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Advice and techniques for the promotion of your web site plus Search Engine Optimization News and valuable resources for the serious on-line marketer.
Welcome to "The Mender" Issue 25
SEARCH ENGINE AND RELATED INDUSTRY NEWS
- LookSmart Hit with Proposed Class Action Suit
When LookSmart changed the way it sells some of its commercial Web site listings back in April, many customers were none too pleased. Now, a proposed class action lawsuit claiming breach of contract, fraudulent business practices and misleading advertising has been filed against LookSmart over that change.
- Spammer Breaks into AOL Search Engine
While AOL downplayed the incident, citing it as a relatively small occurrence in the large scheme of their web results, search engines are clearly vulnerable to spammers who manipulate their ranking systems.
- Ask Jeeves Moves Into Enterprise Market with Jeeves One Enterprise
The new software draws on a combination of the automated natural language, self service application available in JeevesOne Standard, as well as technology extracted from recently-acquired Octopus Software which allows users to create custom views of the internet. The system will also run on Solaris, and make use of other emerging standards like XML and LDAP.
- Google Rolls Out Updated Search Appliance *Link No Longer Valid
An updated version of the Intel- and Linux-based system first released in February was delivered this week, along with news of successful deployments by large corporate clients like Boeing and Cisco. Improvements to the appliance include increased capacity, more efficient online content retrieval, a more customized look for search results, and results that are available in XML as well as HTML.
- AlltheWeb Claims to Outpace Google in Search Indexes
After several months of quiet building, AlltheWeb declared that it has surpassed Google in indexing Internet information. The company cites a database that spans 2.1 billion Web pages, thereby edging ahead of Google's 2.07 billion scanned by the end of last week.
- SEC Upgrades EDGAR Search Engine
SearchDay, June 26, 2002 - The SEC's EDGAR database is an absolutely essential resource for business researchers, and recent upgrades have vastly improved its search interface.
- Teoma Offers Free Search Toolbar
Teoma has introduced the Teoma Search Bar, a free online navigational tool that lets you search Teoma.com while viewing any web page with Internet Explorer.
- A Death for Yahoo! Internet Life
Ziff Davis calls it quits on the seven-year-old lifestyle/culture title.
- CNN Launches Newswatch, Powered by Infogate *Link No Longer Valid
CNN has announced the launch of Newswatch, a personal news service designed to provide Internet-based desktop access to news tailored to the interests and needs of users.
- AltaVista Launches New Search Engine Features
AltaVista has launched several new tweaks, features, and upgrades to their search engine.
HIGHLIGHTED ENGINE OF THE MONTH
All4one (Formerly OpenFind) - Help Beta test a Brand New Search Engine
WHAT'S NEW AT METAMEND
New Hosting Partner - AISO
Hosting thousands of web sites for U.S. and International customers, AISO offers fast reliable performance, responsive technical support, a 30 day satisfaction guarantee, and a 99% uptime guarantee. They are connected to the Internet Backbone via Multi Homed connections. These lines are directly connected to multiple OC3 backbones. Welcome aboard AISO and clients.
New Hosting Partner - JTLsiteHost *Link No Longer Valid
New Hosting Partner - ThinkBig Studios
An idea will remain just an idea until you involve some 'Big Thinking. (and hard work) At ThinkBigStudios it is their company policy to nurture every idea that their customers bring to them. The ThinkBigPortfolio of services has helped many businesses realize their online goals while saving precious time, resources and money. Visit their website to learn more about how your business or organization would benefit from a ThinkBig quality service.
New Hosting Partner - E.B.O.Z Inc.
E.B.O.Z Inc.("eBoz") is dedicated to designing, developing and providing advanced web tools to the Small Business Service Provider (SBSP) channel. A respected leader in the Application Service Provider industry, eBoz includes product lines such as advanced web solutions, e-commerce, content and online marketing. eBoz provides these products in a co-branded, private label fashion with a ongoing commitment to the highest quality reliability, service, and customer satisfaction. Current eBoz portals include:
NEW WEBSITE ENHANCEMENT
Metamend has a new look! If you haven't browsed by in awhile, check out our groovy new home page design and let us know what you think. We've improved site navigation and increased our FAQ with even more information on Search Engine Optimization solutions, (SEO) and website Marketing tips.
ADMINISTRATOR'S CORNER - Bait and Switch of a New Kind
by Richard Zwicky
A lot of us around here were *annoyed* when we got notice from LookSmart in April that they were changing what we had purchased for ourselves, and on behalf of some of our clients. We had bought their one time pay for inclusion package. We received a notice that our purchase was arbitrarily being changed, without our consent, to a pay per click program. Graciously, LookSmart was crediting our account with an opening balance of $15.00 against our initial investment of $199.00. When this "free" credit gift was used, we could pay an ongoing fee, or face being unlisted. We looked at the issue from a moral, and a business perspective. From a moral question, we could not pay their fee.
From a business perspective, we considered what our view of the value of LookSmart's service had become, with respect to its declining reach vis a vis the other engines, and decided to give it a pass. We recommended to our clients, some of whom were mad at us for LookSmart's change, to not pay any ongoing fees. We do not believe that the cost justifies the fee, and more importantly, we feel this tactic is morally wrong. We all understand the LookSmart is looking for new and better revenue stream, just as any responsible company would. However, if a contract with your client is not respected, don't go back for seconds. It's one thing if there is a business issue that arises, or a dispute with regards to delivery of product or service. It's another thing for one Party to just change its mind, and arbitrarily amend an agreement without the consent of the other Party. I was not displeased to see that many other individuals and companies in the industry agreed, and echoed my sentiments. The action LookSmart took has justifiably caused a great deal of outrage and consternation among LookSmart customers. These customers feel betrayed by the company, and how it is demanding additional money from them. I'm sure that many of them have not opted to continue with LookSmart's new program.
As mentioned in our News articles above, Looksmart is being sued because of its actions, on the grounds of breach of contract, and fraudulent business practices. If the case is approved it will be a Class Action lawsuit on behalf of all companies affected by this amendment of the contract.
On July 11, 2002, (we're not just up to date on the latest search engine algorithms) Looksmart announced that it had "heard" from "past customers like you. We listened, and in response we're announcing a change. Now, we will automatically credit all past Express Submit and Basic Submit customers with 100 free clicks per listing each month through December 11, 2003." An attempt to mollify their detractors? Yes. An admission that what was done was was wrong or not acceptable?
No. They are still are forging ahead with the same change, just 'giving' us more months of limited free clicks. It's kind of like saying to someone; "Sorry I know we agreed that I would renovate your home, but instead I decided that I would be best served to tear it down, so as to improve the view from my lot. But since you're unjustifiably upset with my action, I'll give you a discount on the construction cost of a new one, which I will build to suit my needs and wants better."
Will this court case be successful? I couldn't begin to comment on that. I'm sure enough lawyers have read the contracts to have arguments on both sides. If it is successful, I applaud the courts. I fully support LookSmart's right to change revenue models, and offer new programs. I think that it is smart for any business to look for new and better ways to improve revenues. I do not support their decision to unilaterally amend any existing contract with them, nor do I believe that their action is morally right. If Looksmart prevails, I believe it sets a terrible precedent for the rest of the industry.
MARKETING - Cure for the Summertime Blues
by Robert McCourty
Marketing in the Summertime can be a boon for your business no matter what type of product and/or service you are offering. If you happen to be in the Suntan lotion business, it's a pretty good bet this is your high season, but summertime marketing is not just for seasonal related items. Anyone involved in the Tourism Industry will tell you that everyone is vying for those lucrative tourism dollars, so why not you too? The trick of course is to set yourself apart from the crowd. Taking out ads in your local tourism guides and hoping for the best may work but overall the Internet, is still the best place to make yourself visible. More and more people are using trip planning sites and educating themselves about the availability of accommodations and activities, before setting out to their desired destination. Why not advertise on those sites?
Summer is also a great time to do joint marketing with other complimentary services. Get some coupons into a "welcome" package. Most accommodations offer an envelope full of these things to every guest. It's a very cost effective way of getting the name of your company in front of new eyes. You could offer a free cup of coffee at your restaurant, a discount on meals, or a one hour free boat rental. Buy one get one free! Whatever you happen to be promoting, or selling, if it's tourist oriented, it is always the right time to join forces with others in your area. Coupons and gift certificates can easily be designed and duplicated on your home computer and mass produced by photocopying. A few dollars worth of investment can produce substantial additional revenue. Another excellent way to joint market during the Summer is to sponsor local events which draw crowds. A nice banner with your company name and logo on it placed has a captured audience for all those attending the function. This may not produce instant direct sales but people will remember your name and/or services later on.
Marketing is not always directly related to immediate sales. Getting your "Brand" in front of eyes is just as important. Beer companies have know this for years and often sponsor local music festivals or other events where attendance is guaranteed. Chances are, the next time members of that audience go into a pub, (after the festival) they'll try your brand of beer at least once and this is exactly what you want. Perhaps visitors to your area have such a wonderful time they begin to look for additional information on real estate prices. Who's name/company will they remember when searching for more information? A complete stranger or the name/company on the banner they saw at the show?
It's all about brand recognition. The more eyes you can get your name in front of, the better chances you have of being remembered and since the sheer numbers of eyes drastically increase during the Summer season, this the perfect time to do some joint or co-op marketing. Get your name out there. It can cure those summertime marketing blues.
METAMEND CLIENT OF THE MONTH: Glow Distributors
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