Tuesday, January 1, 2002


=======March 18, 2002===========
Subject: Portal Partner Press 3-18-02

Date: Monday, March 18, 2002 10:25 AM 

From: bobking

The Portal Partner Press is sent each week for the education and entertainment of the people who own and operate a SearchKing hosted portal. It is intended to help you learn to better operate, maintain and market your own portal. Anytime you have a question about any item in an issue of the PPP, please visit our forums at and feel free to ask any questions or post any comments about your portal, about SearchKing or about internet marketing in general.

Why Would Looksmart Want To Buy WiseNut?
This PPP Brought To You By The New SearchKing Mailman Program
I actually have no idea of why Looksmart would want to buy anyone for any reason. In spite of the fact that I have asked them very nicely for inside information about their business several times over the years, they seem to have chosen to completely ignore me. Like I don't even exist. Rather rude I think. Anyway.
There was a post made in our SearchKing forums, (nice catch there Brad - thanks), alerting us all to a link on Wisenut's (, front page letting the world know that Looksmart intended to acquire Wisenut for approx. $9 million dollars US, (not real money like a check or some cash, but in stock, is that like real money?).
For those who actually have a life and don't keep up with all this search engine wars nonsense, Wisenut was touted as the first real threat to Google's complete and utter dominance over the world of search engines. They had the academic clout, they had the hardware, the seemed to have the financing, they even had their own "white paper", (I just GOT to write one of those things one of these days!). Several of the SEO, (search engine optimizers), industry's best and brightest were singing the praises of Wisenut months before they even officially opened.
Wisenut finally started accepting submissions, (which meant officially opened at least in my book), about 6 months ago. In that time, I could count on one finger the number of hits the engine has sent to me in spite of the fact that my site is ranked #4 under a reasonably competitive keyword. So, after 6 months or so, not much of a threat to Google but still worth over 9 million I guess.
Looksmart on the other hand has one thing even Google doesn't have. MSN
Looksmart provides results to MSN along with several other less notable partners. Preferred results as a matter of fact, and that allows them to charge a considerable fee for just considering including your site into their directory. MSN feels that since Looksmart is a respected directory with human editors, (who have their jobs at stake), determining the quality of sites, that they can consider Looksmart results more valuable than their other providers, who at this time are Inktomi and Direct Hit. I'd have to agree with that one because Inktomi is only a few steps a way from being able to advertise, "pay us $30 a page to enter our spam race", and Direct Hit is notorious for updating once or twice a year whether it needs to or not.
I doubt many would see the value in paying a Looksmart editor $300 to "look" at their site, were it not for the high likelihood, or at least implication, that the site would pop up in the top of MSN searches at some point in the future thereby establishing value for their investment. Why? Because Looksmart as a search engine isn't a very good resource. They don't get a lot of searches at that site, comparatively speaking of course. They damn sure get a whole lot more than SearchKing, just not many compared to say, MSN, so you wouldn't be paying Looksmart for their own searches but more for the hope of MSN searches. Trust me, I've paid Looksmart well over $30,000 in the last two years and it wasn't so I had a chance of coming up on Looksmart, it was so I had a chance of coming up in the top of their "partner" engines.
Ok, so if the value of Looksmart is in their partnerships and they already have those, why pay out some 9 million bucks. Will that get more partners? How does that increase their income?
Well, like I said at the beginning of this little oration, I actually have no idea of why Looksmart would do anything, but I do have a couple of educated guesses.
Guess number one is that it's just getting to be a trendy kind of thing to do. With Ask Jeeves recently buying Teoma, (another "hot" newcomer thought to be the next Google rival that got bought before ever really even opening up for business), maybe this is just the valley's way of keeping up with the Jones's. Any directory that was able to survive the fall-out of the '99-'00 dot com disaster now needs a spidering engine AND a directory parked in it's driveway to impress the neighbors. Not just any old established spidering engine tough, it's got to be a bold, new vision, unproved spidering engine. Excite is just an old clunker, barely worth throwing up an Overture pay-per-click just to get a few bucks off the dying traffic numbers, but Teoma or Wisenut, those are sleek, new, nobody knows if they actually work or have any value at all kind of engines. Similar to parking a Ferrari in your driveway that you paid twice what you should have and will be lucky to get one third of what you paid for it out of it should you try to sell it next year.
My second guess, which actually makes a little more sense, in at least a financial perspective, is that directories suck. Of course that is not to say that spidering engines don't suck. They both suck and that is why spidering engines AND a directory makes a good marriage. Suck may be a little strong because the truth is directories suck in the same way that spidering engines suck and that is they both lack everything they need to make them really effective.
Spidering engines are fast and cheap when it comes to getting a lot of urls but for that very reason they are extremely susceptible to low quality results. Human reviewed directories are very good at catching and keeping out low quality sites and dramatically improving the quality of the listings it can present for a search request, but they are slow and expensive. Which is yet one more reasons we all live with this "circle of search".
A spidering engine can bring back results for almost any search performed because of the size of it's database, BUT, because of the size of it's database, it's hard for a spidering engine to keep spam out and ensure that only relevant sites come to the top of the results. A spidering engine NEEDS a directory. Surely even the most devout of Google fans are aware of the relationship with Google and DMOZ? Why would you think DMOZ is given increased page rank?
A directory, on the other hand, can be generally counted on to provide a better class of result. The perception being that a human can define quality on a web page better than a computer program like a spider. A perception which is not without merit, BUT, with the human review process being so much more labor intensive, thereby driving up the cost, the databases are small and lacking in results for all but the most competitive search terms. A directory NEEDS a spidering engine, or at the least, a cheap way of getting a lot of data fast.
If Looksmart, at any point in the future, has any intention of reducing it's dependency on partner sites, such as MSN, for producing the bulk of it's revenue, or if it ever intends to become a search powerhouse in it's own right, it has to provide quality results and a lot of them. After all these years of Looksmart being pretty much recognized as a leader in the search industry, it's own human reviewed database has less than 1 million urls in it, (that number is unofficial and not based on any real investigation by myself). That is not a big enough of a database to bring back results, quality or otherwise, for way too many search queries outside of all but the most obvious. When people don't get results for any search they do, they don't think their search was too broad, they simply think the engine doesn't have any results and move on. As long as Looksmart has been in the internet search business, I believe they know that and I believe that is why they would pay 9 million dollars for Wisenut.
There's just not much getting around it, the best search service needs human reviewers with no incentive to spam their own additions AND a lot of results fast at a price that makes gathering, storing and displaying that data cost effective.
So where does that leave us? I don't have 9 million dollars to spend on some other engine and I'm pretty much counting on the assumption that not too many of our portal partners have it either. What I do have is an alternative and that alternative is a lot of portal partners running a lot of spiders looking for specific information and not throwing away the stuff they don't want. Sounds simple huh?
In many ways it is simple. It is certainly more focused on hi-touch than it is hi-tech, but figuring out all the little details is a bit complicated. It's just that this system is based more on reducing waste than it is on pumping resources into get more stuff faster and that seems to kind of go against the nature of the net.
Figuring out how to provide incentives to people to get them to want to help build a better web without providing incentives to try to cheat the system is a little tricky. Figuring out to identify and distribute one man's trash so that it becomes another man's treasure is a little tricky, but not that tricky. It can be done and I believe we've done it. I believe we have a way to provide a more relevant search service with plenty of data in our database to give superior quality results for ANY query without having to buy someone else's search engine.
So, at the least, we've just made $9,000,000.

Waiting on new software to get developed has got to be like a kid waiting on Santa Claus. Well, this kid's wait is almost over. The software is just about done. In fact, I'm mailing out the PPP with the new SK mailman feature.
Over several staff strategy meetings, we determined that we wanted the SK portal building system to have a much shorter learning curve. We wanted it so simple that even I could use it with minimal assistance. I was kind of the idiot standard. If I could use it, ANYBODY could use it, kind of thing. Well, I'm a -usin it!
If this is an indication of what I can expect from the rest of the system, I'm very excited. If all the features are as easy to use as this one, PLUS it has specialty portal building features such as category moderators and revenue sharing, I think we can expect tremendous growth this next year. I'm shooting for no less than 1,000 active portal partners in the SK directory within a year, (and hoping that's way too low). 
Publisher -- Bob Massa

=======March 29, 2002===========
Subject: Portal Partner Press 3-18-02
Date: Monday, March 29, 2002 10:25 AM 
From: bobking
The Portal Partner Press is sent each week for the education and entertainment of the people who own and operate a SearchKing hosted portal. It is intended to help you learn to better operate, maintain and market your own portal. Anytime you have a question about any item in an issue of the PPP, please visit our forums at and feel free to ask any questions or post any comments about your portal, about SearchKing or about internet marketing in general. 
• Boy Do I Have a Knack For Screw-Ups or What?
• You Got Game

I'm sure I'd be crying if it weren't so comical. Last week's mail fiasco could only be topped by the first PPP I ever sent out. Anyone remember getting the PPP with 1500 or so names in your CC field. That was pretty comical too huh?
We found the problem with the new SKMailMan feature so I'm going to show my faith in it once more and use it to send the PPP today. I feel that a way for portal partners to organize, manage and distribute a newsletter in support of their portals is crucial. A way for them to do that without having to know how to program or set up cgi scripts is even crucialer, (I think more crucial would actually be more appropriate here but I'm trying to entertain and hold your attention). In fact, I feel it is so important that I'm willing to risk the public humiliation and the incredible virtual verbal abuse I took after sending as many as 12 copies of the PPP to partners last week.
Once again, I truly apologize and only hope that I can make it up to you when you finally see the program and how easy it is to set up and use. 
I don't recall the exact issue and I'm too lazy to go look it up, but I believe it was last month when I had written in a PPP that SearchKing had made some decisions as to how SearchKing should look and what it should do to encourage portal partners to make their sites look to accomplish it's goals of becoming a traffic generating center for the portals. SK decided that its job was to get traffic by, among other things, using the resources provided by the partners and then sending it to the portals. The portal's job was to try to keep as much traffic as possible on their for sites as long as possible and coming back to their sites as often as possible. This is significant in the respect that it determines what tools and designs we will use to accomplish those goals.
To that end, we have taken several steps over the last few weeks and we have just taken another one that is important to you as portal partners. You got game.
I'm sure some of you know that SearchKing used the companies Pogo and ZoomGo to provide us with online games for some time. I know several of you were feeding the pig more than building your portals for a while. Well, using keyword delivery, we can now easily let you offer games to your visitors and make it look like it's on your site without you having to do anything any harder than install three or four lines of code on your page.
Here are a couple of examples that Sandy and Ronda set up a couple of days ago.
These are intended to show the wide range of possibilities available from pluses to pros. This process should enable you to seamlessly integrate these features into your front page or interior pages. You should use this where and how you think it is going to acquire and retain the highest level of traffic -- hopefully income-producing traffic. How about getting your local chess club to sponsor your games page? How about maybe a software retail store in your area buying a sponsorship? Makes sense huh?
I'm hoping to see a lot of discussions about this in our forums over the next few weeks because while traffic may be the name of the game, it's money that buys the pieces to play with. The idea of this whole process is that SearchKing can secure deals with providers and then pass those deals on to the partners. Well, what deals are going to look the best? Answer -- the ones that stand to make money.
We will be on the lookout for anything that may be of value to your community with emphasis on affiliate programs that could pay. We are in the middle of setting strategies and policies and procedures now for this program but I can tell you that we have already decided that we will offer as many feed services as possible for free, however we intend to monetize this service by finding quality affiliate programs that would enable SK, Inc. to split revenue with partners as well as offering some premium services that may require a fee. Using KWD makes the possibilities almost limitless.
For now we have the games and the news ready. We should have weather, (a little trickier because we have to set it up with your location already in it), very soon. We will also have horoscopes, greeting cards, stock quotes, webmaster resources, daily jokes and so forth coming soon as well.
We are going to start making all these feeds available from your admin upgrade page in the next few days but for now send an email to and she'll send you the code.
All right kids, that's about it for this week. Now let's get into the forums and discuss how to make this thing work better for all of us.
Publisher -- Bob Massa