The Search Light Newsletter
The Search Light Newsletter
  Guiding your site to the top of the search engines... 23 Feb 2003 - Vol 3 Issue #2  

In this issue...

Interview With Dakota Sullivan of LookSmart

AltaVista Snapped Up By Overture

Terra Lycos Slashes Workforce by 20 Percent

Overture Doubles Minimum Bid for Advertisers

Sponsorship Notice

MSN Extends Deal With Inktomi

The Nitty Gritty of Writing for the Search Engines

Interview With Dakota Sullivan of LookSmart

By Kalena Jordan of Web Rank Ltd

Vice President of LookSmart, Dakota Sullivan, is apparently a very busy man, judging by the amount of chasing I had to do to have him respond to my questions. Nevertheless, he finally took time out to be interviewed and I'm happy to share the results with you below.
In the interview, Mr Sullivan reveals how the Yahoo/Inktomi deal will affect LookSmart, the new features LookSmart will be introducing for Small Business Listings customers shortly and why he thinks WiseNut is a better search engine partner for the major portals than Google:
(WR) = Web Rank, (DS) = Dakota Sullivan

Question 1 (WR) - With Yahoo purchasing Inktomi, how will this affect LookSmart's search results?
(DS) LookSmart, Inktomi and Yahoo are discussing our relationship going forward. For now, it's business as usual, with LookSmart listings being distributed throughout the Inktomi network, and Inktomi providing fall through results on and on LookSmart's hosted properties.
Question 2 (WR) - A recent email from LookSmart Public Relations staff mentions "The Yahoo! deal makes LookSmart prime for partnership (or the picking!)". Are LookSmart currently looking for new business partners? Have LookSmart received any take over offers?
(DS) LookSmart already partners with more than 100 major portals, search engines and ISPs including MSN,, AltaVista, Netscape, Inktomi, InfoSpace, Cox Communications and Road Runner in the US, MSN in Japan, Australia and the UK, Lycos in Japan and Yahoo in Australia. We are continually in discussion with other portals and search engines in the US and around the world, as we expand our distribution network.

Question 3 (WR) - Following the industry backlash last year when LookSmart moved from a directory to a pay per click model, there seems to have been a large loss of search market share and customer loyalty. Does LookSmart now regret their change of business model and are there any plans to counter the market share loss?
(DS) The truth is, our customer base has grown significantly since last April. At that time, a number of businesses had paid a one-time fee to be reviewed for our search directory, yet we had no customers paying an ongoing fee. Today, we have more than 30,000 businesses renewing their accounts with us each month, and actively participating in their relationship with us.
This spring, we'll be introducing the first update to our Small Business Listings product. The update will give customers more control over their account management and performance tracking, new tools to optimize their campaigns, and reduce costs for adding listings and making changes to their listings. Here are some of the new features you can expect:
1) Simpler submission of new listings - automated checks that look for incomplete submissions or potential violations of editorial guidelines, ability to automatically upload a large number of listings for our customers who have applicable contracts (our larger clients), and greater detail around guidelines and submission requirements.
2) Flexible options for grouping listings together - Multiple listing campaigns can be grouped together within a single billing account or each listing campaign could be set up in its own account, each with its own billing. (Note that monthly budgets can already be set up for each campaign).
3) Different levels of on-line account access - Several people can be given access to the same account, but each person would have their own log in and password. Additionally, each user could be given a different level of access to the account; for example, one user would just be able to see campaign information, but not change it, while a second user had permission to view and edit campaign information. This will be highly beneficial to SEOs, agencies or other people who manage listings on behalf of clients.
4) Ability to set flight dates - ability to set a specific start date and end date for a particular listing campaign. This is especially relevant to advertisers with seasonal products or promotions. (Note that monthly budgets are already available to advertisers to help manage spending levels).
Question 4 (WR) - That same email from LookSmart Public Relations staff talks about how "LookSmart is plotting against Google". Can you explain this?
(DS) Google provides an excellent search experience, and has helped raise the bar in terms of search relevancy for the entire industry. However, Google's rapid growth has come at the expense of its partners' search franchises. Most new Google users are former Yahoo or AOL search loyalists. Our position is that the optimal search engine partner for the major portals is a company that delivers best of breed search relevancy, yet does not compete with their brand for ownership of the search user. With our purchase last year of WiseNut, a world class, next generation search engine, we're focused on meeting this need.


   Greetings Readers!

It's only February and already this year the search industry has had more plot twists than a daytime soap. Yahoo's bought Inktomi, Overture's bought AltaVista and MSN's bought time by renewing their deal with Inktomi until 2005.
All these developments have made other key players understandably nervous, especially LookSmart with their MSN deal now hanging in the balance. Our feature article this month is an article with LookSmart Vice President, Dakota Sullivan, with his take on how LookSmart plans to survive the industry shake up.
Before I go, a quick note that if you haven't already purchased our indepth report Search Engine Compatibility and the Top 100 Australian Public Company Web Sites, now's the time to do it - because for a limited time, we have dropped the price by 50 percent!
Enjoy this issue and remember to visit our daily Search Engine News Blog for the latest industry news and gossip.

Till next time - wishing you high rankings...

  • AltaVista Snapped Up By Overture
   Internet search company Overture made the shock announcement this month that it would be purchasing search portal AltaVista from CMGI Inc. for $140 million in cash and stock.
In their end of the deal, to be completed in April, Overture will pay AltaVista in common stock valued at $80 million, plus $60 million in cash and assume certain AltaVista liabilities. The deal represents a strategic move by Overture to expand their current product offerings outside the realm of pay-per-click and to start competing with rivals such as Google and Yahoo in the mainstream algorithm-based search market.

Full Story...

  • Terra Lycos Slashes Workforce by 20 Percent
  •    In a serious cost cutting measure, Spanish Internet Search firm Terra Lycos sacked more than 20 percent of its United Staff staff this month, bringing total US staff down to 500.

    The cuts were apparently necessary in light of major losses for the company, a direct result of a worldwide slump in online advertising expenditure. The across the board job losses impacted several offices nationwide, including including Waltham, Massachusetts, New York, Miami, San Francisco and California.

    Full Story...

  • Overture Doubles Minimum Bid for Advertisers
  •    Overture has doubled their minimum bid for U.S. PPC campaigns from USD 0.05 to 0.10 and advertisers are far from happy. The warning signs started flashing when Overture UK announced last month that their minimum bid was going to increase from 0.05 to 0.10 from February 6.
    Overture U.S. customers had their fears confirmed with the arrival of an email from Overture on February 8, with the USD minimum bid increase taking immediate effect. Thankfully, existing bids between 0.05 and 0.09 are being "grandfathered" at their current max bid for the foreseeable future. But if advertisers decide to change existing bid amounts or add new bids, they must comply with the new minimum.

    Full Story...

  • Sponsorship Notice
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    Hot Pyjama Productions: Creatively Working Towards a Sustainable Future.

    Graphic Design, Web Development, Print Production & Photography

  • MSN Extends Deal With Inktomi
  •   Search portal MSN surprised the industry earlier this month with the announcement they had renewed their deal with Inktomi through to December 2005.

    The non-exclusive deal sees Inktomi continue to provide secondary search results to MSN, who also uses LookSmart paid search listings as part of their search results. Following Yahoo's recent decision to purchase Inktomi in April, speculation was rife that MSN would dump Inktomi due to competitive concerns about their largest rival. The deal extension has ended such speculation for now, although things may change after the Yahoo / Inktomi deal becomes official in April.

    Full Story...

  • The Nitty Gritty of Writing for the Search Engines
  •   Anybody who subscribes to Jill Whalen's excellent SEO Newsletter High Rankings Advisor will know that she launched her new e-book The Nitty-Gritty of Writing for the Search Engines last week. What you may not know, if you haven't already bought it, is how fantastic it is!
    Nitty-Gritty spells it all out for you: where to place your keyword phrases, how to use real text, how to make your copy make sense to your readers and things to avoid, all with crystal clear, practical, step-by-step examples. I highly recommend Nitty-Gritty to any webmaster seeking advice on how to edit their site copy or improve the search engine compatibility of their web site.

    Click here for a full text/print version of this newsletter...

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