The age of shopping search engines

On Tuesday, March 23rd, Shopping.com, the online product comparison and shopping search engine, filed for IPO. Shopping.com is the results of the merge between DealTime and Epinions, and allows customers to compare prices on products and merchandise.

According to SiliconValley.com: “New York-based Shopping.com said it will use the net proceeds from the offering for general corporate purposes and working capital requirements. The company said it may also use a portion of the net proceeds to fund acquisitions of businesses, products or technologies.”

The significance of this IPO is when put in the context of the upcoming Google IPO and the recent relaunch of Yahoo! Shopping. While Shopping.com has been one of the original product comparison sites, it had been facing competition from other established names in the search engine industry.

With the continuous growth of US ecommerce, fueled by increasing convenience and improved confidence in the online security, both Yahoo! and Google have developed their own offerings. Yahoo! Shopping charges merchants on pay-per-click basis while Google’s Froogle is free. I implement Froogle datafeed for online merchants. Froogle accepts submissions from US-based online merchants only. If interested feel free to contact me.
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MSN, AOL, Google in an odd threesome

Round one: AOL could buy a piece of Google

Today Reuters revealed that under a 2002 deal, AOL has the right to buy about 1.9 million preferred shares of Google Inc., the number one search engine, for around $22 million.

The relationship between Google and AOL has been pretty intimate since 2002 when Google started providing the organic search results to AOL’s web property and AOL Search. In 2003 when Google Adwords was launched AOL became one of the most important members of the distribution network for Google’s pay-per-click search advertisements.

To be sure, there has been a reverse side to this relationship: DMOZ (The Open Directory Project), one of the two most authoritative web directories which at the time was hailed as the alternative to Yahoo!, is owned by AOL and provides the backbone to Google Directory. In addition, because of their high quality, links incoming from The Open Directory to a website tend to help improve Google’s search result rankings.
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Comparing Google and Yahoo results

Did you ever wonder how your search engine results compare on Yahoo and Google? You are not the only one! A friend, Vinay Jain, just shared with me a pretty cool tool which visualizes the differences in the search engine rankings as provided by Google and Yahoo.

Yahoo vs. Google

Enjoy respondibly!

Integrating web site relaunch with optimization efforts

This week, JupiterResearch shared the following facts with anybody on their Internet Planet conference list:

  • 58% of Web sites are planning a relaunch this year.
  • 49% of Web site managers say usability is their top challenge in 2004.
  • 41% of Web sites will be upgrading or deploying a new commerce platform for their site this year.

(Source: Jupiter Research/ERI Executive Survey, 10/03)

If you are the owner or web manager of one of those web sites about to be relaunched, consider yourself lucky because you are at the right point of time to initiate not a mere visual redesign but to improve your web site from a total business objective point of view. Now is the time to ask oneself what is the purpose of the site, how is the site found, how is the site navigated, and how one reaches the site’s action pages, whether a contact form for service request or online purchase or newsletter subscription.
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The Future Wars of Search

One of the keynote speeches and another session at the Search Engine Strategies conference was the future of search. Everybody agrees that the search engine technology and market place are dynamic. How this will work out for the main search engines is a topic with implications not only for analysts but for practicing search engine marketers.

Most analysts focus on market share when suggesting that Google is losing its dominance. Since Yahoo’s switch to its own crawler of course the market shares dramatically changed. What might be more significant is the different approaches to growth the three leading search engines might follow.
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Big business hot for SEM, small business cool to PPC

Search engine marketing, once dominated by small and medium size businesses, is now the territory of big-budget marketers. The percentage of those spending more than $1 million doubled to 24%, according to a new survey by JupiterResearch updating results from a year earlier.

24% of big businesses in the U.S. are spending more than $1 million on search engine marketing

According to another survey, conducted by The Kelsey Group and ConStat, 34% of small and medium businesses in the U.S. are interested in using pay-per-click (PPC) search engine marketing, a healthy jump over the 11% currently using PPC.

34% of the small and medium businesses in the U.S. are interested in pay-per-click search engine marketing

The actual percentage of small businesses using search engine advertising is most likely much lower, since up to 70 percent of small businesses have no Website. The Kelsey Group is nevertheless optimistic and estimates that local commercial search which usually feeds results for small businesses, represents 25 percent of all search activity, and the local search market could generate as much as $2.5 billion by 2008.
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Ask Jeeves purchase of Excite, iWon, MyWay parent Interactive Search will make it #4

While at the Search Engine Conference, the Ask Jeeves representatives shared the news that they are folding out their data feed program for inclusion of large number of dynamic pages into the Ask Jeeves index. What they did not share was the news that they are buying the parent of iWon, Excite, and MyWay portals. The significance of this is in the increase of the market share. From around 3%, Ask Jeeves will effectively double its share of the search engine market to around 7%. Interestingly, the main chunk of Ask Jeeves’ revenue comes from distribution of Google AdWords, the sponsored search results. Such business model clearly identifies a direct correlation between marketshare and revenue — the more pages you have to place sponsored searches, the more chance for revenue. If, in addition to its growing marketshare, Ask Jeeves manages to improve, as promissed, their own search technology Teoma, they will certainly become a serious player in the search field!

Overture Site Match Pricing Comparison

The newly introduced Overture Site Match replaces and simplifies a variety of paid submission offerings for the different web properties purchased by Yahoo last year.

The basic selling points of Overture Site Match are:

  • Pro: Site Match up-front fees are 1/3 of the combined fees for the previous paid inclusion programs
  • Pro/Con: Only Site Match includes Yahoo Search traffic
  • Con: There are click fees based on product categories ($0.15 or $0.30 per click)

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Yahoo launches free search submit

As reported in my February 18th blog entry, “Yahoo launches new search engine…” the promised Yahoo! free search submit is now up and running. At the “Meet the crawlers” session on March 4 at the Search Engines Strategies conference, Tim Mayer of Yahoo! announced the launch of a free URL submit functionality as a part of its new Content Acquisition Program.

To be sure, the free URL submission is just a suggestion for inclusion in the Yahoo! Search index. It requires free registration with Yahoo! and is available at:
http://submit.search.yahoo.com

Once you login, the next step is at http://submit.search.yahoo.com/free/request. There, you are advised:

“Enter the full URL, including the http:// prefix (for example, http://www.yahoo.com) of the site you would like to submit. Enter only the top-level page in your site, our crawler will explore the rest of your site from there. We will automatically detect and remove dead links on an ongoing basis.

Please expect a delay of several weeks before your URL is crawled.”

That Yahoo requires login before making the free URL available is not surprising with all the attention they have poured over the personalization of the search experience. The current Yahoo! Search is 99% result of free crawling. With more than 100 million registered users Yahoo can indeed enable a massive number of people to help grow their Content Acquisition Program.