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Overview on Search Engine Strategies 2002

© 2002 Virginia Lawrence, Ph.D.

For all who are interested in placing well in the search engines, here's a quick summary of the incredible Search Engine Strategies Conference just held in San Jose (August 12-14, 2002.)

Danny Sullivan of was the head guru, plus Detlev Johnson of I-Search Newsletter, Chris Sherman of, Barbara Coll of, and many others. Knowledgeable representatives from Google, Inktomi, Teoma, Ah-Ha, Fast/Lycos, Overture, & FindWhat were all available to discuss overall questions and any problems in dealing with their services. (I had a long talk with a pair of LookSmart reps. "Explain yourself, young man!" They admitted that the recent changes were both heavy handed and poorly explained. They talked me into doing a little testing, so I'll report back on that later.)

Then there was the party at the GooglePlex. I've never before seen so many dancing programmers in one place!

Here's the quick summary:

1. Optimizing pages for the search engines is still the first step.

(For those who have been doing this for the last few years, it's a given. However, people new to online marketing wonder whether they can skip that step. No, do not skip the optimizing. Actually, it's more important than ever.)

2. Directories.

Submitting to Yahoo is still vital, along with and

3. Pay for Inclusion Search Engines.

Inktomi, Fast/Lycos, Teoma/Ask Jeeves, AltaVista Submission to these search engines is extremely important to get sites listed within a few days. Of course, some are also helpful in increasing site rank for chosen keywords, particularly if you submit pages optimized for your keywords.

4. Pay for Position Search Engines.

Small businesses are avoiding the Google Premium Sponsorships. Why? The minimum is $10,000 every three months. But there are reasonable alternatives.

When we pay for position we are:

  • bidding on a keyword to get our site into position 1, 2, or 3 in Overture and FindWhat. That gets us in a very high position in their partner sites
  • buying a text ad on Google Ad Words Select at a relatively low rate.

Why all three? Because Overture ads get the site in top positions in several of the biggest search engines, while Google gets the site in top positions in many others. FindWhat fills in the rest.

We can decide on the amount we are willing to pay per click for targeted keywords. I have been using all three of the above pay for position search engines for quite a while, and clients are delighted with the ROI.

People expect the pay per click to be quite expensive. Well, anyone who insists on targeting a highly competitive keyword phrase such as "books" or "web design" will find it very expensive. However, with a little ingenuity, we can generate a list of less popular keywords that actually target our market even better. Many of my clients are getting customers at $0.05 per click.

Some of the speakers discussed their list of 10,000 keywords for a single client. Those clients consider paying for position to be extremely inexpensive advertising, and the click-through rates can be much higher than banner ad click-through rates. It's a question of pairing the right keyword with the right text for the target searcher.

5. The SEs are interconnected.

(This is no surprise to experienced submitters, but newbies expect the search engines to be stand-alone entities.) The search engine community is a community of ever-changing partnerships. Very few of our actions in submitting to search engines will affect our listing in only one search engine.

The search engines share information with each other, and they sell information to each other. They determine a site's importance by its listing in other search engines and by its number of incoming links, as well as the quality of those links. (Unfortunately for many affiliate sites, even a large number of incoming links will not help the sites to rank better in the search engines, because the quality of the incoming links remains too low.)

There was so much more. I haven't even started working through my notes. I'll be doing that in detail and expanding the search engine section of the book I'm writing on how to do business on the Web.

More to come...

~ Virginia Lawrence, Ph.D. is an Information Architect who publishes both in print and online. Contact her at or visit her Web site at



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