With Yahoo!’s pending switch from Google (free-listings) to Inktomi (paid-inclusion), website owners with high Google rankings will see the number of visits to their sites drop dramatically as Yahoo! drives about 30 – 35% of all search traffic. Inktomi is also the primary supplier of results for MSN, the third largest search tool. We are predicting that the bulk of search traffic will come from the Inktomi database, starting sometime around March or April. This likely spells the demise of free-inclusion as Inktomi’s popularity will increase and Google will need to plug a sudden and likely massive revenue hole. While Google has traditionally spurned paid-inclusion, Yahoo!’s adoption of Inktomi results and the pressures stemming from going public through the anticipated IPO might move Google’s management towards the paid-inclusion spectrum.
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