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Sunday, October 23, 2005

Search Companies: Scrape Your Leftovers Into the Compost Pile

Doing some review tonight of the search engines' various offerings.

For advertisers alone, especially on the Yahoo side, there is such a confusing array of product options and features that it is in fact becoming difficult to know how to spend.

Then there's the search side. Here, "legacy" products are lying around like a kitchen full of Thanksgiving leftovers, as everyone at these companies hopes "someone else" will take the tough decision to clear them away so the festivities can continue.

Here are two offerings, in particular, that need to die:

1. Google "Directory." Although not featured anymore, it's not gone, either. Like keyword metatags, the Google "directory" using the ODP RDF dumps lingers in the search marketing community's mind, taking up two or three valuable brain cells that could be better used for something else. More broadly speaking, of course, the ODP itself needs to be shut down. It has little clout or respect among users anymore, yet seedy little games continue to be played, including editors joking about taking bribes, and for all I know, even taking them. Our time could be better spent on listening to funnier jokes. R.I.P. ODP. The legacy of organized information may be somewhat valuable; this could be archived while the organization itself is closed.

2. Yahoo! Paid Inclusion. So once I warmed you up with an easy one that was really yesterday's news, I hit you with this! Being critical of paid inclusion and suggesting it's time to just give up on it are two different things. I'll put it this way: the increasing proliferation of Yahoo! paid search products facing advertisers is making it tougher for them to make rational decisions. Agency people are starting to feel silly because it sounds like they are recommending everything -- yes you should be in the directory, yes you should look at this aspect and that aspect of Yahoo Precision and Content match in these three countries, and so on and so forth. When you start saying yes, you should do everything, the advertiser starts to feels a kind of paralysis, or at least scepticism. For Yahoo and its partners and largest advertisers, relationships and money are at stake if they phase out paid inclusion. But doing this would allow the community/marketplace to focus its energies on the remaining paid search options. Meanwhile, Yahoo reaffirming the unbiased nature of their organic index would lead to a boost in legitimacy, and force them to keep spam off page #1 of SERP's through algorithmic excellence alone. Paid inclusion is not the answer to better search or higher revenues, long term. Better search and a better ad program are. So the status quo is kept for inertia's sake. Having a completely unpaid-for index would be something to boast about, even more than having a really big index. And we know how search engines like to boast.

Are you with me? For Goodbye Google Directory, I propose a deadline of Thanksgiving 2005. For Goodbye Yahoo Paid Inclusion, mark it down for Canadian Thanksgiving 2006. Let's kiss these turkeys goodbye. These two companies have reached the stage where they need to begin paring obsolete clutter.

Posted by Andrew Goodman




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