The Mender

Metamend's Web Site Optimization and Marketing Newsletter
Issue 16
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Advice and techniques for the marketing and promotion of your web site plus breaking Search Engine Optimization News and valuable resources for the serious on-line marketer.

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Welcome to "The Mender" Issue 16

WHAT'S NEW AT METAMEND

NEW TECHNOLOGY PARTNER - MIVA
We are very pleased to announce that our new Metamend Miva module is now available. The programmers have been working overtime but it's finally ready. If your company uses Miva Merchant or Miva Now you can opt-in for Metamend as a global website marketing solution for ALL your clients. Check it out here.
Search for: Metamend

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NEW MARKETING PARTNER - WebCreators
WebCreators was founded in 1995. WebCreators allows you to create powerful, flexible, robust and easy to use database driven ecommerce and web site solutions that are built and managed using any web browser. They market these solutions under a private label to SP's, Newspapers, Portals, Franchises, Directories, Associations or any entity that needs or can sell at least 500 web sites. They have developed all their solutions in-house after working with thousands of small and medium-sized businesses and learning what they wanted and needed in an eBusiness solution. Welcome aboard WebCreators.

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NEW HOSTING PARTNER - Developers Choice
Developers Choice's mission is to provide high-performance web hosting and programming services to professional web developers and their clients. They are a fast-growing web hosting and support facility, working with web development companies and businesses worldwide.

For professional web designers, Developers Choice puts you in control of your clients without sticky reseller agreements or long-term contracts. They are your silent-partner, making sure you have the tools and support to create compelling web sites. If you are a business looking for hosting and design services, Developers Choice will host your web site and manage your site development.
Welcome aboard Developers Choice.

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NEW HOSTING PARTNER - Dynamic Net
Dynamic Net? provides solutions for companies seeking to do business on the Net. These solutions may include any combination of secure web site hosting, (managed dedicated servers, co-located services, and shared/virtual hosting), managed services, multimedia web site design, electronic commerce design, integration and application development and marketing and consulting. Their team of experienced developers and consultants provide turnkey Net business solutions for companies small and large. Solving the needs of your business through personal attention and relationship building.
Welcome aboard Dynamic Net.

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NEW HOSTING PARTNER - HighSpeedPlus
Once you've gotten over the thrill of flying through graphically intense Web sites; you've discovered the potential of multimedia; streaming video and CD quality sound are everyday experiences; and you expect connection speeds up to 100 times faster than telephone modems-only then will you begin to discover the real advantages of HighSpeedPlus.com. In addition to cable speed, HighSpeedPlus.com brings you the tools and services to expand the business potential of the Internet including; web hosting solutions, shopping baskets, web-based e-mail, secure servers, web site promotion, domain registration and online transaction processing. Welcome aboard Highspeedplus.



NEW SITE ENHANCEMENTS

Holiday Seasonal Pages
Introducing a head start marketing idea from Metamend. Holiday and Seasonal Keyword Pages. Do you offer gifts, decorations or other time specific holiday or seasonal items via your website? Interested in aiming your products toward the on-line holiday shopper?

Metamend's new opt-in SEASONAL/HOLIDAY PAGES feature allows you to customize your web site with optimum keywords for specific seasonal events and holidays. We then submit your new SEASONAL/HOLIDAY PAGES to all the top search engines for indexing.

This new feature is added to your pages well in advance of the actual holiday date allowing plenty of advance time for the search engines to index you accordingly. More important, it will help your site attract those lucrative holiday shoppers.
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ADMINISTRATOR'S CORNER: Relevant Results or Paid Ads in Disguise?
by Richard Zwicky

Recently, an accusation was filed against certain parties the search engine industry, accusing them of deceptive advertising. Many of us involved in the search engine optimization industry were left feeling vindicated. A major consumer watchdog group, founded by Gary Ruskin and former Presidential candidate Ralph Nader, (Not Al Gore's closest friend,) filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission against eight major search engines.

The complaint alleges that pay for placement ads are appearing at the top of certain search engine results, without clear disclosure of the fact that they are advertisements as opposed to valid, relevant results.

Such deception, if proven, would be unlawful. The argument goes further, stating that the search engine query results are presented as if they are "information from an objective database selected by an objective algorithm." and that this is deceptive, because they are neither objective, nor relevant results, but rather "are paid ads in disguise."

The complaint makes the case that people use the search engines as they would the white or yellow pages, and that if you look up something like "Legal firm" you should receive an objective response with regards to which web site deals with the subject, as opposed to an ad for "Ally McBeal", which may have been bought to cover any instance of "Legal Firm" being used in a search engine query.

The pay for placement model is fine, if the result is clearly identified as a paid ad. The accusation is many search engines are displaying the ads in a deceptive manner to make the user think they are valid results. Let's also remember that for all their power, search engines are very simple-minded when it comes to queries. If you were to think of them as a librarian, just imagine walking up to one and barking "Legal firm" at them. You would probably get a puzzled look, and a request for more info. A search engine does not have that luxury, it gives you it's best guess.

The complaint drew a parallel with the similar cases against infomercials. It is my opinion that there is no comparison between the two. Everyone knows that an infomercial is a paid program; it says so in the TV listings, and throughout the program, often in subtle, but obvious type at the bottom of the screen, throughout the program.

Some would argue that what is important is whether the search results are relevant to users query. A company like GOTO clearly states what is a paid listing and what is not. In part they do so by quoting the price paid for the listing in the results. This honesty has value to all parties. Since most search queries are commercial in nature, and by that I mean most people use the search engines to find a product, the demand for bona fide paid advertising that works is huge.

Due to the size of the internet, and it's tremendous growth, the overwhelming majority of search engines results you see are not paid placements. But nonetheless, in almost any category, there are companies willing to pay to be in the top 15 listings.

The more refined a query, the less paid ads you will find. Most paid ads are based around 1 or 2 key words. When you throw in extra terms, you are increasing the likelihood of pure, unfettered, objective results.

The essence of the problem is education; No one knows if search engine users really know how to use the tool properly, or whether they understand the difference between text based advertisements, and objective query results. One has to understand that the search engines are suffering from the failure of banner ads as a viable, long term revenue stream, and are searching desperately for ways to stay in business. Text based ads are a revenue stream. When one of the search engines find a better one, they will all migrate there. Ads which are made to appear like relevant results detract from the quality of results throughout a search engine site, and in the long term drive clients away, because they don't find what they are looking for quickly.

Search engines which forgo this revenue stream in exchange for alternative, less confusing ones will gain more and more market share, as people will more consistently return to them for "honest advice."

How to fix the problem? From a users perspective, use more information when doing a search; get specific with your requests, and all the search engines will work better for you. If the web site you are looking for is properly optimized, and your query is relevant, it will appear soon after the paid listings. From a web site operator's perspective, use Metamend to get your relevance higher across the board on all the search engines. If you decide that you want to buy a key term on one or two engines, go ahead. Be prepared to spend a few thousand a month on each term, and don't just do that and expect overall traffic to increase. Use the paid listings in a very focused way, within your budget. Trying to buy yourself business won't work, but carefully augmenting it in places may help.

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MARKETING: Marketing in Downturn Times
by Robert McCourty

World events of the past few weeks have left us all feeling hollow. Something has definitely changed. People just don't think the same way anymore. You can see it in their eyes and hear it in their voices. The phone rings less, even the "spam" had slowed to a trickle. Business is in slow motion. Returning to a regular cycle will take much, much, longer.

Owning and marketing a business during transitional or down times can be a tremendous challenge. Indeed, keeping your business afloat may become a major priority for many. Often the first things to go when scrutinizing possible budget changes or considering downsizing your business are the marketing and advertising activities. They are the easiest cuts to mentally justify because you probably think no one is interested right now. On the contrary, now could be your busiest time.

Everyone is going through the same transition period together. Because the downturn is equally shared throughout many industry sectors business people are seeking new ways and new partners to market products and services. They may be very receptive to any potential new sources of revenue during this time, so it may be a good time to approach with good join-marketing ideas.

Encouragement
Everyone needs to hear and see more than their average share of good news these days. News which is positive and encouraging. News which looks on the sunny-side of life, will shine like a beacon through the doom and gloom. It will get read. Use encouraging and positive phrases in your press releases and advertising.

Spirit of Giving
People have an intrinsic spirit of giving and sharing, volunteering, donating and basically doing anything they can to help out during times of crisis. Business and corporate entities also contribute by various ways and means. By donating goods and/or services your company develops a "good neighbor" persona. Join with other business in your community and start a fund-raising event. Become a sponsor. Donate a percentage of each item sold to the cause.

Marketing during downturn times can be a very positive experience for your company plus provide a very valuable service to those which need some positive news right now. This is not taking unfair advantage, on the contrary, marketing honestly during these times can often help others with the healing process. You take care and take care of each other.



SEARCH ENGINE NEWS AND HEADLINES
Nielsen//NetRatings top domains by category for August, looking at search engines/portals, ISP/Telecoms and community sites.

Search engines/portals:

Rank      Site               Unique Audience (Active)      Reach %

1 msn.com 4,774,108 37.95
2 yahoo.com 3,203,482 25.46
3 msn.co.uk 3,093,829 24.59
4 yahoo.co.uk 2,443,928 19.43
5 aol.com 2,426,583 19.29
6 google.com 1,993,547 15.85
7 ask.co.uk 1,797,727 14.29
8 aol.co.uk 1,341,783 10.67
9 lycos.co.uk 1,235,325 9.82
10 excite.co.uk 1,039,320 8.26

Telecoms/ISP's:

Rank Site Unique Audience (Active) Reach %

1 passport.com 3,544,576 28.17
2 freeserve.com 2,352,001 18.70
3 btinternet.com 2,055,098 16.34
4 btopenworld.com 1,904,207 15.14
5 demon.co.uk 1,233,543 9.80
6 freeserve.co.uk 1,010,587 8.03
7 lineone.net 936,445 7.44
8 tiscali.co.uk 852,419 6.78
9 ntlworld.com 795,521 6.32
10 virgin.net 751,188 5.97

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Protect Your Computers > From the Nimda Worm

SearchExpress: New Search Engine

Amberfish
Beta version of a new high-performance search engine with efficient
indexing and searching.

QueryServer: Updated MetaSearch Engine *Link No Longer Valid
Dataware Knowledge Seeker metasearch server is now available from
Open Text.

AltaVista names new CEO, cuts staff

Yahoo Buys Back $55 Million of Stock
search for: headline content

Content Management: Internet for the Blind
search for: headline content

About.com slashes Canadian content: sources
search for: headline content

Helping Orgs., News, Gov. Sites See Web Gains *Link No Longer Valid
search for: headline content

Excite@Home Pulls The Plug
UPDATE: Redwood City, Calif.-based company files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and agrees to sell broadband unit to AT&T, which has commenced talks with Comcast.
Courtesy of Internet News



Metamend Client of the Month
California Management Systems Inc.
Providing software solutions to the Medical Community! Out of the box Practice Management solutions For Surgeons, Opticians Dispensers, Optometry and Optometrists.


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