Jump to content

Cre8asiteforums Internet Marketing
and Conversion Web Design


Photo

World Without Search Engines, Amen


  • Please log in to reply
7 replies to this topic

#1 BillSlawski

BillSlawski

    Honored One Who Served Moderator Alumni

  • Hall Of Fame
  • 15644 posts

Posted 01 November 2004 - 06:57 PM

Another useful test is to ask, 'Does this help my users? Would I do this if search engines didn't exist?'

-- From the Quality Guidelines on Google's Information for Webmasters


I've sort of looked at that statement with some derision in the past. Search Engines do exist, and advice like that isn't going to change that fact. But, I've been thinking lately that it might not be such a bad idea to take the question more seriously.

What would you do if search engines didn't exist?

Imagine that the search engines all shut down. How would people find your web site?

What efforts might you make offline?

What would you do online?

Would you be considering exchanging links with anyone in particular?

How would you tell that a particular site was a good candidate to exchange links with?

How might television, magazines, newsletters, blogs, RSS, syndicated articles, forums, and so on, play into your post-search engine plans?

#2 webcertain

webcertain

    Whirl Wind Member

  • Members
  • 54 posts

Posted 02 November 2004 - 04:25 AM

[quote]What would you do if search engines didn't exist?
Spend less time on the net, and make sure not to lose the yellow pages..

Imagine that the search engines all shut down. How would people find your web site?
Links, directories, bookmark..
What efforts might you make offline?
subliminal tv ads wirh my domain name
How would you tell that a particular site was a good candidate to exchange links with?
As I do now: If the site is of quality and relevant to your business..


Do you think the "link page" would be then the second most important page after the home page?

#3 peter_d

peter_d

    Honored One Who Served Moderator Alumni

  • Hall Of Fame
  • 1914 posts

Posted 02 November 2004 - 04:42 AM

It's a good question, Bill.

I used to rely on search engines a lot more than I do so now. I typically find the most interesting sites on recommendation from trusted sources, i.e friends, bloggers, forum folk, etc.

Getting known is all about building relationships, building networks, and being seen in the right place at the right time. Stand apart. Differentiate.

New environment, same old world.

#4 bwelford

bwelford

    Peacekeeper Administrator

  • Site Administrators
  • 9021 posts

Posted 02 November 2004 - 07:46 AM

Yes indeed, Bill, a very thought-provoking question.

However, I think the Search Engines take themselves far too seriously, ... and we all go along with it. There's great talk about relevancy and which search engine has the most relevancy. However that has little to do with reality. I think the use of search engines is by now a social phenomenon, like reading newspapers. There's a great deal of advertising riding along on the SERP's so that's where all the interest derives from. Search Engine Marketing indeed ...

The reality is that there are two main ways a search engine is used. If a website "owns" its name, then a searcher may just put that name in the Search field. Google even gives you a button "I'm feeling lucky" and you go right there. Google takes no advertising revenues from that and the search engine has hopefully delivered you what you want. Google in fact delivers the #1 web page on its SERP, so it may not always be right. Indeed the browser could be set to serve up the com version of the name, as some do, without the intervention of a search engine.

The other reason why searchers use search engines is when they have a question and are not sure how to find the answer. Check your raw traffic logs to see some of the searches that brought visitors to your website. The SERP for the keyword phrase was obviously the starting point for an exploration of that "corner" of the Internet. The searcher hopes to find some web page that looks interesting relative to the question being asked. You could equally think up some front-end to a directory of web pages that would look almost like the search engine search page. The result of your directory search would be the particular page of listings for the most appropriate sub-sub-sub-sub-category.

So if the search engines disappeared without a trace, I think other mechanisms would quickly arise to meet the needs of Internauts. I'm also guessing that for most of us, what we did to try to be better placed with the search engines would work equally well with the replacement mechanisms.

#5 webcertain

webcertain

    Whirl Wind Member

  • Members
  • 54 posts

Posted 02 November 2004 - 08:08 AM

Even without this disparition scenario, Search engines will I think evolves in this direction: more "natural language" abilities, local directories..

#6 BillSlawski

BillSlawski

    Honored One Who Served Moderator Alumni

  • Hall Of Fame
  • 15644 posts

Posted 02 November 2004 - 02:45 PM

Do you think the "link page" would be then the second most important page after the home page?


It could actually be the same page. For instance, if you visit a blog like How Appealing, which focuses upon appellate court decisions, you'll not only see a great blog about decisions in legal cases, but also a very long blog roll leading to other legal blogs.

It provides value to visitors in a couple of ways:

[list]- by being a source of the latest news, with explanations of the implications of legal decisions.

- by being a directory to other, similar resources.[list]

Chances are good that most of the blogs it lists points back to it. Visitors arrive not by going from one site, to a search engine, then to the other, but rather directly, without the search engine being an intermediary step.

But what about sites that aren't blogs? You answer part of that yourself:

How would you tell that a particular site was a good candidate to exchange links with? 
As I do now: If the site is of quality and relevant to your business.


There are a number of local antique shops near me. Near the front door to all of them is a pamplet that shows where all the shops are, and a map to each. It tells what hours they are open, and if they have a particular specialty. These stores are competitors. But they are convinced that people who shop at one will shop at some of the others, and even make a day of it. I've seen online shops do the same thing. Links pages that are well annotated, and provide value to their customers can be an important part of a web site.

I've seen sites that provide services, and post links to other sites that offer related services on their acknowledgement of payment/receipt page. The links are there for a person to see when their initial task is complete, and when those other services become relevant. They are the right links at the right time.

Getting known is all about building relationships, building networks, and being seen in the right place at the right time. Stand apart. Differentiate.


That's the part of a marketing plan that works, and works well. Relying solely upon a search engine is a risky proposition, but building a network of business relationships is one of the key factors of good planning. You're no longer quite at the risk of search engines, and the rise and fall of search results.

So how does someone build those relationships? Local chambers of commerce? Trade associations? Satisfied customers spreading the word? Repeated communications with people who offer complementary goods and services? Visits to trade shows and conferences? Blog comments, and forum posts?

So if the search engines disappeared without a trace, I think other mechanisms would quickly arise to meet the needs of Internauts.


I'm beginning to think that those are out there now.

I added 40 pages with RSS feeds to my bloglines subscription last night. It brings me to about 150 total sites. I have other ones listed on Kinja. Now, instead of popping a question into my search engine on a subject, I might start up bloglines first, and look to see what's news, and what people are writing about and linking to.

The number of email newsletters I'm subscribing to has grown from a couple to about 20. It's not a large amount, but some of them are daily. A lot of them link to interesting pages, and news stories. It's a great way to keep informed.

Sites like Slash Dot, metafilter, and many others are places to go to find the interesting and often the unusual. Forums can also be helpful in finding information.

Those are just a few models for sharing and finding information on the web. I know there are many others. If anyone is relying solely upon search engines as a way to be found, they are missing opportunities.

...Search engines will I think evolves in this direction: more "natural language" abilities, local directories


Interesting, isn't it, to think that search engines are changing and evolving, too? The search engines of four or five years ago weren't that different than they are today. But in some ways they are.

Just what does a local search in Yahoo or Google mean to the average web master? What are the implications of "natural language" searches and semantic analysis indexing, where the context of keywords on a page may just play a more important role than in the past?

What are some other strategies for getting web pages in front of the right people without relying on search engines?

#7 peter_d

peter_d

    Honored One Who Served Moderator Alumni

  • Hall Of Fame
  • 1914 posts

Posted 02 November 2004 - 07:12 PM

So how does someone build those relationships? Local chambers of commerce? Trade associations? Satisfied customers spreading the word? Repeated communications with people who offer complementary goods and services? Visits to trade shows and conferences? Blog comments, and forum posts?


All of the above, however people should look at the question in the context of a marketing/pr strategy. Who are you trying to reach, where are they located, and how will you communicate. For example, speaking at a local trade association is a waste of time if your customer base is international and prefer the telephone.

Doc Searls was right about this in the ClueTrain Manifesto, and Dave Winer mentioned it recently. Markets are conversations, meaning people form dialogues around products and services irrespective of the top-down marketing push from the company itself. Take the iPod - the culture around the ipod is far more important as far as sales are concerned than anything Apple could do by themselves. How much conversation is there around the Rio? It was first, after all.

Always look to open and facilitate conversations. Be direct, contentious, brilliant, provokative, funny, natural. Jakob knows it. The rest follows quite naturally, especially on the web.

#8 projectphp

projectphp

    Honored One Who Served Moderator Alumni

  • Hall Of Fame
  • 3935 posts

Posted 02 November 2004 - 07:32 PM

This is a great thread to think about, not only theoretically, but in a very practical sense. Search Engines are great, but they are also flippant. Even the best can suffer catastrophic drops in SE traffic.

As a way out example, let's say there was a natural disaster where your server is located, and the whole building is whiped out. You realise pretty quickly, scramble to get a new server live, but it takes a week. In the meantime, you lose all your pages from Google, and end up receiving little to no traffic from Search for 4-6 weeks outside of PPC. This may seem unlikely, but I know of a guy that moved all his server infrastructure to the World Trade Center in July 2001. Never forget, Murphy was an optomist...

So, how does a site owner cope with this? Does one have alternate streams of traffic? If so, what are they? Can you identify additional sources in your niche?

Non Search Engine traffic can be very difficult to capture, usually far more difficult than search traffic. As such, it can have a lower ROI. But one needs to be aware that anything can, and will, happen. Never rely on one source for traffic, no matter how profitable the source, and always search for new streams.

What are some other strategies for getting web pages in front of the right people without relying on search engines?

If I can phrase this quetion a bit differently, it may bring the theoretical in line with the practical:

Are the "right" people only finding sites like yours through Search Engines? Are the "best" visitors always search visitors? Are there places that users will be naturally prequalifying themselves?

Right and best are highly subjective words, but a focus on the surfing habits of qualified users can help identify opportunities.

Some examples of great links I can think of include Forum sigs. These bring pre-qualified traffic that can be better than Search.

Ditto links on trusted, household name large sites. I had a client that got a link from Austarlia's largest TV station and web presence, NineMSN (also a search engine, but the site itself has extensive content). This link drove traffic and sales by the bucket load.

Even better, the page the link was on generated traffic because it was the "home" page of a TV show. Combine this with the traffic from search looking for the site because of the TV show, and it was a very good few weeks!

So, what are the places that your target market and demographic visit, and what other opportunities exist?



RSS Feed

0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users