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February 26, 2003

Overture has bought the AltaVista & Fast search engines

Pay-per-click text ad provider Overture has bought the AltaVista and Fast Web search engines. So what is a competitor like Espotting to do?

This is like a game of chess. The players are trying to predict what the opponents are thinking in order to stay one step ahead of them, and if they fail, make a new move to limit the damages. The preferred tactic now seems to be to combine the role of search results provider and pay-per-click text ad distributor. This is what Google is doing and this is what Overture has achieved by taking over the AltaVista search engine.

One likely explanation for Overture's acquisition of Fast's Internet business unit (see separate story) could have been to stop others from doing the same. Overture does not really need two search engines (AltaVista and Fast), but the company has stopped the European pay-per-click service Espotting from buying one or the other.

Now it is Espotting's move. In a press release Jonathan Bunis, Espotting Media's COO, points out that by having its own search portals (AltaVista and Fast's AlltheWeb) Overture is directly competing with its own customers (i.e. the sites presenting Overture text ads). Espotting points out that their company is now the only "truly independent pay-per-click player in Europe." This opens up opportunities with new affiliate partnerships.

Espotting claims they have already received calls from companies who are fearful about continuing their working relationship with Overture, meaning that there are European search sites and portals out there that are considering switching from Overture to someone else. What can Overture do about this? Well, they can point out that their deals with Fast and AltaVista really do not matter that much. After all Google is doing the same, having their own search site and at the same time delivering search results and text ads to others.

Overture can also argue that their combined package of pay-per-click text ads and search results is a cost efficient alternative. And there is still competition. After all, the search portals can switch over to Google. There is no monopoly. Overture may also choose another tactic. They can point out that AlltheWeb has always been a showcase search site, never a true competitor to other portals. By marketing AltaVista as an experimental site, they can also downplay the threat of that old timer. AltaVista does not generate that much traffic anyway.

Espotting's main concern can be found in an addition to the company press release. Read the following paragraph carefully: "Espotting celebrates its 3rd birthday on 28th February. We now operate in 10 European countries, delivering targeted leads to over 14,000 advertisers by powering 700million searches a month through our partnerships with site such as Yahoo! Europe, Lycos and Ask Jeeves. Our relationships with FAST and AltaVista are ongoing across Europe." "Our relationships with FAST and AltaVista are ongoing". Well, what if they are not? What if Overture decides that Fast and AltaVista search results shall be combined with Overture text ads only? Then the only viable alternative to Overture becomes Google, and Espotting is left out in the cold.

Source: espotting.com

Posted by karan at 01:20 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 18, 2003

Search engine company Fast powers Dell

We do not normally cover site search -- as opposed to Web search -- technology, but it is probably wise to keep in mind that several search engine companies have tried to combine the two in order to get a steady income.

It certainly makes sense to make use of search engine core competences in both areas. However, Inktomi failed in doing so. The company sold of its site search business and ended up as a branch of Yahoo!

The search engine company Fast on the other hand is slowly building a reputation as one of the leading site search technology providers. The company's latest catch is the Dell.com site. Having one of the leading computer manufacturer as a Fast Data Search customer definitely won't hurt.

Source: Pandia

Posted by karan at 01:21 AM | Comments (1)

February 16, 2003

Google expands into Blogging

The world is certainly changing. A few years ago the headline above would make no sense at all.

Google is suddenly expanding into the world beyond search engines and searching. The company has bought Pyra, a company known for its blogging software. Blogging -- or more correctly Web logging -- has become an increasingly important feature on the Internet. Thousands of enthusiasts have established Web logs where they inform their readers about their of interest. Web logs are known for their personal style, and functions as gateways to the rest of the Web.

Pyra's business blogging software -- called, Blogger -- has more than 1.1 million registered users, out of which 200.000 runs active blogs. Does it make any sense for Google to do this? Blogger is getting a little long in the tooth, and many users are abandoning the service for more efficient ones. The blogs are becoming an increasingly important factor in Google's search engine algorithm (blogs are often up to date, newsworthy sites), but that doesn't mean that you have to buy them or their technology in order to deliver high quality search results.

Diversification? Maybe, but the strength of Google has been the company's strong focus on what it knows best: searching. The competitor AOL is reportedly introducing blogging as a new service, but in spite of the fact that AOL is a search portal as well, Google cannot easily be compared to that huge Internet service provider.

Still, Google has been adding a lot of new features recently, Google News and Froogle comes to mind. So it could be that Google is actually trying to become a full-fledged portal. That can explain why Yahoo! bought Inktomi. Google is looking more like a competitor than a friendly ally.

Source: Silicon Valley.com

Posted by karan at 01:23 AM | Comments (1)

February 12, 2003

AltaVista has launched an expanded version of its index

AltaVista Company, a leading global provider of search services and a majority-owned operating company of CMGI has launched an expanded version of its multimedia index, with over 240 million unique media files, including images, video clips, MP3 and other audio files.

PALO ALTO, Calif. - In addition, the company has added new search parameters to its popular News search, enabling visitors to better pinpoint articles of interest to them. The enhanced index and new features represent the company's continuing commitment to the advancement of search technology and the delivery of the most comprehensive multimedia and news search capabilities on the Internet.

"We have seen increasing interest in multimedia and news search capabilities, and have enhanced our multimedia index to meet this growing demand. Today's announcement represents another milestone in our plan to further integrate multimedia with our core results, and to provide the most robust multimedia and news resources on the Web," said Fred Bullock, Chief Marketing Officer of AltaVista Company. "Our expanded multimedia index positions us to go well beyond the traditional boundaries of Web-page search by incorporating richer media options. The new options in our News search further extend our leadership position in this area, as we execute on our long term plan to provide the most comprehensive search experience on the Web."

AltaVista's enhanced multimedia index boasts larger images and more .jpeg files as well as expanded worldwide coverage, with access to more international image files. In addition, the company has applied a new proprietary relevance algorithm for delivering even more targeted, relevant results to users' searches. Advanced filtering enhancements enable the company to deliver higher quality images and screen out `noise' images such as buttons and spacer. gifs used in HTML construction.

To read this Alta Vista press release in it's entirety,
please click here.

Source: Alta Vista Corp.

Posted by karan at 01:23 AM | Comments (1)

February 06, 2003

Search company Terra Lycos cuts over 20% of staff

Terra Lycos, the owner of the web portal Lycos.com has been reported to have cut the jobs for more than 20% of its organization's staffing here in the United States.

According to a Reuters news report published yesterday, Terra Lycos continues to seek ways to reduce costs. While 147 employees of Terra Lycos will now be without jobs, there are more immediate concerns for those involved within the search engine optimization industry.

The head of US operations, Mark Stover, has made it clear that his focus is on the core assets of Lycos.com. The question remains though, is providing search results for the network of Terra Lycos owned sites considered a core asset?

As we have highlighted in the past Lycos.com first came online in 1994. In 2000, Terra Lycos was formed when Lycos.com was bought up by the Spanish giant, Terra Networks.

With staff cuts evident throughout the US, combined with a low percentage of search referrals for searches in the English language, how should you see Terra Lycos and Lycos.com search engine optimization?

There is no doubt that the time spent on engine-specific optimization is more rewarded when focus is presented on search giants like Google and Inktomi, but do not discard Lycos.com just yet. As we have seen in the past, search portals that downsize and change their business models are often rewarded for their efforts.

Lets hope that in the mind of Mark Stover and others managing Terra Lycos' future in the United States, search does prove to be a valid core business. It would be a shame to lose an engine with true followers for the past 8 years.

Source: Reuters

Posted by karan at 01:26 AM | Comments (0)