In the last few months, the
“price” for being indexed on the search engines has gone from being free
to becoming downright expensive. Since dot.coms have moved from being
in an environment where they weren’t expected to make a profit to today’s
environment where they must make a profit or die, we are seeing significant
changes in what it takes to be listed on the various search engines.
Yahoo! started the new way of doing business by creating a one–time,
non-refundable processing fee. They tested the market with several different
pricing levels but finally priced the fee at $199. They guarantee the site
will be reviewed within 7 business days. If you are turned down, you have
a one-time opportunity to reply and explain why you should be included.
This is the only way a commercial web site can be considered for inclusion
in their Yahoo! directory.
Shortly afterwards LookSmart followed suit and established their Express
Submit for $199. They also encourage you to include interior pages of your
site and they charge $199 for the submittal of each interior page. A new
twist that is buried in their FAQ section is that you only have 30 days
to submit a suggested correction to your already listed site, after that
you must submit to Express Modify and pay a fee.
LookSmart states the site will be listed in the search directories of
MSN, AltaVista, Excite, WebCrawler, Magellan, CNN, IWon, Juno and more
than 370 ISP’s. If you go to any of these search engines and go to their
Submit a Site area, they all start off by encouraging you to submit via
the LookSmart Express Submit process. LookSmart guarantees submission review
within two business days and you have a one time right to reply is your
site is rejected.
LookSmart does have a one-time payment program they call Basic Submit
for $99 and they state the submission will be reviewed within eight weeks.
Yahoo! and LookSmart both state the submission fee does not guarantee
placement within their directories, but covers consideration for inclusion
in the directory. They state their editors review each site individually
and expend time and effort on each submitted site. For this reason, the
fee is for the service an editor provides in reviewing a site, not for
the inclusion in their directories. Therefore, once this service has been
rendered, regardless of its outcome, users will not receive a refund.
NBCi initially copied the Yahoo! and LookSmart plans but has now come
up with a different approach. You must first submit to their free LiveDirectory
and then they encourage you to drive even more traffic to your site by
paying a one-time $99 processing fee to be listed in their Top Sites Directory.
Of course, the Top Sites Directory will be positioned above the LiveDirectory
listing when you do a search on NBCi.
Inktomi, a search engines that claims to make your content searchable through 125 partners, including AOL, IWon, MSN, and HotBot, has a totally different plan. They charge annually and the fee is $30 for the first URL per domain and $10 for URLs 2-1,000. They spider your site every 48 hours and the subscription period is for one year.
GoTo.com, a search engine that charges for placement in its listing, has also make some significant changes in their pricing. First, this is the company that paid AOL fifty million, thats right $50 million, to be featured on AOL. When someone conducts a search on AOL, the first three listings called Premium Listing, will be the GoTo listing if someone has paid for the keyword. The GoTo pay for placement listing will also be shown on AltaVista and Lycos. Until March of this year, you could pay as little as 1¢ with no minimum number of clickthroughs per month. Now, the minimum bid is 5¢ and each keyword will have a minimum monthly charge of $20. You can establish an account for as little as $50.
In a related matter, you should be aware that GO.com is in the process
of going out of business, In early February, I had submitted one of my
client’s website to their Add URL Premium service for the amazingly similar
cost of $199. Upon learning of the closure, I contacted my client and advised
him of the situation. To my surprise, I received an email a few days later
from GO.com that stated since I had just recently purchased the product
they were issuing a full refund. I want to thank Disney for this.
I believe this is just the beginning of changes that we can expect to
see from the search engines. I wouldn’t be surprised to see all the search
engines charging to be listed and instead of being a one-time fee to be
an annual fee. Finally, I think this will be the year that many more will
go out of business.