Well here we are already at the end of 2004! I don’t know about you but this year has just flown by for me. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that we have been so busy at SearchRank. Time flies when you are having fun! Therefore I thought it would be neat to write a nice little recap of many of the events that have transpired this year in the world of search.
I also am delighted to have Ian McAnerin with us again as he continues on the subject of “Copyright and SEO”. This time he will discuss content theft. This occurs when someone steals your content or graphics, sometimes even your entire web site. This happens to us on a regular basis. I have a person on staff that makes it a regular practice to find content that has been stolen from our site including articles, sales verbiage, etc. Right now we are battling with an ISP to get a copy of an older version of our site removed from some other “business” that stole it and put their name in place of ours. Nothing burns me more than a person who will steal something someone else invested their time, their thought, their creativity into. Ian will help us to understand how we can avoid content theft and what to do if it happens to us.
In this issue…
- THE WORLD OF SEARCH IN 2004
- FEATURE ARTICLE – COPYRIGHT LAW & SEO, PART II
- SEARCH ENGINE HEADLINES
- CLOSING COMMENTS
THE WORLD OF SEARCH IN 2004
A lot of exciting events took place this year in the world of search. Since the search engine first made its appearance back in the early nineties, each year has been pretty exciting when it comes to news and events. However I think this year takes the cake for excitement and innovation. 2004 is definitely the year of the Search Engine Wars with the big three (Google, Yahoo and MSN) battling it out for dominance. Google remains on top but the other two are biting at their heels.
One of the biggest things to happen this year is the fact that we started out with Google as a private company and end the year with them as a public company. The long anticipated Google IPO finally took place on August 19th opening at $85 a share, well below the company’s original range of $108 to $135 but by the end of the day rising to a little over a $100 a share. Google and selling shareholders raised $1.66 billion by floating out 19.6 million shares. It was indeed a lengthy IPO process for Google, which filed its registration statement in late April and had to overcome many hurdles along the way but they are now a public company with revenues to compete against their two biggest rivals.
Yahoo’s New Search Engine
Another big development occurred when Yahoo released their own search engine in February, dumping long time search partner Google. The new Yahoo search engine is a combination of new and old technology as a result of the acquisitions of Inktomi, All The Web and Alta Vista. This along with Yahoo’s acquisition of pay per click giant Overture now makes them a powerful search portal that can compete against Google. Is their search engine any good? I think it is. Their algorithm seems to reward good on the page search engine optimization and they have also taken a very active role in keeping the results relevant and spam free.
The Death of Pay For Inclusion?
The year 2004 brought about the death of the “pay for inclusion” model… well almost. Pay for inclusion is where you “pay to be included” in a search index. It seems like all the search services were adding them with the exception of Google who has always vowed to keep their index free on any monetary influence. All The Web, Alta Vista and Inktomi had a PFI model which then ceased to exist when Yahoo acquired these services and combined them into their own PFI program. While the Yahoo search engine was widely received, their PFI model brought about mixed reactions and in my opinion has not been too successful to date. They have even tossed around the idea of discontinuing it. Besides that, Ask Jeeves had a PFI program but laid it rest in September. So the only PFI model that is left is Yahoo’s and it is struggling at best. This is a good thing in my eyes because it gives us back the free editorial search results which are not influenced by the almighty dollar.
Then there is local search. Both Google and Yahoo released local search technology which allows searchers to narrow their queries to geographical data such as a specific state or city, metropolitan area and even zip codes. I think they still have a ways to go before it is finely tuned but no doubt they will eventually get there. Later in the year, Ask Jeeves followed suit and released their own version of local search.
What about email? Does email have anything to do with the search engine industry? It might not have in the past but Google changed that when it launched its GMail service this year. GMail is a free web-based email service that allows people to search their email as easily as they search the web — as well as provide Google with a more permanent connection to its users. It also provides yet another avenue for Google to distribute their very profitable AdWords listings. The service allows users to store up to 1 GB of mail. Yes that’s right – 1 gigabyte or 1000 megabytes. Wow! That’s lot of space.
Trademark Law and Search Engines
Another interesting development that is still ongoing this year is the issue of trademark law in PPC advertising. In August, insurance giant Geico received the go ahead to sue both Google and Overture for allowing advertisers to use of their name to trigger search-related advertisements. Geico claims this to be an act of trademark infringement, unfair competition and dilution of its marks under the Lanham Act. Many people are watching this law suit closely because it will set the precedent to how trademarks are treated in pay per click advertising programs. Google has held a pretty lax policy of protecting the registered trademarks of companies. If Geico wins this lawsuit, that could all change. I for one am for the protection of trademarks having myself been involved in a dispute with Google earlier this year over their allowing our competitors to use our trademarked name to trigger PPC ads. Their response was that they do not honor US and Canadian registered trademarks. Hopefully that will change with this lawsuit.
Then there is the long awaited anticipation of desktop search. This is where you can utilize the search technology of a search engine such as Yahoo or Google to search the contents of your computer. Most of the major search providers have develop desktop searching tools this year including Google, Yahoo, A-9 (Amazon.com’s search engine) and Ask Jeeves. They all have their individual strengths and weaknesses. I think the basic idea with desktop search is to gain and retain users. The Google toolbar has been so effective in this endeavor and desktop search utilities will no doubt do the same. I, myself have yet to try any of them because I pretty much know where everything is on my computer and have no need to search it. However, if you are like some other people I know, your computer is an un-organized mess. Besides documents and files, you have trouble simply finding shortcuts to your programs. Desktop search might be the answer to searching the “clutter” on your computer.
The Tip of the Iceberg!
These are just some of the major things that occurred in 2004. I could go on and on. So many acquisitions occurred. New search engines, meta search engines, directories and PPC providers came on the scene. A lot of changes occurred with the smaller search service providers. There were also the usual share of scandals and negative things that occurred as well.
What Does 2005 Hold?
As the search engine war wages on, 2005 is sure to be an even more exciting year. We will see MSN come fully online with their own search engine, adding to the competition that search giant Google is already facing with Yahoo.
We will continue to see search engines battling for space in our everyday lives – our email, our computers, even our cell phones. Can television be next? How about our automobiles?
I think we will see major improvements in local search as well as more advertisers switching towards local search marketing campaigns and strategies.
We will see new acquisitions and buy-outs as search service providers look to enhance their offerings as well as consolidate the industry.
I also think we will see the search engine marketing industry mature. This includes companies that offer these services and the consumers that buy them. As consumers become more educated about search engine marketing, fly by night companies that either spam the search engines or offer cheesy “submit your site to 5 million search engines” types of services will fall by the wayside. Along with this, I think companies that make their living off of selling links to increase one’s Google PageRank will suffer as Google has already been employing methods to combat anyone who tries to “artificially” influence the PageRank portion of their algorithm. The fact alone that Google no longer updates it backlinks and PR indicator on a regular basis is already having a negative affect on these types of businesses.
Which search engine will be on top at the end of 2005? My best guess is Google but I feel they will have less of a share at the end of next year than they do now. We will see.
Finally I think people will continue to learn how to search smarter, using localized search or using combinations of keywords to nail down specifically what they are looking for.
FEATURE ARTICLE – COPYRIGHT LAW & SEO
Today’s feature article is part II of last month’s article dealing with copyright law and SEO and is contributed by Ian McAnerin. In part I, Ian discussed what copyright law is and how to go abut copyrighting your work. In part II, Ian will talk about content theft, how to avoid it and what to do if it happens to you.
Copyright Law and SEO, Part II by Ian McAnerin
What protection do you or your client have in the face of content theft? What can you do to prevent it, and what remedies are available? In the previous copyright article, I described what copyright is and how it applies to SEO, and why it’s a very good idea to protect your content rights. But what do you do when someone ignores your carefully crafted copyright notice and steals your stuff anyway?
This is where life gets interesting — enforcing your copyright can be a scary issue. One of the questions I hear most often is “What happens if it costs more to sue than you might win?” Or worse – “What happens if you sue and lose?”
Let me preface the rest of this article by saying that what is or isn’t open to a successful lawsuit can vary depending on the circumstances, and you should always have a lawyer look at the actual content involved before going anywhere near a courtroom. There is an old legal maxim that says “A man who is his own lawyer has a fool for a client.”
Having said that, there are 2 venues to enforce your copyrights as an SEO, Webmaster, or content creator: the courts, and the search engines. Yes, that’s right, the search engines. All the major search engines will support a copyright holder against an infringer, and there is nothing like the sense of satisfaction you can get when the infringer is told to stop stealing your content or they will no longer be in the Google or Yahoo databases because of it. Frankly, I think it’s more effective than clogging the courts.
With both tactics, the first step is the same. If you or the infringer are in the US, get your copyright legally registered: www.copyright.gov. You forgot to register? That’s okay – you can register up to 5 years after you create the content. You are in a much better position if you registered before the infringement, but in order to show up in a court you need some sort of paperwork saying you have a copyright. It’s cheap – only $30. Note that this is not strictly required for the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), but I strongly advise getting it anyway.
I suggest registering your whole site at least once per year, and after every major revision. The chances are that even if you are constantly editing your site, the infringer will steal something that hasn’t changed, and then you are protected as best as you can be.
For non-US companies and citizens, the registration of a copyright in the US is almost always supported by your country under the Berne Convention. Since most jurisdictions don’t have special advantages to registration like the US does, I recommend registering in the US in order to be able to sue in a US court, since you will get the right to sue in your local jurisdiction automatically in most cases anyway.
Once you have this you can go to the search engine(s) that the infringer is showing up in and fill out their DMCA notification. You will be asked for contact information, a statement saying that you own the copyright in question, a description of what search results are showing the infringing content, and a few other things. You then fax it off (or mail it) to the search engine as per their instructions. I would always send a copy of your registered copyright, as well.
The search engine will send off notification to the domain owner in question. There’s nothing scarier for most people than getting this email from the Google legal department. If they don’t respond or can’t provide evidence to the contrary, they’ll get yanked from the search engine results pages (SERPs).
The DMCA has other uses too. You can give notification to the offending website’s host and request that the site be removed, and you can show it to directories (especially DMOZ) and they will usually remove the offending site. There are endless possibilities that don’t require a courtroom.
If you can prove that you lost money due to the infringement, or if it was a particularly vile and obnoxious infringement, you can also go to court. This is where spending that $30 for registration comes into play. You cannot show up without it. If you were smart and had registered the copyright before the infringement happened, you can even get statutory damages without needing to prove a specific loss, which is very handy because it’s hard to measure in most cases. I would strongly recommend obtaining an intellectual property lawyer at this
point, as well.
Search Engines to Report Copyright Infringements To
MSN – Microsoft:
Ian McAnerin is the founder of McAnerin Networks Inc, an SEO/SEM company specializing in cross-border internet promotion. A former lawyer with an undergraduate degree in cultural anthropology, he has lived and worked in Canada and the US, and has significant experience in international business and marketing. McAnerin Networks Inc has offices in Las Vegas and Calgary.
SEARCH ENGINE HEADLINES
Here are some of the latest headlines related to the search engine industry.
Will Google Ban Affiliate Bidding?
Google has some tough politics to juggle at this juncture. The “affiliate folks” who are being asked to stop choking AdWords with dictionaries full of words are also the same “folks” that help Google generate so much revenue.
Microsoft Unveils its New Search Engine – At Last
After months of speculation and two ‘preview’ releases, Microsoft has taken the wraps off of its new MSN search engine, the first major competitor to join the big leagues of web search in nearly a year.
Mozilla Firefox: The Searcher’s Browser
Looking for an alternative to Internet Explorer that addresses IE’s notorious security flaws and has killer search capabilities to boot? Look no farther: Firefox is truly a searcher’s
Exalead – New Advanced Search Engine Joins the Party
A new European search engine has appeared, and it may ultimately become a major world player. Welcome Exalead, everybody!
I hope you have enjoyed this month’s newsletter. We all know how busy the December month can be. I find myself pressed for time, all the while trying not to get caught up in the commercialism of the holiday. I am behind on putting up our holiday decorations. I have not done any shopping yet. One thing our family has decided is to keep things simple this year. Part of that involves us adopting a few families from our church through an Angel Tree type of program. To see our children pick the Angel cards from the tree is very exciting. It’s a great opportunity to give and to share with our children the true reason for the season. For me, just being with loved ones is enough and of course enjoying a great dinner. We will then enter the New Years with a traditional southwest flare – Tamale Party
With that in closing we here at SearchRank along with our families wish you a safe and happy Holiday. See you next year!