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Lycos.com Search Results - Ranking in Lycos
By Andrew Gerhart - April 17, 2002

Throughout this series of articles we have covered AOL.com, Yahoo.com, MSN.com, and last week we discussed ODP. All of the sites above are portals and directories, so this week we will try to cap off the portals by taking a look at another marketing leading portal, Lycos.com. We will continue the series by taking a look at what the status of the portal and search engine is, what results they display, how clean and relevant they are, how to get your site listed and rank in Lycos, and what it will cost you.

Lycos came online in 1994 as a search engine, and has since acquired HotBot, Raging Bull, Tripod, Wired, as well as others. Lycos has changed from a search engine to more of a Yahoo! style directory. The Lycos.com portal includes a news, shopping, search, directory, personalized, and topics section, just as Yahoo! does. It attempts to offer it's users enough content and options to keep them at the site for extended periods of time. Enough about the portal, let's get to the search results.

There have been changes to the way Lycos runs it search engine lately. The web site submission and payment options have changed as well, but we will discuss that later in the article. Lycos search results resemble many that we have looked at in the past. The current results that are displayed are dependant upon the search that is performed, just as with the past portals, but you can expect to see Overture results, Lycos's own paid results, and results from Fast/AllTheWeb.com.

Take a look at this search for "Chevy", you will notice that all of the results that we mentioned above are displayed. The first results, after the huge banner that displays at the top from DoubleClick, are 3 results from Overture for the given search term, labeled "sponsored listings". The next listings that are displayed are from the Lycos network, and include a small thumbnail and a few links to sites within the Lycos network. After these paid results are the real search results that are displayed from the Fast/AllTheWeb database of web sites. Each web site listing has a "Fast Forward" link next to it that when clicked opens up an additional browser window that displays search results in a condensed format. At the bottom of the search results page there are links to search results for the keyword or keyword phrase on other search engines, as well as a link titled "web directory". When this link is clicked it displays results from the Open Directory Project, which Lycos uses for its directory of web sites.

Just as with AOL.com and MSN.com, these results are only for the general search terms. When a search term is refined more, the search results become less cluttered with paid listings and display more of the actual search results from Fast/AllTheWeb. When we perform a search for "used chevy" on Lycos, the Overture paid listings and Lycos network listings are no longer displayed. At the bottom of the search results page the links to results on other search engines remains, including the "web directory" link that takes you to the Open Directory Project results.

You may or may not notice that there are some problems with the Lycos search results. The Lycos search engine can be temperamental at times. At some times you will perform a search and Lycos will report that there are no results for the search term. If you perform this search again, or capitalize the search phrase, the results will be displayed. Other times when digging into the third and fourth search results pages and further, Lycos will again display that there are no results for the search term and ask the user to refine the search. This does not happen all the time, and many users have most likely never experienced this, but this glitch does occur.

How does one go about having their site appear in Lycos search results? While most of the submission and listings are paid, not all of them are paid listings.

To have your web site appear as a "sponsored listing" in Lycos, you will have to bid on the keyword or keyword phrase in Overture and pay enough per click to have the site place in the top 3. Fast and Lycos have formed Fast Partner Site and Lycos In Site Search, a paid spidering program with two different options for subscribers.The two options are Lycos InSite Pro and Lycos InSite Select.

The premier option, Lycos InSite Pro, features web site submission, paid spidering, and a Lycos hosted site search. The Lycos InSite Pro option allows for guaranteed inclusion within 48 hours of web site submission, as well as a complete web site refresh every 48 hours. The hosted site search is claimed to be 99% reliable, with customizable results pages, personalized web site submission reports, and access to "Search Services Central", where you can view billing, make changes, and more. As of April 10th, 2002, Lycos is listing the price for this service as $189.00 a month for pages 1-250, and $279.00 for pages 251-500. This is being listed as a "Limited Time Introductory Rate".

The second option that is offered is Lycos InSite Select. This submission option features guaranteed inclusion in the Lycos database within 48 hours of web site submission, as well as a full web site refresh every 48 hours. In essence, the only difference between Lycos InSite Select and Lycos InSite Pro is that the latter has the hosted site search feature. As of April 10th, 2002, the price for Lycos InSite Select is $18.00 for an annual membership and $12.00 annually per URL. This is also listed as a "Limited Time Introductory Rate".

Lycos may look like another portal that has totally gone paid spidering and submission, but this is not entirely true. Lycos.com does still offer a free web site submission option, but the reliability of this option is questionable. Through the free submission option Lycos offers the submission of one web page, and claims that inclusion into the database will take from 4 to 6 weeks. Lycos covers its own interest by stating that inclusion into the database is not guaranteed, which makes it easier for them to deny a web site and make the paid submission and spidering mandatory.

How does this affect a search engine optimization campaign?

The Internet industry is definitely turning commercialized and this effect is seen in almost every search engine, portal, and directory on the Internet. Having your site listed as a "sponsored listing" is relative to the keyword search and the bid amount at Overture, but the amount of money spent on an Overture account can add up quickly. The Lycos paid spidering and submission programs will cost you depending on which program you subscribe to. The prices for Lycos InSite Select, the more affordable option, and Lycos InSite Pro are both given above. Lycos does still offer free web page submission, but as we stated before, this option is not entirely reliable. This means that to rank well in Lycos, you can roll the dice and submit your web page for free, or you can open your wallet and give your hard earned cash to Lycos. Having your web site listed in the Lycos directory is still free though, and will remain so for a long time I suspect. Submission to the Open Directory Project is free, but inclusion times are notorious for being very long as the editors are all working on a volunteer basis.

Ranking within the Lycos search engine results depends on a number of different optimization variables. As Lycos uses the Fast/AllTheWeb search results, make sure that your website complies with the Fast/AllTheWeb algorithm. One thing to remember when optimizing is that Fast/AllTheWeb uses Open Directory Project directory results within their algorithm. Other variables that are used are Title tags, link popularity, keyword density, and the other basics of optimization.

While Lycos doesn't command the highest percent of Internet users, they do retain a decent user base, and they offer a free submission and way into the index!