Nielsen: Liberate Yourself from Search Engine Traffic

By Deane Barker on January 10, 2006

Search Engines as Leeches on the Web: This is a very interesting Alertbox from Jakob Nielsen.

He essentially argues that search engines unfairly benefit from any “arms race” between companies, because they make money when the bid price of the ads goes up. So companies in a competitive ad zone are just making the search engines rich while not helping themselves collectively. They’re duking it out for the same relative share of traffic in the end, only managing to drive the bid price of their ads sky high while the search engines sit and chuckle.

So how do you get your site out from the under the thumb of the search engines?

Despite search engines, websites can make money. The key is to recognize that, while search engines might take all the value from an initial user visit, you get to keep the value from any non-search business. Thus, you must foster customer loyalty so that users go straight to your site instead of clicking through from search ads.

I predict that liberation from search engines will be one of the biggest strategic issues for websites in the coming years. The question is: How can websites devote more of their budgets to keeping customers, rather than simply advertising for new visitors?

Nielsen provides some good answers.