How MSN and Yahoo Sells Your Traffic

Yes, it really happens. Now you might find it hard to believe butyou will understand after I explain.

Prior to late 2004, Google undisputedly ruled the search engineworld. During the second half of the year things took a dramaticturn when Yahoo and MSN decided to challenge the Big G for someof their lucrative market share.

Search engines are a big source of revenue especially when itcomes to advertising and for many this is their bread and butter.With the emerging prominence of both Yahoo and MSN, advertisershave more channels through which to advertise their goods andservices.

What marks Google apart from it's two big rivals in this area isthe way they display their ads. They deliver their ads through asystem called Adwords which is unobtrusive to viewers. The adsare placed to the right to clearly distinguish them from thesearch results. Occasionally they will place ads above the SERPS.

Overture is the company which handles the placement of ads forboth Yahoo and MSN. Now if you should search for a popularkeyword in either of them, you will notice that the ads are abovethe results, to your right and at the bottom of the page justabove the Next button. This is where it gets interesting.

Having the privilege of working in a public computer lab, Idecided to run some experiments. When customers came in andrequested information on various topics I instructed them to useYahoo or MSN for their search enquiries. The first one looked for"bridal gowns" and another looked for "tourism in Jamaica". Inboth cases they click on the first available information which ofcourse is the relevant ads displayed.

I continued my experiment for a week and came to a decisiveconclusion. Some search engines are selling our traffic rightunder our noses! The only time I observed the top rankingwebsites getting regular click through was when the keywords arenot that competitive to involve ad placement.

This leads me to question the quality of traffic one receivesfrom Yahoo and MSN. For every visitor you receive what is theratio for that which you lose to a sponsored result? And what isthe use of optimizing your website for them?

Now mind you, I enjoy a few good rankings on both Yahoo and MSNbut they are for keywords that are not that too competitive. Forthese I enjoy consistent traffic flow but I think that thequality is something to take another look at.

I didn't write this to bash these guys on how they choose to dotheir business particularly how they choose to place their ads.My aim is to point out to you that while you may enjoy a top tenresult on Yahoo and MSN, chances are you are not getting theamount of visitors you should and could receive.

Oceanroc Web Publishing

Nicholas Dixon is a Jamaican webmaster, writer and affiliatemarketer. Visit my blog for feature articles from selectarticle writers at

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