Days after the change and we are already trying to figure out how Yahoo! is going to monetize on its new search offering. We have always felt the only way Yahoo! would enter algorithmic search was to sell it, as opposed to Google's free listings. So what are the options Yahoo! may be considering? What could you be seeing as options to get your site indexed in the Yahoo! database?

I discussed this issue with Jason Lane, the head of our paid search department and here is what we came up with:

There are three potential paid models which Yahoo! will likely be considering, and depending on the size of your site, could be a benefit or a huge cost. There is a paid inclusion model - similar to how you get into Inktomi now, there could continue to be the Yahoo! directory listings, or there could be some form of cost per click feed model. So let us take a look at each one and break them down for you.

Currently, with paid inclusion, you can pay per URL to get included in the Inktomi (now Yahoo!) index. This doesn't guarantee any rankings, only that a spider will crawl your site on a regular basis. For a smaller site (around 30 pages) it can be the most cost effective. After the initial costs are borne, you are guaranteed to be indexed for a year. For a larger site, however, or one that is difficult to index (such as a dynamic site) you risk parts of your site not being indexed or ranking for important searches. There could also potentially be a huge cost involved with just getting a spider to come visit your site. At $25 per URL (the current price) a typical 30 page site would pay $600 per year. But a much larger site (such as a dynamic store front with thousands of pages) could be paying tens of thousands of dollars per year.

With a cost per click model, it is much easier to get indexed, especially for large dynamic sites. For those who haven't heard of this before, generally a CPC model involves creating and submitting an XML feed to a search engine or partner. The engine then "imports" the data from the feed into their database. This doesn't require a spider to crawl the site, but it does require regular updates (usually performed by the site owner) of the XML. While there are usually minimal or no upfront costs to this model, the site owner generally has to put up a deposit and the costs associated come out of the deposit. Again, no guarantee of rankings, only a guarantee of indexing.

For each click on a URL, the site owner pays a fee, which comes out of the deposit. As the deposit runs down the site owner is encouraged to pay more. If the site owner decides not to pay more, their listings disappear.

This model may be the best for the same large, generally unspiderable dynamic sites mentioned above, but it may not be as cost effective for all sites, especially those high traffic sites. So while this may be the most effective way to get some dynamic sites indexed, it may not necessarily be the most cost effective way for a site to be listed in Yahoo!

The third option is the Yahoo! directory listing. While some people feel that the Yahoo! directory is a waste of time, let us consider why the directory is there.

If the Yahoo! directory was such a waste of time, why does Yahoo! keep it around? Could it be that many Yahoo! users still prefer to search the directory rather than the organic or paid listings? If this is the case then wouldn't paying the yearly subscription be worth the price for that potential traffic?

We still don't yet know what influence the Yahoo! directory will have on final results (if any) but consider what happens if it does become part of the regular listings, as they are now. You have the ability to control what title and description are displayed. You do not have to rely on the snippet the crawler provides. This is a much better enticement to a user to click on than that random snippet of page code which may say nothing about the page itself.

Of course, they could surprise us all and offer some form of free submission. This is highly unlikely though, unless they utilize the Altavista model whereby you could submit for free with no guarantee of when or even if your site would be crawled, or you could pay to get guaranteed indexing.

In any case, there are many options which we are sure Yahoo! has considered. And we haven't even discussed the implications of Overture in this model. After all, no matter what pricing strategy Yahoo! goes with, we can be assured that a PPC ad will always get you listed if you are willing to pay the price.

My money, however, is a blend of the paid inclusion and CPC model where smaller sites could pay the fee per URL, while larger sites would be encouraged to submit a feed and pay per click. This provides for the majority of sites to get indexed, while making money for Yahoo! Everyone wins!
February 26, 2004

Rob Sullivan is the production manager at Enquiro, Canada's leading search engine marketing firm and one of the top firms in North America. His articles are routinely displayed in other portals on the web including Enquiro's own information portal

Rob has developed an in depth knowledge into organic search engine marketing. Rob's knowledge and experience in organic search engine marketing have helped his clients' sites experience above average growth in visibility and visitors.

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