Search Engines – As popular as they are important to online users

A new phone survey conducted by the Pew Internet Project confirms that the search engines are as popular and as important to online users as ever. The summary of the survey complemented by data released by comScore and published on August 12, 2004, indicates that:

  • More than 107 million Americans — around 84% of Internet users — have used search engines to find information
  • An average Internet user performs 33 searches per month
  • Users of the 25 most popular search engines perform a total of 3.9 billion searches per month
  • 35% of searchers perform a search at least once a day and 2/3 of them use the search engines several times a day
  • 44% of the search engine users use a single search engine, while 48% use 2 or 3 search engines
  • Using search engines is the second most popular Internet activity after checking email

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Froogle vs. Google, separate indexes, occassionally shared search results

I just read an article on Google in the June edition of Internet Retailer. There was a statement which I feel might mislead the readers. The first paragraph of the “Modified Approach” section of the article indicates:

“If Froogle’s index is basically a subset of Google’s broader one, and a merchant’s pages already are in Google, chances are they’re already in Froogle as well.”

Froogle’s index is not a subset of Google’s one, rather a separate index which might be queried and referred to by Google in certain circumstances. That is why having one’s web catalog indexed by Froogle does not necessarily improve the rankings of the same site in Google, and vice versa. However, the search results for a particular query on Google might include top results (up to 3 for some keyword phrases) from Froogle. In this sense Froogle’s search results — not its index — could be viewed as a subset of Google’s. However, technically the Google index is independent from the Froogle index.

A recent interview with Craig Nevill-Manning provides further insight into how Froogle and Google relate.

Froogle Submission Tricks

Froogle, Google’s comparison shopping search engine has been gaining in popularity and has been bringing solid traffic to e-commerce sites. Building a datafeed is the most important step in the preparation for Froogle submission. The default guidelines for datafeed require single URL per single product. This can be a challenge for many sites which might prefer to sell group of related products or list a single product with multiple valiables, i.e. color, size, etc. What to do in that case?

Here are the specific guidelines I received from the Froogle editors:

“If you have product pages for individual products, then we ask that you include those in your Froogle data feed file. However, if you only have product pages that list multiple products, it is fine to include those… if you have variations of the same product on your product page, then you may include a separate listing for each product and include the same product URL for each listing.”

If you still need help building your Froogle datafeed, feel free to contact WebSage and ask about our search engine submission services.

Comparison Shopping Search Engines Bring Substantial Traffic for Mother’s Day

Nielsen//NetRatings reported that some 13 million Mother’s Day shoppers used comparison shopping search engines and directories, bringing their traffic by 8% over the previous week.

According to the report released on May 7, 2004, “Traffic to AOL Shopping from home surged 91 percent to 1.4 million unique visitors, as compared to 718,000 unique visitors during the week ending April 25 (see Table 1). Froogle jumped 80 percent in traffic to 613,000 unique visitors, from 340,000 visitors during the previous week. MSN Shopping drew 901,000 visitors, increasing 35 percent.”

Further the report interprets this data as a proof that comparison shopping sites and comparison search technology has become a standard tool for finding the right price for products sold online.

Fastest Growing Shopping Directories and Guides, Week Ending May 2, 2004 (U.S., Home):

  1. AOL Shopping 1,374,000 unique visitors 91% growth over the previous week
  2. Froogle 613,000 unique visitors 80% growth over the previous week
  3. MSN Shopping 901,000 unique visitors 35% growth over the previous week
  4. MySimon 311,000 unique visitors 14% growth over the previous week
  5. Quixtar 285,000 unique visitors 8% growth over the previous week

Get ready for Google’s twist on paid inclusion

CNET published an intriguing article on the anticipated next step in Google’s ever evolving search engine marketing offering: Google’s twist on paid inclusion. And let us state it right on: Google will not include sponsored results into its general index.

Currently, if you were to participate in the Google AdWords pay-per-click program, you start by selecting your keywords. While Google has been offering more and better tools for broadening or narrowing your keyword selection, selecting the proper terms for bidding has always been a difficult process.

Now (or in near future), borrowing from the context advertisement songbook, Google is to offer that for a modest fee you submit web pages which are then scanned by Google’s spider and analyzed for keyword content density. Then, based on the words in your pages, Google will build automatically for you a list of related keyword terms which will be included in your pay-per-click marketing campaign. Of course, participating in such a program would imply you are not affraid of spending money, perhaps big money, on search engine marketing. It will be just another way of ensuring that your site is always on top of the search engine sponsored results.

Since the CNET article is a long one and the gist of it is way down below the fold, I am proviging you with a big quote for your convenience:

“Google wants to take the technology even further. Its proposed service would allow marketers to pay to have a Web page examined more often for inclusion in sponsored listings, according to one source. Instead of having to bid on thousands of keywords, a large advertiser–such as Amazon.com–could rely on Google’s search technology to automatically create connections between its Web pages and related search queries. Amazon would pay Google to examine thousands of its pages and to serve an ad whenever the software deemed it appropriate. Amazon would pay an amount previously bid at auction for those pages, whenever people clicked on its listings.”

Google continues to rule – web analytics companies agree

Recent data by online web analytics providers indicate that Google continues to be the number one search engine on the web.

OneStat.com issued a press release with the seven most popular search engines among all of its users:

  1. Google 56.4%
  2. Yahoo 21.1
  3. MSN Search 9.2%
  4. AOL Search 3.8%
  5. Terra Lycos 2.0
  6. Altavista 1.7%
  7. Askjeeves 1.7%

It’s rival, WebSideStory, listed different numbers for the search engine marketshare but confirmed the trend:

  1. Google 40.91
  2. Yahoo! 27.40
  3. MSN 19.57

What MSN and AOL have in common is their ability to sell paid advertisements

iProspect , Fredrick Marckini’s search engine marketing firm released a survey today which confirms that loyal users of Google and Yahoo! prefer organic search results over paid advertisements. No surprise here. What is more interesting is a shared characteristic of MSN and AOL: their ability to convince users that paid advertisements are as relevant as natural search results. Or is that so? What is more likely, of course, is that the way MSN and AOL show search results is not intuitive enough to enable the average user to distinguish between natural and paid results. Either way, the fact is that if you want to reach the audiences of AOL and MSN, pay-per-click programs Google AdWords which provides the sponsored search results for AOL, and Overture’s Pay for performance program which feeds ads to MSN, are as important as having your site optimized for natural search engine rankings.

How you can bid online for Google shares

From the Mercury News:
“Google’s innovative initial public offering treats you — the regular investor — as king… Gone are the special favors to wealthy investors. Big institutions won’t have their usual first dibs either. Google will sell at least $2.7 billion of its stock — and probably much more — to the public by having investors bid for shares online. Here’s how it works.”

About up, Lycos down

Ah, the times a changin’!

Following a facelift, About.com relaunched. What used to a be a decent human-edited directory of unique content is more and more driven by ads which are quite intrusive. So, while the site is up, I give it a thumb or two down.

Lycos, the former king of portal acquisition (It bought HotBot, Wired, etc. in the end of the last century), is not for sale. The likely buyer? This is my speculation, but after AskJeeves’ purchase of the Interactive Search properties in March, it seems another fit in their strategy of expanding marketshare for their sponsored search results. Stay tuned…