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I-Search Discussion List

"Understanding Internet search technology."

Moderator:  Detlev Johnson

Issue #410 - March 14, 2002

"Absent Clicks"
~ Rod Aries

Subject: Guaranteed Positioning

Absent Clicks

From: Rod Aries

Absent Clicks: Solve this mystery. Last month 23,000 people requested the search term "gmat" (test to get into mba school) through Overture. Fairly consistently in the top 3, I got about 1,000 clicks. What happened to the other 22,000 people!? That still only accounts for 5,000 people out of 23,000 actually clicking on one of the top 3 choices. What the heck did the other 18,000 people do??

Jay, here are a few of the possibilities:

1) Ranking surveillance software actually queries Overture and reports back the rankings for each keyword. There are global software programs such as WebPosition, and specific programs, designed to monitor rank and bids solely for the pay-per-click engines, identifying bid gaps and bid opportunities. We have used specific software like this for over a year, on a daily basis, to monitor client bids and standings. For a brief math example, assume you have 1,000 keywords you monitor at Overture, over the course of a year, just monitoring five days a week, that adds 260,000 queries to the overall body count. Now assume 10,000 people are doing the same... Obviously all these are phantom queries and no one actually clicks on the keyword.

2) The latest pay per click bid management software also queries Overture and reports back the rankings for each keyword. Overture has changed their rules so that you can not change your bid more than 6x per day. I assume it was the aggressive techniques used by some to obtain top rankings. Many of the words we monitor are highly competitive and we have witnessed the top three bids creep up, by a penny, in a continuous leap frog during the day, sometimes creating gaps of 10-30 cents between the warring bids and the next available bid, in a *single* day. We have just completed an exhaustive research on the various bid management software programs and found that some even verify the bid once the new bid is placed, so an extra keyword inquiry occurs.

3) Email harvesting software also leads to an increase in Overture query counts. We performed a massive competitive intelligence engagement for a client and one of the facets was identifying aggressive players in their market. I actually had to employ Spam harvesting software (nope, we didn't Spam as we didn't use the emails nor made them available) to identify the domains of competitors. I reviewed 25+++ programs and found that some not only identify the keyword, but actually *click* on the Overture keyword of a bid, so they can harvest the email.

4) Possibly... I use the Overture suggestion tool numerous times a day to test permutations and derivatives of keywords. It is possible that Overture counts these look-ups as well.

5) Oh yeah, some of the keyword counts are from people actually looking for information...

At your service, Rod Aries, How To Internet Your Business Internet Marketing via Search Portals 

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