It's my semi-annual poll: Send your comments and win

Plus, the most popular links from the past year

Now that it's the doldrums of summer, I'm departing from my usual format for two weeks. During this period:

1. I'll reveal to you the most popular links that I've published in E-Business Secrets during the first half of 2002.

2. I'll ask you to answer a single question.

3. I'll give you a prize if your entry is selected.

HERE'S THE QUESTION: What would you like to see in E-Business Secrets each week that you're not already seeing?

HERE'S THE PRIZE: The three readers who submit the most interesting suggestions (in my biased opinion) will receive gift certificates for any book, CD, or DVD of their choice.

HERE'S WHAT YOU DO: Simply read which links have been the most popular, think about why those links scored so well, and then e-mail me your comments.

HERE'S THE SPECIAL ADDRESS TO SEND YOUR COMMENTS: mailto:WhatNow@SecretsPro.com

Your e-mail address will not be used for any other purpose whatsoever. It will be permanently deleted from my records as soon as the winners are notified.

DEADLINE: All comments sent by the end of Sunday, Aug. 4, 2002, will be considered. I'll print excerpts from selected comments in E-Business Secrets on Aug. 8. (If you want your name or company to remain anonymous, simply say so in your message.)

WHY I'M DOING THIS: My goal is to make E-Business Secrets a must-read for people who manage and develop e-commerce Web sites. Naturally, I'd love to publish crucial information such as tomorrow's Nasdaq index price. Since that isn't possible (with today's technology), I'd like to know what you think CAN be put into E-Business Secrets to make it even more interesting for you.

HOW THE POLL WORKS: Twice a year, I publish a list of the links my readers found the most interesting. This list is based on a representative sampling of what readers actually clicked, not what they SAY they clicked, from the past six months' issues. Then I invite you to comment on the results.

Your comments have already improved readers' interest in each issue of E-Business Secrets. One year ago, the average number of clicks for links in each issue was:

-- 5.5 links clicked per 100 readers (June 2001)

After I'd made improvements based on my last reader poll, the average in each issue last month was:

-- 16.4 links clicked per 100 readers (June 2002)

That's almost a tripling of the items readers found interesting enough to click on for more information! I'm very pleased with this, considering that online banner ads sometimes draw fewer than one click per 100 viewers.

The main improvement I made since last December was to move offbeat and hilarious items (which had previously been located in News Pick #10) into a new section called Wacky Web Week.

Wacky items usually attract far more click-throughs than the average link. Even so, the combined clicks for Wacky Web Week and News Pick #10 (which still contains many amusing items) currently average only 35 percent of each issue's total clicks. "Regular news items" receive almost two-thirds of the clicks, but now have much higher absolute numbers than a year ago. This means the new Wacky Web Week section has made E-Business Secrets far more interesting to readers while, at the same time, lifting the interest in the other sections as well.

NOW FOR THE SCORES: During the first half of 2002, the average single link in E-Business Secrets was clicked 1.22 times per 100 readers. In the tables below, a link that was clicked the average number of times gets a score of 10. A link with twice the average number of clicks gets a score of 20, and so forth. In order to fairly compare links that were first published six months ago with links published in June, I've counted only the clicks during the first seven days after an issue's publication. (Most clicks occur in the first two days anyway.)

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THE TOP 5 LEAD STORIES IN THE FIRST HALF OF 2002

Score - Title

20 Click to see Edmunds.com's page count at Google

http://www.google.com@5a0.tc/?eaa4

17 ISBN.nu: A price-comparison example

http://www.isbn.nu@isbn.at/?f65c

17 A search showing count of ISBN.nu pages at Google

http://www.google.com@1c.to/?fe2c

16 Fred Langa's Langa Letter with 145,000 subscribers

http://www.langa.com@e.la/?ee8c

15 ISBN.nu's Alpha List that leads to all other books

http://www.isbn.nu@isbn.at/?fa44

THE BOTTOM 3 LEAST-CLICKED LEAD STORIES

1.4 Search Engine Watch description of LookSmart changes

http://www.sewatch.com@836.as/?10214

1.5 GoToast.com manages bidding on pay-per-click engines

http://www.gotoast.com@a6r.ms/?138c4

1.8 W3C approves P3P standard after widespread adoption

http://www.wired.com@th.gs/?15bec

COMMENTARY: The way Edmunds.com and ISBN.nu got tens of thousands of their pages indexed by Google.com was the favorite topic in my Lead Stories so far this year. ISBN.nu links occupy three of the top five slots, in fact.

In February, shortly after my first article on ISBN.nu appeared, the number of its pages in Google's index suddenly dropped from 135,000 to 3,000. According to spokesman Nate Tyler, this was not due to any penalty measures decided upon by Google staff.

Instead, a change appears to have been made to Google's ranking algorithm in February. Page A may now be dropped if it contains several links to Pages B, C, and D, and those pages in turn quickly re-direct to Sites E, F, and G. This kind of ranking penalty tends to keep out of Google's index "junk" pages that contain the correct search terms but re-direct to unrelated or adult sites.

In the case of ISBN.nu, Webmaster Glenn Fleishman says his book-price comparison site used to contain numerous links that looked like "www.isbn.nu/ISBN#/amazon". These links, when clicked, would re-direct visitors to a relevant page at Amazon.com. Fleishman has recently amended his link format to "www.amazon.com/isbn.nu/ISBN#". Tyler says ISBN.nu's pages should re-appear in Google's index after its spider finishes its regular monthly crawl of the Web at the end of July.

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THE TOP 5 TECH REVIEWS IN THE FIRST HALF OF 2002

Score - Title

20 Is it a "magic box" or a high-tech hoax?

http://www.jacksonville.com@54.vg/?f274

16 OQO's ultra-personal computer offers tiny modularity

http://www.tiscali.co.uk@a2.tc/?111b4

16 Hokey Spokes light the way and display text messages

http://www.hokeyspokes.com@5a0.tc/?13cac

13 Empty Pringles can helps find unprotected Wi-Fi

http://news.bbc.co.uk@3n.be/?15fd4

12 PowerMate "volume control knob" turns heads

http://www.wired.com@1c.to/?182fc

THE BOTTOM 3 LEAST-INTERESTING TECH REVIEWS

1.4 Google Search Appliance for corporate intranets

http://www.google.com@e.la/?1253c

1.7 "BlueThumb" device makes USB ports into Bluetooth

http://www.avm.de@n6.be/?15034

2.5 Joe Petrow's free submission tool for Yahoo listings

http://www.joepetrow.com@836.as/?17b2c

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IN THE NEXT ISSUE: I'll reveal the best and worst scores for my E-Business News Picks and Wacky Web Week.

REMEMBER: You have until Sunday, Aug. 4, 2002, to send your comments and be entered to win one of the prizes. That means you can send your comments now or you can wait until after the Aug. 1 issue, which allows you to read all the scores.

HERE'S THE SPECIAL ADDRESS TO SEND YOUR COMMENTS: mailto:WhatNow@SecretsPro.com

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E-BUSINESS SECRETS: Our mission is to bring you such useful and thought-provoking information about the Web that you actually look forward to reading your e-mail.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: E-Business Secrets is written by InfoWorld contributing editor Brian Livingston (http://SecretsPro.com). Research director is Vickie Stevens. Brian has published 10 books, including:

Windows Me Secrets: http://www.amazon.com@isbn.at/?0764534939

Windows 2000 Secrets: http://www.amazon.com@isbn.at/?0764534130

Win a gift certificate good for a book, CD, or DVD of your choice if you're the first to send a tip Brian prints. mailto:Brian@SecretsPro.com

Copyright © 2002 IDG Communications, Inc.

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