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I meant to update my Google situation (read for context). I'm definitely being restored to the database, but it takes time to get back in. My Google colleagues were eager to deal with this problem once notified, as it wasn't their intent to remove me.
It's not quite the tragedy of the commons, but it's definitely a problem of ethics. A very small number of people who use techniques designed to fool search engines mean that search engine engineers spend a disproportionate amount of time working to make sure they filter those demons (and daemons) out. My isbn.nu site suddenly triggered this response, maybe due to tweaks in their algorithm, because I had so many outbound links to bookstores: 5 to 10 per page!
Meanwhile, I've learned a lot about my customers. My traffic is down substantially - as much as 60 percent off its regular pace - but revenue is down just 30 to 40 percent. I'm also seeing that much of that decline comes from Half.com. Half.com, unique among the bookstores, pays a $5 per-new-customer bounty. Return customers generate bupkis in revenue for me. But that's ok: the unseen hand of the market churns new users into my service all the time.
The Google drought, though, revealed that most of the new chum entered the water (sorry for that image) come from Google! My regular customers find me through lots of links on different sites, their own bookmarks, recommendations, etc. My new customers find me through Google. New customers must have a high tendency to buy from Half.com, which often has the far cheapest price on a book since they sell (or facilitate the sales of) used and new items. Many of their items are barely used, and thus discounted heavily but in good shape. I'm a Half.com addict myself.
Was it worth losing lots of money to find this out? You bet. It'll help me focus on the future in a way that was impossible to determine the right direction for without having this insight. There was no way to filter out Google sales before, and now I have the exact numbers.
Posted by Glennf at March 12, 2002 2:22 PM
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Thanks for your analysis. The Brian Livingston columns were interesting, but I'm having trouble figuring out how you work your magic. If I have a search URL like this:
How can I make this the same as the URL:
Is there a simple way to do this? Or does it require complicated programming?
Posted by: Fly On Wall at March 14, 2002 5:35 AM
Google brings me about 80% to 90% of all search engine referrals. I've tried paying for keyword at a few places, but people don't search for book price comparisons by entering "book price comparison" (actually a few hundred a week do). This is the trick: what keywords, unless you came up with 1000 each with a custom ad, would bring enough users to make it worthwhile?
I'm currently doing a small test with Adwords Select on Google and have received only several hundred visitors even with ads that have a clickthrough of 2 to 3 percent! The problem is finding the right keywords to get the right people in the right quantity.
Overture is useful again for targeted purposes. Books is a hard category.
Posted by: Glenn Fleishman at March 13, 2002 4:46 PM
I've read with great interest your Google problems. Obviously, Google is a great search engine and probably the most popular. But how many visitors come to ISBN.nu via Google vs. the other search engines? Have you ever paid for placement in these search engines? What go you think of Overture?
Posted by: Fly On Wall at March 13, 2002 12:51 PM
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