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November 09, 2005

Search engine cooking and the "third page" of search

By Charlene Li

I wanted to pass along this article from the Washington Post, "My Dinner With Google" by Andrea Sachs, where she searches for recipes that use a set of ingredients -- such as tofu, oranges, and cauliflower on Google. As an avid cook, I've had my share of adventures with search engine cooking", usually as I try out new ingredients that I pick up at Bay Area farmer's markets. Most recently, I've had some cooking adventures with with corn smut (or cuitlacoche) and romanesco.

But what I find so interesting about this is that when I do "search engine cooking" (usually at the end of the week when I have odds and ends left in the fridge), recipes from my favorite site recipe site, AllRecipes.com, frequently turn up. I took a closer look at this, and found that AllRecipes.com uses  static index pages around different topics versus Epicurious' dynamically generated pages. No doubt, this helps popular recipes show up well in the results.

The reason I bring this up is that I've been noodling around the idea of the "Third Page" of search (credit goes to Perry Evans from LocalMatters for prompting this train of thought). The first page of search is the query page (like www.google.com), the second page is the search results, and the third is a destination page on yet another search engine or aggregator that's been optimized for that query.

Here are some examples: seafood recipe, chinese restaurants in dallas, where the top results are a list from another site or search engine with better functionality to help with a structured search. And this makes sense -- my hypothesis is that while a particular Chinese restaurant will try to climb to the top of the search results for such a query, it's actually better for the user experience to see a list/aggregation of the restaurants.

Carrying that thought further, as vertical search engines develop, they will actively try to source much of their traffic from the general search engines, training consumers to actually seek out these brand names in the general interface and then drilling down into parametric, structured search on the vertical search site that's better suited for their original intention.

Hence the evolution of the "third page" of search, which extends the search experience outside of the original general search engine. I think we're seeing a subtle but fundamental shift in consumer search usage away from trying to find perfect destination page and instead, turning instead to aggregators and vertical search engines that understand (and can optimize for) the query better than the destination pages.

This has significant implications for the search marketer and site optimization firms -- it's one thing to try to improve your search engine rankings vis a vis your competition, but it's another when you're trying to beat out aggregated pages optimized for these more general queries. It points to the need for a multi-level SEO strategy -- focusing not only on optimizing pages on Google, Yahoo, and MSN, but also looking at your placement on sites like Citysearch and SuperPages.com.


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No Agencies

Did-it Search Marketing Inaugurates New Search Methodology, Goes Full-Service

ROCKVILLE CENTER, N.Y., Nov. 8 /PRNewswire/ -- Top-rated Search firm
Did-it Search Marketing has inaugurated its new Search methodology, S.A.T.
Search -- the integration of Strategy, Analytics and Technology in one search
marketing firm. At the same time, it has transitioned to become a full-service
search marketing agency.
Explains Did-it CEO Bill Wise, "In search, like in most highly complex
fields, you need the best plan of attack, the best understanding of your
situation, the best tools -- and one place to handle it all. That's true in
medicine, that's true in physics, and it's equally true in SEM (Search Engine
Marketing). That attitude is the basis of S.A.T. Search, and the reason we
decided to transition to full service. It's about bringing best-of-breed SEM
strategy, analytics, and technology together under one roof."
The S.A.T. Search methodology, adds Wise, is particularly vital in fields
with complex SEM needs, such as finance. Online trading firm E*TRADE FINANCIAL
recently signed on with Did-it in October 2005.
"E*TRADE's marketing model is based on a test-and-learn approach, which
provides E*TRADE with innovative ways to reach its target, value-driven
customer," says Nicholas Utton, chief marketing officer of E*TRADE FINANCIAL.
"E*TRADE is continuously seeking new forms of marketing technology to reach
our target audience with communications that remain smart, interruptive and
Adds SEMPO Chairperson and Did-it Executive Chairman Kevin Lee, "We are
honored E*TRADE has selected Did-it and look forward to driving outstanding
results. Our ability to consistently integrate the most creative Strategy,
sophisticated Analytics, and cutting edge Technology under one roof is unique
to our industry. Being selected by a market leader like E*TRADE is a
validation of our approach."
The transition to full-service has created some positioning conflicts,
leading Did-it to largely phase out the backend SEM solutions it has provided,
until now, for other full-service firms. Did-it is discontinuing most of its
backend relationship with Digitas, for example, a move which the two firms
agreed to mutually.
Even with the sharp lessening of the relationship, Did-it will continue to
work with Digitas on select strategic accounts, such as Cingular Wireless. At
the same time, some Digitas/ Did-it clients have moved to Did-it full service.
Dun & Bradstreet, for example, became a Did-it full-service client earlier in
the year.
"Digitas is a highly valued client," Wise says. "Loyalty to our clients,
regardless of agency status, is our top priority -- and will always continue
to be."

About Did-it Search Marketing
Did-it Search Marketing, a recognized leader in the Search since 1996,
drives sales/profit growth, market share and return on marketing investment
for over 200 clients including E*TRADE FINANCIAL, Dun & Bradstreet and
Cingular Wireless. In 2004, Jupiter Research ranked Did-it the Number One
Search Engine Marketing firm for technology and market suitability.
http://www.did-it.com Phone: (800)-932-7761 (516)-255-0500

About Kevin Lee
Kevin Lee, Did-it.com Co-Founder & Executive Chairman, is an acknowledged
search engine marketing expert. Kevin's weekly column for JupiterMedia's
ClickZ is read by thousands as are his contributions to Catalog Age Magazine
and DMNews. Kevin is a founding board member and the current Chairman of
SEMPO, and also serves on the Search Council for the Association for
Interactive Marketing (now part of the DMA) and the IAB Search Committee.

SOURCE Did-it Search Marketing
Web Site: http://www.did-it.com


charlene you may want to check out ask recpies http://web.ask.com/web?q=beef+recipes&qsrc=145&o=0

Jeremy Zawodny


Many spammers and shady SEO firms have been creating these "third pages" for quite some time and making a handy profit along the way.

Hopefully this will change over time as more of the content owners discover that there's money in them pages and that they need to do a better job of presenting, organizing, and SEOing their own stuff.


Very interesting post Charlene !


Erik Dafforn

To expand on Jeremy's comment, in terms of the underlying technology, there's a fine line between scrapers and aggregators. So if the user is fortunate enough to hit a propertly aggregated site, there's a good chance she'll hit an actual recipe by "page 4." But hitting a scraped site, she'll enter a maze of paid ads and be lucky to see anything relevant by page 10.

Certainly, as you suggest, much of the burden falls on SEOs to make sure the client's data is properly fashioned to enable SE visibility. But engines have a role here too. First, to better discern between the two types of sites (which they're doing, little by little), and second, to take another look at certain PPC editorial models that offer financial incentive to create such a morass.

(As an aside, I'm also intrigued by the assumption of a single "page 2" in your search path model - yet another nail in the coffin of hopes for those who live beyond the first page of search results.)

Manish Chandra

Charlene, You are onto something very powerful. From search to discovery and decisions requires the third page. Here at Kaboodle, we focus on letting the user create that third page of search in a simple way and then let others discover the user's third page of search.

This third page is best done with powerful automation and human selection. We are taking an approach of empowering the user to create this third page of search in an intuitive and frictionless way for themselves and in the process benefit everyone else.

Great examples of this third page are: deals for sofas, gift ideas for a ten year old fashionista, trip plan to cancun, research on lincoln's last year in the office etc.

adam moskowitz

i have been wanton for a solution that will help me close the loop on search leading to a more personalized search experience over time. i believe the application has been developed that will finally do that. check out clipmarks. they let you clip the specific pieces of content you care about on a page. no more clutter. just what i want. and i bet over time it will lead to a more refined web search experience. its gonna be interesting to see what these guys come up with...

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