Yahoo / Overture had the default status as THE keyword tool for about a decade. They lost that last year when Google started opening up their data a bit more. Now Microsoft is getting into the game offering more useful tools and more data. How does Yahoo respond? They stop supporting their keyword tool. No results, no 301 redirect, no rebrand, no description of why it is broke, no anything. Since my keyword tool is powered by their keyword tool I am getting 10 to 20 emails a day. How many people are not emailing? How much more traffic is Yahoo getting than I am? Tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars of shareholder value are wasted each day with that move.
The best spot to market yourself is on your own site. As long as Yahoo continues to undermine their own assets without regard or thought their marketplace will remain inefficient, and each day they will continue to lose marketshare. They paid $350 million for Zimbra, but what are the odds of them not screwing that up? They have too many half done projects that do not gel together.
Quintura recently made a search page for Seo Book. Their search service is likely going to be more useful for large publishers with millions of pages than it is on a personal blog, but give it a try and see what you think.
Their cloudlike visual search service is a great tool for finding related keyword modifiers used in competing sites, but I don't think we will see such technology front and center at the mainstream search engines anytime soon due to future advertising regulation which will make it harder to integrate ads and make search results more profitable than the current Google format is. Though I would love to see their technology integrated against social bookmarking sites and personal search history data.
A few months back Threadwatch had a post about Yahoo selling subdomains. Yesterday I stumbled across an AdSense ad for a company selling subdomains that they forward to other sites. I don't believe it is smart to build a big site on someone else's domain, but if you wanted to fling up a bunch of spam or create a single targeted ad page that goes after a competitive phrase why not leech of their authority and let them assume the risks?
There are no search engine guidelines on hosting advertisements for third parties because it is not an idea Google wants people thinking about or talking publicly about, and they can't edit out WSJ.com if they will want the WSJ to spread their public relations messages and business interests.
I also am inserting them in this post so you can see what they look like in a web page
SEO Book Keyword Research & Competitive Analysis Google Gadget
Many of the large web players offer or will soon offer analytics products for free. If you use them they may eventually charge you for the service, or they may keep them free but look for other ways to charge you, and use your own statistics against your best interests, by doing one or more of the following
using your site to help categorize keywords that competitors should bid on (and do SEO for)
compare your direct traffic to search traffic and flag your site for review to potentially reduce your search traffic if it is outside the normal range for your given industry
compare your traffic from their engine to traffic streams from other known clean sources (such as competing engines) and flag your site for review if it falls outside of a certain range
compare your keyword cost and conversion rate relative to other words and reprice accordingly
The General Competitive Trend:
One day you are the top ranked lyrics site making good money pitching ringtones. A few months later the search results are cluttered with YouTube videos, show a Google music vertical result at the top, and sites like Yahoo Music start offering lyrics. Income is down 60% and the trend has just begun.
Are Your Stats a Commodity?
As more of the ad networks become automated and leverage CPA based targeting, advertisers are going to have a better idea of where there is value. Google and your large competitors have access to enough data to capture the large trends, but what happens on the micro-level is what is most relevant to you, and, if your site is not as strong as competing sites, keeping that data private (or, at least as best you can given new affordable competitive analysis services) is required if you want to maintain and grow your business.
Even free services like StatCounter and SiteMeter are not free due to one or more of the following reasons
they usually require a sitewide outbound link
sharing some of your stats with everyone
selling your stats to a third party
limiting your feature set or account size and then charging you to keep all the data they built up about your site over months or years
Think of how much you spent building your brand, your link equity, and your traffic stream. Is it worth giving someone all that data and a sitewide link for something you can get for a one time $30 fee?
Mint is Soooooooo Much Better...
Shawn Inman's Mint (available at HaveaMint.com for $30) is a server based web analytics tool that you can buy licenses to for $30 per site. It tracks traffic trends, referrals, and search trends. In addition it has many extensible peppers which allow you to track things such as
watching specific pages
hottest and coldest page trends
How to Leverage Your Stats
Look for the pages that rank for a wide array of keywords and use the format from those to model your other pages against
Point more link equity at your best performing pages.
If you have a deep section that has little link equity and little to no traffic try promoting it in the site's navigational scheme. If traffic picks up and conversions increase keep promoting that section.
What if I Want to Share My Stats?
If you have an authoritative site and make your money from selling ads you may want to make your stats public, which Mint allows you to do with one click. Doing so does not require you to hassle with logging into multiple Google accounts or having to worry about compromising your other features at sites like Google.
I put my favorite keyword research tools and competitive research tools in a Google Gadget. Thanks to Jay at Widget Waker for making the original version with a sweet design, which I hacked up a bit to add a few more tools at the last minute.
If you use the iGoogle homepage you can add the tool to your homepage by selecting add by URL and then submitting this URL: http://tools.seobook.com/google-gadgets/keywords.xml Creating tools for Google's platform allows Google to suck down even more of my time and attention. Many others are also hooked on iGoogle and the Google feed reader, to the point where they scream and/or unsubscribe if a channel only uses partial feeds. If Google doesn't lose the farm on copyright, the only way someone is going to beat them is if they come up with a way to make it faster and easier for us to consume information and feed our egos. It is going to be hard to create something sustainable and scaled that does that, largely because scale undermines most communities, and no company will be able to collect as much data as Google does right now without running into legal issues.
I am off to fly in a few hours and haven't packed yet. If you are going to the Domain Roundtable I hope to see you there soon.
I just grabbed Quantcast's free rankings of the top 1,000,000 sites. Currently Seobook.com comes in at 112,095, which is 5 spots below PornHater.com, which is apparently a PageRank 3 porn blog stuck in an industry with an endless supply of traffic. Based on some of the SEO sites that were missing from the Quantcast top sites database I don't think you can fully trust their data as being exceptionally accurate, but if you search through it you should be able to come up with at least a few cool ideas, especially if you combine it with other free and cheap data sources.
The last couple days I have been planning a fun project and feel like a kid in a candy store with competitive research and Internet marketing tools. Now hopefully some of the ideas I came up with will work. :)