• Can Search Help Customers Be Heard?
    I'm on vacation right now with my family. In fact, as most of you are reading this, I'll be flying back from Orlando. While here, I saw a television ad that got me to thinking. The ad was for a real estate company, and the premise was this: Wouldn't it be nice if every company we did business with had a customer satisfaction rating posted prominently? Right up front, you could see if the business you were dealing with rated a 97 percent or a 43 percent.
  • Search Tidbits From A to X
    A number of column ideas routinely get left on the backburner, so today we'll fly through 10 that merit at least a mention. Some of these will star in their own columns down the road, but other entries below serve dual purposes of clearing my in-box and my conscience, in that order. Lastly, some of my favorite columns on the docket are omitted intentionally. And now, the remainders:
  • The Key to Protecting Your Brand
    What you don't do can (and probably will) hurt you The same age-old question comes up in every search strategy meeting: "Do you think that we should purchase our brand name in Google and Overture?" The answer out of one corner is a resounding, "YES, YES, YES!" However, there are those few who think that it's not necessary if you're already coming up at the top of the page in the organic search results. Let's take a quick look at a few reasons why it is still important to have control over your brand name.
  • The Search Interface of the Future
    In October 2005, nine months after Enquiro, Did-It.com, and Eyetools released an eye-tracking study reaffirming the importance of high rankings in search engines' natural results and top placement in the sponsored listings, InterActiveCorp's Ask Jeeves rolled out its new site that forever changed the search industry. That October 24, a normally unremarkable date billed as United Nations Day on bank calendars and greeting card sites, Ask Jeeves rearranged its search results so that the sponsored listings appeared where no one else had previously placed them: running down the left-hand column of the page, with the natural results on the …
  • A Battle Plan for MSN Search: Innovation and Integration, not Inundation
    We know Microsoft wants to win the search battle. Bill Gates has gone on record repeatedly and publicly saying his biggest business regret is not having recognized the importance of Internet search soon enough (this would be the same Bill Gates who said the Internet would never amount to much). And during the Super Bowl, an ad for MSN Search invited millions to try the new, more precise, more powerful search engine.
  • Listen to the Grumbles
    During a jaunt through San Francisco, meeting up with some people I mostly only knew via e-mail, it was hard to be cynical. The weather was perfect, breaking 70 degrees without a hint of the infamous fog and recent torrential downpours. The locals constantly informed me something I'm well aware of: "You're here at the perfect time." The same applies to all of us who are taking part in the search space. We're at this blissful juncture where the industry is established enough to be taken seriously but nascent enough that its limitless potential shows itself endlessly. They say …
  • Searchers Crave Descriptive Web Copy
    Across the Web, the inclusion of relevant, topic-specific content has long been considered a cornerstone to achieving high rankings in search. Descriptive content within pay-per-click ads (PPC) is perhaps even more critical, as the more precise the ad, the more targeted the viewer - and the more justified the click-through spend. This leaves Web sites that display limited "indexable" content particularly vulnerable to lower organic rankings, and vague PPC ad copy subject to quickly expended budgets wasted on non-converting, untargeted traffic.
  • Vertically Searching for Meaning
    The original title of this column was supposed to be controversial - "How to Kill Vertical Search in Utero." With all the hype and hoopla over consumer-facing vertical search, my gut kept telling me we were about to stifle the innovation and opportunity before it really begins. In researching this piece further, initially by bouncing ideas off fellow columnists and then by reading research commentary by JupiterResearch's Niki Scevak and Hitwise's Bill Tancer, I've softened up& a little.
  • Why Trademark Bidding Will Persist
    Last year, the search world anxiously awaited the results of the Google-Geico trial, to learn whether courts would allow marketers to continue to bid on trademarked terms -- that is, to pay to appear as a sponsored listing when consumers typed in a competitor's name. When Federal District Court Judge Leonie Brinkema dismissed one of Geico's key charges against Google, many took the decision as signaling judicial approval of the practice.
  • Dating and Search Ready to Commit
    At first it seems like a twist on the show "Lost": Take one of the top ways people use the Internet, the leading paid content category, and a resurrected dot-com brand name, toss them out into the Web, and see what hijinks ensue. Look a little deeper, and Lycos Dating Search is a shrewd maneuver from the former search giant.
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