About The Update
The Search Engine Update is a twice-monthly update of search engine news. It is available only to Search Engine Watch members. Please note that long URLs may break into two lines in some mail readers. Cut and paste, should this occur.
In This Issue
+ Search Engine Strategies Coming To California
+ Letter From Australia
+ Reader Q&A
-- (full story online, link provided)
+ Search Engine Resources
+ SearchDay Articles
+ List Info (Subscribing/Unsubscribing)
It's been a lot of time on planes for me this month, as I flew down to Sydney for the Search Engine Strategies conference held there last week. I put that time to use in part by working through a big backlog of email. Consequently, I thought I'd run another Reader Q&A feature in this issue -- but it turned out to be so long that I had to make it available offline. A link to it is below, along with a "Letter From Australia" with tips out of the conference. And that article is not just for Australians, so everyone should give it at least a quick read. Also, please note that while you are getting this newsletter via email on June 17, I actually posted it on June 16 -- June 17 sees me on another long flight back!
In August, our first three day Search Engine Strategies conference comes to San Jose, California. This is our "big" show for the year and features a new special track on enterprise search on the third day, as well as a number of new "clinics" designed to go beyond talking about search engine marketing issues and instead show changes by working with example web sites.
Of course, the event as always continues to feature sessions about improving both editorial listings in search engines and advertising on search engines. More information can be found below, and the agenda will continue to expand and become more detailed in the coming weeks.
Search Engine Strategies San Jose
Two day shows follow for Germany in October and Texas in December. Information, dates, and the ability to register for when agendas are ready for these events can be found via the URL below:
Search Engine Strategies
Letter From Australia
I've been in Sydney this past week for the Search Engine Strategies conference, and in this article, I thought I'd share a few things that stood out in my mind as I listened to the various local speakers discuss search engine marketing. Not all of this is Australia-specific, so even if you don't target the region, give the rundown a quick skim. In particular, there's a mention of how Google AdWords may now be shown in the Premium Sponsorship area.
LOOKSMART AUSTRALIA announced at the conference having closed another deal for the distribution of its local paid listings, "LookListings," this time on ninemsn, the local MSN site in Australia. This, on top of previous deals with AOL, Yahoo Australia and other important search sites, gives LookSmart a paid listings reach in Australia comparable to the dominance that Overture enjoys in the United States.
While Overture built its paid listing base on the back of small and medium-sized businesses, LookSmart aims for the big budgets. You won't be getting into the top three listings distributed to other search engines for only $0.05 per click here. Instead, you'll be paying a minimum of about US $500 per month, with CPC prices ranging from $0.75 to $2.50, depending on industry segment.
LookSmart Australia LookListings
In contrast to LookSmart Australia, GOOGLE does allow those smaller businesses in Australia to get affordable paid listings through its Google AdWords program. A hands-up question from Google to the audience of one of the sessions at the conference showed that the vast majority of those in attendance were making use of Google AdWords.
While they may be using the program, the audience did have one big complaint: minimum bid amounts based on the US market. Several indicated they wanted to purchase terms that no one was bidding on, but that Google had set a price based on US traffic. With the Australian dollar fairly weak at the moment, audience members indicated that the US prices were too high. In response, Google indicated that "geopricing" might be rolled out for various countries in the future.
Google also announced that in situations where only one Premium Sponsorship has been sold for a key term -- those "text banners" that appear above regular results -- the first ad from the Google AdWords area rises up to fill the second Premium Sponsorship position. This has been happening for about a week or two now, Google said.
Google Adwords Select
OVERTURE wasn't present at the conference, but that didn't stop the audience from raising questions about the service during the session on paid listings. A chief complaint was the inability to target some Australian specific phrases because they were deemed to be too low volume for Overture. A desire for the ability to "pause" ads, then restart them in the way Google allows, was also raised.
ALTAVISTA had questions for the audience about the use of local sites. AltaVista was finding, through its questioning, that many people were going to AltaVista.com to conduct worldwide searches because they were afraid that the AltaVista Australia site was not going to give them complete coverage. In reality, when searching "the world" at any AltaVista international edition, one should get the same results as when searching at AltaVista.com.
Displeasure was also expressed over the use of redirections by AltaVista, forcing someone trying to reach AltaVista.com to go first through AltaVista Australia. The company said it would examine the issue and see if there was a better way to alert users to the local site while not irritating them.
GOOGLE has its own issue in having a local Australia site. The company is trying to obtain through legal channels the google.com.au domain name, which is owned by someone else. This is why it hasn't yet launched a Google Australia site, something the audience said it definitely wants, for it would make narrowing searches to Australia information easier.
The .com.au domain is the equivalent .com in the US -- many in Australia will guess that a company web site would be found at companyname.com.au, for example. Given this, the audience did agree that Google should try to get the domain name, but they also indicated that launching the site with any domain name would still at least meet demand.
The audience also had questions for search engines, as to whether they find a difference in searches conducted at their "world" versus "local" Australia site. Not really, came back the answer. People search for the same things. However, audience members themselves did seem to indicate that including geographical terms in their pages or paid listings was important to help capture local users, as they tend to add such locations in order to help eliminate non-Australian material. For example, "web hosting Australia" or "buying new homes in sydney" illustrate how users might add such terms.
Returning back to LOOKSMART, the company also said that since April, it has been showing LookSmart Australia paid listings not just on Yahoo Australia but also on Yahoo.com, to those reaching Yahoo.com from Australia. This is a hugely significant move for Yahoo. To my knowledge, it's the first time anything other than Overture ads have been shown on Yahoo.com.
Remember, the Overture deal is only for the Yahoo.com site as viewed by those in the United States and Canada. People beyond these countries still come to Yahoo.com, rather than their local sites, in droves.
Until recently, I would have expected Yahoo.com to soon display paid listings from Espotting to its European visitors, since Espotting powers Yahoo's paid listings in Europe. However, given Overture's recent win to gain the Lycos Europe deal away from Espotting, perhaps we'll see Overture manage to shovel out enough cash to get in front of European visitors at least through Yahoo.com.
The article below has more information on Overture ousting Espotting from Lycos Europe. UK listings from Overture will begin next quarter, then Germany and France come online after the new year. Espotting had promised Lycos Europe $9.2 million over the three years that its original agreement, started last year, was to run. Overture won't say how much it is promising, but to win the deal, no doubt major truckloads of cash were dumped on Lycos Europe.
Overture Signs Lycos Europe
SiliconValley.internet.com, June 11, 2002
Also keep a close eye on Google. With the ability to target paid listings to any country, Google can not only offer any local Yahoo site the ability to carry paid results, but it can power those for visitors coming from different countries to Yahoo.com.
During the second Case Studies session, speaker Adam Rollings from BHP Steel Australia indicated how "traditional" SEO work was effective at increasing his traffic by tenfold. Simple changes -- making the site more accessible, custom page titles and meta tags -- was all that needed doing. However, he found that after a few months, traffic leveled off. It didn't drop, but giant gains were no longer made.
To go further, Rollings went beyond search engine optimization and instead embraced a more overall search engine marketing strategy, involving the use of both traditional SEO and paid listings. The result was even more traffic and better sales, as he targeted some terms he was unable to succeed with using normal SEO.
This underscores what I talk about during my own "Back To Basics" session, the difference between "search engine PR" and "search engine advertising." A search engine PR campaign involves trying to improve your listings in a search engine's editorial results through optimization of page content. PR is great, because as in the real world, it can bring in "free" visitors and may even be perceived as a better recommendation.
Just think of the difference of having a newspaper article written about you versus an ad. If the article is positive, some people will tend to believe you must be good, given that a third party is recommending you. However, in the real world, PR campaigns don't succeed in doing everything. The same is true in the search engine world, so a well-rounded marketer will be budgeting for and experimenting with paid listings, as well.
The second case study speaker Bryn Nicholson, from Wizard Home Loans, introduced an interesting "traffic generation food pyramid." At the bottom was traditional SEO, "boring food but cost effective." Just above that was paid listings, "quality traffic but limited volume." Paid inclusion programs were next, again offering quality traffic but more volume. Email and affiliate marketing followed, deemed able to get large amounts of new traffic but at a price. Finally, the pyramid was capped by banner ad spending, offering tons of traffic and great brand exposure but at a huge price.
Following on this, Nicholson likened banners to chocolate and suggested that some online marketers had consumed so many chocolate banners that they got diabetes. Instead, a healthier diet might involve them for short brand building binges while paying attention to the rest of the pyramid.
Nicholson also stressed that offline PR and ads are important. Raise the consumers awareness of your brand and what it offers in the offline world, and they'll in turn go to a search engine and search for you by name, rather than turn to that search engine and search generically for a product and service. Given that its exceedingly easy to rank well for your own name, this means that offline PR and advertising could be a real secret weapon when it comes to search engine marketing.
One more return to LookSmart Australia. Previously, I'd said the company wasn't targeting small and medium-sized businesses for paid listings. That's true, but only for listings that provide guaranteed placement for particular words. For ordinary directory inclusion, where ranking is not guaranteed, the company is indeed targeting smaller businesses and in a unique way. It has partnered with the major offline Yellow Pages provider, Pacific Access.
That company will be offering its "offline" partners the ability to purchase into LookSmart's online directory. LookSmart has high-hopes that this new distribution strategy will greatly increase its paid directory listings when sales begin later this year.
Pacific Access and LookSmart Join Forces for 5 Year Yellow Pages OnLine Deal
LookSmart Press Release, Feb. 4, 2002
Sadly, I can only report on interesting items that I heard of out of the sessions that I moderated. However, if I see more coverage, I'll run an article in a future newsletter. There is a thread at Search Engine Forums that developed when the conference first was announced that I found, and an initial post-conference comment from the forum moderator is now online. Perhaps more comments on other sessions will be posted there.
Australian SE Strategies Conference
In addition, I'd recommend reading The SearchLight by Kalena Jordan, one of the speakers at the conference and a close watcher of all things search in Australia.
The Search Light
A long flight, a ton of reader email this month, and I thought it was a nice combination to do another round of reader questions and answers for this issue. Your questions and my answers can be found via the URL below:
The Search Engine Update, June 17, 2002
Here are some recent articles that may be of interest, from Search Engine Watch's daily SearchDay newsletter:
How Search Engines Look at Links
SearchDay, June 13, 2002
Representatives of Google, Fast, and Ask Jeeves/Teoma share inside information about page ranking and search engine link analysis techniques.
The Living Internet
SearchDay, June 12, 2002
How much do you really know about the Internet? How does it work? Who invented it? The Living Internet has answers to these questions and just about everything else you ever wanted to know about our online world.
Optimizing Keywords for Search Engines
SearchDay, June 11, 2002
Effective optimization for search engines requires more than just fiddling with web pages -- you need to carefully select and focus your efforts on specific keywords for maximum success.
Updates From FirstGov and Ask Jeeves
SearchDay, June 10, 2002
The search engines at FirstGov and Ask Jeeves have both been upgraded and enhanced with new features and capabilities.
Meta Search + Invisible Web + Virtual Librarians = Wondir!
SearchDay, June 6, 2002
A team of respected search industry veterans is building a new and different kind of information service that seeks to unify cutting edge technology with the web's original egalitarian vision of people freely helping people.
It's Tough to Get a Good Date with a Search Engine
SearchDay, June 5, 2002
Search engines have problems with calendar information. Bottom line: you may end up searching for dates in all the wrong places.
Finding Search Engine Optimization Professionals
SearchDay, June 4, 2002
Looking for help crafting search engine friendly pages and link building programs? These directories of search engine optimization and marketing professionals can help you locate the person or firm that's right for your needs.
Google Announces Programming Contest Winner
SearchDay, June 3, 2002
Google has awarded a $10,000 prize to a programmer who created a program that lets users to search for web pages within a specified geographic area.
On the archive page below, you'll find more articles like those above, plus have the ability to sign-up for the free newsletter.
Search Engine Resources
Don't want to pay Yahoo's $299 annual listing fee. The owner of this site claims that for categories where only the paid Yahoo Express submission fee is offered, this will create an alternative "free" submission form for the category. For example, consider the "Business and Economy > Shopping and Services > Sports > Running > Shoes" category. To be listed here, there is only one choice, to pay the $299 Yahoo Express submission fee. Or is there? The Yahoo Backdoor lets you copy and paste the category submission URL from Yahoo into the backdoor's form. Submit the form, and you'll be taken back to Yahoo, able to submit to the category for free.
The key difference is that this submission won't be processed as if you had paid the submission fee. In other words, you won't hear back within seven business days. Instead, it will send your submission into the free submission queue, and you'll wait just like anyone who submits for free -- and you may still never get a yes or no answer. The backdoor simply gives you the ability to use the free submission queue for categories where that option isn't offered.
Is this legitimate? The creator of the site tells me it has run for several months and that several people have successfully been listed for free. "While Yahoo is surely aware of my site, they have done nothing to either fix the problem or contact me to take my site down. I'm not sure if that qualifies as acceptance of what I have done," said Joe Petrow. And should Yahoo complain, the form will be removed, Petrow says.
Should you try it? If you are in a hurry, no. It provides no fast turnaround and guaranteed yes or no answer. And, if you are a large business not already listed in Yahoo, I'd still probably say it's better to pay the relatively cheap $299 annual fee rather than risk Yahoo perhaps down the line being upset and pulling your listing. But if you are a small site or not adverse to risk, others have tried this, and you might be successful.
And speaking of Yahoo, here's a relatively new program offering discounts if you have a lot of sites to submit. Rates aren't posted online, but the second URL from Webmaster World shows the discount level. I'll expect to take a close look at this in the near future.
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Meet Your Favorite Search Engine Watch Contributors
Many of SEW's leading expert contributors will be at ClickZ Live, the new online and digital marketing event kicking off in New York (March 31-April 3). Hear from the likes of: Thom Craver, Josh Braaten, Lisa Barone, Simon Heseltine, Josh McCoy, Lisa Raehsler, Greg Jarboe, Dan Cristo, Joseph Kerschbaum, John Gagnon, Eric Enge and more!