Find Out Who Has Surpassed Google in Size

Fast, the Norwegian based company that powers AllTheWeb and Lycos, announced that they have now indexed a record setting 2.1 billion pages across the Web. This number, if accurate, would edge out Google’s claim of 2,073,418,204 pages indexed as of this writing. Up until now, no one has been able to challenge Google in terms of index size.

Although that gives Fast a bit of a lead, it may not be one that is likely to last long. I’ve heard reports that Google has been spidering the Web at a brisker pace lately. Web sites with higher link popularities and Google “PageRank” are indexed weekly and sometimes daily. Less popular sites may still have to wait 30 days though, with indexing most often taking place during the last week of the month.

Even though Google may be trying to improve the “freshness” of its content, Fast claims to have the edge on Google in this department as well. According to the Fast press release, they complete a “full refresh cycle” every 7-11 days. Fast took away another Google exclusive recently by supporting the indexing of PDF files last May.

It’s thought that the timing of Fast’s announcement is no coincidence with Fast and Google competing for Yahoo’s favor regarding who will serve Yahoo’s non-directory “Web Page results” in the future. Google’s contract with Yahoo is thought to be expiring soon.

For more information, check out the full Fast Press Release

Are You Losing Visibility by Duplicating Titles?

I can’t stress enough the importance of title tags to the ranking of your Web pages. Few other elements on your page will influence your rankings like the title tag. Therefore, I’d like to provide a couple of tips regarding titles that I did not mention in last month’s article.

Tip #1: Avoid Duplications. Sometimes taking simple steps can make a noticeable difference in the visibility of your Web site. For example, one common mistake is to get in a hurry in building your site. You work hard to create that initial layout for your home page. You’re excited to get the site built, so you start copying your new layout to all the other pages of your site that you have planned. You create product information pages, a contact page, order pages, and so forth.

However, did you remember to go back and double-check each new page to make sure you did not forget to change the title tag? It’s easy to focus on writing the unique content for the rest of the page and forget to change the title tag from what it said on your previous page.

Furthermore, did you make each meta keyword and description tag unique? Although duplicating titles and meta tags across multiple pages on your site will not get you in trouble for spamming, it does reduce your potential visibility. Most likely there are dozens of potential keywords and phrases that people might search on to find you. You should use as many of them as you can. A good way to start is to double check that your page titles and meta tags are unique and have been properly optimized for each page.

Tip #2: Regionalize Your Title. If your business primarily seeks local or regional business, include your city, state, or region in your title. Even if you offer services to anyone in the world, such as wedding reception locations in new jersey, you’d be wise to still regionalize one or more of your page titles. Include the name of your city, state or province, and country in the title.

Many people prefer to do business with someone in their hometown. Therefore, they may search for something like “San Diego Web site design service” rather than just “Web site design service.” If the only place you mention that you’re based in San Diego is on your contact page, then a search engine is not likely to match that up with the major keywords that appear on the other pages of your site.

Despite a desire by search engines to look for “themes” in a Web site, rankings are still assigned primarily based on the content and incoming links for each individual page.

Paid Ad Disclosure Recommended by FTC

Last year Ralph Nader’s consumer watchdog group filed suit against many of the search engines regarding deceptive advertising practices. The complaint was that many search engines fail to clearly label search results that were paid for by an advertiser versus those that were not. For example, some engines call the pay-per-click ads near the top of the search results “Featured Listings” rather than something more clear such as “Paid Listings” or “Sponsored Listings.”

After a year, the case has finally made its way through the system. The verdict? The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has sent a letter of “recommendation” to the major search engines to more clearly label and explain which search results are paid and which are not. The letter gives suggestions for accomplishing this, but it does not mandate any specific action be taken.

The FTC also stopped short of recommending that any fines be levied against the engines, or to cite any laws as being broken. However, the FTC did say “We wanted to raise a concern that we hope they will take seriously. What we saw across the search engines were some pretty clear disclosures and some that weren’t.”

Further Shockwaves at LookSmart: Directors and CEO Resign

After LookSmart’s controversial and widely criticized switch to a pay-per-click pricing model, more bad news has fallen upon the beleaguered engine. Most notably, Evan Thornley has announced plans to step down as LookSmart’s CEO on October 1st.

In addition to the CEO’s resignation, “irreconcilable differences” on the company’s board, according to Thornley, has lead to the resignation of three LookSmart board members effective immediately. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Thornley said the board had been divided over both the company strategy and his refusal to step down as chairman after his October 1st resignation as CEO. Not surprisingly, LookSmart’s stock took a tumble after the June 25th announcement to $1.58 a share, a stark contrast to its high of $72 a share in March 2000.

The one thing that keeps LookSmart afloat is its agreement with MSN, arguably the most popular search site on the Web, alongside Yahoo. There’s little doubt in my mind that Microsoft must be re-thinking its relationship in regard to LookSmart right now. LookSmart’s reputation was damaged during their unpopular move to a PPC pricing model a few months ago. The resignation of key members of their senior staff will not help, nor will its potential financial problems resulting from its stock price drop.

In addition, if Microsoft wants to comply with the FTC’s recent recommendations (still a big IF), they will need to either drop LookSmart, or start labeling their LookSmart listings more clearly. Right now LookSmart results are labeled as “Web Directory Sites.” LookSmart’s new pricing model and how that affects relevancy may be rather difficult to properly disclose to the average consumer in a handful of words.

If the public begins to perceive MSN as an engine that is weighed too heavily toward commercial listings, Microsoft risks a backlash in terms of search credibility. The question is whether Microsoft will regard this credibility threat as being more important than the revenues it receives from LookSmart.

“Exodus follows major shakeup of LookSmart leadership”
San Francisco Chronicle, June 25, 2002

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Last Month:

Last month we talked about several important topics including:

  • MarketPosition Makeover
  • Where Does Each Engine Obtain Its Results?
  • Increase your Click-Throughs With Killer Title Tags
  • Learn Why Some Sites Were Dropped From Google Recently
  • Lawsuit Filed Against LookSmart Seeks Class-Action Status

If you missed these or other key discussions, you can find the back issues at:

Other Resources:

FirstPlace Software, Inc. produces several products, including WebPosition, the first software program to report your search positions on the major search engines and to help you improve those positions.


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