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Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Aol's Top Searches List Fluffy Pop Culture

AOL's Top 2004 Searches are Pop Culture Fluff This AOL top Searches list is depressing. Pop culture may be bigger at AOL where they pander to that crowd, but sheesh! The list of bimbo's and celebrities is donwright sad. To think that the biggest issues searched at AOL are Super Bowl flashes by Janet Jackson and dim simpletons from the music and movie world just plain saddens me.

One top ten list I was happy to see was the Merriam Websters top ten most searched words of 2004, except maybe the first one, "blog".

1. blog
2. incumbent
3. electoral
4. insurgent
5. hurricane
6. cicada
7. peloton : noun (1951) : the main body of riders in a bicycle race
8. partisan
9. sovereignty
10. defenestration

We're bound to be hit with dozens of stupid Top 10 _____ of 2004 lists. I hope there are more that demonstrate something substantial about us, and less that show shallowness and stupidity like that AOL Search list.

The weekly WordTracker top 500 word list is sometimes interesting, but most often the same. Sometimes the order changes slightly and big news always sees a spike in searches for the latest disaster or crime or atrocity to occur within reach of news cameras.

On September 16 of 2001, I lamented that my job as an SEO had me seeing searches about the Terrorist attacks at the top of the list of most searched phrases that week. I compared the top 300 search words for September 15, 2001 and a week earlier from September 8, 2001 Yahoo was displaced from it's top position and pushed down to number 4 on the list by frantic searches for what was then a strange new name to most of us, Osama Bin Laden. Interestingly, Google now tops Yahoo as the most frequently searched word.

I discussed how the frequency and order of top searches changed dramatically that awful week and noted that we seemed much more introspective and thoughtful, but still sought escape in the fluff of pop culture. My weekly newsletter was about the change in those searches after the traumatic events of September 11, 2001. My favorite observations from back then was the following,

"While the commercial phrase "airline tickets" maintains a position around the 50th most frequently searched terms in a normal week, it is nowhere to be found on the list this week above position 500. Neither are there many searches for products as there have been in recent weeks.

We often seek comfort and enjoyment from animals and the terms "dogs", "cats" and "horses" usually find their way onto the
most frequently searched terms list. Only "dogs" remain this week. Does that suggest they remain our best friend in difficult times too?

Here's the top 300 keyword report from this week beside those lists from September of 2001.

WebPosition, NetIQ, iProspect, WebTrends Marketing PR

WebPosition, iProspect, WebTrends Marketing PR

I'm a big fan of press releases for gaining search engine ranking and link popularity, and now the Search Engine Marketing Triad of the largest Web Analytics software (WebTrends, owned by NetIQ), Search engine reporting software (Web Position Gold 3, owned by NetIQ) and Search Marketing Firm, iProspect (owned by NetIQ - er, no, um sort of) have released their latest white paper, (cleverly disguised as a press release) to boost their own search engine rankings further to the top and tie their respective monstrous selves together.

I'm looking for them to be bought by Yahoo! and merge together to form the first "PPC Analytics Reporting Marketing Search" firm that will come to be known as "PPC-ARMS" offering the world's only MegaSEO to Fortune 400 Companies.

And now a word from the PPC-ARMS

WebPosition Finds Amazon Tops the Search Engines among Major Retailers for this Year's Hottest Holiday Toys

Study Finds Amazon, Sears, Target and Wal-Mart Rely on Sponsored Search More than Organic Search

December 2004 (Newstream) -- WebTrends, the web analytics market share leader and a business unit of NetIQ Corporation (NASDAQ: NTIQ), on December the 14th unveiled results from its first WebPosition® Search Ranking study of how four major retailers that sell five of this year's hottest holiday toys are using Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) strategies to attract online visitors. Top-level findings, revealed at the Search Engine Strategies Conference & Expo, indicate that Amazon's visibility in both organic results and sponsored search results were the highest, with an organic Visibility Percentage more than twice that of the other retailers.

Wal-Mart, Target, Sears and Amazon were analyzed using WebPosition® Gold to determine the visibility these web sites have in organic and paid search results on Google, MSN, Ask Jeeves, Teoma and Yahoo! Web Results for five toys included in USA Today's 'Hot Dozen' toys: "Cabbage Patch Kids", "Bratz Tokyo-A-Go-Go Dance N' Skate Club", "E-L-M-O", "Balloon Lagoon" and "Ms. Pac-Man TV Games" (Source: Toy Wishes magazine, October 2004).

Results indicate that as a group the retailers are more than twice as visible in sponsored search results (73.87%) as they are in organic search results (35.87%). Amazon was found to be the most visible among all sites in organic search engine listings for the targeted keywords with an organic Visibility Percentage of 34.67%, followed by Wal-Mart at 14%, Target at 7.33% and Sears at 3.87%. Visibility Percentage is a reflection of a site's positions within the first three pages of search results for its targeted keywords and search engines. For example, a site that has #1 organic search positions for all of its targeted keywords in all search engines examined would have an organic Visibility Percentage of 100%.

When WebPosition analysis included sponsored search listings, visibility increased across all retailers with Amazon rising to 52%, followed by Wal-Mart at 39.73%, Sears at 16% and Target at 13.6%. The data suggests that retailers are using sponsored search listings to achieve high positions for these products, often in the absence of high organic search positions.

"It's well known that unless your site appears within the first three pages of search results for a given term, only a small percentage of web searchers will find you," said Fredrick Marckini, CEO and founder, firm, iProspect. "While organic listings are certainly the goal for many companies, sponsored search listings guarantee visibility with a position equivalent to what they are willing to pay. This is why it's critical for marketers to understand the ROI driven by specific paid and organic search terms, and to work to increase their organic positions over time."

According to The iProspect Search Engine User Attitudes Survey, web searchers find non-paid listings to be more relevant than paid listings on commercial searches, with 60.5 % deeming organic results as more relevant versus 39.5% favoring paid listings across all search engines (March 2004).

"While this study is a snapshot of SEO and SEM performance for a handful of products, the finding of major retailers relying on paid search to augment their organic search listings holds true with what other studies have found," said Jason Palmer, vice president of product management and product marketing, WebTrends. "Since competition for paid keywords will only increase, it's critical for sites to utilize rankings and recommendations such as those provided by WebPosition to increase their organic visibility."

WebPosition has published the Top 5 Tips for Successful Search Engine Marketing in a recent edition of its MarketPosition newsletter at


This is merely a sampling of how these leading retailers are using SEO and SEM techniques for a small group of products. The analysis focused solely on five toys using only the official product names as keywords. WebPosition Gold produced search rankings for the five hot toys for each of the retailers examined using the manual query setting in its Reporter module. Visibility Percentage reflects a site's overall visibility for all the keywords and all search engines examined, providing a higher-level understanding of search effectiveness than search rankings alone can provide. A data snapshot was taken on December 9, 2004, to compile these findings.

About WebPosition Gold

WebPosition Gold 3 optimizes a web site's relevancy, visibility and overall performance with search engines, by enabling businesses to understand how their sites perform for various keywords and what they can do to achieve higher search positions on each of the major search engines. With WebPosition Gold 3, WebTrends offers organizations solutions for managing the entire Search Engine Optimization (SEO) process: organizations can conduct keyword research through the integrated Wordtracker service, increase visibility and improve search engine positions with WebPosition Gold, and understand conversions and revenue from paid and organic search terms with WebTrends® On Demand and software solutions.

About WebTrends

As the worldwide leader and trusted standard for web analytics, WebTrends delivers award-winning solutions that help marketing executives improve their return on investment. From campaign performance and search engine marketing to web site conversion and customer retention, WebTrends provides marketers a complete solution to accelerate their web results. Thousands of organizations worldwide, including more than half of the Fortune and Global 500 companies, rely on WebTrends everyday to measure and optimize their results. Offering both an On Demand service and software solutions, WebTrends uniquely provides customers with complete choice and control to ensure the solution can adapt with their dynamic business needs. WebTrends is a business unit of NetIQ Corporation. For more information, visit

About NetIQ

NetIQ Corp. (Nasdaq: NTIQ) is a leading provider of Systems & Security Management and Web Analytics solutions. Historically focused on managing Windows-based applications, NetIQ now delivers cross-platform solutions that enhance business performance resulting in higher returns on infrastructure and web investments. NetIQ products are sold across all continents directly and through a network of authorized NetIQ partners and resellers. The company is headquartered in San Jose, Calif., with development and operational personnel in Houston, Texas; Portland, Ore; Raleigh, N.C.; Bellevue, Wash. and Galway, Ireland. For more information, please visit the company's web site at or call (888) 323-6768.

NetIQ, WebPosition and WebTrends are trademarks or registered trademarks of NetIQ Corporation in the United States and other countries. All other trademarks mentioned are the property of their respective owners.


Produced for NetIQ Corp.

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Monday, December 13, 2004

Yahoo Desktop Search Proprietary Foolishness

Yahoo Desktop Search to appear in January of 2005, is licensed from software company x1. The application is reported to be native to Windows and will not be immediately offered for Mac machines, but those who have seen it at work claim that it is very fast. The downside is that the application makes it harder to switch to other search engines within the searches. So if you want to search for anything at another search engine while in the Yahoo desktop search application, it will be much harder to do so. Google built their desktop search into the browser, which makes searches from the browser as simple as typing in a new address.

I absolutely HATE proprietary closed loop arrangements in the corporate world. This happens when you buy Nextel branded cell phones from Motorola, which won't work with other wireless companies service. You can't email phone photos to those outside your provider. Your batteries are different than those used by the same manufacturers phones at another cell provider. Even phone accessories such as belt clips and carrying cases must be purchased ONLY through your own provider!

This proprietary stance is shortsighted and frustrating when you are locked into using stuff from one company that won't work with their competitors. Microsoft is currently feeling the heat of proprietary Internet Explorer shortcomings by all of those jumping ship to RUN toward Firefox browsers. Yahoo is going to attempt to lock in their users and prevent escape from their desktop search application. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Google Suggest Tool Beta - Amazing!

Google Suggest Tool Launched in Beta and it's AMAZING! How they continue to come up with brilliant, innovative tools that enhance and improve search is beyond me. Having hundreds of genius engineers on staff,LISTENING to their ideas - then IMPLEMENTING those ideas is leading to great leaps in search usability.

The Google Suggest Beta tool not only completes words in a drop-down list that shows ten possible and or likely ways to complete any word you begin to type in the search box, it shows beside each of those possible word combinations - how many times that option is searched at Google!

Even though I was in the middle of working overtime to begin a major client initiative, I couldn't stop experimenting with the tool from an SEO perspective. The Google Suggest tool allows you to see INSTANTLY how many results for that keyword phrase Google offers! (This feature means that for those of us that used to search keyword phrases to see how much competition there is for a particular phrase, that we no longer have to actually do that search, just BEGIN to type it into the box and we instantly know what would have taken another second or two to find out before AND see nine more options and how much competition for each of them - listed below that phrase!)

Google Suggest is something that appears to be destined for integration into the standard search page simply because it is far MORE valuable as the similar option some browsers offer to complete words as you begin to type them into web forms. The controversial Gator form completion tool launched a huge advertising company based only on things users using their tool had already typed into web forms.

But the difference here is astounding, in that it shows you things OTHERS have typed into the search box and HOW OFTEN! This means that they must instantly access their database via the search box and instantly return results that change with each keystroke! Though it is interesting, it is not foolproof. Several times I typed quickly and the feature appears to drop behind and miss a letter or two that I've typed, showing results for the first two letters, but not reflecting the third letter I've typed.

The Google Suggest FAQ answers to frequently asked questions promise that the auto-complete feature is not based on your surfing or search history. An inevitable concern that arises as you type queries and see the javascript function complete words that you wouldn't otherwise type. A deliberate attempt to search adult terms mostly turns up innocuous word completions and beyond that, appears to filter the MOST commonly searched phrases on the web. Adult related phrases appear (necessarily) NOT to be completed as it would show things that children using the feature shouldn't see. Nice touch that!

The FAQ also tells us that the word completion feature of Google Suggest is based upon the Google Zeitgeist, by itself a fascinating look at popular culture that is always available to the curious searcher.

One question asked on the Google Suggest FAQ page addresses an odd issue when it asks . . . "How do I get back to normal Google?" . The answer is simply to type the URL into the browser address bar or to click on a normal Google link asi it appears to lock you into using the feature until you specifically launch a new browser window. Though, personally, I would rather stick with Google Suggest as it seems that they have come up with ANOTHER feature I can't live without.

Interestingly, the Google Blog links to the following URL but if you look in your browser address bar, you'll see that you are redirected to which suggests Google intends full implementation and may offer some toggle of the option from the main page in the near future.

You must use relatively recent browsers in order to use the Google Suggest feature, but it supports Internet Explorer 6.0 (or newer), Netscape 7.1 (or newer), Mozilla 1.4 (or newer), Firefox 0.8 (or newer), Opera 7.54 (or newer), or Apple Safari 1.2.2 (or newer). (Interesting side note here, type the single letter "F" in the text box of Google Suggest search and the result is "Firefox 20,000,000 results." Something that will no doubt make Microsoft a bit nervous.)

Google continues to innovate in ways that fascinate me. I'm behind in my work now because I've toyed around and analyzed this new Google feature beyond reason. If MSN and Yahoo don't offer similar tools in their search, I can't imagine being without it now and will stick to Google for my searching. MSN's "Search Builder" feature almost had me as a convert. Yahoo's "My Search" options almost had me setting Yahoo as my home page. Search tools are coming fast and furious over the past couple of months and this industry is a fascinating space to watch these days.

I've gotta get back to work. I'll resist the temptation to look further at the Google Suggest tool. New ideas keep popping into my head on fascinating new ways to use it. Like "What is the most commonly searched word beginning with each letter of the alphabet?" "A is for Amazon" "B is for Best Buy" "C is for CNN" etc. Maybe "How is the prefix 'un' most often used?" THAT didn't work, I get United Airlines as a suggestion. Google, I have a suggestion for new tool! How about Google Prefix or even Google Antonym! Imagine the fascinating tools that developers will build using the Google API if they include this feature!


I love the web! Since this article ran in SiteProNews Monday, I got called on an error INSTANTLY by a dozen people (by email, through this blog and through my site contact form) on the comment that you can see how many times a term is searched. I mispoke there. MEA CULPA!

That is in fact the number of RESULTS Google shows in their database for the search phrase. Much less illuminating, but still interesting. I'd love to tell Google that they ought to simply change their little tool to show the search phrase in quotes, which THEN returns only EXACT MATCHES in Google results.

That would be both marginally more interesting and useful. But you can't even USE quote marks in that tool. So we'll have to see Google results for that word and have no choice on that option. Perhaps another SUGGESTION to Google? They are actively seeking feedback folks!