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Friday, March 12, 2004

Want to Add Your URL to Yahoo?

As promised, Yahoo has made available a free Add URL page that may or may not help you get your site spidered by Yahoo's new bot, Slurp.

And although it's basically the company line, this Q&A with a Yahoo Search rep on JimWorld does cover a lot of commonly-asked questions about Overture Site Match, the new program that allows you to buy paid inclusion in the new Yahoo Search index (confused yet?).

What needs to be emphasized for those weighing the pros and cons of the new service is (1) that the program is expensive for many small business owners; and (2) that the use of tracking URL's in conjunction with a third-party conversion tracking service is a must to calculate ROI from paid inclusion campaigns.

(So instead of submitting http://www.magenta-pixie-dust.com, you'd submit http://www.magenta-pixie-dust.com?source=osm1_obsessed_with_tracking, or whatever tracking nomenclature fits well with the conversion tracking software you're using.)

Experience with Inktomi and LookSmart show that certain types of campaigns -- retailers with big catalogs, for example -- can perform well with paid inclusion. Others have more trouble.

One major drawback is the "pay, pay again, and now, optimize" complexity of this form of paid inclusion. Bad enough that you pay twice. But the worst part is, those who also hire an optimizer to game the algo (tweaking pages until they are satisfied they're ranked well enough, possible since Yahoo will refresh the index every 48 hours) so they actually get ranked well might hog the lion's share of the fifteen cent traffic whereas less "gamey" competitors won't get the visibility or volume they're seeking. In other words, not only are you doing paid inclusion and PPC, but SEO, too! Is that good for businesses? It's certainly good for third-party consultants.

Slightly more esoterically, it's worth continuing to point out that a flat (15 or 30 cents) price per click is a flawed pricing model, as I told Mark Evans from the National Post this week (the March 11 article, "Search War: Rivals Nip at Heels of Google" is not available online due to the Post's tough subscriber-only model). LookSmart already proved to us that the flat click pricing is less advertiser-friendly than the auction model -- and insofar as it limits their upside, it doesn't do Yahoo any favors either. As a result, we'll probably see Yahoo repricing clicks next year, and inventing more "tiers" that warrant higher per-click charges.

In the same article, leading search marketer Andy Beal was a little more soft-core, stating that Yahoo's program is good because "business owners will have viable options as to where to spend money. If they are not getting value from Google, they have Yahoo or Ask Jeeves."

Maybe so. My personal view is that if you're doing search marketing and you're not getting value from Google, yikes! Putting your bucks elsewhere is cold comfort. You need to solve Google, which is, after all, where people are actually searching.

Posted by Andrew Goodman




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