Lycos Dating Search Engine – Huge Mistake!

    February 23, 2005

I can’t even begin to tell you how many things are wrong with Lycos’ dating search engine business model.

I don’t want to pull a Star Jones and gush about, but I can’t resist in showing the right way and wrong way to launch a niche vertical search engine.

Here’s Where Lycos Messed Up

They’re charging a fee in order to be guaranteed your site is included in the search index. This means they don’t trust their crawler or dating search algorithm enough to guarantee the quality of results and they’re going to put the burden on the site owners to contact Lycos about getting their site included. Secondly it shows they’re behind the search times because none of the major search engines require a guaranteed inclusion fee to be listed in their index. Yahoo’s the only one that has a guaranteed inclusion program and it’s a flat cost per click based on the business model and there have been rumors since it’s inception that it may go the way of the dinosaur.

They’re looking at a per-acquisition model. This is such the wrong way to build a business because essentially you’re a huge affiliate program. There is typically no single database storing the visitor requests and if there is one then there is a level of distrust about whether or not a click or form submission was even valid. Anything based on per acquisition fees smells of affiliates and affiliate programs, something even Google has recently laid the law down on. Not that affiliates are a total nuissance but there susceptible to all forms of spam because their pay is based on acquisitions and not on raw traffic. Techniques like cookie stuffing inherently flaw this business model.

So they’re going to allow you to view personals information that would normally require a registration on each dating site which is good. But then they go and screw it up by not offering [or at least mentioning it anywhere in the clickz story] a crawl based natural search result set. This is the exact same limiting issue major shopping sites like and Froogle are facing. Because the index is based on a feed or a “crawl that’s not really a crawl” but a guaranteed inclusion and requires special agreements between publishers and the search engine. It removes any of the objective and subjective research data and reviews that sites like blogs bring to the table. solved this problem and they’re heralding in Search 2.0 but Lycos is going back to 5 year old technology, slapping a fresh layout and logo on it and calling it NEW! Nothing erks me more than old technology dressed up like it’s brand new technology when most consumers won’t know the difference.

Here are some quotes that are total classics from the ClickZ post and prove how delusioned Lycos is about this dating search site.

The move is the beginning of what Adam Soroca, general manager of search services, calls a “year of revitalizing search at Lycos.” The company re-launched a search-centric home page at the end of January, bringing back the iconic Lycos the dog logo and the “Go get it” slogan.

“There’s a renewed focus on search here at Lycos, and Dating Search is just one step in that direction,”
Soroca said.

“People still know Lycos as a search engine, but we’ve been unable to clearly articulate why a searcher would come to Lycos. Our mission this year is to answer that question.”

Now don’t get me wrong, I love the Lycos lab. My childhood dog was a lab and I love the Lycos commercials where the dog fetches the results, they’re almost iconic. But I don’t like how off they are with their implementation of search.

I fear new search engines like this one will cause users to become delusioned because only the sites with large advertising budgets can compete. Why in the heck do you thnk blogs are so stinking popular? Cause some milk farmer in Idaho can share his views on the milking industry and what’s going on and overnight become a trusted resource. Without natural results this milk farmer would stay in oblivion and the internet would be no better than it was before this milk farmer started his blog. Lycos search is a step in the wrong direction and against everything Google, Yahoo and MSN are striving for in their efforts to uncover the hidden web.

So those are my 2 cents, comments are welcome.

Jason Dowdell is a technology entrepreneur and operates the Marketing Shift blog.