To avoid confusion, it should be made clear that this post is not about Search Engine Marketing Strategy, but rather about Search Engine Marketing Strategy. Three majors are slugging it out at the moment, Google, Yahoo! and MSN Search.
The fourth entry in the market place is Ask Jeeves, now part of the IAC stable of search properties. Barry Diller of IAC has been indicating that he aims to carve out a bigger share for Ask Jeeves, even suggesting that it will be a serious competitor for Google.
In trying to guess how the battle may go, it’s instructive to look at the relative strengths of the four contenders. One concept that could be used is to consider the USP of each search engine. Rosser Reeves coined this expression in 1961. It stands for Unique Selling Proposition. He defined it in the following terms:
1. The proposition to the customer should be: “buy this product, and you will get this specific benefit.”
2. The proposition must be unique.
3. The proposition must be strong enough to pull new customers to the product.
It’s not easy to be sure what USP the majors are offering to potential searchers but the following are extracted from their search pages.
The Google USP – the “World’s Best Search Engine” is fast, accurate and easy to use. Supported by breakthrough technology and continued innovation.
The Yahoo! USP – new, faster ways to find the information you’re looking for, whether it’s on the Web or part of the Yahoo! network. You can access a range of features with one simple search.
The MSN Search USP – includes a new search engine, index and crawler; all built from the ground up on Microsoft technology. Allowing you to find what you’re looking for — faster.
It’s not very apparent that the majors are offering anything that could be called Unique. So can Ask Jeeves offer a true Unique Selling Proposition?
The domain for Ask Jeeves is www.askjeeves.com. Surprisingly this has only a temporary 302 redirect to another IAC domain www.ask.com Also the ASK domain still has that comforting link to information on P.G. Wodehouse. As is indicated, P.G. Wodehouse (1881-1975) was the creator of, among others, the original and immortal Jeeves (the archetypal “gentleman’s gentleman”) and his master Bertie Wooster.
Nevertheless the ASK domain is clearly where the action is now. The ASK USP may be that it ‘delivers fast and relevant information for millions of people every day’. It is based on the unique Teoma search technology which ‘analyzes the Web as it actually exists – in subject-specific communities’.
So will Ask Jeeves offer this unique search technology as the basis for its USP? Ask Jeeves has also promoted the idea of putting a full question in the search field to get better answers. Perhaps that could be its USP. It will be interesting to see whether Ask Jeeves uses the USP approach and, if so, what it will be.