Search engines battle it out, but marketers needn’t get caught in the fray

More bidders are vying for top spots in paid search. Smart marketers will avoid ego-driven bidding, watch their numbers and develop an understanding of different search engines’ algorithms and audience, says Vintage Tub and Bath’s Allan Dick.

Kurt Peters


The rising competition for dominance among search engines–and its implications for online retailers–will come under the scrutiny of e-marketers participating in “Preparing for the Upcoming Search Engine Wars,” at next week’s Shop.org Summit.

As the competition heats up, search marketing stands to become an even more complex proposition and online marketers will have to pay very close attention to the numbers being driven by search marketing programs, contends panelist Allan Dick, general manager of Vintage Tub and Bath. More retailers are doing search marketing and they are becoming more aggressive, Dick says.

“Many of them still don’t measure what they are getting, so you’re fighting a lot of ego-based, uncontrolled bidding,” says Dick. “You can`t bid $50 on a keyword to be number one when your product only supports a $3 bid. So you’re going to have to pay closer attention, make sure your analytics packages are in place, that you understand how to use them and that they are accurate,” he says.

Dick also contends that it will become increasingly important to differentiate among search engines in terms of the audiences they appeal to. “If you have a product geared toward a specific market or demographic, and there is an engine that matches that, obviously that is going to be the best fit for you,” he says.

While Google currently dominates, Dick says that may not always be the case. “Term X is not going to be the same across all search engines. They will bring slightly different algorithms with different demographics looking at them,” he says. “Once that starts to sort itself out, retailers are going to start making their moves.”

Vintage Tub and Bath’s site already is preparing for that time, by designing different pages to target specific search engines. “We are experimenting with pages that we have designed to appeal to different search engines in mind, to try to gain an understanding of what’s going on,” he adds.