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Web Search & Marketing Newsletter - September 2007

Welcome to the September edition of our monthly newsletter, covering current web search and marketing issues that can help business websites achieve more from the Internet.

In this issue we look at a new search engine that's launched in the past week and claims to be the first real-time search tool that is able to access more content from the 'invisible web'. We also look at the business impact of email and social networking sites that are growing in popularity. Finally we continue the review from last month's issue, looking at some of the new reporting options available to advertisers on Google AdWords.

Read more about these stories below, or you can also browse through previous editions of the newsletter, either by month or by subjects covered.

On to this month's edition...

New real-time search engine launched

Just last week saw the launch of a new search engine that claims to be the world's first real-time search engine that can access the most current information and delve further into the 'invisible web' that most search engines fail to index. It's being heralded as another new competitor to threaten Google's dominance, but how good is it?

This new search tool is called MyLiveSearch and it's been developed in Melbourne by brothers Robert and Mark Gabriel. Having just been launched in beta, this search engine was apparently been in conceptual development for 10 years although it has only become possible due to broadband and the increasing power of home PCs. Using 'revolutionary technology' the strapline for the site is the 'World's first live search engine, you're in control'.

To make the search work you first need to install a plug-in (available for IE and Firefox). Once this is in place and you conduct a search, MyLiveSearch firstly retrieves results from Google (or you can change your default search engine of choice) and then your computer takes over through the use of 'spiral technology' to access these and more sites to present the most up-to-date information or to delve deeper into sites that the search engines haven't reached.

As the initial search results appear they begin to constantly change as the live search element kicks in. This can be quite disconcerting at first, although you can stop the process. Against each of the results are displayed their source and age - whether the listing is from Google and how old the content is, or whether the information has been accessed by the MyLiveSearch tool, which can make the age of the content just seconds old.

There are also advanced search options, such as a slider bar to put more weighting on standard web results or news stories, or you can restrict searches to some specified domains or to your own bookmarks. MyLiveSearch looks impressive but time will tell if users find the results any better than those supplied by Google. For some specific searches there can be a tendency for the results to display a large number of page listings from the same domain which is not very helpful, but it's still in beta and these things could be fixed as it develops.

The owners of MyLiveSearch will need to spend a large amount of money to promote awareness of this site (and to differentiate it from Microsoft's branded 'Live Search'), or if it's really good then they could benefit from word-of-mouth a very habit driven market. The main disadvantage will be the need to download the plug-in, which has always been a barrier to getting widespread use of search tools in the past, but it is worth trying and should be considered as another search option to use if you can't find information you need.

If you'd like to know more about this new search tool and how it could be used, please contact us for more information.

 

The Internet's impact on business

The Internet has dramatically changed the way that many businesses operate over the past decade. This has mostly been for the good, although there can also be added pressures, such as on employees from the use of email, or on businesses from the distractions that websites such as social networking sites can have upon staff.

Recent research undertaken by two Scottish universities has discovered that more than a third of workers in Britain are experiencing stress as a result of emailing. Feelings of frustration, fatigue and general unhappiness at their work rate are apparent as many workers struggle to respond to the sheer volume of emails that are being received and the perceived pressure to respond within a certain time.

As the quantity of emails in workers' inboxes increases steadily, productivity suffers and stress increases as people spend less time doing the work for which they were employed and dedicate too much time dealing with emails whether spam or business-related. One survey reported that 34% of staff said that they thought they checked their inbox every 15 minutes. However, monitoring software reported a different story when fitted to those users' PCs, so that in reality, many were checking or viewing emails up to 40 times an hour.

The burden to respond quickly to emails appears to be partly to blame and when combined with the volume of emails being received, stress is the outcome for 33 per cent. The need to check emails almost becomes an obsessive habit for some and perhaps there is a need for more coaching of staff to create better email management techniques.

The other growing concern for businesses is the time being wasted by employees on websites such as Facebook, the latest social networking phenomenon. Recent research by SurfControl estimates that Australian companies could be losing $5 billion a year due to staff taking an hour a day to use the site. The rapid growth in Facebook's popularity is supposedly replacing instant messaging and emails as a primary method of communication.

In response to this trend, a new Sophos survey reports that 50% of workers are now being blocked from accessing Facebook by their employers who are worried about the website's impact on productivity as well as security issues, such as identity theft or the inappropriate exchange of business information. Of 600 workers surveyed, 43% said that their company was blocking access to Facebook, while an additional 7% claimed that usage of the social networking website was restricted and only those with a specific business requirement were allowed to access it.

The remaining 50% of respondents said that their company did not block access to Facebook, with 8% specifying that the reason was fear of employee backlash!

 

More new reports from Google AdWords

Last month we looked at a number of new reports that have recently been added to the Google AdWords reports centre. This month we review two additional reports that are now available which can help provide more detailed analysis of your PPC campaigns.

For those advertisers who use the content targeted option of Google AdWords where adverts appear against relevant content pages on third-party websites - the new Placement Performance Report offers more transparency and detailed information on the performance of this sector, which was previously hard to analyse. This report shows which third-party content sites (and pages within the sites) generated the most impressions, clicks and also conversions, as long as there is tracking code in place.

This data therefore allows you to then exclude poor performing sites from your advertising coverage using the site exclusion tool, or to refine the keyword targeting and bid management across the AdGroups or Campaign. By identifying those sites that are performing well can encourage more activity with these domains, such as by using the site targeting where bidding is based on a cost per thousand impressions (CPM).

Google does urge caution when using this report and analyzing the data since content-targeted adverts tend to be less focused and the clickthrough rates will be significantly lower than through the main search advertising network, but at least advertisers can now see which other websites are generating traffic and conversions over a period of time and also see which other websites have been displaying their sponsored adverts.

The other recently added report is the Search Query Performance report, which shows performance data for the search queries that triggered the sponsored advert to be clicked by the searcher. This means that the queries shown in the report reflect what users have searched for, rather than just the keywords being used in the campaign. Therefore broad terms may trigger ads for a variety of different searches, other than the keywords specified.

Using this performance data, advertisers can identify additional terms that should perhaps be specifically targeted, or negative terms that need to be included. There are also general groups of terms shown to reduce the potential size of the report if unique queries generate only a very low volume of searches or if there are terms that don't meet Google's privacy requirements. Also, since this is a new report it only covers data from the beginning of May but it can provide a valuable insight into the search activity behind the top-line numbers.

These additional reports help to add a further depth of information within a Google AdWords campaign and could be used to refine and develop a campaign through the use of data taken over a period of time. If you'd like to know more about these reports or would like to run these for your own PPC campaign, please contact us for more details.

 

Recent articles from The Marketing Workbench

The Marketing Workbench is our regular blog covering news and comment on Internet marketing events and trends. If you want to keep track of current stories you can visit this section of our website on a regular basis, or set up an RSS feed. These are just some of the items posted over the past month:

 

We hope you've found this month's issue useful. Please contact us if you need any more information on the items covered, or our advice on any aspect of your website's performance. Also, if there are any issues you would like to see in future editions of this newsletter, please submit your suggestions to us.