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The Axandra newsletter archive - 23 September 2003
Welcome to a new issue of the Search Engine Facts newsletter.

This week we're checking your web page for HTML and CSS mistakes. In the news: Google puts on a programming contest in order to find and hire very good search engine programmers.

Table of contents:

We hope that you enjoy this issue and that it helps you to get more out of your web site. Please pass this newsletter on to your friends.

Best regards,
Andre Voget, Johannes Selbach, Axandra CEO

1. Facts of the week: Is your HTML code valid for the search engines?
You have placed your most important keywords in your web page title. You have the optimal keyword density on your web page. Your link popularity score is shooting through the roof. You have added lots of content to your web site. You have double-checked your robots.txt file. You have read the past 70 newsletter issues and you're becoming the status of an search engine optimization expert in your company. :)

In spite of everything - your web site is still ranked nowhere at all. Then it comes to your mind... are the search engines actually able to read my web pages at all?

Web pages are written in a special language called HTML. Like any language, HTML is constantly changing although there's the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C, for short) which is the governing body that establishes what is valid HTML
code and what is not.

Search engine crawler programs obey the HTML standard. They are only able to index your web site if it is compliant to the HTML standard. If there's a mistake in your web page code, they stop crawling your web site and probably forget what they've collected so far.

Fortunately, the W3C offers a free online service that can check the HTML validity of your web pages. You can find it here.

Another benefit of writing clean HTML standard compatible code is what the W3C calls "interoperability". It means that valid code is automatically cross-browser compatible, i.e. it works in different web browsers on different operating systems (although the actual display of the HTML code depends on the web browser).

To help search engine crawler programs to index your web site, you should also follow these tips:

  • Use simple tables in your HTML code and avoid overly nested tables, i.e. tables within tables within tables. Most HTML errors can probably be found in this area.

  • Move long JavaScript code to an external .js file. Search engines cannot read JavaScript code.

  • Use Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) to remove excessive usage of HTML font tags. Replacing font tags throughout a page with styles saves a significant amount of code and makes it easier for search engines to index your web page.

If you use Cascading Style Sheets to make your web pages smaller, make sure that they are also technically correct. Fortunately, the W3C also offers a free CSS validation service.

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2. Search engine news of the week
Google tests local search

    "Google is experimenting with search results tailored to a person's geographic location, following a similar move by rival Overture Services. [...]

    Google Labs, the search company's research-and-development arm, unveiled a program that lets people type in a search term, along with an address or ZIP code, to find Web results and a miniature map from within the area.

    Like many Google experiments, the new functionality may or may not be widely incorporated into the [...] search engine, but Google has hinted at its ambitions for geographically targeted search in the past."

Overture launches in Spain

    "Overture Services [...] announced it has launched in Spain. [...] At launch, Overture's Spanish distribution partners include highly trafficked sites such as MSN; Tiscali; Lycos; Excite; Wanadoo; and Ya, a Spanish Internet Service Provider.

    In addition to its core paid placement product, Overture will be providing the Wanadoo Group in Spain with Web Search results from FAST, which was acquired by Overture in April. Through these partnerships, Overture Spain reaches 71 percent of Spanish Internet users."

Google tests potential employees in a programming contest

    "Google, one of the most aggressive staff recruiters in Silicon Valley, is putting on a programming contest worth up to $10,000 and a possible career at the search company.

    Called Google Code Jam 2003, the contest is essentially a timed, internet-based test of programming skills. After two rounds of competition, 25 people will be invited to Google's headquarters in Mountain View, California, to compete for a total of $25,000 in cash prizes. Google plans to evaluate the crop of engineers as job candidates"

FindWhat renegotiates Espotting acquisition

    "Paid search company [...] is renegotiating its agreement to buy European paid listings company Espotting after it found problems with the company's finances. The announcement casts some doubt as to whether the $163 million merger will go through. said it might walk away from the deal if it cannot get a better price. The deal was due to close in the fourth quarter."

Search engine newslets

    "Internet portal Yahoo expects revenue from sponsored search queries to more than double by 2006, its chief financial officer said on Wednesday."

    The Open Directory Project (ODP) is currently using an automated link checker to eliminate dead links in their directory.

    The search engine Wotbot had to change its name to "Wotbox" because the old name was too similar to the search engine "Hotbot".

    The search engine Gigablast uses new geo-sensitive meta tags. is a new web directory and search engine that uses a combination of the Open Directory Project and its own database of crawled web sites.

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3. Articles of the week
"Google vs. eBay?"

    eBay CEO Meg Whitman in an interview: "Right now, we view Google as a very cooperative and helpful partner with us. We are one of Google's largest advertisers, not only here in the United States but in most of the countries of the world in which they operate."

"Microsoft goes after Google"

    "Chairman Bill Gates, Chief Executive Steve Ballmer and a handful of other executives sat down in February to answer a question asked countless times before in the world's largest software maker's 28-year history. Should Microsoft build or buy?"

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4. Recommended resources
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    The affiliate program:

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5. Previous articles

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