AOL Search Engine Optimization Strategy

AOL has been around for 20 years and it is a major player in the ISP and online search/directory business. AOL maintains its own search engine site, called AOL Search, which was revamped and launched January 20th, 2005.

AOL Search provides listings from its own branded companies and partners. Although its main listings are supplied by Google, the AOL Search site has its own aesthetic appearance and list of features. AOL Search also enhances its results by making use of Vivsimo’s patented clustering technology, which places results into well organized categories. *Note: In order to be found under AOL’s main Google listings, you need to be indexed by Google. This requires a good search engine optimization strategy.

AOL’s search bar is equipped with ‘Smartbox Technology.’ This offers real time key word suggestions while you type in the search bar. As you type, Smartbox tries to figure out what you mean before you’re finished typing. The point is to make the process a little quicker, refining and helping to solve issues you might have with spelling etc.

When displaying results from a search, AOL breaks the page down into the following order from top to bottom: Two search bars (top and bottom of the page), Snapshots (if applicable), Sponsored Links, Matching Sites and Product Results. The left hand column lets you choose which type of search to perform, under the headings: web, pictures (sorted by relevance, and supplied by Google), audio, video, news, local and products. The left hand column also contains a recent web searches feature which is essentially a logged history of past web sites visited. This can hold up to 50 past searched items that can be removed by the user. This feature can be turned off at any time. AOL Search also maintains a directory page that lists specific categories to select from. Examples include Arts and Entertainment and Home and Garden.

Snapshots are selected and packaged by AOL editors. Content is taken from AOL and AOL partner sites. The Snapshot feature displays a short summary of information about the query, presenting a picture of the subject, along with a tidy abstract of hyper links that each lead to expanded information about the subject. For instance, a search on Jerry Springer yields his picture with a side bar graphic labeled Snapshot’ along with links to features, pictures, videos and message boards. *Note this feature seems only geared towards entertainment and celebrities.

Sponsored Links shows paid listings supplied by companies that want their listings to appear when specific key words are entered into a search. These paid listings are content relevant to the search term.

Matching Sites is the main search feature used by AOL Search. It lists searches by order of relevance, and the results are obtained by Google.

Product Results provides results through Pinpoint Shopping.