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NONE: Re: ONLINE-ADS>> Search engines are dying

Re: ONLINE-ADS>> Search engines are dying

richard_at_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" <danny_at_calafia.com> 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 <thespos_at_k2design.com> 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 <smartweb_at_flash.net> 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 <ryave_at_netservices.com> 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 <XXXXX>, <XXXXX>
and <XXXXX> are in tens of thousands of documents. And the current search
tools just aren't precise enough to make <COMPANY NAME>'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 <COMPANY NAME>'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 <mosaic1_at_ix.netcom.com> 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 <dsprager_at_mailbox.syr.edu>

> 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_at_tenagra.com
--------------------------------------------------------


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