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BACK TO BASICS: Understanding Yahoo's Paid Inclusion Programs

by Jayme Westervelt, January 31, 2007

How many Web site owners have ever wished there was an easy way to get into the major search engines? How many would love a way for their site to get spidered and indexed within just a few hours? Sounds like a dream, right? Well, not quite. It sounds more like paid inclusion. Is this the answer to all of your prayers? Maybe, maybe not.

Paid inclusion has been around forever - at least in Internet years. Long before Yahoo's current paid inclusion program, there were programs offered by AltaVista, Inktomi and others. In March of 2004, Yahoo! unveiled their paid inclusion program which took over the programs formed by AltaVista, AllTheWeb and Inktomi.

Yahoo! currently offers two flavors of their paid inclusion program: Search Submit Express and Search Submit Pro. Your needs and the amount of control you want over your submissions will determine which program, if any, is best for you.

Search Submit Express is perfect if all you are looking for is to get a few of your URLs quickly spidered and into Yahoo!. The annual fee for SSE is $49 for the first URL, $29 each for URLs 2-10 and $10 each for 11 or more URLs. Your URLs will be visited every 48 hours to keep the listings up to date; which is perfect if you have content that is frequently changing. Once your site is listed, you will incur a cost-per-click fee whenever a user clicks on your listing. This may be a drawback depending on your ROI for that listing. The cost-per-click incurred is either $.15 or $.30 depending on what category your Web site falls into. For basic sites about things like automotive, books, education, music, sports, baby equipment, etc. your fee would only be $.15 per click. If the site falls into one of the more popular shopping categories like apparel, electronics, flowers, health and personal care, real estate or travel, then the fee is going to be $.30 per click.

One really nice feature about Search Submit Express is the reporting available to you. Users can access up-to-date information on clicks, rankings and keywords, as well as get tracking information to help them optimize pages for improved performance. Trend charts are also available so that you can track performance over a span of time. These tools are advantageous in that they give you the ability to make changes to your pages and tell within 48 hours if those changes were effective in increasing rankings and/or traffic. This is one benefit not available with other major search engines like Google or MSN.

Search Submit Pro is the 2nd flavor of the Yahoo! paid inclusion program. SSP offers more power over your submission and more tools for your benefit. There is no annual fee for SSP, but there is still a cost-per-click associated with your listings. The Yahoo! Web site does not specify what the cost-per-click is for the different categories, but we can assume that the category breakdown is the same as Search Submit Express, with possibly a higher cost-per-click fee. Yahoo! does say that SSP is best for those who have a marketing budget of $5000+ per month or for those submitting 1,000+ pages to Yahoo!. Depending on how many URLs you want to include in the paid inclusion program, you will have to decide which of these two programs would be most beneficial to you at the lowest cost.

Some of the nice features of Search Submit Pro include the ability to create your own titles and descriptions to be displayed on Yahoo's search engine results page. You can change these as often as needed to correspond with the changes on your Web site. Pages are submitted through an XML feed and SSP allows you to include pages that might otherwise be difficult for spiders to reach due to cookies, session IDs or dynamic pages. Your content is revisited every 48 hours, just like with Search Submit Express, or if your content doesn't change that often you can choose to set a schedule for the spider's visits. One other nice feature of Search Submit Pro is that you are assigned a dedicated account manager to help you with all of your questions, comments, concerns etc. Who wouldn't love to have someone from a major search engine helping you improve your listings?

Similar to Search Submit Express, Search Submit Pro offers tools that give users insight to such things as search engine rankings, the number of times each listing was clicked on, and what keywords were used to trigger those listings. The reports are also customizable so that you only track what is useful to your business. Reports can be viewed online or downloaded to your computer. These reports give you a great deal of insight to the performance of your site and the visitors to it. By tracking the data you will be able to optimize your submission to increase the click-through-rate and drive even more visitors to your site.

So, is this the answer to all of your search engine prayers? The answer is still "maybe, maybe not". Neither Search Submit Express nor Pro promise improved site rankings. Once you've submitted your URLs, your site is still subject to the Yahoo! algorithm and will rank based on the content and its relevancy to the keywords. Yes, the paid inclusion program gets the spider to visit your site sooner, but just having spiders visit your site won't get you rankings. Your site still needs to be full of relevant content, themed correctly, have no major server or spiderability issues and be void of any deceptive practices. Basically, if you have a lousy site, no matter what you pay to be included you still won't rank very well - all the rules of search engine optimization still apply; you must put the effort into your site to improve it in the eyes of the search engines.