Ask.com CEO less than enthusiastic for Y!’s pay for inclusion model

Ross Dunn over at Stepforth Seo wrote an interesting piece discussing Y!’s revamped search marketing progam.

The idea once was, and um…still is by all accounts is that you pay to be included via extra spidering of your urls and based upon your ‘natural’ ranking, you then rank in the SERP’s.

Hmmn I find myself wondering. WHY?

Why did they even bother resurrecting this unworkable, accusatory minefield?

If you are ranking ok naturally, then why would you do this? Why would you pay to use this service?
If you are not ranking well ‘naturally’ then again, why would you do this? If paid inclusion gives you no ranking boost, then why do it?

Even if you were mad enough or greedy enough to use it and exhausted your budget, where would you revert to afterwards?

Would you still get spidered regularly? Would you plummet like a stone?

Just makes no sense. If you were to plummet like a stone then its clear that your ranking was dependant upon the money in your account.

It cannot be both things, what am I missing here?

Jim Lanzone CEO of ask.com, whilst commenting had a number of things to say.

Three years later, I’m still against paid inclusion, because I still think it is hypocritical to charge for something we need to do anyway to be the best search service we can be. I also think it’s a dis-service to our users to blur the line that much between paid content and editorial content.

Absolutely! Where is the editorial transparency? Why shouldn’t users have a right to know who got to where and how? Isn’t advertising supposed to be labelled as such, so that its clearly identifiable? Is this advertising or isn’t it?
If Y! really think that some 3 years after a product is greeted less than enthusiastically, that they can just repackage it and expect people to buy in then, wow. That’s a huge signal.

Lets just put to one side the idea that during these 3 years not one amongst their number could gain sufficient voice and traction to say “hang on a fuckin minute, haven’t we already tried this and gotten poo pooed?” Lets, put to one side what the FTC might just have to say about it all. Lets just for one minute look in disbelief at what the logic of their program dictates.

If they expect their index to be increasingly made up of commercial sites that have paid to be included. Then they are making a clear distinction between paid and unpaid. They are saying that their index values freshness. They will present fresh content by increasing the spidering rate for sites that have paid for it. Good content, useful new stuff thats springing up everywhere else can go to the hinterlands.

IOW, they just aren’t too interested in helping shape a dynamic evolving web, at least not publically! So much for a ranking algorithm based on document relevance, or popularity or usefulness! So much for even calling it a search engine anymore. Give it a couple of years with a program like this and you might as well call it the Yahoo xml feed directory!
Even back in 2004, it really did remind me of the debacle that was Look$mart, it had all the signs of vaguery and incomprehensiveness that helped do that firm a swift about turn. And yet, here we are again, a relaunch! I thought it had died and gone away, seriously!

They love php over at Y! They even have Rasmus on their staff. Maybe they can ask him how to escape the $ signs in their code.

Seriously, would they be that surprised to hear people thinking in terms of


if($prosubmitparticipant){

$rankboost= $postionone;

$increasedprofits = "yay!";

}

if($basicsubmitparticipant){

$rankboost= ($positionone - 8);

$increasedprofits ="Hmmn";

}
$urlrank = ($documentscore + $rankboost);

Don’t they get it? Didn’t they listen to the concerns back in 2004?

Do Internet searchers get good, accurate information? Or are the results of the search skewed to favor those who’ve paid to be in the index? The jury’s out on that one.

Jim’s points are too good to pass over. When referencing their paid inclusion pro model he asked the question.

What are the odds that out of 2 million results for a given query, their partner sites will be ranked highly enough, consistently enough, on their own to: a) generate enough traffic for the partner site to make it worth participating in the program; and b) generate enough revenue for Yahoo to make it worth operating the program?

Again, duh! Absolutely. Where is the logic that argues against a person saying something like – The paid inclusion program is evidence of the Yahoo Serps being full of nothing but undisclosed advertiser urls? Why would you even say that the program is aimed at advertisers looking to spend $5000 per month if you weren’t in some way going to intimate that they might get some kind of leg up for doing so; and if that is or was the case, then where is the transparency for the search engine users?

Jim’s right again when he says

I just know that 75% of the clicks on a major search engine typically go into the top 5 results on the page. It would just be too much of a coincidence if paid (and unmarked) partners got those rankings/clicks instead of non-paying sites.

It just makes no sense. In fact this aspect of yahoo search marketing is IMO just a lot of old poorly presented rubbish. It’s written in a way that leaves me scratching my head.

Does that matter? Well, it should do. It’s people like me who decide whether or not to spend clients money in this way. Maybe they don’t care even.Perhaps they’ll just target individuals and sell them a line that spins it postively.
PPC program great, that works, tried and tested. A revamped overture with a few extra bells and whistles.
PFI in this form. Nah, not for me, nor my clients either. Too many whatifs and buts for my liking.

Hey Y! AltaVistaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!

Rob Watts
Kickstart your business today - Get an SEO Consultation or just talk to Rob about your online aspirations. With over 20 years experience in building traffic he's pretty much encountered most markets and scenarios
Posted on: 8th March 2007, by : Rob Watts

5 thoughts on “Ask.com CEO less than enthusiastic for Y!’s pay for inclusion model

  1. I blogged on this Web 2.0 nonsense today. I am wondering how this concept of paid ranking fits into that democratic all inclusive vision of the web. I understand the bottom line realities. But how is it incorporated in the vision philosophically? Or maybe they don’t try to reconcile it. Does not seem very huggy to me.

    ~Becky

  2. Hey Becky,

    The short answer to your question is as you probably worked out already, it doesn’t!

    As you so succinctly point out in your blog, there is no philosophical incorporation at all. Its about profit and having the economic ability to play in the space. There is no democracy, if anything its Darwinian.

    Ive always felt that these gateways to the internet Yahoo Google MSN should be subject to some kind of restrictions/monitoring. They literally have a triopoly on this whole internet shebang. If you have a website or a view and they don’t like it then you could pretty much see yourself go to dust. You are at the behest of a search engineer a mere click away from deletion.

    The thing is though I guess, is that its difficult to wrestle with a multi billion dollar giant. There lies a lot of lobby dollars 🙁

  3. Companies do stupid things when they need to raise a lot of cash. This is a cash-grab, pure and simple.

    Maybe they’re worried about a takeover bid. And maybe they see a take-over as inevitable and they’re just trying to boost the earnings and the stock price.

  4. Hi Shane

    Thanks for the comment

    Good point, I wonder too why they feel a need to do what on the face of things, seems pretty dumb, you’d think they’d at least try and do something a little more innovative – all that cash all that access to creativity and all they can come up with is a half baked pie full of uncooked chicken pieces.

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