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Tuesday, March 25, 2003

PPC and Web Search Walloping Web Directories

CNET's Jim Hu and Stefanie Olson just can't get enough of the search engine biz. They've been reporting on it for years now, and surely they must tire of writing the same old stuff. No matter. Their newest article, "The changing face of search engines," does raise a few original points:

  • Due to the one-two punch of pay-per-click search listings and vast improvements in search engine algorithms and spidering technology, human-edited web directories are in a woeful state of decline.

  • As most site owners discovered in October 2002, a $299 editorial listing in the Yahoo directory isn't worth nearly as much as it once was. Now that Yahoo has bought Inktomi, we can surely expect to see Yahoo's algorithmic search side take over. For many reasons, too: Yahoo's directory listings are only for one URL, whereas paid inclusion through Inktomi can result in thousands of dollars of revenue from companies wishing to include hundreds of URLs in Inktomi.

  • Yahoo is apparently "redeploying" most of their directory editors to other positions focused primarily on paid search and PPC programs (good riddance, too; Yahoo's editors are perhaps some of the most vilified gatekeepers of the Web anywhere!

After digesting the CNET article, I was struck by how much the search engine landscape has changed -- and there are, no doubt, bigger changes ahead. Google really has knocked the wind out of every other search engine and web directory due to its ubiquitous brand and uncanny relevancy.

But, I think the bigger picture is even more telling. The main reason Google in particular -- and algorithmic search in general -- have succeeded so much is that human editors cannot possibly keep up with the dizzying pace of new web sites and repurposed web sites. The only way to properly catalog the web at this point is the technique for which Google is now famous: link popularity.

It's yet another reminder that getting inbound links is the most important thing a webmaster can do these days.

Posted by Cory Kleinschmidt




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