 12th, 2004

AdSense Nonsense

In today’s feature article, we alluded to a scandal brewing around Google and, like most things Google, this is a big one. Google is having problems surrounding its AdSense program. AdSense is one of the most interesting distribution methods and those problems may brew over into a fraud investigation by the Federal Trade Commission! There is a lot of information to share about this story, more than we have room for in this section. Here’s the information directly from the (US) National Anti-Spam Registry website: Read more…

Knowing where your domain name has been is very important when constructing a search engine placement campaign. Most people are pretty sure they know what they have done with their domain name but what most people don’t consider is the fact they may not be the first owners of that name. Often webmasters find themselves locked out of major search engines for no reason whatsoever. Read more…

As the Swinburne University’s astronomy department recently found out, having your site appear as a top search result is not necessarily a good thing! In fact, if you are not prepared to be number one, it can bring your server to a crashing halt when swamped by unexpected requests! Read more…

We couldn’t let this one go past without sharing it. Apparently, the Sicilian village of Canneto di Caronia has experienced three weeks that could have come from a Stephen King novel. Their cyber-appliances such as refrigerators, toasters and televisions have been mysteriously exploding, for no reason whatsoever. If the explosions were isolated incidents or had only happened in one home, there might be an explanation for the things that go boom in the night, however, twelve houses have been ravaged by fire and the entire town has been evacuated. Read more…

OK, you’ve heard this enough but just for the record. it is February 5th and Google is still broken. That said, things just keep getting worse for Google with AOL posting a log-in page where it used to display the AOL search function. This is another loss of distribution power for Google. Not sure what is happening in Mountain View these days but some folk must be feeling somewhat uncomfortable.

“Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” George Santayana (1863 – 1952)

The search engine war between Google and MSN is generating some nasty tactics reminiscent of the Microsoft vs. Netscape battle of the mid ’90’s. Those who remember that battle will recall the almost surgical methods used by Microsoft to all but destroy Netscape. Read more…

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Wednesday, February 4th, 2004

Google Legal Battle Threatens SERPs

Google is being sued by American Blind and Wallpaper Factory Inc. for trademark infringement. The case, which was originally thought to only involve AdWords bids on terms associated with American Blind and Wallpaper Factory Inc., has now grown to cover the traditional (free) results produced by Google. According to EWeek, David Rammelt of Kelley Drye & Warren LLP, the Chicago based firm representing American Blind and Wallpaper Factory Inc. said, “Our concerns are not just limited to the paid, sponsored links. We are seeing competitors listed when our trademarks are being typed verbatim.” Terms that concern Rammelt include, “American Blinds” and “American Blind”. Oddly enough, the litigant appears in the Top10 under the keyword phrase “American Blind”, just below sites dedicated to visually impaired Americans and Helen Keller.

Chances are, Google will win this suit, at least as it relates to the traditional (free) listings. The case does open a dangerous can-of-worms however as search terms and target keyword phrases may need to be rethought to avoid any trademark infringement in the future. An interesting feature of this case may be the public airing of Google’s ranking algorithms as Rammelt and his team dissects Google’s ranking methods in open court. The SEO community will likely watch this one very closely.

The success of the litigant would make search engines as we know them, sort of useless. Imagine a search tool being able to guarantee corporate rivals creating similar products could not appear under related keyword phrases if one of the corporations owned trademark rights to those keywords and phrases. A note to greedy lawyers, Just do it.

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Wednesday, February 4th, 2004

Searchers using more complex terms

Search engine users are starting to use more complex search terms, often adding two or three extra words to the traditional 2-keyword phrase. There are multiple reasons for the increasing complexity of search terms, including the continued rapid growth of the Internet and difficulties finding relevant information on the first page of many search engine results pages. Another reason could be that recent changes at Google have frustrated Google users, thus forcing them to be more descriptive in their queries. Webmasters building sites and SEOs working on sites should consider targeting 3 – 5 keyword phrases as well as 2-keyword phrases. When preparing the copy for your website, think about the various phrases searchers might look for your site and find a way to integrate these phrases in the body text of the site’s index page and important internal pages. Chances are, your site will see more visitors once it starts catering to searchers who use more than 2 words at a time.