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Monday, June 23, 2003

How to Pay $5 a Click Without Even Trying

In search engine marketing, data wins. Many small businesses already know that paid inclusion in indexes like Inktomi, FAST, and Ask Jeeves/Teoma is overhyped, because the interfaces for these services give them accurate data about how little traffic they're generating.

I won't deny that inclusion *can* work well - especially for bigger retailers with a large catalog - but I suspect that for many small businesses, paid inclusion flops more often than not. I just checked a couple of the pages I included in Inktomi and Ask Jeeves - each received a total of six clicks in the past year. Hardly worth the trouble.

On the other hand, the two URL's listed in Inktomi for this site, traffick.com, received a total of 3,000 clicks. A good deal no matter how you slice it. But it proves the point. These are content pages. Search engines prefer content pages, it seems. These pages also do well in Google.

It's not a scientific study or anything, but until I see paid inclusion services giving me and my clients the kind of control (and/or solid numbers) we get from keyword-targeted pay-per-click advertising, I'm not going to change my mind on the issue.

I'm just glad Google never went to paid inclusion. I believe the model is fraught with problems, including the possibility that larger retailers can buy their way into an unspoken "higher priority category" than the other ordinary businesses who take the trouble to submit.

If and when Yahoo and Inktomi team together on a paid inclusion program, it will be impossible to ignore. But what kinds of games will be played with it? Will the ordinary business get to play on a level playing field, or will bulk inclusion rule the day (and distort the accuracy of search results)?

Posted by Andrew Goodman




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