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Pay-Per-Click (GoTo) vs. Free (Google) Search Engines
By Andrew Gerhart - August 15, 2001

Today when I was making the rounds to the usual spots, I came across a news headline that read, "Excite teams with GoTo for paid search facility." For those of you who are not familiar with GoTo, it is a Pay-Per-Click search engine, and we have outlined this in the next paragraph.

Pay-Per-Click engines work like this: when you submit a website to their database you must specify how much money you are willing to pay for each time a searcher clicks on the link to your link. The search results are returned in order of click price amounts instead of relevancy. For example, a website that sells insurance could buy a top 5 listing for cars. This is not search engine optimization.

GoTo is responsible for supplying results to roughly 75% of the search engines, and now Excite has jumped onto the bandwagon. Excite is not completely on, as they are only going to be using two results from GoTo on their results pages. This leaves me wondering many things.

The first thing I began to wonder is what kind of effect this will have on the Search Engine Optimization industry. If all of the search engines begin to use GoTo for results, where will this leave all of the search engine optimization professionals? After more thought on this I became more confident that the strong search engines and directories like Yahoo, Google, and ODP will keep things the way that they are. While some of these search engines charge you to submit your website to their database, after submitting to these you can be sure that they will send a great deal of targeted traffic to your site. Search engines like these that are strong are not going to jump to GoTo, because they have no need to. Back to a cardinal rule: If it's not broken, don't fix it!

Another thought crossed my mind. The Internet was, is, and will be built by webmasters. If people have a great informational site, or a great service, that will attract the masses, they should not have to worry about paying loads of money to the search engines when people click through to their site. This is almost a way of penalizing a webmaster or company for having a quality site that attracts repeat visitors.

Search engines have plenty of real estate on their results pages to place advertisements and other forms of partnership advertisements. I am a Google man myself...I use it for everything. Google offers a way for webmasters to pay for placement without compromising the results on a search. If you follow this link, you will see that the sites that have paid to be listed are placed to the right of the results, and have no immediate effect on the results. There may be an effect on a sites ranking if they opt to pay for placement on Google, but it is not a large factor in Google's algorithm. In my mind, this is the right way for the search engines to make the money that they need to stay in business, while still giving the user what they are looking for: relevant search results.

Niki Scevak wrote an interesting article for internet.com concerning this matter, but Mr. Scevak has a different point of view. The reason I like his article is because of the title: Is the Internet Becoming A Commercial Directory? Sadly, I think that he is right, and it can be seen more and more everyday.

The Internet is no longer a world wide web that is inter-linked and a free informational resource for everyone to use. There have been recent technological developments, by companies like Microsoft, that would allow someone to add a link on your site without your permission. It is all of these things that get this editor concerned and keep me up at night.

If you are interested in learning more about this new technology, please come back next week as we will explore what it is, how it is used and implemented, and what effects it will have on the Internet