Matt McGee Interviews Jon Glick of Become.com

Friend and fellow moderator at Small Business Ideas Forum, Matt McGee, has put together a three part interview with Jon Glick, Senior Director of product search and comparison shopping for the shopping search engine Become.com. Prior to joining Become.com in 2005, Jon spent several years with Yahoo! as a key member of their search team, and was integral to Yahoo’s launch of its own search engine in 2004. Matt accidentally ran into Jon at the 2006 Search Engine Strategies conference in San Jose, out of which was born this three part interview.

  • Part 1: Beating Google, Search Spam, Sandboxing, and more…
  • Part 2: Personalization, Linking, Local Search, and SEO “Fact or Fiction”
  • Part 3: Froogle, Become.com, Shopping Search, and SEO for Retailers

A few excerpts…

Is there more hand-editing of SERPs than we’re all lead to believe?

Search engine algos do a good job most of the time and are unmatched for scalability over billions of crawled pages and billions of unique queries. However, there are cases where the engines need to have better results for an important query. In these cases, the easiest thing for the search engine team to do is make human edits.

Reciprocal linking — good or bad?

Good in moderation. From a connectivity perspective a link is a link, but the search engines are constantly improving their scanning for artificial link patterns. Truly popular sites may share some links, but it’s a fairly small percentage of their total inlinks. If a site gets 90% of its inlinks from reciprocal sources it’s probably engaged in some artificial form of link creation/trading.

What about link buying – have the engines figured out yet how to identify a link that’s been paid for vs. an editorial link?

If a site sells you a link, that alone is very hard to detect. However sites that sell links tend to sell them to lots of sites and that’s what makes detection much easier. Every site only has a fixed amount of connectivity to impart to other sites. The more links they sell, the less each one is worth. People tend to look at the PR of the site, but not how many links it is already giving. The double whammy is the more links a site sells the less you get for your money, and the greater the risk that the search engines will disqualify links from that site.

Given the reliance on feeds, what chance does a small online retailer have in shopping search? There are so many sites out there selling products — but they don’t have feeds!

One of the advantages of Become.com for small merchants is that it allows them to actively compete. A big component of ranking in comparison shopping is CTR, so if you bid aggressively and have a product that people like, it doesn’t matter if you’re a mom & pop or a national chain. It’s not like web search where Bob’s Hardware is never going to outrank Home Depot because the disparity in PageRank is just too great.

There is a lot more in the interviews – not only good information on how Become.com and shopping search in general function but some insightful tips for search marketers from Jon’s experience with Yahoo search as well. Nice job, Matt!

David Wallace

David Wallace, co-founder and CEO of SearchRank, is a recognized expert in the industry of search and social media marketing. Since 1997, David has been involved in developing successful search engine and social media marketing campaigns for large and small businesses. Follow +David Wallace on Google + as well as Twitter.

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