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July 18, 2007 | | Comments 0

Answers.com, Good Deal Or Not, Seems To Be SEO Unaware (Or Am I Missing Something?)

(Source) I’m all for defensible traffic, but I just don’t get the reasoning here. Sure, you don’t want to mortgage your online future, but how is acquiring a company with a significant proportion of their traffic coming from search going to reduce your reliance on search engines?

Good question. The story is about Answers.com acquiring three entities from Lexico Publishing Corp. – Dictionary.com, Thesaurus.com and Reference.com. The cost? $100 million.

I’d have thought those three websites would have gone for more than $100 million. I mean, aren’t they much more valuable than MySpace? Well, I mean, they at least have a much more universal appeal than MySpace does. All of that aside, however, Answers.com claims it wanted to purchase the reference websites so that they would not have to rely on search engine algorithms? I have two observations about that:

  1. What’s wrong with search engine algorithms? I mean, they deliver traffic. In fact, most of the traffic to the majority of websites on the Internet comes from organic search queries. It’s a free method of marketing. Why not use it?
  2. And, agreeing with Jordan McCollum, how is this acquisition going to decrease Answer.com’s reliance on search engine algorithms? Type “dictionary” into Google and Dictionary.com is No.1. Type “Thesaurus” and Thesaurus.com is No. 1; “reference” and Reference.com is No. 1. There are no sponsored links for two of those search terms and only one for the other. Is Answers.com expecting people to just type in the URLs and bypass the search engines altogether? While some people might, it is highly unlikely that much of the traffic to any of the sites will. And when 85% of searchers find the websites by typing in those keywords, where is the reasoning?

The people at Answers.com have flipped their lids. They got a great deal on three powerful and high value websites. But if they expect their reliance on search engine algorithms to decline, they’d better rethink their web marketing strategy. It isn’t likely.

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