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LookSmart Looks Dumb Again

By Jill Whalen, 4/19/2002

Just when we thought Yahoo! would take the trophy as dumbest directory (for
their decision to unilaterally change the email preferences of all of their
members in order to spam them), good 'ole LookSmart comes from behind and wins
it by a nose!


Last week I mentioned LookSmart's news of
"upgrading" everyone's paid LookSmart listing to their wacky new "Small Business
Listing" pay-per-click program. Well, some of the details have been released, and
I'm sorry to say, it doesn't look good. For sites that obtain 100 clicks
per month or less from LookSmart and its partners, first-year costs be a minimum
of $229.00 according to my calculations. Subsequent years would cost a minimum
of $180.00 (assuming they don't change the rules again, which is a HUGE
assumption). These numbers come from the $49.00 setup fee for new URLs,
plus the minimum $15.00/month clickthrough charge per URL. Clicks are
15 cents apiece, thus the 100-clicks-per-month number.


At first
glance, those numbers appear to be actually less than the $299.00 we were
previously paying; however, the old price was a one-time fee. Plus, if you anticipate
more than 100 clicks per month, you could end up paying a whole lot
more.



You're also only allowed one URL per
domain under the Small Business Listing plan, and subdomains are considered part
of the same domain, according to their FAQ. You'll be even happier to know that
there are many more ways for Look$mart to take your money. For instance, you can
pay them extra to have keywords associated with your listing. (Yes, this
is something they used do for your listing for "free" before.) It's difficult
to say whether your site will rank highly enough to get any clicks if
you don't associate keywords with it. You can pay for additional
categories, description changes and all sorts of other fun things if
you're interested. (All the gory details can be found here: < href="http://listings.looksmart.com/">http://listings.looksmart.com/>.)



As
of this writing, there is no news on what happens to those of us who just forked
over $299 for our listing.


Right now, it's hard to
recommend this program to you or my clients. In fact, because they're nickel and
diming everyone (along with changing the rules in the middle of the game), I'd personally
love to see everyone tell LookSmart to go jump in a lake! But business
is business, and that may be easier said than done. For now, I'm taking a
wait-and-see attitude. I want to see what they do with my recent $299, and I want
to see how many clicks the sites I already have listed with them will get.
I will NOT authorize them to make any charges to my credit card until I see
how this plays out. I can easily live without my sites being listed with
LookSmart if that's what it comes down to.


I understand that LookSmart has to make money just like the rest of
us; however, as a businessperson myself, I have learned that people don't like
being charged separately for all sorts of different things. It makes you look
like you're only after their money, no matter what kind of spin you put on
it. Offering one fee for a whole package of stuff sounds and feels much
better psychologically to the customer. It seems to me that LookSmart would have
been much smarter to simply do what Yahoo! did, i.e., make the current $299.00
charge as an annual fee for all new listings. Yeah, they would have taken some
crap for it at the beginning, but I have a feeling what they're gonna get now
will be far worse.



I gotta say that I will take great delight
if/when this turns out to be the death of LookSmart. Their true, sleazy nature is
showing through loud and clear with this move. Honest,
ethical businesses do NOT change the rules in the middle of the game. They just
don't. First, we learned of their association with scumware, Ezula < href="http://scumware.com/hall1.html">http://scumware.com/hall1.html>,
and now this. Yes, LookSmart, we do see your true colors, and they're not
pretty.


(Update:)


Last week I gave you my negative opinion on LookSmart and their
newchange-the-rules-in-the-middle-of-the-game business model. As time passes,
things are looking even worse than I had originally thought. If you've checked
your LookSmart accounts, you may find that you'll use up your *free* clicks
within a few days or weeks, and would have to pay thousands of dollars a month
just to maintain the clicks you were previously getting. Thanks for the
"upgrade," LookSmart.  Rather than talking about them again (and because I
really don't feel like setting my blood a-boil), I'll just direct you to this
anonymous satirical letter from "ActDumb":


< href="http://www.ihelpyouservices.com/forums/t2819/s.html">http://www.ihelpyouservices.com/forums/t2819/s.html>.


No, I didn't write it, but I wish I had; it's right on
the mark!

Jill Whalen is a leading search engine optimization (SEO) expert and owner of HighRankings.com. A frequent public speaker, Jill specializes in helping clients write and organize their web site content in a search-engine-friendly manner. She also publishes High Rankings' Advisor, a biweekly newsletter featuring Q&A about SEO.

 

 

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