How to Maximize Your Traffic with Goto.Com

How to Maximize Your Traffic with Goto.com

by Michael Wong – Feb 1999

GoTo.com is one of the fastest-growing new bread of search engines. GoTo.com’s made its debut in June 1998, and by October had become the 24th most visited site on the Web, according to RelevantKnowledge. Serving some 4.2 million unique visitors, up from 2.6 million the previous month, the growth represents the highest percentage leap of any search engine in the same time period. This increase comes at the same time the top three most visited search guides experienced a drop in unique visitors.

With the traditional search engines, you submit your website then wait anywhere from a couple of weeks to a few months to see if your site is listed. And even then you may not be listed, which seems to be the case with Yahoo.

GoTo.com works with a different system. You bid for search term positions and every time someone clicks through to your site via the link on their search engine, you are charged the amount you bid. Bidding starts at only 1 cent per search term. The higher your bid, the higher you are likely to be ranked. For example, if the #1 position for a particular search term costs the bidder 50 cents, you can take the #1 spot with a higher bid of 51 cents.

You can bid for as many search terms as you wish, so as long as they are relevant to the contents of your website. I discovered this when I submitted bids for search terms related to the “Y2K problem”. They insisted on proof of content related to the Y2K problem, before they would accept my search terms. This policy shows their desire to ensure their search results are relevant to the search. What is also good about GoTo.com is that you can usually expect your listings to be added to their database within days of your submission.

A number of features that are particularly useful for webmasters are their, “Top 100 Popular Search Terms List” and “Suggested Search Terms” tool.

The “Suggested Search Terms” really comes into its own, when you are trying to think of keywords to add to your “keyword” meta tags. Before I discovered this useful tool, I would guess the keywords that I thought were relevant in the keyword meta tag, but now I know exactly what keywords people are using to search with. I simply enter some keywords into the “Suggested Search Terms” form and it returns a list of similar search terms, which their visitors have searched with, along with the number of times that it has been entered. Now you don’t have to guess!

Another useful list you should take a look at is their “Top Unbidded Search Terms on GoTo”. This is a list of their most popular search terms which nobody have made a bid for. So, if you make a bid of just 1 cent, you are already guaranteed the #1 position. Their most popular unbidded search term had over 5000 requests in a month.

I had previously advised my newsletter readers to use GoTo.com as part of their marketing strategy. But I have had a number of people tell me that GoTo.com haven’t sent much traffic their way.

So now I will show you how to attract more visitors with GoTo.com. Marketing your site in GoTo.com is the same any other form of marketing. Any professional marketer would tell you that the most important factor with any form of marketing is that it is a numbers game. The second would be that you can not predict exactly how a prospect would react to your offer, so you must test different ads. If you applied these two principles with your listings in GoTo.com, I guarantee that you would attract a lot more visitors.

If you was selling a wonder solution to combat the Y2K problem, you would obviously want your listing returned when people enter a search for “Y2K problem”, “millennium bug”, “year 2000 problem”, etc. How many different search terms can you come up with?

How about at least 70-80? Yes, there are at least that many and probably a lot more if you think hard enough.

Did you think of “millenium fix”, “millenium info”, “y2000 software”, “yr2000 compliance”, or even just “2000”?

Notice the misspellings of the word “millennium” in the first two examples. It is quite common for people to misspell words when they type. If you didn’t bid for “millenium” (missing “n”) and all the various keywords associated with it, you would have missed a lot of prospects.

So you must bid for as many variations of a search term as you can think of, as well as for misspelt ones. The more search terms you are listed under, the more likely your site will be displayed in the results. And by adding different misspellings of the search terms, you are taking into account the different search terms people enter.

No matter what you sell, if you offer it to enough people, one person will make a purchase. The reason why I added that comment is that instead of bidding $1.00 for one #1 position under one search term, you would probably get a better result with 100 different listings at 1 cent each. So, instead of having one ad which would cost you $1.00 to attract one visitor, you could have 100 different ads for 1 cent each, which could result in a possible 100 visitors.

So maybe not all of them will be listed at #1, or even in the top 10, but I am pretty sure that more than a few of them would be. Your chances of attracting a click-through are 99 times better than if you only have a single listing. After all, you can ask 100 people to search for something and 100 different search terms could be used, which can return as many as 100 different sets of results.

I don’t think many people have realized how to market effectively with GoTo.com yet. If you search for “millennium bug” in GoTo.com, you will see that the #1 position costs the advertiser 11 cents per click-through.

Yet if you search for “Millenium Bug” (misspelling with a missing “n”, the #1 position costs less than half that, at 4 cents per click-through and the site listed at #1 under “millennium bug” is nowhere to be seen. The strange thing is that I have a listing under both of these search terms for 1 cent each and “Millenium Bug” (misspelt) sent me twice the number of visitors as “millennium bug” did.

Note that there is no need to bid for the plurals of the search terms. With traditional search engines, they do not return results if someone searched for “books” and your keyword was “book”. With GoTo.com they have a feature called, “Search Pluralization”, which allows your line listing to appear in search results in the singular and plural versions of the word.

So to quickly recap.

1 – First look through the “Top 100 Popular Search Terms List” for suitable search terms that you should bid on.

2 – Next look through GoTo.com’s “Top 100 Popular Search Terms List”.

3 – After that visit their “Suggested Search Terms” form. Now enter every variation of the keywords you already have on your list. Add the top search results to your list. You don’t have to add every one of the results. There is no point in adding search terms that have only been searched once in a whole month. But don’t set the limit too high either. Results with 10 or 20 searches may not sound like much, but multiply that by one or two hundred different search terms and it all adds up.

4 – Don’t forget to also search for misspelt keywords. You will probably be ranked higher with these.

Try to produce a list of at least 2-300 search terms. The more the better really. You don’t have to produce this list all in one go. You can set yourself a target of adding 100 new search terms every month.

Then use their Excel template to submit your search terms. Test different descriptions even if the search terms are similar. How much you bid is entirely up to you. You can start with the lowest bid of 1 cent for all your search terms. After a month, double your bids to 2 cents to see if that improves your results.

Another important is that if more than one person bid the same amount for the search term, they will return the listings in the order they received the bids. So it is a first-come, first-served basis. I think this is a very fair system, which is an added incentive for you to submit your bids as soon as possible.

If you need proof GoTo.com is effective, I give you this fact.

Every month they send me a report showing me exactly which search terms I am listed under, the number of people who have clicked through and how much it has cost me. Since I started advertising on GoTo.com, they have sent me 69,000 click-throughs (visitors) for only $690.00.

For $690.00 most major websites wouldn’t sell you 69,000 banner impressions, let alone guarantee you that many click-throughs. If you can show me anywhere else I can get 69,000 visitors for $690.00, I will eat my hat!

Another tip is that the most effective keyword that I have found is “free”, which probably comes as no surprise. Add it to the beginning of as many search terms as you can. I have found that the difference in terms of traffic for the same search term, but with “free” in front of it, can be as much as 500%!

Here’s one last tip, which I discovered recently. Dogpile, a metasearch engine, displays results from GoTo.com on its first page of listings. A metasearch engine is one that queries a number of popular search engines and displays the results on its own website.

The thing I noticed is that Dogpile only lists the top 10 results from GoTo.com. So, if you ensure that your listing in GoTo.com is ranked in the top 10, your listing will also be displayed in meta-search engines, like DogPile.

I actually found that more click-throughs came from the DogPile website than from GoTo.com themselves!

All in all, I think GoTo.com is the most cost-effective keyword-targeted advertising outlet on the internet. You will find that they respond pretty quickly to your requests. On average, I find that they add my search terms within a day or two of submission. GoTo.com does work, so Go To It!

Here are the addresses you should visit:
“GoTo.com Homepage”
http://www.GoTo.com

“Top Unbidden Search Terms on GoTo”
http://www.GoTo.com

“Top 100 Popular Search Terms List”
http://GoTo.com/d/top100/index.jhtml

“Suggested Search Terms”
http://inventory.go2.com/inventory/searchInventory.mp

“Up to 500 free click-throughs from GoTo.com”
Open an account with GoTo.com (minimum $25 deposit) via the link below and GoTo.com will give $5.00, worth up to 500 free click-throughs.
http://www.GoTo.com/


ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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This article is reprinted with permission from Michael Wong, the Editor and Webmaster at eboz.comBoz!, listed as one of the top 101 best business websites by U.S. Windows Magazine, is your guide to creating successful websites.