Yahoo has revamped its paid inclusion program and it appears to be the forefront of a push to revitalize this archaic submission format. More on the history of paid inclusion and my opinion later, for now let us review the changes.

What Does it Cost to Submit to Yahoo?
The price to submit a URL is $49 which guarantees (for sites that are accepted):

  • Addition to a database of sites “that powers algorithmic search results for Yahoo! and other major web portals such as AltaVista and AlltheWeb.”
  • URLs are refreshed (essentially re-indexed) on a 7 business day rotation.
  • Access to a new personalized reporting centre that provides:
    – top 10 click through information itemized by the keyword clicked (see sample here)
    – trend charting which provides a visual reference for ups and downs in traffic
    – best practices SEO information

What are Yahoo’s Guidelines for Paid Inclusion?
Yahoo’s guidelines are extensive but nothing surprising. To sum it up don’t bother submitting your site if it:

  • offers no value to Yahoo’s readers
  • is composed of a significant percentage of affiliate content
  • endangers users
  • has offensive content
  • has pop-ups, pop-unders, or exit consoles
  • is designed purely to drive traffic elsewhere
  • infringes on copyrights or trademarks

So essentially Yahoo is exactly like any other search engine; provide them with unique content that adds value to its index and it won’t bat an eye.

Is Paid Inclusion at Yahoo Worth It?
It is too early to say if there is any certain advantage to submitting a website to Yahoo with paid inclusion. I submitted one URL into the new system and will provide feedback as soon as I have anything to report.

Aside from inclusion, there are of course the added reporting capabilities in this reinvented service. The analytics that Yahoo provides may be of benefit to some users but the information provided is hardly very useful. After all, increasing how many times a listing is clicked on is only a part of the analytics process; you still need to ensure they stay on your website when they get there. All of the information provided by Yahoo is far more powerfully attained, and your money better spent, using affordable traffic analysis solutions like ClickTracks.

Paid Inclusion: The Past and the Future
Most major search engines dropped paid inclusion services back in 2004 amidst pressure from users and industry leaders. Many felt it provided an unfair end result. After all, is paid inclusion fair to websites that cannot afford to use paid inclusion? Should their path to results be any slower than those who can afford it? I can understand the need to embrace capitalism wherever possible but the fact is that search engines are “supposed” to cater to the masses in a totally fair manner within organic results; in my opinion paid inclusion flies in the face of that.

Jeremy Zawodny of Yahoo defended paid inclusion here but his defense is questionable since paid inclusion undeniably provides an unfair advantage; not for rankings but simply for the speed in which a paid site is indexed versus an unpaid site. Add to this that Yahoo is providing additional statistics and reportable data that the non-paying public cannot take advantage of and frankly this all smells rather sulfurous.

Food for Thought

Back in June 2004 Jim Lanzone, VP of Product Management at Ask explained why dropped paid inclusion. He explained that the “improved freshness in the search results achieved by its Teoma technology” meant they no longer required site owners to submit URLs that Ask’s site spider had missed. He further noted that “keeping this program alive just because people would pay for it would be hypocritical.” With this reasoning in mind, by revitalizing paid inclusion is Yahoo saying that their spider is insufficient to index the web? On the other hand, is Yahoo’s bottom line so bad that Yahoo needs to reinvent and push this money grab?

I am intrigued to see how this new service launch is received by search engine users and industry leaders and I invite your views on this matter.

by Ross Dunn, CEO, StepForth Search Engine Placement Inc.