January 2002 Newsletter

Search Engine Marketing Part 2: Key Search Engines

***** Links for the Month

Last month's newsletter discussed how to make your website search engine friendly. One person told me I was wrong. He was more interested in using flash and frames and not concerned about bringing more FREE users to his website. Are you guilty of the same?
(The original link no longer works, and the concept is still valid.)

The Search Engine Watch website is a great resource, and their free newsletter provides a monthly update. Their paid newsletter ($89 per year) provides additional information and should be considered. Their perspective is about general trends, the 4specs perspective is about construction professional use of the Internet.
[Link is no longer valid]

***** The 4specs Perspective

Prior newsletters have discussed website statistics reports. Without knowing your website statistics, you cannot know what is happening on your website and cannot make decisions and changes that will benefit your business. Past newsletters are archived in the Getting Specified website.

A referrer is the page the user clicked on to be "referred" to your page. Your website reports will show how people found your website and any search terms they used. Some ISP's do not provide this service and should be avoided.

Focus your time on the important search engines. We find that there are three primary referrers for construction websites: google.com, google.yahoo.com, and search.msn.com. They can be a great source for free visitors who are looking to design and specify products like yours.

In the past 2 years there has been a major shift in how people search the Internet. Two years ago Infoseek and Altavista dominated. Today Google dominates Internet searches, with estimates of 40% of all searches going through Google in addition to the searches run by Google for Yahoo.

Many people think of Google as the best search engine. If you use Google, you understand why. While there are several new search engines under development using interesting programs to rank the importance of pages, Google has a substantial lead that will be difficult to overcome unless Google stumbles. Google claims to be profitable, and that is a major advantage for Google's long-term prospects.

Of the 45,000 user sessions on 4specs in October, 10,000 originated from Google controlled searches. Even this understates the importance of Google for 4specs as 10,000 does not include people who originally found 4specs through a Google search and returned directly to 4specs on a later visit.

Next month we will be looking at how to improve your Google position. This month we will look at Yahoo, Search.msn.com, GoTo/Overture, and The Open Directory.

The Yahoo directory, in my opinion, is almost worthless today. The Yahoo directory will list a website in only two places and it is difficult to make changes or update your Yahoo listings. Yahoo is adding paid listings from the goto.com or Overture directory which increases GoTo's importance. Yahoo is expected to have their own paid listing by Summer 2002.

When the search terms are not in the main Yahoo directory, Yahoo turns to Google to provide suggested links. This doubles the importance of Google.

Search.msn.com is the referrer when the person types the search terms in the browser location window. Search.msn.com primarily uses the looksmart.com directory. While Looksmart.com provides few direct referrals, Looksmart is used by several other search engines. This link is to a page about alliances among search engines:
[Link expired and information out of date]

Here's how to get listed in key search engines:

1. Yahoo - If your website is not already listed, most commercial websites are required to use the Express program. Yahoo changed their Express program for adding sites to $299 per year; it used to be a one time $299 fee. This was apparently changed in late December 2001.
[Link substantially changed and removed]

2. Search.msn.com - primarily uses the LookSmart directory for information. For $299, you can add your website or increase the number of categories. You can also pay for premium placement, although I could not find the monthly cost.
[Link substantially changed and removed]

3. GoTo/Overture - GoTo was the first of the pay for placement search engines. The rank on the page is determined by the amount you are willing to pay per referral. While many construction terms, such as brick, cost 12 cents per clickthrough for the top listing, many consumer terms have a much higher cost - mortgage = $2.25, lawyer=$2.14
[Overture/GoTo now part of Yahoo! Search Marketing products]

4. The Open Directory - while somewhat unknown, many of the other search engines and directories, such as Google, Hotbot and AOL-Search, use the Open Directory as a resource. Listings are free.
[link no longer available]


Colin Gilboy
Publisher - 4specs
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