Optimizing Your Search Engine Traffic Campaign

When setting up shop for a search engine premium placement campaign, you’ll want to make sure you are effective by dealing with the most popular engines first. There are a number of third-party search engine analyses and statistics that can provide you with comparisons for review before getting started. This allows you to identify which search engines are currently most popular so as to optimize your campaign accordingly.

Study Industry Ratings

Not that it’s a mystery, but the statistics from major ratings services such as Media Metrix, Nielsen//NetRatings, and StatMarket provide a wealth of information on search engine performance. The information is free, and these sites will help you develop a better understanding of how people in the cyberworld use engines and directories, along with the marketing trends that result and the user demographics that prevail.

Media Metrix is the granddaddy of the user-based rating services on the web. Providing results since 1996, it expanded its resources by merging with Relevant Knowledge in 1998. The approximately 50,000 users that Media Metrix bases its web site ratings on are mostly home users, with about 15 percent at-work users. The participants have meters on their computers monitoring the sites they visit 24/7.

The metered information is analyzed to produce the Media Metrix monthly ratings so often quoted in the news. For more details on the latest Media Metrix ratings showing audience reach for the major engines, see Danny Sullivan’s Ratings, Reviews and Tests section at SearchEngineWatch.com.

Media Metrix’s biggest competitor is Nielsen//Net Ratings. Famous for its television ratings system, Nielsen Media Research joined former rival NetRatings to become an online audience measurement service in March 1999, combining NetRatings’ tracking capabilites with Nielsen’s research expertise.

Nielsen//NetRatings provides audience measurement services, including comprehensive traffic measures for the top web sites. Rather than meters, it uses random-digit-dial recruiting software to monitor audience groups, sampling approximately 20,000 home users. NetRatings analyzes the data, creating weekly audience projections and demographic profiles for its subscribers.

However, statistics from the above major ratings services do not distinguish search engine traffic from other web site traffic. A user visiting Excite to get mail or check a stock portfolio is counted along with all those who visit the site to perform searches. Therefore, we need more granular information to make an informed decision on the most popular search engines.

StatMarket ranks search engines based on actual searches performed to reach specific web sites using the HitBox tracker. (HitBox provides traffic analysis data by means of an embedded, non-visible sensor on the web page source code.) Potentially, this would make StatMarket rankings far more accurate than the major ratings services for understanding which sites are popular from a search-specific perspective.

However, StatMarket’s data is dependent upon the participant users’ installing the code on their various pages. Many will add the code to their home page, but ignore their sub-pages. With a number of sub-page visits unrecorded, the results may not be as accurate as we’d like. This has an impact on the crawler-based search engines that deliver users directly to the sub-pages of a web site rather than just the home page. With no tracking code on the sub-pages referenced, visits to those sub-pages will remain unrecorded.

By using all three of the above resources to analyze current search engine data, you will be in a better position to select the most popular engines relevant to your premium placement campaign.

Seek Premium Placement

Here are a few more tips when considering which specific engines you want high rankings with. The Netscape search function appears by default for all those using the Netscape browser. This makes the search services located on the home page very important.

Likewise, the default MSN search service appears for someone using Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser. Those using Internet Explorer 4 or 5 can push a search button within the browser to access search resources.

For the above reasons, proper placement of your key phrase doorway ads in the Netscape and MSN search engines is imperative.

To end, here’s a couple more search engine resources you may find useful:

  • Search Engine World bills itself as “the search engine promotion and optimization site for the rest of us.” This is a well-organized site offering a number of resources including search engine industry news, articles, links and tips. It also publishes the Search Engine World Quarterly Magazine, ith news, articles, and reports specific to search engines.

  • For a guidepost to search engines, portals, and directories, try Search Engine Guide. This is a cool resource if you’re looking for industry-specific search engines. The site regularly updates its engine database, and it currently has identified 3,230 industry-specific engines.

Knowledge is the key to comfort when working with search engine placement or positioning practices. The above resources will help strengthen your expertise in the search engine traffic ratings area.

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