Expert Insight On Search Engine Strategies

    March 11, 2004

The conference is over, but the insights keep coming in. I want to share with you some of the highlights from interviews I had with Greg Jarboe, Dan Thies, Ben Pfeiffer, and Andy Beal (all authors of past WebProNews articles and attendees at the SES conference).

I asked them what they learned and observed at search’s biggest event.

Do you have questions for the experts? Ask them here.

Here’s Greg Jarboe:

“Google is still #1, but Yahoo is a very competitive #2. They differ in two key ways — Google continues to put more emphasis on links, while Yahoo offers paid inclusion (through Overture).

“For my clients, we can use optimized press releases to build links and – if they are willing to deal with the potential controversy – they can also use paid inclusion to drive traffic to those press releases.”

The SiteMatch controversy is keeping some of his bigger clients from the program: “one large agency in New York that I work with – which has large, brand name clients – doesn’t plan to use paid inclusion for their optimized press releases. The risk of controversy is too great.”

“However,” he added, “some smaller firms that we work with are more focused on generating leads instead of brand awareness. They are willing to test Overture’s new paid inclusion program – but are complaining about the new cost structure.”

Here’s what Greg learned at SES:

Google plans to change its algorithm much more frequently in 2004. This is targeted at discouraging spammers. However, Google also runs the risk of giving their users a feeling of getting random results. “Do you feel lucky?”

Yahoo has more technology to roll out before its new algorithm is stable. The key will be search engine user reaction to paid inclusion.

The net net: The next few months will be a roller coaster ride in the search market. We will all learn how search engine users define “relevance.”

Greg Jarboe

Dan Thies thought that “the dynamic site session, and the server issues session, were both much better than they were in Chicago.”

However, he went on to criticize certain aspects of the advanced link building session: “I was disappointed with Eric Ward’s presentation – he spoke about recovering lost links after a site redesign, but didn’t really get into one of the best ways to do that (by using redirects at the server).”

Dan had some strong words for those complaining about SiteMatch’s cpc model: “Yahoo isn’t forcing anyone to pay – they are still running it as an organic search engine. The bottom line is that Yahoo is running a business, and people still think they are owed free advertising for their business. It’s just nuts.”

Dan Thies

Ben Pfeiffer took home some valuable insight too: “the thing that will matter the most in a good search engine campaign is whether or not your precious visitors converted to actual sales.”

If you’re focusing solely on driving traffic you’re leaving money on the table.

Ben felt releived at the death knell of reciprocal linking: “I was really glad to hear someone declare that reciprocal linking is a thing of the past.”

Speaking of linking, Ben also learned that, “developing a strategy to internally link your site and having a good plan on developing strong relevant inbound links is critical to the success of good seo campaign.”

Ben Pfeiffer

And then there’s Andy Beal. Andy, Andy, Andy. Andy, Andy, Andy. He had me out all hours Tuesday night talking search.

Here are Andy’s thoughts on the conference: “the biggest thing for me is that SES NYC was a great gauge on the growth of the industry. The size of the conference, the number of exhibitors and the press interest all demonstrated that the search engine marketing industry is truly the hottest form of marketing today.”

Andy Beal

Garrett French is the editor of iEntry’s eBusiness channel. You can talk to him directly at WebProWorld, the eBusiness Community Forum.