If There Were No Search Engines....

48 replies
What creative methods would you use to generate traffic for your site if, say, you were in a competition to build traffic to your site without the use of any search engine whatsoever? What would be your top online and offline marketing methods if you weren't allowed to use google, yahoo, bing, ask, and others?
#engines #search
  • Profile picture of the author Rob Whisonant
    I would get a really hot girl and have her write my domain on her butt and boobs and then streak naked across the field at the super bowl.

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  • Profile picture of the author affilorama-portal
    I would use the social networking and bookmarking sites more extensively.
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  • Profile picture of the author Shaunman
    I guess I would be more into social bookmarketing sites like Stumbleupon. Really social sites are the SE only competition.

    Also guest posting on high traffic sites would work well. But in all honesty It would be very hard to actually make a living online without them.

    What people don't realize is that if there were no search engines then the majority of your traffic from other backlinks would dry up, so using other methods like guest posting and writing for Wiki's would have no value whatsoever. After all they are not getting any traffic to send you.

    That leaves us with social sites, Facebook, Twitter, Stumbleupon, etc. And other methods to get extremely untargeted traffic. It would suck, 10 times the work for 1/10 the result.
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  • Profile picture of the author MassiveMarketer
    Social networking would be ideal. It would really be difficult to get traffic to your site without search engines. Advertisements would cost much just to get your site out there. So the next best thing would be to social media.
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    • Profile picture of the author JaySchmidt
      I would forget internet marketing and invent the world's first search engine. Then I'd retire a billionaire.
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  • Profile picture of the author tyroneshum
    Social media (social bookmarking, social networking) can always be good replacements for SEO -- not only that they're too easy to implement and handle, by having wide array of networks, nonstop opportunities will come your way automatically without even starting from the search engines since SEO stays tricky as ever.
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    • Profile picture of the author theemperor
      I'd look at targeted forum posting. You can get a flood of traffic that way. Also local leaflets, lamp post signs etc. Facebook fan pages as well. And affiliates of course.
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  • Profile picture of the author rehema
    Many are the way to market online without using the search engines.We have been controlled by search engines that is why we are depending on them many times but below are some of the ways that you can use to generate traffic online and offline:

    Online
    Yahoo answers
    answer bag
    Forum/ group commenting

    Offline
    restaurant flayers
    shopping mall flayers
    car stickers
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  • Profile picture of the author Fadiz
    I agree social networking and social bookmarking, sometimes it really can drive traffic more than search engines
    for example one of my sites was on stumble upon top sites for about a week i got over 40 thousands hits, that's way more that what i got from google for the whole year
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  • Profile picture of the author WilliamL
    If there were no search engines....
    ...I would invent them....
    For real: I would deflect my acitivties to forums and Offline Marketing. Flyers, other acitivities...
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    • Profile picture of the author Steven Wagenheim
      Folks, think about this for a second.

      If there were NO search engines, how would you find ANYTHING?

      How would you know about Twitter or Digg or whatever?

      Where would you look them up?

      The only way to even get a URL of any site would be via word of mouth
      from your friends.

      Somebody, eventually, would say, "Sh*t...I can't frickin find anything on
      the Internet (assuming we even know it exists)...Hey, I got it! I'll go
      invent this thing-a-ma-bob that lists all the sites that are out there. All
      you need to do is plug in a few words for what you're looking for and
      any relevant site will come up."

      No search engines?

      The question is so unrealistic that answering it is nothing more than a
      waste of time.

      So yes, this is 5 minutes of my life that I'm never getting back.

      :rolleyes:
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      • Profile picture of the author Fadiz
        Originally Posted by Steven Wagenheim View Post

        Folks, think about this for a second.

        If there were NO search engines, how would you find ANYTHING?

        How would you know about Twitter or Digg or whatever?

        Where would you look them up?

        The only way to even get a URL of any site would be via word of mouth
        from your friends.

        Somebody, eventually, would say, "Sh*t...I can't frickin find anything on
        the Internet (assuming we even know it exists)...Hey, I got it! I'll go
        invent this thing-a-ma-bob that lists all the sites that are out there. All
        you need to do is plug in a few words for what you're looking for and
        any relevant site will come up."

        No search engines?

        The question is so unrealistic that answering it is nothing more than a
        waste of time.

        So yes, this is 5 minutes of my life that I'm never getting back.

        :rolleyes:
        well not really, search engine may still be there but users may not find you using it so yes we should be ready of another traffic source
        look at john chow for example the guy was banned from google for long time and he was still getting massive traffic.
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      • Profile picture of the author Calamaroo
        Originally Posted by Steven Wagenheim View Post


        No search engines?

        The question is so unrealistic that answering it is nothing more than a
        waste of time.
        Actually, I just found a situation where there were only 2 searches per day for a particular key phrase yet there are at least 3 major discussion forums where threads about that particular key phrase had several thousand views and hundreds of responses. That key phrase also has its own sub-forums which are extremely popular and well attended. Yet, when I type in the key phrase on google, the sites that show up are the least respected ones from the point of view of the knowledgeable forum participants (the products of the google popular ones can even be found at the .99 cent store even though they sell for $25 originally) but the products and services that seem to generate extreme word of mouth within the forums are nowhere to be found in google's first two pages (their ebooks go for $500 and seem to sell like crazy).

        It is a particular activity where those with beginner level skills would probably use search engines but the advanced users already know where to go for info without using search engines. I'm sure there are many other places like this.

        Even though my OP question is hypothetical I think its perfectly legit. I'm really curious how to do an online marketing campaign directed 100% at people with 0% of thoughts and efforts aimed at kissing the a$$es of those pesky google spiders.
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  • Steven, yes, this question sounds unrealistic but think about it other way.. Maybe Calamaroo is marketing in very competitive niche with huge competition and has no chances to rank well in about 5-10 years. He then start to think about other creative ways to drive traffic, while doing seo and backlinking for his site.

    If there are no SE's, I'd use social networking sites, submit tons of articles in article dir's, exchange banners with related sites and so on...
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    • Profile picture of the author Calamaroo
      Originally Posted by SyndicateMarketing View Post

      Steven, yes, this question sounds unrealistic but think about it other way.. Maybe Calamaroo is marketing in very competitive niche with huge competition and has no chances to rank well in about 5-10 years. He then start to think about other creative ways to drive traffic, while doing seo and backlinking for his site.

      If there are no SE's, I'd use social networking sites, submit tons of articles in article dir's, exchange banners with related sites and so on...
      I've just explained the situation in the above post. Near zero searches. Extremely heavy competition.

      Using exact phrase on Market Samurai for three super relevant key phrases:

      Search = 24 daily; Competition = 154,000
      Search = 0 daily; Competition = 13,000
      Search = 145 daily; Competition = 50,000

      Here are the forum numbers (the numbers on the left are the responses, the ones on the right are the views):



      1 51


      4 257


      11 388


      14 760

      9 449

      15 244


      12 331


      6 163

      15 374


      4 107


      7 537


      5 97


      10 483


      41 2,157


      40 661


      24 438


      26 1,455


      8 667


      4 254

      12 540


      22 926


      2 184


      15 672


      3 214
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  • It's an absurd hypothetical because the Internet would be worthless without search engines, but...

    I would probably get publicity for myself in the real world and use that to direct people to my sites if there were no search engines. I would also blast articles and links all over the 'net.
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  • Profile picture of the author jamieludlow
    Facebook advertising is not too dissimilar to Google in that you can instantly target your ads to a mass amount of traffic and I like the way you can set your demographics with Facebook so that would certainly be my main traffic source if the search engines didnt exist.
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    • Profile picture of the author PatriciaJ
      Without search engines I doubt that any of us would be here. It's because it's been made easy to find information by the search engines that the internet has become so popular and so many have gone online.

      But, I would market offline, advertise in publications in my niche, TV, radio. Direct mail, postcards, mail share services, locally and nationwide. Get business cards printed and hand them out whenever anybody is interested, leave them in public places.

      Advertising on the internet woiuld be useless because nobody would find your ad, social bookmarking sites wouldn't exist because nobody would know about them unless they did extensive, expensive offline advertising.
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      • Profile picture of the author theemperor
        These people who say the question is invalid are wrong!

        It is an important question because it gets you thinking about marketing methods that make you less reliant on the big G ... and that can only be a good thing.

        Also before the big G existed I used the internet, and the search engines were pretty poor back then so often I didn't use them. I still found the internet very useful.

        Admittedly though the internet would be very hard to use without search engines but it wouldn't be impossible. Internet Marketing would be a very different beast though!
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        • Profile picture of the author FredJones
          Maybe social networks?

          Frankly, sarch engines would just exist because of obvious market forces - so imagining it would be difficult. All that you could do otherwise is browse and talk to people. That would lead to trusted directories (was this why DMoz was popular once upon a time? don't know) and social networks.
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  • Profile picture of the author renu
    I would go with Joint Ventures on that. But if you'd be really newbie than I would choose guest posting on relevant blogs. The traffic can be huge if you target the right market.

    Originally Posted by Calamaroo View Post

    What creative methods would you use to generate traffic for your site if, say, you were in a competition to build traffic to your site without the use of any search engine whatsoever? What would be your top online and offline marketing methods if you weren't allowed to use google, yahoo, bing, ask, and others?
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  • Profile picture of the author greff
    This question is VERY valid.

    It sure makes you think about how to market your website. There are plenty of ways to do that as shown above. In fact, there are many people who do very well with really crappy search engine ranking.

    In the old days (2003 and before) people depended a lot more on banner advertising. They did it the old fashioned way. They spent money.
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    • Profile picture of the author Steven Wagenheim
      Originally Posted by greff View Post

      This question is VERY valid.

      It sure makes you think about how to market your website. There are plenty of ways to do that as shown above. In fact, there are many people who do very well with really crappy search engine ranking.

      In the old days (2003 and before) people depended a lot more on banner advertising. They did it the old fashioned way. They spent money.
      Here's the problem and why the question is meaningless.

      Pick any way to market your site. I don't care. Twitter, Facebook, Digg,
      YouTube, whatever. I don't care.

      Without search engines indexing what's out there...

      How is anybody going to get the URLs of any of these sites?

      Word of mouth?

      From who?

      Besides the person who actually put the site up, who is going to know
      about it?

      The only marketing methods that will work without search engines are
      pure off line sending cards, letters, TV advertising and so on in order to
      get YOUR URL out to the public since there are no online avenues to do
      this.

      That is why the question is pointless.

      Without search engines, nobody knows anything exists.

      Having said that, nowhere did I say I rely only on search engine traffic.

      I use many avenues to promote my site such as the ones I mentioned
      above and many more.

      But those avenues only work because the search engines are there for
      people to find these sites.
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      • Profile picture of the author Kurt
        Originally Posted by Steven Wagenheim View Post


        How is anybody going to get the URLs of any of these sites?

        Word of mouth?

        From who?

        Besides the person who actually put the site up, who is going to know
        about it?

        .
        Hey Steven,

        Actually there were directories before serach engines. It wasn't that long ago that Yahoo was the #1 site as a directory. Wasn't the old Northern Lights also a directory at one time?
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        • Profile picture of the author CDarklock
          Originally Posted by Kurt View Post

          Actually there were directories before serach engines.
          Widespread adoption of the web didn't really happen until the owners of the Gopher protocol decided to start charging a fee for new versions of the server. Then everyone started going "well, crap, now what are we going to use?" - and Tim Berners-Lee was flailing around at NCSA with this hypertext thing.
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          • Profile picture of the author Kurt
            Originally Posted by CDarklock View Post

            Widespread adoption of the web didn't really happen until the owners of the Gopher protocol decided to start charging a fee for new versions of the server. Then everyone started going "well, crap, now what are we going to use?" - and Tim Berners-Lee was flailing around at NCSA with this hypertext thing.
            Actually one could make a case that the creation of .gif files (Mosaic?), allowing pictures/graphics to be transmitted via the web was the catapult for the web (http) becoming "wide spread". And we shouldn't underestimate how much geeks like looking a nudie pictures as an early driving force of the web's popularity... AKA the "VCR effect".

            However, if there were no search engines (which is a big stretch anyway) then IMO there would be directories such as Yahoo and ODP/DMOZ.
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  • Profile picture of the author Adria.John
    Well, if there were no search engines SEO would get reduced for me, and i would not be working so hard for it. LOL.....

    Definitely then social networking would a giant of its time and people would be involved more into direct sales.
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  • Profile picture of the author CDarklock
    In 1998, I paid something like $800 to get sticky chrome URLs for my car like used car dealers put on everything they sell.

    I'd do that again.
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    • Profile picture of the author renu
      That's a good one

      I guess you could also call that word of mouth...

      But seriously, how did you track your results? I mean were there any tracking tools like today's Google Analytics or something like that?

      Cheers, Remi

      Originally Posted by CDarklock View Post

      In 1998, I paid something like $800 to get sticky chrome URLs for my car like used car dealers put on everything they sell.

      I'd do that again.
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    • Profile picture of the author abednego
      Originally Posted by CDarklock View Post

      In 1998, I paid something like $800 to get sticky chrome URLs for my car like used car dealers put on everything they sell.

      I'd do that again.
      ha - do you remember how well that worked out for you?
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      • Profile picture of the author CDarklock
        Originally Posted by abednego View Post

        ha - do you remember how well that worked out for you?
        Pretty well, actually - the decals were responsible for the first few contacts I got about doing Y2K stuff, which ultimately kept me working my arse off and earned me about half a million bucks during 1999 and 2000.
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      • Profile picture of the author Kappadona
        I would use direct mail and target people who had purchased similar products while encouraging them to promote my product as an affiliate.

        In terms of online tactics i would rely on a creative press release as well as social media marketing.

        While it would be a lot more difficult it would not be impossible.
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  • Profile picture of the author debra
    Back in the '80's....Yes...Before Google.

    It was Bulletin Boards from Colleges and Universities. Back then the social network was a bulletin board(think craigslist watered down) and an email addy.

    So..I would focus on many of the diverse social networks.
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  • Profile picture of the author areaK
    Social Media (social networks & social bookmarking)
    Directories & maybe some banner advertising and ad blocks
    Email marketing
    I might even go back to the days of regular mail marketing, sign posting, fliers, etc.
    DEF WOM - referrals
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  • Profile picture of the author terrapurus
    If there were no search engines, there would be no internet (and not genuine online strategy to create traffic). Without a catalogue, a library is just a pile of books in a stuffy room. You might go in and pick one up if know where it is, but otherwise you would get bored and walk out. Every other strategy is built on the foundation Google et. al. created for you.

    Your only choice would be real world advertising.
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  • Profile picture of the author Damien Roche
    Wish I could contribute something to this, but I'm here to say I think this question is very valid!

    Regardless, the question forces you to think creatively.

    I'm shocked at the ignorance of some above. If you can't think outside the box and let go of logic for a *second*, then don't say anything because this is evidently aimed at abstract thinkers.
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    • Profile picture of the author Calamaroo
      Originally Posted by Damien Roche View Post

      Regardless, the question forces you to think creatively.
      The hypnosis of SEO could box people inside the SEO box.

      But yeah...this is a "what if" thread like that History Channel show about what would happen if all human beings suddenly disappeared from the Earth.

      Offline networking with real human beings would probably play a big role. Remarkable content would find a way to be viral no matter what.
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  • Profile picture of the author TonyDavis
    If there were no search engines, how would anyone know what sites existed? All of these suggestions about posting on forums, directories, etc..... HOW? How would you know where they were? What URL are you going to? I guess you could just type in ********.com and hope you land on a page. How long would that take????

    Like terrapurus said, there would be no internet. Offline advertising would be your only choice.

    Tony
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  • Profile picture of the author Tomwood
    Without search engines the internet would not have become as useful and popular as it is. I very much doubt that sites like Facebook and twitter would have evolved.

    If they a did they wouldn't be anywhere like as popular as they are today without search engine i doubt there would be much commerce on the internet at all.
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  • Profile picture of the author stephenseo
    I will submit my products to Amazon. It is a large search engine for almost all products.
    And I will try video marketing by making and submitting videos to YouTube, which is currently the second large search engine in USA.
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  • Profile picture of the author carterstory
    back when I was first coding pages by hand, search engines werent' what they are today, they were pretty weak, I think yahoo was the best at that time..
    To get traffic we relied on webrings (Basically link exchanges) , and posting on usnet, telling out friends etc.
    I would probably stick my site on my car for people to see while I'm driving. And stick it up on posters all over the place..
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  • Profile picture of the author Dave777
    Just in case you haven't started working on your business plan for 2020...
    The Internet in 2020 - What the Experts Predict

    Dave
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