“Dr. Strangesearch…Or, How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Search Engines (Part 2).”

Written By: Roger J. Burke

Here is my latest article. It may be freely used in ezines, on websites or in e-books, as long as the Resource Box is left intact.

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“Hey, Sherry, just what the hey is goin’ on in the SE world, anyways??”

I read that Go.com had gone bust, GoTo.com has increased its fees, search engines are dropping affiliate programs, reducing payouts and shedding staff, pay-per-click engines are increasing in number, portals are increasing admission fees, more and more web pages are being ruthlessly dumped by the majors – and yet, thousands – hundreds of thousands – of web pages are added to SEs daily… What’s happening?

“Well, dear, it’s obvious, isn’t it?”, when I voiced my thoughts. She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed turns her chair around, and settles back, and once again, she had that Cheshire cat smile I know so well…

Sherry looks at me, “We know that searching has a lot to do with using appropriate search terms…but, with all the junk around, it’s still difficult to get a quality result from a search.”

“Sooo,” I says, “start using portals and vortals more…hey, Yahoo is the biggest portal, after all!”

“Agreed…and many of the majors are developing relationships or partnerships with many of those specialized areas.” She pauses, “But that’s not enough…I saw one report just recently which asserted that 7 million pages are added to the web everyday!” Whew, that’s a lotta bandwidth, no matter which way you cut it.

“Sooo…as I just said, where’s it all headin’, huh?”

“Well, out’ve all this Dot Bomb stuff, two things we know fer sure: advertisers/investors are closing their pocketbooks and, to paraphrase Jacob Nielsen (read more about about Jacob Nielsen at http://www.useit.com), an economy without money is unsustainable…and that’s obvious when you think about it.” Sherry was chewing at her lip again, and staring off into space. I wait patiently…again

At last, she said softly, “Well, dear, we know that the SEs are downsizing – all part of reducing costs of course – and they’re continuing to prune their databases of junk.” I nod my head, a trifle impatiently, but she pays no heed.

“Look,” she continues,”s’pose you’re a BIG SE” – pointing at me now – “you’ve gotta make money, you’ve gotten rid of lots of useless pages and websites, but there’s still zillions waiting to come on, investors are leery and weary…what do you do?”

Hmmm…too many pages, dump them…more submissions…growing volumes…falling revenues…gotta make money…gotta make BIG money…

“Hmmm, well, maybe I guess I could be more selective about websites (Sherry nods,”Yes, yes, they’re doing that!”) that I allow into the database…make the procedure more difficult…keep out the trash…that’d help to keep m’costs down…”

Sherry’s smiling now, so I go on. “S’pose I could join the pay-per-click band-wagon, also, start making more money that way – GoTo.com has raised its rates y’know, with no real loss, I hear (“Now you’re talking,” Sherry nods again, vigorously, “any search engine that matters could well go that way.”).

Emboldened now, I swept on further, “Hey, mebbe I could experiment more with fees into the directory side of things, y’know…mebbe even a structure of fees…now that’ll deter anybody with hundreds of doorway pages and all those spammers…hey, I’ll dump those doorways/gateways anyway, right?” (“The big portals already levy fees…and with no guarantees, too!”)

I screw up my face…this is hard work, y’know…”OK, that’s it…waddya think, huh?”

“Aren’t you forgetting something, dear?” Now it’s my turn to chew my lip, “OK…no more guessin’ games…shoot!”

“Well, dear heart, what about all those other hundreds of millions of web pages that are just up there as freebies?” And, she waves her hand vaguely inna air, as though pointing to “up”. OK, fine, thinks I, people have been publishing all sorts of web pages for years, technical, personal, informational, educational, etc etc…so that’s the web, right?…information online…accessible, available, open, free…so what’s she driving at…?

“Sooooo….yer sayin’ then, that…” I tried to sound like I knew the answer as I peered at her, over my tented fingertips…

“Look…,” Sherry leaned forward and practically speared my knee with her pointed finger,”when was the last time you went to K-mart, Coles, Wal-Mart or whatever, and found your neighbor sitting there trying to show you his personal photos, or interest you in his fly-fishing hobby, or sprout on about some other topic…albeit interesting?” I rubbed my knee, looking for blood.

“Huh…that’s stoopid, y’know it…the real world doesn’t work like that!” I moved my legs outta the way as I said that. ;-((

“Exactly! Yet, if he was there, he’d be taking up real-estate…at a price. At a very hefty price, I might add! Riiight?” I nod slowly…but I hadda agree, it made sense. I opened my mouth again, but she was off t’the races now…

“And…if he wasn’t paying anything for the pleasure of sitting there, just how long would it take for management to ask him politely to leave? Go to some other store that will allow a free lunch, or go to a warehouse where they hold flea-markets, hmmm?”

I frowned at that, “Now, jest a minute, that’s bricks-and-mortars world, real concrete y’know…not some electronic sparkles on a hard drive somewhere!” Sherry shakes her head, “So, when did hard drives suddenly become free, eh? Or computers? Or land lines, microwave transmitters, operating systems, programmers…you want me to go on?” I look at her, very hard now.

“So, yer sayin’ then that the free lunch is over? Everybody pays?”

“You got it!” She goes on, “Look, three years ago, pay-per-click was unheard of…now look at GoTo and a lot of others!” Now, just so that I got it, real clear-like, “So, you reckon that anybody – business and personal – with a web page will soon hafta pay for the pleasure of inclusion in a directory or SE?”

Sherry nods and shrugs, “Maybe not directly for starters, and there’ll be different fee structures…and, there may be some institutions that still continue to offer free services – some of the smaller players, I guess – but in business, you get what you pay for…every time. And search engines are in the business of ‘selling’ search results, make no mistake!”

She spins her chair back to her desk, “One way or another, the search engines have got to make the whole schmozzle work better…and make a profit.” And as the click of the mouse continues, “So’ve we!”

The party’s over…now we gotta get serious, I guess…sheesh, and I was havin’ soooo much fun, too!

I couldn’t resist a closing shot, “Sooooo, I reckon Doomsday Bomb for some of the SE Dotcoms ain’t gonna happen after all, huh…huh?”

Without missing a click, “More like a Boomsday a-comin’ for the SEs, dear heart…more like a Boomsday!”

About the Author

Roger Burke has been involved with computers since 1967, and has managed to break quite a few, over the years. He, and his wife Sherry, are now actively engaged in online self-publishing and promoting specific affiliate programs at http://online-wealth.com . If you have any comments or questions about this article, please send emails to mailto:webmaster@online-wealth.com .
Copyright 2001, Online-Wealth. All rights reserved.

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