Re: Search Engine Promotions
WOLTER TJEENK WILLINK <WolterW_at_ISDC.NL> WROTE:
> - is there ever going to be a time when all web
> promotion techniques will be useless?
> - do we have to be afraid of loosing high quality
> search engine rankings, since I as a web marketer
> can bid on keywords like 'election' and 'mp3'
> while they don't have anything to do with my line
> of business?
Business people complaing about having their code
"stolen". You cannot steal meta tags and titles.
Keyword meta tags are not patentable or copyrightable.
Nor are titles. Commercial interests have tried
unsuccessfully to redefine Web technology by claiming
rights which don't exist.
Given two pages with identical title and keyword meta
tags (but substantively different content of equal
weight), the search engines will use other factors to
determine a ranking. Inbound links have become one of
the more important other factors. But there are
Goto.com positioned itself as a partner for commercial
Web sites. For the most part, only people who have
something to sell are going to pay for rankings.
Other search services have started charging for
listings in the hope that the business community,
eager for top rankings, will bear up the burden of
their revenue streams.
The problem is that such commercial listings dilute the
value of the search services' databases. Looksmart
appears to have gotten itself into trouble because
their policy is too stringent. They require all
sites who are not registered non-profit or government
organizations to pay just like the business sites.
The vast majority of good content providers cannot
afford to pay. Looksmart is now going to further
dilute the value of its database with Amazon listings.
Yahoo!, on the other hand, has restricted its paid
policy to its commercial categories. And their new
sponsored listings program isn't going to dilute the
Most of Goto's partners appear to be isolating the Goto
links in separate portions of the pages. That is,
NBCi sets up a special sidebar listing. Altavista
provides the links at the bottom of the page. And they
are listed as "sponsored links", etc. So people who
click on these links know they are responding to
advertisements. The ads are not being allowed to
dilute the databases (and the placement of these paid
links raises an interesting branding question -- will
they advance the branding of sites even if people
don't click on them?).
Search engines and directories should be viewed as one
tool in a box. There are other ways to promote Web
sites. A quality Web site will eventually draw more
traffic through inbound links than through search
services. The real power of the Web is in the linking
between sites, not in the popularity of the search
engines and their top listings.
But the biggest challenge for business sites is
probably the fact that most people are NOT looking for
Web sites to do business with. In numerous fora I
have encountered commercial Webmasters who bluntly
assume the business community dominates the Web.
Nothing could be farther from the truth. The business
community is a minor entity. Not an insignificant
entity, but a minor one. Business Web sites
constitute a minority of Web content. And Danny
Sullivan's latest newsletter acknowledged that most
searches are being conducted for entertainment-related
Web sites. Anyone who has subscribed to Wordtracker's
free weekly report could have told you that a year
And, yes, you can bid on keywords with services like
Goto for these entertainment subjects, but unless you
offer those surfers what they want you'll either get
no click-throughs or you'll throw your money away.
Undoubtedly there are a few deceptive Web sites which
pull this off, but in general you don't try to sell
plumbing equipment in an automotive industry trade
journal, do you?
The business community has to come to grips with
reality, first. The reality is that most surfers are
not looking for sites to do business with. The
business community does NOT offer the majority of Web
content, and the business community is only one player
in the game. The most successful business Web sites
tend to be those which are positioned in the news and
entertainment industries. They, at least, are
providing the content most surfers are looking for.
Most business sites have a shot at only a very small
piece of the pie.
In my opinion, traditional businesses' best
opportunities to generate traffic come outside the
Web. Web-based businesses have the greatest challenge
to overcome because they don't have an existing
customer base to draw to the Web. In the end, it
doesn't matter if today's search engine promotion
techniques become useless. A search engine is a poor
man's advertising campaign. Search engine promotions
should NOT be the foundation of most business Web site
Science Fiction and Fantasy info_at_xenite.org
Visualizing Middle-earth, a book for all Tolkien fans
Received on Thu Feb 15 2001 - 16:12:37 CST
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