| The Evolution of Search
If you've ever spent time trying to promote
your web site then you know how difficult it is to attract targeted
visitors. Most of today's common online marketing methods such as
banners, e-mail lists and sponsorship are becoming increasingly less
effective at attracting the right visitors. So with banner ad rates
at an all time low and sponsorship on top traffic sites still at a
premium, what's an online marketer to do?
Well, with a little care and preparation it's still
possible to drive thousands of targeted visitors to your web site
each month via search engine marketing. In fact, one of the most
cost effective ways for many companies to increase web site traffic
is through through search engine marketing (also known as search
However, much has changed in the past 12 months.
A number of high profile search engine companies have exited the
scene, most noticeably Excite and Disney's Go. And with the drop
in online advertising income, many of the surviving search engines
have started to charge listing fees to increase their bottom line.
In addition, an entirely new type of search service known as pay
for placement search engines have started to flex their muscles.
The end result is that it's becoming more difficult
to achieve good results by just submitting your site using the free
submission services (if they exist at all). In fact, it's now more
important than ever to pay just to be listed. While there will always
be room for small sites to attract decent traffic numbers to their
niche related web site, companies must now look at using these paid
The Quick Path to Success
Many of the top search engines including Yahoo,
LookSmart, Lycos (via Alltheweb.com), Inktomi, AltaVista, and newcomer
Teoma now charge a standard listing fee. Yahoo, started the trend
a few year back and now charges an annual fee of $299 US for each
submission while LookSmart is now experimenting with a combination
of a $49 US listing fee (plus the option of a $30 US monthly fee
for extra visitors) . Not to be outdone, the crawler based search
engines such as AltaVista, Inktomi, Alltheweb.com (powers Lycos)
are also experimenting with their own inclusion fees.
Yahoo's search reach is one of highest on the Internet.
With a well crafted description and proper category placement, inclusion
in Yahoo will pay for itself within a few short weeks. While it
doesn't have the same brand strength, the LookSmart directory is
used by a number of other large search portals including MSN and
AOL. Inclusion here will help provide a boost for your site in LookSmart's
On the other side, the crawler based search engines
have started to charge an annual $12-25 US fee per page for automatic
inclusion (they all guarantee a 48 hour turn around time). Obviously,
the more pages you submit the costlier it becomes. With a large
site, you could easily be looking at a few thousand dollars per
year, a large jump in costs for a service with little or no track
While both AltaVista and Alltheweb.com still provide
free search submission, Inktomi which provides results for MSN,
InfoSpace and a host of others, now only accepts paid submissions.
It's likely only a matter of time before AltaVista and Alltheweb
join the fray.
However, while new inclusion fees are popping up
everywhere, paying them doesn't guarantee success. In fact, if you
get placed in the wrong Yahoo or LookSmart category or worse yet,
receive a poorly written description, then there's a good chance
your money will be wasted. While they're happy to take your money,
they ultimately decide where to put you and how you will be received.
To make matters worse, if you failed to prepare
your site for the crawler based search engines by including good
content, limiting the use of Flash, frames, or heavy use of graphics,
you've once again wasted your money. The only guarantee to reach
the top is through the new Pay for Placement engines.
The Rise of Paid Placement Search
One of the main reasons for the rise in Paid
Placement fees is primarily due to the success of Overture, a pay
for placement search engine. Overture and others such as FindWhat
provide relevant search results to visitors based on a bidding process.
For example, as an advertiser, if you wish to have the number one
position on Overture for the keyword 'party animal', you'll need
to bid $0.25 US per click through. In other words, any time someone
clicked on your listing at Overture you pay Overture for that privilege.
Obviously, the more competitive the category, the more you'll need
to dish out to stay at the top and the more it'll cost to drive
the same amount of traffic.
In addition, the top 3-5 results from Overture
also show up at the top of many of the other search engines as advertised
listings. The end result is increased profile, increased traffic
and increased costs.
However, if you sell a niche product or bid for
less competitive keywords, it's possible to drive 2500-5000 visitors
a month for a few hundred dollars using these services. With target
results, and a strong web site you should start to see an increase
in leads and more importantly sales.
What about the Rest?
So what do you do if your budget is limited?
At the very least, be prepared to cop the funds for the Yahoo listing.
It's as vital today as a Yellow Page's ad.
Fortunately there are still a few search engines
that don't charge you for the privilege. One of the largest is Google
which arrived on the scene a few years back. However, to maximize
rankings and traffic you still need to ensure your web site is optimized
for Google's crawler. Also, while they last, you can also take advantage
of the free submission tools provided by AltaVista and Alltheweb.com.
But hurry, your time may be running out.
If your web site is in need of targeted traffic,
please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org