free html hit counter January 2004 - Page 2 of 12 - John Battelle's Search Blog

Update: American Blind Files Suit

By - January 29, 2004

Trademark issue is heating up again, CNET reports…in essence, American Blind is not waiting for resolution on Google’s earlier request to the courts, and is suing Google, AOL and Netscape for trademark infringement.

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(via IP) I am constantly amazed by the business models made possible through the Internet. is an anti-plagiarisim site – the student’s work is submitted to the site, the site then makes a “digital fingerprint” of the work and compares it to thousands of others. It feels eerie and somehow wrong, and a student at McGill University agreed. CNN reports he won a university review case regarding the use of the system.

Is this a search-related story? I think so. has to search the web for papers, apply their algorithm, then compare submitted papers against their database. Newly submitted papers add even more to the database. Given the site has contracts with 3000 universities, this database must be massive. Trusting’s algorithms to determine what is “unique” without some level of review and transparency strikes me as insane. In my own classes, i’d never force my students to use such a system. But then, perhaps it would have helped the NYT in the Blair case….

Corporate Reputation Management Engine

By - January 28, 2004

So perfect is this, that I must simply quote from the release, and let it speak for itself. SEO has come to PR!

Converseon Launches First-of-Its-Kind Search Engine Reputation Management Service


“SERMA(C)” Combines Innovative Content Management Techniques Together with Sophisticated Optimization Skills To Help Companies Better Manage Their Reputations and Brand Online
Converseon, a leading digital communications agency, today announced the global launch of the industry’s first search engine reputation management service (SERMA) designed specifically to help companies manage their corporate reputations in search engines. SERMA was created in response to the increasingly important role search engines have in determining a company’s reputation.

“Search engines have become the primary resource for journalists and other constituents to gather information on a specific company,” says Robert Key, President & CEO of Converseon. “Yet, while many companies may pay close attention to how the traditional media portrays them, most companies are completely unaware of what information is appearing when search engine users type in a company’s name.” He points to examples like McDonald’s and Nike, where users typing in the companies’ names on Google are exposed to highly negative information, including, a “protest site,” and the “Boycott Nike Homepage.”

Current Column (Finally!): Why Blogs Mean Business

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I wrote this in November, about two months into my NetNewsWireLite conversion, so if it feels dated, well….there you have it. But I think the meme still has traction.

Why Blogs Mean Business
Today they’re lousy media experiences for mere mortals. But that’s about to change—and so is the way you gather information for your work..

By John Battelle, January/February 2004 Issue

The buzz on weblogs is becoming unbearable. Not because I think they don’t merit the attention—they do. But the mainstream discussion on the subject misses the point. Nearly everything you read says either that blogs are ill-defined harbingers of a long-foretold Internet media revolution or that they’re irrelevant, the ephemeral scribble of teenage girls.

Folks have forgotten that blogs work because people have something to say and others find what they say valuable. Our business culture works the same way—it runs on the currency of influence, authority, and relationships. People who have strong and well-informed opinions command respect and become influencers; they win deals, drive decisions, and ultimately determine the fate of companies. The thirst for high-end business information—the kind that makes people feel like influencers—has created a $15 billion professional publishing market in the United States alone.

So here’s my prediction: Blogs will soon become a staple in the information diet of every serious businessperson, not because it’s cool to read them, but because those who don’t read them will fail. In short, blogs offer an accelerated and efficient approach to acquiring and understanding the kind of information all of us need to make business decisions.
For example, Robert Scoble, a Microsoft marketer, maintains a blog where he comments on just about everything, including his views on Microsoft’s role in the industry. You can bet his views are studied by the folks who make decisions over at AOL, Google, and Yahoo—and in Redmond.
(more via link below)

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Interesting Twist: Google and WhoIs LookUps

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logo-netsol.gifAndy Beal points out in his blog that Google has been blocked from performing Whois lookups by Network Solutions. The “Whois” feature (which lets you find out who owns a web domain) was one of many added recently by Google in its continued quest to “make the world’s information accessible.” Alex S. at BizWeek pointed out in a piece blogged here that there’s a business model behind this intent (I’ll take disintermediation for $500, thank you very much). We had a back and forth about it in the comments as well.

In any case, it’s significant that Network Solutions is pushing back. Andy, who writes in large part to the SEO community, comments:

There’s some hypocrisy here. Google publicly chastises anyone who run ranking reports on the Google Index, claiming that it is a drain of their server resources. Yet they seem quite happy to launch a service that has the same impact on Network Solutions…

As I think Andy implies, I’m not sure this has anything to do with drains on servers and bandwidth. I think it has a lot more to do with who owns the customer. Network Solutions knows Whois is a major draw for customers, they use that draw to convert Whois lookups into paying domain registrants. In this particular case, the argument that Google was, in effect, stealing their customers at the point of conversion holds some water. If I do a Whois lookup on Google and see a bunch of ads for registrars that are not Network Solutions, well…..that ain’t good for Network Solutions. And if I’m Google, and thinking about doing registration at some point (like Yahoo does now)….well, having this feature didn’t hurt. Network Solutions had to do something.

I wonder if others – airlines, UPS, etc. – will follow suit.

Amazon: Walmart of the Web Once More

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logo-no-border(1).gifRemember when everyone was calling Amazon the Walmart of the Web? That was so 1990s. But…after reading Marketing Wonk’s interesting take on this article in Internet News, Walmart certainly came to mind, and not because they both sell a lot of shit. The commentary:

It might have taken warehouse store price pressure 300 years to develop and begin to put out of business Main Street bricks and mortar stores, but on the Internet, Jeff Bezos hopes the process will take merely a few years. In comments to financial analysts, CEO Bezos said the corporate strategy will remain to lower prices – even at the expense of gross margins – in order to gain share, prevent competition and create more power to put pressure on suppliers.

NYTD Earnings: Lessons Learned

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nytlogoleft_article.gifBack in the day, everyone was going to spin out and go public, even the digital unit of the New York Times. Then the crash came. The press (that which even bothered to cover the sector, or was left standing) beat everyone about the head in a fit of schadenfreudian pique, and the game was called over.

Well, game’s on again. I’ve said this many times, and I will keep saying it. What happened in the late 90s was a warm up, and the main event is upon us. I hope we’re not headed back to the mania of that period, but certainly many – if not most – of the bets of that era are proving prescient, if not financially rewarding in the short term.

Case in point: The New York Times’ earnings, announced yesterday. In essence, the NYT’s digital business (NYTD), run for years (including the late 90s) by the remarkably adaptable Martin Nisenholtz, is the story of the day. The NYTD is now on an earnings run rate of $30 million a year, and it’s only going up. Were it not for the NYTD’s earnings doubling this past quarter, the entire NY Times Corp’s earnings would have stalled compared to last year. I am sure shareholders are quite pleased with Martin, and he deserves the credit. I’ve no idea if NYT execs wish they could have spun NYTD out, but I am quite sure they are pleased they stuck with it after the crash. They are only beginning to reap the rewards of that foresight. (Not many publishers had it.)

PS – The Times has Google to thank in part for these stellar results…. NYTD is one of Google’s premier AdWords clients.