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Should You Pay For Inclusion?

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Hello Jill, a quick question if your time permits:
I have read so many conflicting things about pay submissions to the likes of Yahoo, LookSmart, Teoma, Inktomi, and others. It is getting really expensive but we are considering doing it “just in case” it affects our rankings with engines.

Many feel your site will not get spidered at all without paying the ferryman (yearly) and yet, I know you feel submissions for existing sites are not always necessary. My question is, are these pay for inclusion fees required to attract spiders properly, and also, do you feel these submissions (and the payment accompanying them) will affect a site’s ranking on a search engine, such as Yahoo.

Thanks for your great newsletters for those of us that cannot yet afford SEO firms. I now own the business I was managing and we are trying to rank better. You are a genuine help for us as we work hard to remove ourselves from the pay for fraud, oops, I mean pay for clicks, world.

Regards, D Fraser

Hi D:

There’s no easy answer for you, because there are many different factors that may play into your decision to pay the search engines. For instance, Yahoo, Looksmart, Teoma and Inktomi are completely different animals when it comes to paid inclusion.

At Yahoo you can pay to be included in their directory (currently $299 per year for the US version), but if you’re in Google’s database, you’ll show up when someone searches at Yahoo anyway. If you already rank highly in Yahoo when your keyword phrases are plugged in, then you’d be throwing away your money. Even if you don’t rank highly for your search phrases, a listing in their directory will not necessarily help in that department. It may, because it will give you an additional link to your site, which will add to its total link popularity; however, it may not, because one link to your site isn’t the “be-all end-all” if your site isn’t properly optimized.

LookSmart is completely different from Yahoo in that your listing with them is on a pay-per-click basis. This means that as soon as you stop paying, your site stops showing up. Currently, a LookSmart listing can help your site show up in a search at MSN, but their contract is up in January, making a listing with them not worth very much at that point. Certainly, you could pay for a listing with them up until they are dropped by MSN if you are currently having problems being found in MSN.

Inktomi’s and Teoma’s paid-inclusion programs are fairly similar to each other. You basically pay for each URL you would like to be included, and they will remain there for one year. Inktomi results are shown at MSN and Teoma results are shown at AskJeeves. If you’d like to get your pages into these search properties quickly, and/or if you want to tweak your optimization to see how it affects rankings, then paying for inclusion may certainly be worth your while because the included pages will be frequently reindexed. If/when Yahoo switches from Google to Inktomi, things will need to be reevaluated accordingly.

The bottom line for me is that pages are still being included for free and that paying for inclusion does not equal paying for rankings. It does give you the ability to test and then hopefully improve your rankings through those tests, but it doesn’t put you in a special pile of sites that will automatically shoot to the top.

On the other hand, if you have a really large site (over 500 pages), trusted feed can apparently give you a boost in the rankings because you have more control over what the search engines see and index. The feeds can be highly focused on your keywords, and don’t have to match exactly what’s on your pages.

Regardless of any of that, you can’t pay to be included in Google anyway. Many sites get so much traffic from Google that they don’t even worry about the other engines anymore. Not saying you should ignore them, but if you can get in for free, well, why pay? Always check to see if your pages are already included in any engine before you send them your money.

Jill Whalen of High Rankings is an internationally recognized search engine optimization consultant and host of the free weekly High Rankings Advisor search engine marketing newsletter.

She specializes in search engine optimization, SEO consultations and seminars. Jill’s handbook, “The Nitty-gritty of Writing for the Search Engines” teaches business owners how and where to place relevant keyword phrases on their Web sites so that they make sense to users and gain high rankings in the major search engines

Should You Pay For Inclusion?
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