Washingtonpost.com Redesign Highlights Search

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Washingtonpost.com debuted a site redesign yesterday that highlights the importance of search partners Google and CitySearch.

As part of the redesign, a Google search box appears at the top of each page, giving readers the chance to search either the site or the Web. Web searches include commercial search results as part of Google's AdWords program, with Google and The Washington Post Co. splitting the revenue each time a user clicks on an ad.

The site also overhauled Arts and Leisure, giving prominence to search services by CitySearch. The new Arts and Leisure section is a compilation of Post articles on national and local culture and gives a central role to the Entertainment Guide. Powered by CitySearch, it lets users look for everything from bookstores to bars to restaurants. Results also feature editorial and user reviews. The guide has links to washingtonpost.com Entertainment Marketplace, an advertising section on areas like casual dining and nightlife.

"Our users told us that search is really important to them, especially for entertainment," said Don Marshall, a washingtonpost.com spokesman. "We've really put the search on steroids for that."

The redesign also removes the navigation bar from the left side of pages, eliminating skyscraper ads and allowing the site to serve large ad placements like half-page ads. Research has shown that such larger ad units generate better response rates and recall than banners and skyscrapers while also fetching a much higher rate from advertisers.

The changes come as washingtonpost.com continues to grow. In the third quarter, the Post's online division's revenue grew 32 percent to $12 million. According to Nielsen//NetRatings, the site drew 6 million visitors in October.

According to last week's ad revenue report by the Interactive Advertising Bureau, paid search grew to represent nearly 30 percent of the $1.66 billion in online ad sales in the third quarter.

Washingtonpost.com has carried Google paid search listings since the summer and also runs Google paid listings on some content pages. The company does not break out how much revenue it derives from Google ads.


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