This is the subhead for the blog post

While the ultimate measurement of a search engine is whether it is profitable for your business, there are plenty of intangibles that also need to be considered. In particular, I consider four key metrics:

1. Traffic volume: does the search engine have the ability to deliver a lot of volume to you?

2. Traffic quality: what percentage of the traffic converts, and what percentage is click fraud?

3. Customer service: how responsive is the search engine to your queries. Do they make you feel like you are a valued customer, or just an invoice?

4. Technology and tools: Does the user interface make it easy for you to quickly make changes, or is it like pulling teeth. Is there a readily accessible API?

Google

Traffic Volume: A+. The granddaddy of them all.

Traffic Quality: A. Pretty good, though there could be a little more transparency on the click fraud issue.

Customer Service: C-. Nice people, but I’ve never gotten the feeling that anyone really understands the significance of the millions of dollars I spend with them.

Technology and Tools: A. Leader in UI tools, slightly buggy API, but getting better.

Overall Grade: 3.66 (A-)

Yahoo Search Marketing

Traffic Volume: A-. Losing MSN hurts.

Traffic Quality: B. Pretty good, but it seems like there have been some click fraud issues as of late.

Customer Service: A. Excellent. Totally on top of their game.

Technology and Tools: C-. Terrible user interface. Promising it will get better . . . in August?

Overall Grade: 3.33 (B+)

MSN

Traffic Volume: B+

Traffic Quality: A+.

Customer Service: B. Nice people but they need to fix some tech issues (like their testing bot speed, which can crash servers due to the lack of a limiter).

Technology and Tools: B. The first version of the UI is pretty good, but I expect improvement.

Overall Grade: 3.33 (B+)

Ask

Traffic Volume: C

Traffic Quality: B – I think the value of Ask.com is high, but the distribution network is questionable.

Customer Service: A

Technology and Tools: C – Using the Looksmart UI wouldn’t be my first choice.

Overall Grade: 2.75 (B-)

Miva

Traffic Volume: C

Traffic Quality: C

Customer Service: A

Technology and Tools: C

Overall Grade: 2.5 (C)

Looksmart

Traffic Volume: B

Traffic Quality: F

Customer Service: D

Technology and Tools: C

Overall Grade: 1. 5 (D)

No one’s got a 4.0 yet, but hey, we haven’t even reached “mid-terms” for search engines, so there’s a long ways to go!