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Dubious Traffic from Looksmart



3:05 pm on Feb 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


I've noticed lately I've been getting a lot of traffic from very strange pages with urls containing a myriad of keywords such as homecomingwales2000, handgun-safety, rv-rental-Utah -- all topics totally unrelated to my content. These pages are pseudo ppc search engines, an unsophisticated form of oingo-type pages. All of them are Looksmart associates.

These type of hits seldom generate any sales for us and I've tried to eliminate as many as I can from Overture and findwhat by either deleting the keywords (Overture), or spending a penny (findwhat), but how can I do this with Looksmart's .15 flat fee per click system? I'm not happy about paying .15 per click for visitors who look for hand gun safety and suddenly find themselves whisked off to an unrelated site.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions.

jeremy goodrich

7:37 pm on Feb 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member jeremy_goodrich is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

My advice? Talk to looksmart directly. If they can't help you, spend your marketing dollars else where. I'm sure if you look back through the other posts on LookSmart here, generally speaking, they aren't held in the highest of opinions by the majority of webmasters.

Feel free, of course, to make up your own mind on them, but I would seriously consider tracking all of my sites, campaigns, etc - and then focusing on those that provided the *best* roi, which typically means Adwords and Overture.

If those are working, people usually think about Findwhat, as they willg get you many places that Overture does, a lot of times, for cheaper CPC cost.

15 cents is a lot of money to pay for what you can get elsewhere...it might make more sense to pay the Inktomi fee - annualized, you might spend a lot less than the Looksmart CPC cost.

Hope that helps. :)


2:36 am on Feb 6, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


Yes, I understand what you are saying. On the other hand, when I signed up for Looksmart, I was able to get keywords on MSN for 0.15 which were going for $3.00 on Overture. Our company was in the Looksmart directory before it was PPC, when it was owned by Reader's Digest. It's amazing how things have changed.

Our situation is this: Our product is used in the music industry and also the software industry, which are very large markets. Our keywords are related to very popular search terms, but we don't bid on the popular terms, only our specific keywords and products. We've had the same problem with Overture and to their credit, they've been trying to do something about it. When someone uses the pseudo search engines, they don't seem to refine the results very well. Oingo.com has been the worst offender because you don't even have to search at all, just click on their link to "related sites".

The product which we sell is bulky and heavy. Most international customers would not want to order our products and pay the shipping. Some of our products we buy overseas and have shipped to us in containers on a slow boat. The shipping is often more than the price of the product on small quantities.

Oingo.com began sending us a lot of traffic from international locations. Not only did we have to pay for it, but also had to explain to the few who were interested in our products that we can't ship it UPS Ground. We have an option for international shipping, but seldom does anyone use it. I'm sure it is just as frustrating to the user, particularly those who don't speak English well.

I'm sure to some advertisers, the traffic from Oingo is appreciated, but it is simply junk to our business and I've had a hard time getting rid of it. At one point, Oingo was sending 27% of all of our traffic and I had to delete about half my Overture keywords to reduce it to a more reasonable level. These were keywords we were buying for 0.05 to 0.08 cents each. There was no ROI, it was just a nuisance.

I'll take your advice and contact Looksmart. How someone gets from homecomings in Wales to our product page is a real mystery to me. I can only wonder what keywords were searched that lead all the oingo traffic to our site. :-)

Thankfully, we do not have that problem with Google Adwords, which we have been using since its inception. I have used the negative word feature to filter out all unexpected matches which don't fit well. IMHO, the other engines need to get on the ball and adopt a similar system to allow advertisers to reject traffic they don't want.

jeremy goodrich

3:08 am on Feb 6, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member jeremy_goodrich is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Sounds like you have the situation well in hand, then. Unfortunately, at least 1/2 the posts I've seen related to Looksmart have been about the 'quality' of their traffic...

Do let us know if their CS department handles it for you - a positive story of responsiveness may encourage more people to do the same.


4:11 am on Feb 6, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I have searched this wonderful forum for the past couple of days. I don't know why I haven't been here before. I once followed another search engine forum, but the tone of it was very negative. You guys are very helpful -- and well, nice, if you don't mind my saying. If there were still a Lycos Top 5% of the web, this forum would be in it. :-)

The Looksmart trash traffic is new for me (in the U.S.). Maybe they have a new partner who is more obvious about it. My company will want to continue with Looksmart because of the MSN traffic. Maybe someone will come out with a JunkPosition Gold.

The whole concept of buying dead domains and using former owner's content to get searchers to view advertiser content that someone has paid for in good faith is just as bad as those hideous doorway pages, keyword stuffing, ridiculous keyword-keyword-keyword.com domain names and all the other unseemly practices which were common when search engines were coming of age and free.

I was actually happy to see goto come along and offer an honest click for a price, straightforward and no tricks. It's going downhill now.

How do these outfits -- the carion containers -- do it? Are they cloaking? Where are these visitors coming from? I did search oingo and really didn't see anything negative posted. From my experience, they are definitely worse than Looksmart's partners.


4:57 am on Feb 7, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I fired off a nastygram to Looksmart today. It was a bad time to send me email informing me that I need to increase my spending limit. I had just tracked down 40 clicks from gailsellschattanooga.com to a search44 Looksmart feed (apparently Gail didn't sell enough of it).

Do you think they'll respond?


5:39 am on Feb 7, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator skibum is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Good luck getting anything other than an automated reply from LookSmart or a link to some guideline or FAQ section of their site.

I've never heard of some of the "partners" you mentioned but never really looked that closely either. My experiences have been similar to yours with regard to the quality or existance of traffic that was billed to the account.


2:28 pm on Feb 7, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I'm beginning to think it is a sneaky form of click fraud by the "partner". I have 40 clicks in one week from a site like gailsellschattanooga.com. I'm making the assumption that the partner is buying dead domains. The partner may be cloaking the old content or may be just waiting for visitors to arrive from old links. But what are the odds that visitors looking for real estate in Chattanooga are going to end up at my site 40 times? I wouldn't expect 40 times in one decade. It wouldn't show up as a pattern which may be spotted by a fraud script. There's no program capable of making judgments like that.


4:56 pm on Feb 11, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I think the recent dilution in quality of Looksmart traffic comes from them now distributing to SearchFeed. SearchFeed takes listings from multiple ppcs and then redistributes them through their own network of affiliates.

By and large SearchFeed has fairly decent affiliates but they are not nearly of the level of Overture's, or Google's, or what LookSmarts's SHOULD be at $0.15 click.


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