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In 2004 we discovered that half of all onsite searches returned no results, despite the fact that products were actually available and could be found by clicking navigation links.
What did this tell us? Well firstly, it made us shudder. Half of all onsite queries returned NO results! Why was this happening? The main problem seemed to be related to poor quality metadata, but we also realised that some of the big retailers had site search tools that were perhaps not up to scratch.
Roll forward to 2006 and we figured that it was about time to investigate the site search market. What tools are available? What are the trends and issues in the marketplace? Why should site search be a priority if you’re selling online?
After the success of Alex Tew’s MillionDollarHomepage we’ve seen innumerable clones and a smattering of twists-on-a-theme. Now, we’ve spotted a new site that is gathering online and offline buzz. It allows you to buy one word as a link to your website, for a period of five years.
So how does it work, and will it work?
The latest updates to Google Sitemaps have been rolled-out, providing more helpful tools and data for webmasters. These include more depth when it comes to crawl errors, expanded query stats and a robots.txt analysis tool.
It used to be that there was this top down content pyramid in operation (operated by traditional media and the big online players), where the quantity and quality of news / content was controlled by relatively fewer organisations.
This is changing rapidly, becoming flatter and more diverse (we’re not really interested in the why’s right now), which can either be seen as an opportunity or a threat. Organisations that embrace this change are going to benefit (think Murdoch buying MySpace), so the question then becomes how one capitalises on the opportunity...
Let's look at some of the key strategic issues to consider.
Increasingly it is common knowledge on how to do best practice search engine optimisation. That doesn't make it easy, but it does mean you'll need to start thinking more creatively to keep a competitive edge.
So outside your standard SEO best practice, what more creative tactics might you use?
In the past people have commented that their ROI from clicks from Google's Adsense content network didn't match performance from Google search-referred clicks.
Smart Pricing, a click-discounting system for AdSense, was meant to help address this - so how's it working out?
eBay is launching new community tools and features to help sellers better market their products, according to a report on AuctionBytes. In particular, the online auction behemoth is adopting tagging, blogs and a community wiki.
Good move, by my reckoning...
Pay-per-click keyword prices have been falling in many sectors for the past year or so, according to the agencies and client-side marketers whom we regularly speak with in the UK, and as evidenced by the great US-focused research published by Fathom.
In 2005, my gut reaction to falling keyword prices was that it was merely a correction. After all, growth in spending on paid-search surged massively between 2004 and 2005, driven by much competition and new entrants to the PPC scene.
New advertisers – and some existing ones - may have over-egged the cake to secure a number one listing, before revising keyword bids downwards once the resulting sales didn’t provide enough (or any) return on investment. Paid-search is seen as one of the lowest hanging fruits for those new to online marketing, and PPC virgins may simply have been a bit too gung-ho to begin with.
But maybe keyword deflation suggests something more sinister, something that isn’t purely about new entrants bidding too much to attract visitors. Falling ROI may indicate a rising number of fraudulent clicks.
Is click fraud is in fact a bigger issue than the paid-search networks are prepared to let on? And is keyword deflation the smoking gun?