"Search Engine Watch began with a complaining client of mine...he kept grumbling that he couldn't find his site in WebCrawler, and he wanted to know why." Thus began Danny Sullivan's quest to understand how search engines work and how to make them work better.
Sullivan is a journalist and Internet consultant who's been covering search engines since 1995. Search Engine Watch was launched in June 1997, acquired by Mecklermedia later that year (though Sullivan retains all editorial control), and has gained acclaim as an important resource for Web site developers and Internet searchers - two categories in which many librarians currently find themselves.
The bulk of the information is contained in four broad sections: Webmaster's Guide to Search Engines; Search Engine Facts and Fun; Search Engine Status Reports; and Search Engine Resources. A fifth section, The Search Engine Report, is also offered as a free, monthly e-newsletter, which covers developments with search engines and alerts subscribers to any changes to the Web site.
Each section provides detailed analysis of the topic at hand. For example, the Status Reports provide different measures of engine popularity and technical ability - which engines are the biggest (and why - or if - this matters), the most current, the most in-depth, and the most hostile to spam. The Search Engine Facts and Fun section offers basic and advanced search tips along with handy charts that explain which search engines support them. The Resources section includes links to numerous articles about search engines, examples of search tutorials, and "Of Interest" links covering everything from copyright issues to meta tags. Web developers may wish to consider a site subscription ($49), which offers additional information about topics such as Web demographics and advertising on search engines.
Sullivan has a background in graphics reporting and the site's content is cleanly and cleverly presented, for example, the popular "search engine EKG" charts, which illustrate how frequently and thoroughly search engines comb the Web. Most of the information appears to be up-to-date.
The immediate audience for Search Engine Watch - serious searchers and Webmasters - may not include all library patrons; however, it is an invaluable tool for librarians trying to keep up with the rapid development and fluctuation of Internet search tools. Whether you're preparing to teach a "Web Searching" workshop, or trying to help a business student research e-commerce issues, Search Engine Watch is a site to keep your eye on.
University of Kansas Libraries