Search Engines Are Dead Discussion Posts

Search Engine Watch

Search Engines Are Dead Discussion Posts

Below are posts from a discussion about the importance of search engines to web marketers. It was held on the Online Advertising Discussion List in November 1997. For background, please see:

Search Engines Are Dead Discussion
The Search Engine Report, Dec. 4, 1997

Note: If any participants in the discussion below prefer not to be quoted on this page, please use the feedback form, and your comments will be removed.

================================

rhoy@tenagra.com
Mon, 10 Nov 1997 20:23:03 -0600 (CST)

Hey all,

I'm beginning to believe that search engines are a dead-end technology and
fretting over where your site comes up is a big waste of time. I'm now
advising clients that we create good META tags, submit the site and then
forget it.

I base this newfound philosophy on a couple of things. First, I've noticed
on the sites we manage that the percent of traffic from search engines
drops as the investment in other types promotion increase. For example, The
Year 2000 Information Center ( http://www.year2000.com/ ), a site we own
and promote heavily through PR and co-promotional arrangements, had 6% of
its traffic come from search engines last month. 94% came from sources such
as online articles, co-promotion, and people using a bookmark. I see the
exact opposite situation in the traffic reports of sites that we do little
promotion for. The bulk of their traffic comes from search engines. And
that makes perfect sense because without promotion search engines are the
only way people can find these sites.

What sealed it for me, though, was the recent article in Business Week
about search engine spamming. Louis Monier, AltaVista's technical director,
is quoted as saying he estimates that half of the 20,000 pages added to
Altavista everyday are spam schemes. (See the full story at:
http://www.businessweek.com/1997/46/b3553162.htm ).

So lets look at what we have here:

1.) An inverse relationship between the level of site promotion and the
percent of traffic from search engines.

2.) Tools that are so dynamic they change their content every few seconds.
(In Altavista's case, a new page of info every 4.3 seconds.)

3.) Tools containing a significant percentage of the deceptive information.
(In Altavista's case, 50%.)

4.) Tools requiring you to have a Ph.D. in boolean logic to even hope to
use them effectively.

How can such an unstable system survive? Moreover, how can you ever hope to
be on top of it for long?

So in closing, I submit that search engines are dying. In fact, I would say
they are dead already and just don't know it yet - gone the way of the
reciprocal link exchange and the "you have a cool page" award as an
effective promotional tool. A victim of their own success.

So what do you guys think?

richard

--------------------------------------------------------
richard hoy
moderator, online advertising discussion list
director, marketing and client promotions
the tenagra corporation
http://www.tenagra.com/
p: 281.480.6300 | f: 281.480.7715 | e: rhoy@tenagra.com
--------------------------------------------------------

================================

rhoy@tenagra.com
Tue, 11 Nov 1997 09:24:32 -0600 (CST)

Hey all,

Here is a slight correction to my previous comments.

I wrote:

"In fact, I would say they are dead already and just don't know it yet -
gone the way of the
reciprocal link exchange..."

What I should have said is reciprocal link campaign - the process of
identifing sites and writing the webmaster to ask for a link. I in no way
want to imply that the ad network LinkExchange is dying. In fact, by all
reports they are stronger than ever.

Sorry for any confusion I might have caused.

richard

--------------------------------------------------------
richard hoy
moderator, online advertising discussion list
director, marketing and client promotions
the tenagra corporation
http://www.tenagra.com/
p: 281.480.6300 | f: 281.480.7715 | e: rhoy@tenagra.com
--------------------------------------------------------

================================

Danny Sullivan (danny@calafia.com)
Tue, 11 Nov 1997 21:10:45 0000

> I'm now advising clients that we create good META tags, submit the
> site and then forget it.

I'd suggest doing a little more -- appropriate page titles, ensuring
that things that are barriers to search engines are corrected, but
basically, this is the correct attitude. Consider search engines,
then move on. Check back maybe every few months -- don't be
obsessive.

> How can such an unstable system survive? Moreover, how can you
> ever hope to be on top of it for long?

People need to understand that they may not stay on top for a
particular phrase, especially if its popular, for a long time. They
certainly shouldn't build all a site's traffic around it. But they
may still do very well for a variety of more obscure terms and
topics. If they have meta tags and page titles relevant to the topic
of their pages, this well help them capture this basically free
traffic. But again, moderation, rather obsession, should be the rule.

> So in closing, I submit that search engines are dying. In fact, I
> would say they are dead already and just don't know it yet - gone
> the way of the reciprocal link exchange and the "you have a cool
> page" award as an effective promotional tool.

They should have never been what people depending on for 100% of
their traffic. But to invest a little time to pick up 10% or more of
traffic? I'd hardly say they are dying. They certainly aren't in the
perspective of those who use them to find things. But those people
who used to cruise along on traffic from search engines -- and search
engines only -- certainly need to realize those happy days are over.
They have to be part of a comprehensive publicity program.

cheers,
danny

-----------------------------------
Danny Sullivan, Search Engine Watch
http://searchenginewatch.com

================================

Hespos, Tom (thespos@k2design.com)
Mon, 10 Nov 1997 22:26:14 -0500

Our esteemed moderator writes:

>I'm beginning to believe that search engines are a dead-end
technology >and
>fretting over where your site comes up is a big waste of time.
I'm now
>advising clients that we create good META tags, submit the
site and >then forget it.

I agree with you, in part. The whole spamming thing is completely
ruining the functionality of search engines. Results are becoming less
accurate due to unscrupulous attempts to get to the top of listings
(even if the particular search words have nothing to do with the content
of a site). Sites that should legitimately be listed under a keyword
are losing out to the spammers that set up phantom pages with redirects
and screw up the whole process.

However, I don't think that this will mean the eventual demise of search
engines. I think that this will ultimately force search engines to
evolve into products that serve their users better. If spammers are
ruining the ability of a search engine to serve its users by providing
relevant content, then the search engine with the best anti-spamming
technology will have a tremendous advantage in the marketplace.

Think about it - if things continue to progress in this fashion without
any evolution on the part of the search engines, one day you'll type in
the word "dog" and Mr. Search Engine will return 3,000 pages of sex
sites, whereupon you'll ditch that search engine lickety-split. So
perhaps the engine with the best anti-spamming technology will rise to
the top of the heap. (And with what sex keywords are selling for these
days, I'm sure there will be plenty of profit motive to produce a better
product. Trust me.)

> Thomas F. Hespos, Jr.
> Senior Media Planner, K2 Design
> Webmaster, OLAF - the On Line Advertising Forum
> Ph: (212) 547-5234
> FAX: (212) 968-0067
> http://www.k2design.com - K2 Design Home Page
> http://www.olaf.net - OLAF
> http://members.aol.com/˜THespos - The Spos Zone

================================

Kevin (kevin@obgyn.net)
Tue, 11 Nov 1997 11:18:00 -0600

rhoy@tenagra.com wrote:

> I'm beginning to believe that search engines are a dead-end technology
> and
> fretting over where your site comes up is a big waste of time....So
> lets look at what we have here:

Richard,

I think you may be hitting on a good point. I am starting to look for
information through good subject related sites, instead of using search
engines. The reason is obvious, search engines feed up too much
outdated, meaningless information.

Now, when looking for links for the site we administer
<http://www.obgyn.net> we must deal with search engines, to some extent.
Our goal is to spend the time searching so that we can in turn save our
visitors time by filtering the information and categorizing it for them.
I imagine we are doing a good job of this, as articles written about us
have mention this.

When I need information about other subjects, I find it tough to find
good resources. The problem with some of the best big sites is that they
are specific to a particular company, network or publication and
typically don't let you know what else is out there relative to what
they do. Some have there reasons, but I would be much more likely to go
to NFL.com, if I knew they took it upon themselves to cull the internet
for me and rank and categorize other valuable pro football sites.
Instead, I know I must go elsewhere. Further, when I visit a site
focused on our local area (Austin, TX), it seems that each major site is
attached to a different network affiliate, this makes it tough when you
want to find one place to locate all stations or other media. The same
is true of many areas, it seems if you want to find non-biased gateways,
you have to find someone's personal links page.

My feeling is, getting back to the original point, that major subject
related sites are going to have to serve as the search engines for their
audience and through branding will become known as the place to go for
information about their area of expertise. Now, if there were search
engines that could point people to these major sites in all areas, there
might be some value.

I think the fact that search engines will bring up a link to a one page
report right next to a huge site (not to mention, repeated listings for
the same site), is a bit useless.

> --

Kevin Leathers -- Sales & Marketing Dir. -- <http://www.obgyn.net>
-- mailto:kevin@obgyn.net -- Phone:(512)451-2842 --
"The Universe of Women's Health for Medical Professionals, Women
& Industry" ONLINE MEDIA KIT: <http://www.obgyn.net/advert/advert.htm>

================================

Teri Ross (tekguru@techexchange.com)
Mon, 10 Nov 97 22:09:28 -0000

richard on 11/11/97 2:32 AM wrote:

>So in closing, I submit that search engines are dying. In fact, I would say
>they are dead already and just don't know it yet - gone the way of the
>reciprocal link exchange and the "you have a cool page" award as an
>effective promotional tool. A victim of their own success.
>
>So what do you guys think?

I couldn't agree more. Fortunately, I saw this coming a LONG time ago and
developed an industry specific site that not only resolves this issue for
the industry sector I am targeting, but has allowed me to become an award
winning internet trade publication that actually makes money.

My site at http://www.techexchange.com is devoted to computer technology
solutions for the apparel, textile and home furnishings industries. The
companies who sell these software and hardware solutions are paying me to
be listed in our searchable databases that contain ONLY information that
is specifically geared towards their target audience. For those companies
who have a website, the listing includes a link (for an additional fee).

We also host several of the websites who have listings in our databases.
For the past 8 months, the results have shown that our
database/directory/search engine is in the top 5% of referring sites.
Last month we were the #1 referring site for two of the websites. This is
certainly in support of both Richard's findings and theory.

In addition, we market techexchange.com through a variety of medium,
including nearly 100 links FROM other sites that list our publication as
a resource. On average, 68% of our hits are from sites that link to our
site, as opposed to the search engines. The only search engines that
bring us any appreciable traffic are Yahoo, infoseek and webcrawler. I
too used to spend a lot of time and energy on our search engine listings.
I have stopped completely. I focus all of my time and marketing money to
getting links from other industry related sites as well as printed trade
publication advertising to the apparel and textile industries.

As the internet grows, and the amount of info in the search engines grows
with it, the problem is only going to get worse. There will be more and
more marketers selling unknowing newbies a bunch of crap on how to get
their name to the "top." The problem is, that it will be the top of a
growing pile of junk.

Teri Ross

*************************************
Teri Ross
President
Imagine That! Consulting Group, Inc.
2229 Sherwood Court, Minnetonka, MN 55305
Publishers of The Technology Exchange at http://www.techexchange.com
Awarded as a NetGuide Gold Site--One of the Best on the Web
Phone 612/593-9085 Fax 612/544-6330
http://www.techexchange.com/imagin_that.html

================================

Billy Newsom (smartweb@flash.net)
Tue, 11 Nov 1997 02:06:03 -0600

richard hoy wrote:

>I'm beginning to believe that search engines are a dead-end technology and
>fretting over where your site comes up is a big waste of time. I'm now
>advising clients that we create good META tags, submit the site and then
>forget it.

[lossy compression”

>I base this newfound philosophy on a couple of things. First, I've noticed
>on the sites we manage that the percent of traffic from search engines
>How can such an unstable system survive? Moreover, how can you ever hope to
>be on top of it for long?
>
>So in closing, I submit that search engines are dying. In fact, I would say
>they are dead already and just don't know it yet - gone the way of the
>reciprocal link exchange and the "you have a cool page" award as an
>effective promotional tool. A victim of their own success.
>
>So what do you guys think?

I think you're basing your "philosophy" which I call "misconception" on the
fact that search engines do not greatly impact a 'large' website's traffic.
I would instead use your data, analyze it correctly, and conclude that

1. search engines are what start a website on the path toward mass appeal.

2. after search engine impact has been fully realized, other means of
promotion will make or break a website.

I see a good future for my website. Up until now, a large percentage of my
site's traffic has been from search engines and directories (Yahoo and
InfoSeek). However to continue my site's growth, it is becoming obvious
that "free" (read passive) promotion must take a back seat to the active
promtion. Traffic is beginning to stagnate, and I need to begin
advertising -- perhaps agressively.

However, your conclusions were entirely in error. A small website (one
which gets <250,000 impressions per month) will often attribute a good
amount of its traffic to search engines and Yahoo For these sites, search
engines will NEVER DIE! Never is a long time, but I'm convinced it
applies. If you consider medium to large sites like your year2000 or my
http://www.motherboards.org/ you will of course see that magazine
articles, word of mouth, dedicated users, newsgroups, and link sites
dominate AltaVista/Excite/InfoSeek by a large margin. It's not that the
search engines are inferior or dead, it's simply that large sites are
freaking large! However, given the content of my site I would never want
to imagine a day in which AltaVista, Excite, or Lycos up and died. My
stats would be noticiably different on that day. But I doubt Microsoft,
Netscape, or Playboy would notice the difference.

Dead? No. Could you infer that search engines are insignificant for sites
with >1,000,000 impressions per month? Well, I'd say "probably." Richard,
I'm not sure how many websites fit into this category, but I would guess
that the number is in the thousands. Considering the millions of websites
on the Internet, I must conclude that your conclusions are clearly wrong
for more than 99% of the Internet community.

Calling AltaVista (and its competition) dead is like saying that the loss
of Hong Kong to China ended the British empire or the East India India
Company. The sun still never sets on the British empire (which possessed
HK), nor has the East India Company (which founded HK) ceased to exist. I
submit that the sun will never set on the search engines.

Billy Newsom

---

Billy Newsom, webmaster of The Motherboard HomeWorld

http://www.motherboards.org/

Motherboard questions? MAILTO:spot@motherboards.org

Advertise your PC business. MAILTO:business@motherboards.org

================================

Eric Ward - URLwir (netpost@netpost.com)
Tue, 11 Nov 1997 01:18:24 -0500 (EST)

Roy,

As you have personally heard me preach in person since
the first incidence of search engine manipulation in
back in 1932, you are *exactly* correct. :)

I remember taking the podium at Web Advertising 96,
and trying to explain why search engines, in their
current (and still today) state of technology, are
absolutely 100% useless to everyone except the people
who are willing to spend 8 hours a day 365 days a year
massaging, tweaking, tuning, adjusting, toning,
tricking, poaching, and otherwise changing their HTML
on a daily basis for every single search engine.

The road to madness that way lies...

However, the powers these beasts wield is mighty, as
the currency of the Web is still hits, and the big 7
search engines get a massive amount of them. They are
right now trying to maintain traffic and leverage it
into new business, as they know they truth. They just
don't say it out loud.

It can be seen in the way every single search engine
has moved into new territory (free email service, news,
shopping guides), and in many cases into other's
territory (each search engine now has an index, too,
very Yahoo-ish in nature.

There are several possible fixes, though each has its
problems:

1). Stop with the core-dump results pile approach.
Rather then telling me there were 4,387,102 matches to
the words albino poodle fungus, tell me that I have to
refine my search further before getting results, by
submiting additonal words or topics or phrases. Make
me do this until I have narrowed the results to a
handful.

2). Take the indexing algorithm out of the hands of the
search engine, and put it into the hands of the
searcher. Let me decide how I want you ranking the
pages based on 5 or 6 radio buttons or checkboxes.
(This is what boolean is supposed to do, but aint
nobody learnin' boolean so they can buy underware)

3). Moderated search engines. I don't mean a
moderated or human reviwed directory, like Yahoo, but a
search engine that does keyword searches, full text,
and reviews all pages before accepting and indexing
them. Impossible? I guess.

4). Fee-based inclusion search engine. You want in?
You agree to pay an annual fee, and agree to a set of
rules for your pages and Meta Tags. I bet this would
eliminate the worst 95% of spammers.

I can't say that any of the above scenarios are
workable, but #1 seems the most promising.

Eric Ward
The WardGroup -- NetPOST & URLwire
---------------------------------------------------------
-- Awareness For Significant Web Launches and Events ----
-- http://www.netpost.com & http://www.urlwire.com ----
. Site News Sharing With The Right People and Places
. Content Specific URL Submission Planning and Campaigns
. Speaker, C|Net, iWorld, and Thunderlizard Conferences

================================

Tony SanFilippo (tsanfili@expert-market.com)
Tue, 11 Nov 1997 14:02:51 -0700

I agree that search engines are in need of an evolutionary change.
Although their faults are another persons gain.

Industry specific sites will becoming more and more popular simply because
they can save the users time.

The Expert Marketplace (www.expert-market.com) a FREE industry specific
site for companies looking to hire consultants is the site I represent.
This site is a great example how companies can group together to leverage
the power of the Internet and gain larger marketing prominance. The site
features a database of more than 200,000 consultants only.

I too used to spend a lot of time and energy on getting to the top of
search engine listings. But, found they change too often to keep up.

Now the site advertises on most major search engines to ensure that it
comes up to the top of most consultant searches.

I would love to hear of other industry specific sights if list members have
them.

Thanks,
Tony SanFilippo

================================

John Schick (jschick@netgambit.com)
Tue, 11 Nov 1997 11:57:57 -0600

> I submit that search engines are dying. In fact, I would say
> they are dead already and just don't know it yet

In a survey we conducted for Submit-It's PositionAgent, over 70% of
respondents said they depend on search engine listings for 20% or more
of their traffic. Without fretting about search engine rankings, sites,
especially those that don't have a large promotion budget, can optimize
the pages they submit, and get hundreds or thousands of click-through's
from search engine listings every month virtually for free. It's still
one of the best promotion deals available.

----------------------------------------------------------------
John Schick Consultant for http://www.positionagent.com
jschick@netgambit.com http://www.adresource.com
Submit-It's PositionAgent-Monitor Website Search Engine Rankings
AdResource 500 Web Advertising & Marketing Resources
312-201-0489 Co-Author-Getting Hits,Speaker/Author Web Ad'96-'98
----------------------------------------------------------------

================================

Ray Taylor (taylor@bizbiz.com)
Tue, 11 Nov 1997 21:18:26 +0000

What was it that Mark Twain said about premature obituaries?

I don't think search engines are dead but it sure is time that their
owners invested some time, effort and money in them. In particular:

1. Cleaning up the content - Alta Vista still lists a whole lot of junk
from '95, presumably because they get the hardware for free
2. Customer service - I spent weeks trying to buy some ads from
Infoseek a while back then gave up
3. Creating a meaningful user interface - at the moment they are all
trying to compete with the newspapers for original content when what
they should be doing is adding value to the job of finding whatms
already out there

Perhaps it's also time to say goodbye to the free lunch. I would happily
pay a subscription fee for the right to have sites listed on a decent
index, provided I got good service in return, a guaranteed place in
appropriate sections and sub-sections for my clients, and a 24-hour
turnaround. And so long as the site owner spent some money on promoting
the site via print and broadcast media.

But since I have to work hard to get any kind of return for my expensive
banner campaigns, I think the chances of getting a good indexing service
for a reasonable subscription are pretty remote.

Search engines are not dead itms just that their owners are badly in
need of a slap around the face.

Ray Taylor
New Media Communications, London
http://www.bizbiz.com
+44 181 639 0015

================================

Christine (ryave@netservices.com)
Tue, 11 Nov 1997 12:06:33 -0400

Hi Richard-

In response to your post, I must *humbly* disagree. Sure, for those of us who
have been around for awhile, they're getting a little boring, outdated and
annoying. And seasoned Internet marketers know the search engines are only a
very small tool when it comes to promoting a site. However, try telling that
to my clients and the rest of the users out there.

I'll put together an entire marketing package consisting of search engines,
newsgroups, cross linking, online events, banner advertisements and
conventional marketing strategies -- and you know what my clients say? "How
come we're coming up fifth on InfoSeek instead of first? Can you please fix
this?"

This happens again and again and again. It's definitely pulling teeth to get
them to promote their sites in traditional media, and they believe strongly
that search engine positioning is the end-all, no matter what we tell them.

I also think the traffic the search engines get proves they're not going
anywhere. As I said, we've been here awhile. But many people are just
getting on, just beginning to learn how the Internet works. Those newbies are
heading straight for the search engines to try to make sense of it all.

Honestly, I still use them a lot to find sites -- usually first. It's just
easier -- if you know how to search properly.

I talk to people every day that say, "I don't know, this is all new to us
still". Or, when I quickly rattle off "http://" when giving a web site
address, they're saying "slow down please, okay now, h - t - t - p
....Backslash? Forward slash? Where's that? Where's the question mark?"

No kidding. We have a long way to go. I wouldn't count the search engines
out just yet. But how nice it would be to stop worrying about who's on
top.....;-)

Christine Ryave
Internet Marketing Director
Internet Services Corporation

˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜
http://www.netservices.com
˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜

================================

Keith Pieper (merle@specktrum.com)
Wed, 12 Nov 1997 11:47:55 +0000

Roy,

I would agree that searching is cumbersome, engines have lots of trash
in them, and have volatile information, and that perhaps there is an
inverse relationship with traffic derivatves between engines and
promotion. However, if you can quantify teh value of your traffic from
search engines and it has a positive ROI, regardless of how much traffic
your site gets from search engines, search engines are still an
important component of your complete marketing plan. Of course the ore
you advertise and promote through other channels the more your search
engine traffic seems insignficant. Consider your target market - are you
reaching all prossible prosects from search engines alone? PR alone?
Advertising alone? I assure you each one provides exposure to different
market segment. Furthermore, search engines are unique in that users
are in a "search mode". Often they don't know they are looking for you
until they stumble across your listing. Few medias offer a real-time
seek and find component. As far as spam and junk in engines and the
difficulty formulating an accurate search string - give it time. We are
so early into the technology. It can only get better. As far as
information that changes constantly - well you'd better have someone out
there that knows how to monitor and maintain your listing. Consider
search engines as any business environment - things are constantly
changing. If you can tell me that you don't often change your business
strategies to target the number one "position" in the market, let me
know what market you're in. The business world is volatile just like
search engines - you must invest in maintaining your competitive
position.

--

Keith Pieper

Chief Idea Officer (merle@specktrum.com)

Specktrum Idea Technologies (http://www.specktrum.com)

1603 Farnam St. Suite 214, Omaha, NE 68102, 402-346-0668

================================

Bob Schmidt (schmidt@magicnet.net)
Tue, 11 Nov 1997 23:39:11 -0500

Richard Hoy writes,

>So what do you guys think?

Well, I think you have come to the same conclusion that most Internet
marketers have already come to, namely, that to be master of your own fate,
you must be prepared to pay for promotion.

However, that said, a modest expenditure and a modest amount of work
registering and re-registering with the search engines (doesn't necessarily
imply spamming BTW) will produce results that are effective at generating
traffic and will do so cost effectively. So I really don't see that s.e.
are dead as far as the marketer is concerned.

In addition, the search engines continue to be powerful and flexible venues
for banner ads, offering both broad reach and custom targeting matched by
few other Internet sites.

>So lets look at what we have here:
>
>1.) An inverse relationship between the level of site promotion and the
>percent of traffic from search engines.

How though, could it possibly be otherwise? IOW, suppose you spent a lot of
money on banners only to find out that "free" registrations with s.e.
produced most of your traffic? That would be extremely disheartening, to
say the least! Indeed, if that were the case, I would concur that s.e. are
dead. Thankfully, it is not.

>2.) Tools that are so dynamic they change their content every few seconds.
>(In Altavista's case, a new page of info every 4.3 seconds.)

Hmm. Sounds like compelling content to me. Don't we want our s.e. to be
fresh and up to date?

>3.) Tools containing a significant percentage of the deceptive information.
>(In Altavista's case, 50%.)

No communications medium, not even the Internet, is free of noise. That
comes with the territory. Users have learned to tolerate it, marketer will
have to, too.

>4.) Tools requiring you to have a Ph.D. in boolean logic to even hope to
>use them effectively.

No argument from me on this one. But, it is possible that the slightly
confused searcher is more likely to notice a banner ad?

>How can such an unstable system survive? Moreover, how can you ever hope to
>be on top of it for long?

This is known as a queue jumping strategy. Anyone who has ever had a P*
account is familiar with this one where everyone tries to get their message
to rise to the top of the topic list on P*'s bulletin boards over the howls
of protest from P*'s bulletin board babysitters. I'm afraid that strategy
was a goner long ago for any major keyword category on search engines. That
does not mean your site won't be noticed by enough people, however.

>So in closing, I submit that search engines are dying. In fact, I would say
>they are dead already and just don't know it yet -

Don't count them out yet. There are still tens of millions a day who use them.

Bob Schmidt
www.provider.com
Author of The Geek's Guide to Internet Business Success
The Definitive Business Blueprint for Internet Designers, Developers,
Programmers, Marketers, Consultants and Service Providers
http://provider.com/geeksguide/
ISBN 0-442-02557-2

================================

Rainmaker (mosaic1@ix.netcom.com)
Tue, 11 Nov 1997 12:43:13 -0500

Richard Hoy wrote:

>I'm beginning to believe that search engines are a dead-end technology and
>fretting over where your site comes up is a big waste of time. I'm now
>advising clients that we create good META tags, submit the site and then
>forget it.

Richard, I too used to believe this. Until we got to understand
how search engines work, and recognize they are the second (or
third) level of promotion and are very important. I don't know
if I posted these stats that we did earlier this year. If so forgive me:

On April 17, 1997 we launched our Automated Press Releases
service. We put the home page out at
two different locations, with links back to the remaining pages in the site.

On one site we submitted it to search engines only, using a
service where it was submitted to 200 search engines and were
confirmed on 125.

On the second we did not submit it to any search engine. Rather
we sent out a press release to approx 800 publication contacts,
a message to prior visitors to another site of ours, and we
mentioned it on some of the newslists that we are on. We also
sent a fax broadcast to approx 1,000 people on one of our fax
broadcast lists (don't know if they have Web access or not).

The first week results:

Page on search engines - 24 visitors with no orders or e-messages to us.
The second site - 997 visitors with 247 e-messages or orders to us.

Depending on the keyword selected, we came up pretty high on the
search engines.

We dropped the search engine site, and "un-submitted" it on search engines.

My comment at the time was "IMHO search engines are only good if
you have a branded product or are well-known or you have some
free/fun stuff. For business-to-business, search engines are
like a gigantic Yellow Page directory. I don't know about you,
but I never got any business from the Yellow Pages."

That was in May. Today we are getting most of our business from
search engines. On the top 10 search engines we appear as #1 or
#2 on five of them, and within the top 12 names on the others.
In most cases we are listed more than one time.

A note about our business. As of the first of the year, all of
our business (except for one consulting client) comes from the
Net. Our business is marketing (including our "Rainmaking"),
management consulting, Web design and development and software.
We have three offices and three partners with a staff of 19. My
function is marketing. One partner handles the software business
and the other handles the Web design. Our clients are world-wide.

>What sealed it for me, though, was the recent article in Business Week
>about search engine spamming. Louis Monier, AltaVista's technical director,
>is quoted as saying he estimates that half of the 20,000 pages added to
>Altavista everyday are spam schemes. (See the full story at:
>http://www.businessweek.com/1997/46/b3553162.htm ).
>

A major problem for search engines. Folks are writing multiple
keywords in "white on white" which means your don't see the
keywords, but the search engines do.

>So lets look at what we have here:
>
>1.) An inverse relationship between the level of site promotion and the
>percent of traffic from search engines.
>
>2.) Tools that are so dynamic they change their content every few seconds.
>(In Altavista's case, a new page of info every 4.3 seconds.)
>
>3.) Tools containing a significant percentage of the deceptive information.
>(In Altavista's case, 50%.)
>
>4.) Tools requiring you to have a Ph.D. in boolean logic to even hope to
>use them effectively.
>

IMHO the trick is not to abandon search engines, rather to work
with them, learn them, understand them and use them to get
**more** traffic. They are like anything else -- a tool for
promoting your business.

Let's say you were a html programmer, and the standards changed
again. Would you drop html (if you could)? What about the
various idiosyncrasies with browsers? Do you ignore them, or do
you work around them? Same holds true for search engines.

If you subscribe to Danny Sullivan's search engine report, or at
least go to his site often http://www.searchenginewatch.com you
will get a better understanding of how they work.

BTW, we offer a service (Marketing Your Web - MYWEB), part of
which includes recommendations to get you on search favorably.

>How can such an unstable system survive? Moreover, how can you ever hope to
>be on top of it for long?
>

It will change and improve as anything else will and does. Our
job is to learn how to change and improve with it.

>So in closing, I submit that search engines are dying. In fact, I would say
>they are dead already and just don't know it yet - gone the way of the
>reciprocal link exchange and the "you have a cool page" award as an
>effective promotional tool. A victim of their own success.
>

Sounds like that famous statement "the rumors of my demise have
been greatly exaggerated." . Search engines are a vital part
of the Net and will continue to be. I know my opinion of them
changed once I learned how to use them effectively, and once I
realized they are the second wave of promotion and just another
tool for marketing success.

George

_______________________________________________
George Matyjewicz "Rainmaker Extraordinaire"
Managing Partner http://www.gapent.com/rainmaking/
GAP Enterprises, Ltd. mailto:georgem@gapent.com
http://www.gapent.com
Tel: (201) 939-8533 Ext 821 Fax: (201) 460-3740
Automated Press Releases: http://www.gapent.com/pr/
Specializing in Professional Firm "Rainmaking" programs.

================================

Carmen Hermosillo (Carmen.Hermosillo@seagatesoftware.com)
Wed, 12 Nov 1997 08:43:12 -0800

I agree completely with the idea that search engines are dying with
the exception that I think you did not go far enough with it. I think
that the whole idea of navigating static sites and pages is terminal.
The search engines, and the men and women who spam them, are only a
symptom. Furthermore, it seems to me that given the development of
Internet2 and the further development of extranets, I sometimes think
that Internet1 will become a place full of nicely rendered electronic
copies of printed marketing brochures visited primarily by members of
marcomm departments and ad agencies. Interstitial pages and
increasing awareness of & resistance to data mining, etc., among
consumers is speeding this process along nicely.

Thanks for your time.

Carmen Hermosillo
WEB DEVELOPMENT
Seagate Software
carmen.hermosillo@seagatesoftware.com

================================

Wayne Kessler (wayne26@epix.net)
Wed, 12 Nov 1997 12:03:14 -0600

I'm going to disagree with the premise of how Search Engines should be used
by organizations to promote their site.

We try to tell clients to use the Search Engines to *find* sites for links,
not just depend on them for the original link. Good methods for a search
engine such as Alta Vista are:

Searching for the name of the client for possible links
Searching for references to similar sites as the client for
possible links - including competition
Search for and/or/not combinations to find subject material of interest for
possible links and banner advertising

Search engines aren't dead. But spamming of them to increase visits sure
is. Any organization with a site should bear some responsibility of either
developing or hiring some expertise to increase their presence on the
Internet. Spamming the search engines doesn't qualify.

And if an organization isn't going to make a small effort to promote their
site other than search engines, then it doesn't have any basis to complain
if it doesn't get satisfactory results. It's akin to opening a store, and
assuming that being in the White Pages is all the advertising you need.

And for all those folks who paid $50 to have their sites listed on 300
search engines and indexes got what they paid for.

Wayne Kessler
Kessler Freedman, Inc.
http://www.penncen.com

================================

Kevin Leathers (kevin.leathers@obgyn.net)
Wed, 12 Nov 1997 11:55:22 -0600

Ray Taylor wrote:

> Perhaps it's also time to say goodbye to the free lunch. I would
> happily pay a subscription fee for the right to have sites listed on a decent
> index, provided I got good service in return, a guaranteed place in
> appropriate sections and sub-sections for my clients, and a 24-hour
> turnaround. And so long as the site owner spent some money on
> promoting the site via print and broadcast media.

Ray made some good points in his post and I will not address them, but
the above statement did not make much sense to me. If the only way sites
get listed with a search service is to pay, I would not use it as a
search tool. The reason, there is no way they got every single web site
to pay (not even all the good ones), therefore it is not a comprehensive
search tool, Period. Attempts at this have been going on for quite a
while, through either Internet malls or Name Brand Sites. I think it was
AT&T that offered companies the opportunity to be viewed by millions by
positioning them in some directory service (very expensive and very
selective), I don't know where it is now, but there is no mention of it
on www.att.com. Further, mega sites and networks like AOL, Pathfinder
etc., as much as they try to offer a wide variety of subjects, they
force feed info. from select channels.

For all intensive purposes, and as much as I may complain about them,
the basic premise of Search Engines; free listings, the fact that they
may find you even if you don't apply and the fact that results are not
based on how deep someone's pockets are, is what makes them
fundamentally work. Issues of quality of searches is a different story.
They are non-biased. I believe a pay for being listed service would be a
bit biased. Look at CitySearch <http://www.citysearch.com/> the only way
to get a link from their glorified Yellow Pages is to buy their
template/database driven web pages on their server and guess what, the
more pages you buy the higher your listing.

Now, so that I don't sound like a total pessimist, their is one very
good site that is culling the internet, categorizing, and ranking sites
in major categories and if they continue to update it will provide a
valuable tool. It is Encyclopedia Britannica at <http://www.ebig.com/>
They selected only 65,000 sites on all of the Internet that they
considered noteworthy (no stars, but got listed) and ranked sites up to
3 stars (only 30 of 65,000). I found them when we were advised that we
received a 3 star ranking, and now use them as a valuable resource.

--

Kevin Leathers -- Director, Sales & Marketing -- OBGYN.net

A Service of Elecomm Internet Applications Corporation

-- <http://www.obgyn.net> --

-- mailto:kevin@obgyn.net -- Phone:(512)451-2842 --

"The Universe of Women's Health for Medical Professionals, Women

& Industry" ONLINE MEDIA KIT: <http://www.obgyn.net/advert/advert.htm>

================================

Dave Myers (dmyers@mountainvalley.com)
Wed, 12 Nov 1997 13:48:09 -0400

I've read this thread with interest, and have a few comments to add:

Although the "Big 7" search engines and directories seem to be firmly
entrenched at this stage of the game, it's apparent to me that the first of
them (or a new competitor) to develop anti-spam technology that is
workable, along with timely processing, quality customer service, and a
lowest-common-denominator friendly interface, should rule the genre...at
least theoretically.

You have to wonder how committed the engines are to cleaning up spamdexing-
paying "lip service" to it in press releases is one thing, taking concrete
action is another. I'm sure it's a gargantuan task, but I personally do not
feel it is as high a priority as they claim. This opinion is based on
several experiences I've had with engines while reporting instances of
blatant spamdexing in high-ranking listings in my keywords (as an aside, I
have absolutely no compunctions about reporting it, since I spend a great
deal of time optimizing my pages within the "rules", and am a firm believer
in level playing fields).

In one incident, I exchanged several email messages with a tech, who
claimed to have checked a page I questionsed and "saw nothing out of line".
I wrote back with quoted code from the page in question, showing *7*
seperate title tags, EACH with a minimum of *19* iterations of the keywords
in question. You can do the math. Since we were talking title tags, we're
obviously looking at the beginning of the page code, so I can't even
rationalize that it was buried in the page and the tech was just busy.

After I took the time to report and illustrate this, the tech agreed that
this was decidedly improper, and stated that the page would be removed. 5
weeks later, it's still there.

This is not the first incident of this sort, which makes me wonder about
the engines' commitment to cleaning things up. Spamdexing is becoming the
norm, one could posit...as the natural reaction to seeing others place
above a well-thought-out page by "trained chimp typing contest" methods
might be the old "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" approach. I won't stoop
to that, but don't think it hadn't at least entered my mind.

In the current climate, I must concur with an earlier comment that the best
approach is to take some time choosing your METAs, submit your pages, and
then move on to some more productive means of promoting your page. Resubmit
every couple months to stay within the lead times some engines take to
update your page (in other words, if you submit every two months, they'll
update your *last* submission as you're making this one).

Sincerely,

Dave Myers
Mountain Valley Properties

Mountain Valley Properties Gatlinburg & Pigeon Forge's
513 Wears Valley Rd. Ste. 2 finest chalets & cabins
Pigeon Forge, TN 37863
================================

David Prager (dsprager@mailbox.syr.edu)
Wed, 12 Nov 1997 02:40:43 -0500 (EST)

A few posts ago, Richard Hoy wrote:

> I base this newfound philosophy on a couple of things. First, I've noticed
> on the sites we manage that the percent of traffic from search engines
> drops as the investment in other types promotion increase.

Hi. Long time lurker, first time poster. Yay, me.
I don't think you've come to the correct conclusion following the
analysis of your data. You said that the sites which you did not promote
too heavily got that majority of their traffic from the search engines,
while the sites you promoted got the majority of their traffic (94%) from
the promotions themselves. Thus, you concluded, the search engine is no
longer a viable means of finding information on the net.
I don't think your data can be interpreted as a reflection
on the value of the search engine. Rather, I submit that this is simply a
reflection of the effectiveness of your particular methods of Internet
promotion.
As an example, lets talk about your Y2K site. Previous to your
promotional campaign, the only way people could find out about your site
was through the search engines, so it makes sense that most of the traffic
on your site came via the search engines. However, once you started your
promotional campaign, you spread your site across the net in magazine
articles, banner ads, site sponsorships, and whatever. So naturally, a
lesser percentage of your traffic came from search engines, and a greater
percentage started coming from your promotions.
So, previous to your promotions, when people searched for the Y2K
problem, they got a lot of choices, only a few of which lead to your site.
However, the more you promote, the more pages will link to your site,
which means you will be getting less traffic directly from the search
engines, and more traffic via other pages with Y2K-related content.
However, how are most people likely to find out about these other
Y2K-related sites? Probably through the search engines, so if the search
engines lead the reader to a site that features one of your promotions,
the search engine has still given you traffic, albeit in a more indirect
fashion.
The point is, if you have data showing that most of your traffic
comes from promotions, that does not mean the search engine is no longer a
necessary technology. Rather, that just shows the effectiveness of your
promotional campaign in driving traffic.
People will always need a way to find information related to a
specific subject on the web, so the search engine will always be around
and always be significant. However, your promotions should be used to
ensure that your site can be accessed from other sites. The more sites
you can be accessed from, the better the chances are that a web search can
lead a reader to your site, either directly or indirectly.

Dave Prager General Manager
Junior Advertising Major Orange Source
Syracuse University http://source.syr.edu

================================

Paul J. Bruemmer (paul@web-ignite.com)
Wed, 12 Nov 1997 10:25:10 -0800 (PST)

MHO - The message I read in the recent threads on search engines:
Can't live with em, can't live without em :)

Eighteen (18) months ago I began working on search engine position
improvement, legitimately -- no spamdexing, no phantom pixels,
no white on white.

Here's the good, the bad, and the ugly in providing
high-quality search engine traffic by means of good positioning.

First, in order to have an authentic search engine position improvement
program, we needed a method for tracking the position of our specific
client links. A client in good postion Wednesday November 12 at 8:12AM
pst, has no guarantee of being in good position Thursday November 13 at
8:12AM pst. That's a fact! Links move around a lot.

Second, we needed to corral a very specific target audience using carefully
selected keyword phrases. A client selling "computer hard drives" is not
well served with the keyword "computers."

Third, we needed a system to write, submit, track, and maintain position.
A system that helps the search engines do what they're designed to do.
No tricks, and certainly no clients who want the keyword "Michael Jordan"
for a "shopping mall."

It took eighteen (18) months to develop a search engine position improvement
system that meets ethical guidelines and technical criteria; we just
launched "ClientDirect" November 1,1997. http://www.clientdirect.com

We do not "promise #1" or "guarantee first page." We sell high-quality
visitors on a "pay per click-through pricing model." We average a 50% to 70%
success rate in search engine position improvement. For this reason, we
write, track, and maintain multiple documents for each client.
It is labor intensive and requires constant monitoring.

We are like the men and women working on your streets and roadways, fixing
potholes everyday so you can drive safely on the highways.

We constantly write and submit ethical keyword phrase content links to the
top twelve (12) search engines. We maintain our clients' content links for
the duration of their contract, which is based on the number of visitors
they have purchased.

We staff 13 professionals in six offices throughout the United States and
take pride in providing legitimate search engine positioning improvement
techniques. I published sixteen (16) Professional Features on my site,
telling people "how we do it." There are no "tricks," and it is safe to say
that it works very well.

The search engines like us, we use only their approved techniques. The
client loves us, they only pay for results. And the end user appreciates
finding what they're looking for, example: "european ski resorts."

As far as "are search engines dying"? I think Richard did an excellent job
of waking us up!! ;-) We must be on constant alert for new and ethical
means of promoting/marketing our clients.

Search engine traffic is very important, it is "PULL" marketing. People
self-directing themselves, and that's what the Internet is all about. While
broadcast marketing has always been "the standard" (TV commercials, Radio
announcements, print ads), the Internet, in the beginning, offered freedom
from BROADCAST messages, allowing people to go where they want, when they
want. Of course the Net is changing, and we'll all change right along with it.

Corraling search engine traffic to client sites with the right keywords is
very important. BUT, it's only one of many promotional strategies to use.
It's not a "stand alone" marketing plan. Search engines are best used as
part of an "integrated marketing plan," as one of many available tools.

Lastly, thank you Richard -- this group of participants on your o-a list
have enhanced my perspective, enriched my profession and keep me on my toes!!

Thanks for moderating this very valuable disscusion list.

Best regards,

Paul J. Bruemmer

----------------------------------------------------
Paul J. Bruemmer 805-965-0543
ClientDirect Division paul@web-ignite.com

Web-Ignite Corporation: http://www.Web-Ignite.com

================================

liam@bizz.ie
Thu, 13 Nov 1997 11:33:09 +0000

Richard,

Search engines are becoming increasingly irrelevant.
As Eric noted, they have realised this themselves as
can be seen by their rush into other services while they
still have an audience.

On a recent campaign for a client I submitted the site
(manually) to around 50 search engines and directories.
Checking six weeks later, I found that about 30 had
listed the site.

The crunch for me was on checking the logs to discover
that only 5% of total traffic was coming from all the search
engines combined. Furthermore, 95% of search engine traffic
was coming from the top seven and three local directories.

ONE good strategic link was bringing in 5 times the
total search engine traffic.

Moral of the story:
Take a little care with your title and META tags
and submit to the top seven. Take particular care
with Yahoo. Then concentrate on the other elements
of your online marketing campaign....strategic links,
PR, banners, topic specific directories, etc.

Both Eric Ward and Ray Taylor mention fee paying
listings. I really think that this is the way forward.

In fact, I don't understand why Yahoo, now that they
have established themselves as the major gateway,
do not charge for listings. If a client was guaranteed
a placement where I wanted it, as I wanted it, with
a 24 hour turnaround time, I would be prepared to pay.

regards,

Liam

Liam Morrison mailto:liam@bizz.ie
bizz media http://www.bizz.ie
Professional online campaigns for
software and travel related sites
tel 353-1-8395353 fax 353-1-8395351

================================

Donna Dolezal Zelzer (djz@efn.org)
Wed, 12 Nov 1997 10:40:15 -0800

At 9:18 PM +0000 11/11/1997, Ray Taylor made this statement of rare insight:

>
> Perhaps it's also time to say goodbye to the free lunch. I would happily
> pay a subscription fee for the right to have sites listed on a decent
> index, provided I got good service in return, a guaranteed place in
> appropriate sections and sub-sections for my clients, and a 24-hour
> turnaround. And so long as the site owner spent some money on promoting
> the site via print and broadcast media.

I tend to disagree. Not every good site with useful content can afford to
pay for a listing, and if sites who can pay are the only ones listed, or
get preferential treatment, this is unfair to people who come to the search
engines. (Not to mention unfair to the smaller sites.)

To me, a search engine should not have any bias towards sites with more
money to spend. If I'm looking for information on say, bears, I don't want
to find only commercial sites about hunting resorts and the like. I want to
find content-rich sites with actual information -- sites that may not have
a budget to buy a listing in a search engine.

Now, this type of thing would be ok if the search engine clearly indicated
that this was the case and warned the user that the only sites listed are
those that have paid for a listing. (And if there were still search engines
that did not charge for listings.)

As to the original question, are search engines dying? I think not. Their
percentage contribution to your vistors may drop with time, but there are
always going to be people newly online or with a new interest in whatever
you have to offer who have no other way to find you except through the
search engines.

Donna

---------------------
Donna Dolezal Zelzer
The Online Birth Center (pregnancy, birth, midwifery, breastfeeding)
http://www.efn.org/˜djz/birth/birthindex.html
Subscribe to the OBC News -- a free weekly newsletter!
Send a message to mailto:Majordomo@efn.org
and put _only_ the words
subscribe obcnews

================================

Jim Sullivan (Jims@Outpost.com)
Fri, 14 Nov 1997 11:45:13 -0500

As part of my responsibilities here at Cyberian Outpost (we sell Mac and
PC computer products online) I monitor our performance in the search
engines. It is only part of our overall efforts to drive traffic to our
site but worth the effort to monitor and hopefully maximize our
performance in.

Recently, I have started to notice that pages from directories like
Yahoo are showing up at the top of search results. In Alta Vista for
instance, if you search on the word computers, pages from WebCrawler's
channels come up at the top and there are about 10-12 pages from Yahoo
listed in the top 20-30. I imagine these pages show up because they are
probably text intensive pages that mention the searched for keyword
quite frequently. If we used the word computers on our home page as many
times we might be accused of keyword loading and get thrown out. For the
search engines to be more representative of the URL submissions process
it seems to me that directory/channel pages found by their robots and
spiders should be excluded from the cataloging. Of course, another way
to look at it is that you are getting double exposure for a listing in
those directories/channels.

Overall, reliance on traffic from search engines is dropping for us. We
of course rely heavily on ad banners, sponsorships and exclusive
placements on heavily trafficed sites ( including some search engines ).
We are currently involved with the Starship Troopers movie website and
with some of the contest oriented sites that meet our criteria for
target audience. In addition, I contact our product vendors to make sure
we are listed in their "Where to Buy" sections. Also, we are currently
rolling out our Affiliates Network program and we expect very good
results from this effort.

I think for us, the search engines are less important than they might be
for smaller more niche oriented sites. We have to have a more broad
based promotion effort because we are looking for lots of traffic, but
even a smaller site should not rely on just one traffic producing area.
Until something better comes along the search engines are still an
important asset to be utilized by us all but only as part of a broad
based promotion plan.

Jim Sullivan

Jim Sullivan
Link Master
Cyberian Outpost http://www.outpost.com
860-927-2050 ext. 249
"It's not a bug, it's a feature."

================================

Brian Taylor (btaylor@inreach.com)
Thu, 13 Nov 1997 05:08:37 -0800

I found the opinion that search engines are dying/dead astonishing. To
the contrary, they are actually becoming more and more capable. While a
few use Boolean searches, most actually do not, or at least permit you
to use more "natural language" searches, such as the entry of a phrase,
or simply a string of keywords, to which you can attach "+" and "-"
signs to force inclusion or exclusion. Add to this the fact that some
of the search engine providers perform reviews and subject grouping or
categorization, which can impose some organization on your search.

The author of this astonishing posting is misreading the whole Web
phenomenon. Content has come online at an astonishing rate which has
resulted in chaos. It takes time for search engines to be developed,
and, once developed, to begin to impose "order" on this chaos. Then, it
takes time for the user community to become savvy in search techniques.
As these processes begin to stabilize, content providers begin to
respond by deliberately shaping their content so that search engines can
find and catalogue them.

As a corporate intelligence officer, I use most of the search engines
every day, and all of them during a given week. Naturally, as I have
used them, I have learned about them. Even expert use will never
preclude some results which are not "on target", but so what? I can
easily tell the difference....ultimately my own brain is the final
filter!

On the other hand, much of the problem lies instead with the content
providers.....those who simply want to attract traffic and in an effort
to do so offer up either plain bogus content, or content which isn't
worth visiting. This is not the fault of the search engine! The
posting suggested to me one who is too concentrated on traffic, and who
does not understand that IF YOU OFFER VALUABLE CONTENT you will have
traffic. Maybe not today, but I never see much on this list about the
power of word-of-mouth to generate traffic....this is a PARTICULARLY
powerful phenomenon among professionals who use the Web, or people who
belong to any kind of special interest group. I belong to a number of
lists. Today, I have already visited about twenty sites, no fewer than
eight of which were directly suggested in newsgroups or listserver
postings.

The scenario I see down the road, perhaps five years, is the ubiquitous
use of a combination of intelligent agents and search engines which are
designed for their use. I would warn you all that if you cannot become
focused on CONTENT instead of TRAFFIC, your site is very likely to be
invisible to both.

Brian Taylor
Corporate Intelligence Specialist

================================

Ray Taylor (taylor@bizbiz.com)
Fri, 14 Nov 1997 09:54:36 +0000

Kevin Leathers wrote:
>
> Ray Taylor wrote:
>
> > Perhaps it's also time to say goodbye to the free lunch. I would
> > happily pay a subscription fee for the right to have sites listed
> > on a decent index, provided I got good service in return, a
> > guaranteed place in appropriate sections and sub-sections for my
> > clients, and a 24-hour turnaround. And so long as the site owner
> > spent some money on promoting the site via print and broadcast > > media.
>
> Ray made some good points in his post and I will not address them, but
> the above statement did not make much sense to me. If the only way
> sites get listed with a search service is to pay, I would not use it
> as search tool. The reason, there is no way they got every single web >
>site to pay (not even all the good ones), therefore it is not a
> comprehensive search tool, Period.

Kevin is, of course, quite right. I have always been a bit of a dreamer
- good service from a search engine?

> Now, so that I don't sound like a total pessimist, their is one very
> good site that is culling the internet, categorizing, and ranking
> sites in major categories and if they continue to update it will
> provide a valuable tool. It is Encyclopedia Britannica at
> <http://www.ebig.com/> They selected only 65,000 sites on all of the
> Internet that they considered noteworthy (no stars, but got listed)
> and ranked sites up to 3 stars (only 30 of 65,000). I found them when >
>we were advised that we received a 3 star ranking, and now use them as a
>valuable resource.

Great! That's what an index should be! If you could build on this idea
and create a more concise and comprehensive index, with higher volume, a
powerful search engine, and make it known to the world, then that is
what the industry needs.

Here's the blueprint.

1. Create the index by first spidering appropriate, pre-programmed
areas, (or just buy an index complete from one of the current owners)
then using a team of reviewers to check each entry.

2. Reviewers edit one-sentence description taken initially from the home
page and/or META tags, but given a quick check for honesty. Reviewers
allocate keywords from a strict, hierarchical list.

3. Searches work on either the reviewers' descriptions or on the
reviewer-allocated keywords.

4. Restrict multiple entries

5. Invite 3rd parties to submit client sites on agreeing to a code of
conduct for responsible submissions. You could even issue them with
pro-formas allowing them to request keywords, etc. All free of charge of
course. Search engines and promoters should work together and squeeze
out the spam merchants.

6. Ban porn (and some other subjects) outright. This is not a moral
position. You are either interested in it or you are not. But it's a
hell of a timewaste for anyone trying to do anything valuable on the
Web. And there are many subjects that are difficult to index as a
result, as I am sure obgyn.net will tell you.

All this would require a very high investment but none of it would be
worthwhile unless you spent an equally high amount promoting the service
via the regular media as well as the Web.

If anyone knows where they can lay their hands on a few million dollars
of investment funding for such an enterprise, please contact me off
list.

Ray Taylor
Cloud Cuckoo Land and/or England
New Media Communications
http://www.bizbiz.com
+44 181 639 0015 (GMT)

================================

Harrison, Steve (merlin@advant.com)
Sun, 16 Nov 1997 20:46:35 -0600

Lots of good headscratching already posted on this topic, and getting in
late I'll keep my $0.02 brief.

I'm about 50:50 with Richard. Not ready to write-off search engines as dead
yet, especially for the small biz, individual entrepreneur and startup
commercial web sites. But do agree that search engines are grossly
over-trumped as being the core element of a marketing campaign. Could it be
that some less diligent practitioners of web marketing have been busy
marketing the idea at large that, since search engines are the easiest and
less time consuming aspect of a marketing campaign, that they are also the
most important?

My primary beef is with the search engine folks themselves. If the accolade
being pursued is that claim to "most relevant returns," as we all hope is
the case, it would seem more appropriate to post clear and precise
guidelines for what will be indexed and what will draw a penalization (for
excesses and spamdexing). This business of leaving serious and reputable
marketing services to guess what is the formula de jour for what works
strikes this marketer as counter-productive and only serves to encourage
outlandish shinanigans by the less reputable.

We have commercial clients who do seriously want to be found by their
primary keyword combos, and don't appreciate a respectable rankings for
appropriate searches taking a dive in position every so often as the search
engine folks agonize over how to eliminate all spams. Wish they would
settle on a set of algorithms, publish them as house rules, penalize for
abuse, and settle into some semblance of stability.

Steve Harrison, President
Web Merlin Marketing
http://www.bidness.com/merlin
merlin@bidness.com

================================

Paul J. Bruemmer (paul@web-ignite.com)
Sun, 16 Nov 1997 22:39:42 -0800 (PST)

On Fri, 14 Nov 1997 20:29:00 -0600 (CST) Richard Hoy wrote:

< <

<<1.) author meta tags for the client's site.
<<2.) assure the site architecture (e.g. page titles, links to the interior
< <<3.) author 10-, 25- and 50-word descriptions of a client's site.
<<4.) author keywords for the client's site.
<<5.) submit to the top dozen or so search engines/directories.
<<6.) submit the client site to industry-specific/regional directories.
<<7.) have a beer because it is Miller Time.

I'd like to offer a little more detail re: search engine position
improvement...for those who still believe it's worth the effort and want to
"work with" the search engines.

First, do not keyword spam or stuff aka spamdexing, do not use invisible
or semi-visible text, and do not use phantom pixels. These techniques will
get you in trouble.

Secondly, as Danny Sullivan http://www.searchenginewatch.com has mentioned
before...keyword selection is very important.

Step #1 -- Identify "one" (1) specific objective you want to accomplish with
your website. Be very specific.

Step #2 -- Identify a page within your website that best represents your
specific objective. Example: http://www.yourname.com/info.htm. Let's call
this your content link.

Step #3 -- Take your time, discuss with your co-workers, solicit your
clients, talk to your spouse (believe it or not they may have insight you
are not aware of) and distinguish one keyword phrase that best represents
your specific objective. Example: european ski resorts

Step #4 -- Install your meta tags on your content link. If you don't know
what meta tags are, or don't know how to create meta tags, go to a meta tag
generator such as: http://www.websitepromote.com/resources/meta
This software tool will create your meta tags and email them to you.

Step #5 -- Make a copy and rename your content link using your keyword
phrase. Example: http://www.yourname.com/yourkeywordphrase.htm. Make sure
this is a copy and now acts as a "splash" or "bridge" page. Special note:
Please consult your webmaster before you do any of this :)

Step #6 -- Make sure your content link page loads fast, has relevant keyword
text near the top of the page, a couple of short creative and relevant
paragraphs. Use words and combinations of words that the average person
would use in a search. Note: do not use your keyword phrase more than 1x.

*** Special note regarding keyword phrase selection ***

General terms like "hotel" use up visitors fast. Usually dropped after the
client realizes people looking for "hotel" immediately left their website
because they had no intention of going to a "hotel in Sweden."

Same with "skiing." It will drive a lot of traffic, yes.....but the traffic
is not qualified for our "skiing the alps" client.

It is purely from a "targeting" point of view that I raise a concern over
"general" keywords. Search Engines can be a source of "high-quality" traffic
when properly integrated.

**** Continuing...

Now... go to search engine "add url" pages and submit your content link
page. Example: http://www.yourname.com/yourkeywordphrase.htm. Start with
Infoseek, it tends to be the fastest ROI. Give it 20 minutes and see how you
did by searching your keyword phrase on Infoseek.

Be advised, there are a few dozen external influences you will have no
control over, we don't have the time or space available on Richard's o-a
discussion list to review all those factors. However, this is a fine example
of how you can get started in understanding how to work with search engines,
one at a time.

**** Special note about outsourcing services:

If you decide to subcontract these services out to professionals, a
word of caution -- pay for results or don't pay at all.

****

If you want to launch a new website or provide a "volume" of visitors, there
are hundreds if not thousands of banner networks to utilize -- again,
pay for results or don't pay at all.

But if you want to generate "high-quality" visitors and attract a specific
target audience -- search engines are a fantastic source when done properly.

With the right combination, you can achieve an excellent ROI.

Best regards,

Paul J. Bruemmer
------------------------------------------------------
Paul J. Bruemmer 805-564-7152
ClientDirect Division paul@web-ignite.com

Web-Ignite Corporation: http://www.Web-Ignite.com
------------------------------------------------------

================================

Steven Heath (Steven_Heath@grey.net)
Mon, 17 Nov 1997 16:24:09 -0700

I have been following this discussion and would like to throw some of my
thinking into the ring.

First, I tend to agree that search engines/directory listings have major
identity issues. I have spent about 15 hours among the top 10 or so in the
last 10 days and found that half the time I have trouble remembering what
one I am in as they all have similar features and look now, ie, classifieds, my
'insert name here', yadda yadda yadda.

So, Brand Indentiy and core business focus needs to be thought about other
than 'we want to be the home
page of as many Internet users is possible'.

Also, to defend search engines/diretory listings. Looking at referral log
shows many "no referrer" entries. Now, sure, these could be from PR,
bookmarks, proxy servers/firewalls etc. Now, lets say I found your site
via Yahoo and though "wow, cool, I just _luv_ this site". The odds are
significant that I will bookmark or otherwise remember the address and not
use Yahoo again to get to the site . So the next time I go to the site it shows
no referrer. So, this means that the search engine worked and gave you
traffic, you are just unable to track how many of these repeat visits occur.

Steven Heath
General Manager - Western Division
GreyInteractive Canada

Phone: (604) 687-1001 Email: Steven_Heath@grey.net
Web: http://www.grey.net

Canada's only complete Interactive Marketing Agency

================================

richard@tenagra.com
Fri, 14 Nov 1997 19:59:19 -0600 (CST)

Ok...I've read everyone's response to my premise that search engines are
dead. I thought I would respond to everyone in one message, rather that
individual posts.

First off, I went a bit extreme to see if anyone was still out there. With
the post level so low last week, I was desperately afraid I needed to call
Medic Alert because you had all fallen down and couldn't get up to your
keyboards.

Second, I will concede my original argument that search engines are dead.
They may not be dead, but they are certainly very, very ill. Optimize,
submit and forget it. The traffic you will squeeze out of constant tweaking
is tiny compared to the work involved.

Third, I would like to point out for clarity sake that search engines are
not the same as directories. People use the term to describe both, but they
work on entirely different principles.

A directory is a manually categorized set of links. Yahoo is a directory.
When you submit a site to Yahoo a person at Yahoo looks at your entry and
puts it where it should go in a hierarchy. Usually they follow the
recommendation you put in your registration form. But they can change how a
site is categorized, or reject a site submission outright. When you enter a
keyword into Yahoo, what it searches on is the description of the site you
provide when you fill out the registration form. So in Yahoo's case, it is
important that your site description contain the words people are most
likely to search on.

Search engines index content by sending a piece of software called a robot
to your site. When you register with a search engine what you are really
doing is getting your URL on a list to have the robot visit you. Sometimes
robots visit very quickly. Sometimes they take months. Each search engine
uses different algorithms to create an index of a site. Some look for META
tags, which are special codes you can insert into the HTML of a page. Other
search engines ignore META tags and actually look at the text on your
pages, building an index from that.

I feel pretty much the same about both directories and search engines as
far as submission strategy goes. However, I will point out that many
directories are better because:

1.) they can be built around a targeted subjects, and
2.) they have an inherent screening process, making it difficult to load
them with crap.

Now some specific comments:

"Danny Sullivan" wrote:

>I'd suggest doing a little more -- appropriate page titles, ensuring
>that things that are barriers to search engines are corrected, but
>basically, this is the correct attitude. Consider search engines,
>then move one. Check back maybe every few months -- don't be
>obsessive.

You're right. I oversimplified the process. There are several things to
consider when submitting.

Tom Hespos wrote:

>However, I don't think that this will mean the eventual demise of search
>engines. I think that this will ultimately force search engines to
>evolve into products that serve their users better. If spammers are
>ruining the ability of a search engine to serve its users by providing
>relevant content, then the search engine with the best anti-spamming
>technology will have a tremendous advantage in the marketplace.

The pure search engine model, like AltaVista, is just not scalable. I agree
that antispamming technology will help things, but you still have the
problem of legitimate pages competing with each other. You reach a point
(and I would argue that we are past it already) where entirely different
documents can be equally valid under one keyword. And the general public
has no idea how to use boolean logic to search on multiple terms. This is
why many search engines are trying to retrofit directories onto their
content and get away from having people do a pure search to find content.

Billy Newsom wrote:

>However, your conclusions were entirely in error. A small website (one
>which gets <250,000 impressions per month) will often attribute a good
>amount of its traffic to search engines and Yahoo For these sites, search
>engines will NEVER DIE!

If a large percentage of traffic to such sites is from search
engines/directories, it is because registering in such places is all that
has been actively done.

The point I am making is that there is a low ROI on constant search engine
optimization activities. And because of the spammming and such, the ROI is
dropping every day. If that same effort is put into other promotional
techniques, you see a much greater ROI.

Christine Ryave wrote:

>I'll put together an entire marketing package consisting of search engines,
>newsgroups, cross linking, online events, banner advertisements and
>conventional marketing strategies -- and you know what my clients say? "How
>come we're coming up fifth on InfoSeek instead of first? Can you please fix
>this?"

Christine, I feel your pain. ;-> I have the same problem. In fact, a factor
precipitating my post was that I just got through arguing with a client why
they could never be on top of search engine results.

In fact, here is what I wrote. You are welcome to use any part of it.

=====
Frankly, the whole search engine game is dicey. So much content is added to
the pool every day that there will always be someone who pushes you out of
the top. And since the algorithms search engines use are proprietary, few
really know precisely how they work. At best, we can guess based on
experience and optimize a site accordingly.

Essentially it boils down to the fact that words such as ,
and are in tens of thousands of documents. And the current search
tools just aren't precise enough to make 's site stand out
from all that noise every time.

That said, there are certainly things we can do to improve your standings.

Ultimately though, we strongly feel that 's Web site will be
best served by investing most of its promotional resources in PR and
advertising, both online and off-line.
=====

George Matyjewicz wrote:

>IMHO the trick is not to abandon search engines, rather to work
>with them, learn them, understand them and use them to get
>**more** traffic. They are like anything else -- a tool for
>promoting your business.

Well, it takes time "...to work with them, learn them, understand them...,"
as you put it. Especially when so much content is flowing into them every
second and changing the balance of the system. And my point is you need to
look at the ROI in doing this because it diminishes rapidly when compared
to other things you could be doing.

>Let's say you were a html programmer, and the standards changed
>again. Would you drop html (if you could)? What about the
>various idiosyncrasies with browsers? Do you ignore them, or do
>you work around them? Same holds true for search engines.

I don't think this is a fair analogy because HTML is the only way to create
Web pages. Search engines are not the only way to drive traffic to a site.

>If you subscribe to Danny Sullivan's search engine report, or at
>least go to his site often http://www.searchenginewatch.com you
>will get a better understanding of how they work.

I do and I read every word. Anyone who is serious in this business should
too. Danny is a genius on this subject, in my opinion. But even he agrees
that there is a point of diminishing return.

Dave Prager

> The point is, if you have data showing that most of your traffic
>comes from promotions, that does not mean the search engine is no longer a
>necessary technology. Rather, that just shows the effectiveness of your
>promotional campaign in driving traffic.

I see your point. But I also think it shows investing your resources
proportionally pays great dividends, thereby making search engines
unnecessary to you. And that is what you should strive for. In other words,
the time invested in screwing with search engines should be proportional to
the traffic they have the potential to generate.

Here is the submission strategy Tenagra has found most effective. This
covers both search engines and directories:

1.) author meta tags for the client's site.
2.) assure the site architecture (e.g. page titles, links to the interior
content on the front page) is optimized.

3.) author 10-, 25- and 50-word descriptions of a client's site.
4.) author keywords for the client's site.
5.) submit to the top dozen or so search engines/directories.
6.) submit the client site to industry-specific/regional directories.
7.) have a beer because it is Miller Time.

I'll leave you with this final thought. I'll choose Mark Welch as my
example because many on this list know the name well. Mark's site is a
small venture by most anyone's scale. I submit that Mark Welch as done more
to build awareness of his ideas and pages through his participation on this
list than any search engine has done for him. And he does it all with good
old PR applied in the right places, not tweaking his META tags.

You can too.

richard

--------------------------------------------------------
richard hoy
moderator, online advertising discussion list
director, marketing and client promotions
the tenagra corporation
http://www.tenagra.com/
p: 281.480.6300 | f: 281.480.7715 | e: rhoy@tenagra.com
--------------------------------------------------------