SES 2006: Search Engines, Friend Or Foe

Get the WebProNews Newsletter:

[ Search]

The best thing about search engines is how they make it easy to find relevant content out of millions of web sites; that may be the worst thing about them too.

SES 2006: Search Engines, Friend Or Foe
Are Search Engines Your Friends?

Managing editor Mike McDonald of WebProNews filed this exclusive look at the SES 2006 San Jose session on Search Engines, Friend or Foe.

Jakob Nielsen, the noted web usability expert, created some controversy when he made this suggestion in January:

“I worry that search engines are sucking out too much of the Web’s value, acting as leeches on companies that create the very source materials the search engines index.”

How can you diversify marketing?
The session also featured a helpful top ten list on SEM alternatives, to help marketers who are too fixated on PPC to consider other ways of building awareness by diversifying marketing efforts:
1 Brand building
2 Retention marketing – email, direct mail, etc
3 Request marketing
4 Discussion groups and communities
5 Affiliate programs
6 Newsfeeds
7 URL promotion in physical products
8 Where possible, connect your service to proprietary hardware
9 Investigate mobile services
10 Traditional marketing

Commentary came fast and furious in January; Search Engine Strategies host Danny Sullivan wrote about this at length in response.

At SES 2006, Nielsen faced a number of people with a different point of view. He started off the discussion by offering a couple of points for consideration: too many sites being made just to drive traffic to search engines, and search serving as an answer engine, from which people never click through to the site providing the answer.

He thinks the auction system for paid search extracts too much value from the content. Sites that improve their quality to increase their profit margin from paid search soon are matched by competitors. That causes prices to increase, and the site publisher is back to the same profit margin; only the search engine makes more money.

(We can’t help but imagine that somewhere at Google, Omid Kordestani giggled uncontrollably for a second or two while Nielsen made this point. – David)

Dana Todd of SiteLab International asked Nielsen, “Do you think search engines should pay content providers to index their material? Do you think search engines should pay content providers instead of the old model where people used to pay to be included?”

Nielsen replied that “perhaps there could be a licensing fee or something similar, say a penny.”

Search engines can have a detrimental impact on a site through their normal course of action. Jennifer Slegg of JenSense noted how a rogue Yahoo crawler bot “screwed up once and burned thru 4 gigs of our bandwidth.”

As for Google, Slegg noted, “I know plenty of people that absolutely refuse to use Google Analytics on any monetizable site.” To which Todd responded, “Don’t you think with millions and millions of toolbars in place that they don’t already have a pretty good idea of what you’re upstream and downstream is?”

On the topic of transparency and data on pay-per-click advertising, Todd also noted that “the complexity (of PPC) is beyond ridiculous,” regarding the lack of information provided by the search engines.

Peter Hershberg, managing partner at Reprise Media, said, “We absolutely do not recommend that any of our clients use Google Analytics.” His contention, like Todd’s, is that Google has so much performance data, they know exactly how profitable a site can be for them

He also commented on the opaqueness of search engines when it comes to PPC data. “We don’t need to know what the secret sauce is,” Hershberg said. “We know they can’t release that kind of information because people will game the system. But what we do need is access to more information – enough information – to make better decisions.”

Hershberg did criticize Google for changing the API for PPC to a fee-based model. Google provided the marketing community with the API, which saved Google bandwidth and money. Now that its users are hooked on the API, Google is going to start charging for it.

Microsoft adCenter general manager David Jakubowski emphasized that his company has and will continue to favor consumers over advertisers when it comes to search.

“We keep a strict rigid line and our consumer group wins in ‘tie goes to the runner’ situations. Our advertising division might prefer otherwise, but the consumer division is the number one priority with our search,” he said.


Add to Del.icio.us | Digg | Yahoo! My Web | Furl

Bookmark WebProNews:

David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

SES 2006: Search Engines, Friend Or Foe
Comments Off on SES 2006: Search Engines, Friend Or Foe
Top Rated White Papers and Resources

Comments are closed.

  • Join for Access to Our Exclusive Web Tools
  • Sidebar Top
  • Sidebar Middle
  • Sign Up For The Free Newsletter
  • Sidebar Bottom