Webconsuls Blog

Friday, May 31, 2002

New Age Of Search Engine Marketing May 31, 2002

To all Webconsuls’ clients:


During the past year, you have received occasional messages from us about individual Paid Engines, Pay-Per Click opportunities and the like. Almost every free search engine now has a Paid component, even if it is offered as an incentive to speed up indexing. The number of free Major Search Engines can now be counted on one hand. The overriding message is that the old search engines techniques that most of you are familiar with simply will not work in the ways they used to work and if one expects to be aggressive on the Internet (or simply to keep abreast of the competition), use of Paid Engines is now absolutely essential. If you are not involved to some degree in this new pay for performance arena, you are most likely slipping in overall positioning.

Accordingly, we are devoting this entire newsletter to the subject of Paid Engines, so that you will be in a better position to make informed decisions and be better able to budget expenses. The thing to keep in mind is that because many Paid engine registrations and administration are so time-consuming, there are really two components; namely the Paid Engine fees themselves and the associated administrative costs.

The Paid Engine programs can provide significant value. They are updated much more frequently than the free programs so you get much more rapid response. In addition the Search Engines have formed several partnerships, so one paid program can get your exposure on several engines.

The Paid Engines are not a panacea. You still need a presence on the free engines and your site much be developed for optimal placement as many of the Paid Engine programs enable your site to be reviewed but the ranking determined by traditional means.

There are currently four main types of Paid Engine programs. The first three are pretty straightforward.
  1. You to pay in order to have a person look at your site and determine if it should be listed on that engine. 
  2. You to pay a fee in order to have your site submitted to the computer program or robot that adds sites to the engine. Your site is re-reviewed periodically so changes can improve your ranking. 
  3. A paid listing for your site in a special section of the search engine results. 
  4. The more complicated is called Pay Per Click or PPC. Here you pay so much every time someone clicks on the link to your site. There may be a minimum bid per search term or a minimum amount per month. Generally the higher you bid the higher you rank, but even that is modified in some of the more complicated programs. 
Many of the search engines partner among themselves. A Paid Program for one engine can therefore help you with several others.

Here is a brief recap: *

Yahoo: www.yahoo.com
Commercial, non-adult sites- $325.00 annually, including administration. This is an example of the first type of Paid Engine program. The reviewer can decide not to list the site and you are out the $325. Yahoo is now considered to be the second most popular search engine.

Sponsor Listings Program: - The Sponsor Listings program allows commercial web sites already listed in the Yahoo! Directory to enhance their placement. Participating sites are featured in a "Sponsor Listings" module within the appropriate Yahoo! category, and are also highlighted in the regular alphabetic list of sites. Pricing and availability vary by category. Categories priced in the $25-$300 per month range are handled through an online subscription form. This is an example of the third type of Paid Engine program.

Google: www.google.com
Basic Submit: free

Adwords Program: Variation on a Pay-per Click system. The differentiating factor with the Adwords program is that we can set a daily maximum expenditure; so in essence, we can control the actual cost. However, if this maximum is set too low relative to the recommended bid level, in effect, the source of inquiries dries up way too quickly. Our initial sense is that the terms are fairly competitive. Partners include AOL, Lycos and Earthlink. The Adwords System is complicated to administer. Webconsuls will give you a quote if you are interested. Google is considered the most widely used search engine.

TEOMA- www.askjeeves.com, www.teoma.com

This engine indexes for Askjeeves.com and Direct Hit. Cost is $30.00 for 15 months and this includes administration fees. This is the second type of program and allows your site to get indexed by the TEOMA robot. We believe this program is cost effective for most of our customers.

Inktomi

A search engine that indexes for many Partner engines and accordingly, it is viewed by us as being extremely important. The cost is 30.00 per each web page registered, which includes administration. This is the second type of program and we recommend this program highly.

AltaVista www.altavista.com
8-12 week index wait-time: free
Rapid inclusion - $39.00 for 6 months
This is to get into the Alta Vista database.

In addition, Altavista also has a paid Program which (assuming availability of keywords desired) will guarantee a top position on their pages. Cost is about $22-$30 for each 1000 impressions. (An impression is defined as the page that appears when a key word is typed into the search box and the search made.) This program also is difficult to administer and Webconsuls will give you a quote if you desire.

Looksmart www.looksmart.com
Recently, they adopted a pay per click system which enables one to set a monthly dollar limit, at a set $.15/click. They allow 10 keywords as part of the basic program; additional words can be purchased.

Overture www.overture.com

The most aggressive pay per click Engine on the Internet, with partner sites that include Yahoo, Altavista, MSN, Lycos, IWON, Infospace C/Net and more. This pay per click bidding system implies that the more you bid, the higher you are positioned. There is also a minimum bid of 5 cents per click and a minimum charge of $20 per month. It is very important to be in the top 3 on Overture, because that will position the site respectively with their partner sites in a top 3 Position. For hotly contested keywords, bids ranging from $2.00-$8.00/click are not uncommon, although most terms are usually much more affordable. There is a small administration charge for Webconsuls to handle your Overture account. (We currently charge $100.00)

Other Pay Per Click Engines


A long list of Engines, including Ah-Ha.com, Spinks, 7 Search, Kanoodle, Bay 9, Findwhat.com. Relative to Overture.com, the bid costs required for top positioning are relatively low. So is the traffic to these engines! The nice feature of pay-per-click is that there is no cost unless and until someone clicks on the web site link as these do not have monthly minimums at this time. There is a small administration fee for Webconsuls to handle these accounts.
  • The rates and statements above are only intended to apply to sites being registered today (5/22/02). Sites registered previously may be grandfathered under other rules, fees and guidelines. Programs can and do change quickly, so the reviews are provided as a general overview. Contact us for specifics if you want to register with one or more Engines. 

Recommendation


Participation in any Paid Engine program needs to make good economic sense and therefore should be analyzed carefully. Webconsuls has a great deal of experience with many of these Programs and we should be viewed as an important resource before making any decisions.

We recommend the Inktomi Program, Alta Vista rapid inclusion, and Teoma as relatively low cost program that can get your site indexed rapidly. We also recommend Overture if the search terms are available for a cost effective bid. The other programs mentioned in this article should be considered by clients who wish to be more aggressive.

Handled correctly, Paid Engines offer opportunities to generate significant revenue dollars, derived from the ability to determine one’s own positioning. Learning to optimize this new opportunity arena can convert Paid Engines into vital new marketing tools for you, as opposed to their being an expensive marketing experiment or advertising failure. If you are not yet a participant, contact us so that we can recommend a Program to fit your budget and Internet objectives.

Tuesday, January 15, 2002

Search Engine Marketing Newsletter January 2002

In this issue

  • Changes at Yahoo 
  • Changes at Overture 
  • Annual Renewals at Inktomi 
  • 404 Pages 
  • Keyword based linking 
  • Unsolicited E-mail 
  • Our Approach 

Changes at Yahoo 

There is no such thing as free lunch, and on the Internet, expensive lunches are getting more expensive. Yahoo which at one time provided free listings for commercial sites, then charged a $199 one time fee, then raised that to $299 is now charging $299 annually for new listings. If you are already on Yahoo, GREAT, as you appear to be "grand fathered."

Changes at Overture


Overture, the most successful pay per click system on the Internet, has announced same major changes to its listing practices. Overture is also the most difficult system for us to administer and these changes are going to make things even more difficult. The changes will be effective February 1st. Webconsuls will be advising its Overture clients as to any cost for us to make the changes now required by Overture. Some of you administer your own site on Overture and have probably received an E-mail about the changes.

The first change is that there the listing must link directly to the relevant page in your site. For example if your site sells six products and you have a home page and six product pages then a listing in Overture for one of the products must link directly to the product not to home page. This change will probably mean that we will have to revise many of the Overture listings.

The second change is on description quality. You will not be able to use words like "greatest" or "best" in the description. While some of our clients descriptions may need to be changed, this should not be a major problem.

The third change is that location specific sites may only bid on location specific terms. So a motel in Redondo Beach, California could bid on "Redondo Beach motel" but not "motel." How this is going to work is a little unclear. If in fact you can deliver your product to wide geographic region than we would suggest you get wording to that effect on your site.

These changes go into effect February 1st. No one knows exactly how Overture will implement them. As we gain experience with the changes, we will pass along any advice that we can.

Annual Renewals at Inktomi


Many of our clients have signed up for the Inktomi submission service that has an annual fee and is now about one year old. Renewals are $25 per page. We recommend this service. If you have a large site you may want to have us register the more important pages to reduce the cost.

404 Pages


We have all tried to visit a specific page on a site and gotten the message - 404 Error, page not found. There are several causes - one is typing the page name incorrectly, another is that the page name was changed, or perhaps the page is no longer up at the site. One way to handle this problem is with custom 404 pages that redirect to the home page of the site. Unfortunately the set up of these custom 404 pages requires the cooperation of the hosting company. Fortunately Webconsuls is pleased to announce that we have reached an agreement with Millennium and Millennium will add custom 404 pages for our clients without charge. Webconsuls is developing custom pages for each client hosted at Millennium, also without charge.

We can not add these pages at sites not hosted at Millennium. If you would like to have your site moved to Millennium then give us a call.

Keyword Based Linking


Search engines are giving more importance to so-called "off-site factors" and incorporating new ways to measure those factors. One of the these is "link popularity." Webconsuls has regularly recommended that its clients develop as many links to their site as possible. Now you can improve your link popularity by making sure that the link uses an important keyword phrase in its text. For example in the following - Web Site Development by Webconsuls - it is far better that the link be from the term "Web Site Development" rather than from the word Webconsuls.

Unsolicited e-mail's


Many of our clients have forwarded unsolicited E-mail pitches to us. Usually they say something like "List your site on 3000 search engines." We suggest that you ignore them. First of all there are not 3000 search engines worth submitting to. More importantly most of these operations are really trying to get a valid and working E-mail address which they will now sell 3000 or maybe 30,000 times.

Last year one of our clients received an unsolicited offer for a "free lunch" and lecture by an outfit called Galaxy Mall. We went along to observe. Their claims seemed impossible and their service expensive. Last week Dateline NBC ran a story exposing Galaxy Mall.

Many of our Overture clients have gotten E-Mails from firms that monitor Overture listings to find pricing gaps. We have looked into those services and found them to be expensive.

Our Approach


We believe that successful web sites are well designed and appeal to both viewers and search engines. The sites use HTML meta tags appropriately. The key pages of the site are submitted to major search engines on a periodic basis. Positioning is monitored. The most valuable paid search engine programs are utilized. Search engine literature is regularly reviewed. Adjustments are made as necessary.

Our clients help themselves by developing relevant keyword based links to their site, by publicizing their web site address whenever possible, and by registering with specific directories.

Richard Fay
Dennis Helfand