Posted Friday, October 22, 2004
In the olden days of the net, circa 1997-1999, we small business types used to have a fighting chance to get our site listed in the major search engines. Well the year 2001 has now arrived, and with it has come the end of our fighting chance.
Many of the major search engines and directories have recently abandoned their fair business practices in favor of a more profitable (for them) strategy. This does not bode well for you if you do not have a few thousand dollars of disposable income lying around to try to get listed. You now are encouraged (in the case of Yahoo, required) to pay upwards of $199 to receive a guaranteed site review. Please understand that word, review. This by no means, guarantees you a listing, simply a review and possible inclusion.
The search engines claim that they are doing this in a concerted effort to fight spam and to maintain a clean engine that brings up relevant sites for relevant search terms and phrases. If that was truly the case, then I would have no problem with it. Due to the proliferation of doorway pages, keyword stuffing, signpost pages, hallways and all manner of tricks developed over the years by intrepid marketers, search engines have become somewhat stuffed with junk.
However, these companies are not doing this in some noble cleansing effort, instead they are adopting a strategy strictly based on bottom line thinking. They are trying to make a buck. Now, believe me I am as capitalistic as the next man, but I am also a small businessman who seeks to make out by doing as much low and no cost advertising/ promotion as I can. If I create a relevant webpage and work hard doing keyword research, should I not be granted a listing in the search engines for free? Doesn't that benefit the search engine user more than me paying to be listed?
Lets come off the soapbox for a second and consider the facts:
1. Looksmart, who provides results for MSN, Excite, AltaVista, IWon and others was the first company to really promote the "guaranteed site review" concept in late 1999. They guarantee that within 2 business days after receiving payment you will be notified if your site is included in their directory and also in the results of the above search engines.
You will also be notified if your site is not included and told why. You will then be out the 200 dollars regardless of whether or not your site is included.
2. Yahoo has always offered a guaranteed site review for $200 (this used to be one of the many "Yahoo Secrets" that many marketers would learn, and stick in a manual which they could then sell to others for between 20-50 dollars). It used to be OPTIONAL. Now, EVERY commercial site has to pay this fee if they wish to be reviewed (again reviewed, not necessarily included).
3. GO.com (the engine formerly known as Infoseek) also has a submission service for $199.00. They also have a free submission service, which to quote their website: 'This option is free of charge, but does not guarantee either inclusion or spidering.'
4. Even little galaxy.com charges $99.00 to be listed in their slightly less important and less widely used search engine.
Am I really against these pay to be listed services? No, not necessarily. What I am against is the charade that these companies are perpetrating that claims this is done for our greater good. Well, thanks but couldn't we be charging a more reasonable fee then?
I am not suggesting ten dollars or even 20 dollars. How about $29.95, $39.95, even $50? Wouldnt this more reasonable price insure a more relevant search engine?
The small businessman on a budget will be the one to suffer from this change. And the ones who benefit will be the corporations who consider these costs to be equivalent to buying a bar of soap.
Many of the other search engines are banding together to receive their results from Yahoo/Go/LookSmart/Google and they will all begin charging a fee (if they do not already). So with 5-10 major search engines charging you $200 you are looking at a total cost of $1,000 - $2,000. This is unfortunate for the small businessman trying to keep their costs down.
So what do we do as an alternative?
1. Continue to use doorway pages, metatag creation, strategic keyword placement and submission to engines that still use spidering and accept free submissions.
2. Consider paying for one of these services to see if your site gets listed and brings you the traffic and sales that justify the cost. I recommend Looksmart only because they supply results to so many other engines and directories.
3. Consider a pay per click strategy on engines such as goto.com and searchcactus and several others. This is an intelligent way to spend your money, bidding on search terms and recieving a GUARANTEED placement because you paid for it.
As the internet evolves and more and more people become a part of it, an up to date search engine strategy that does not break your bank will keep you ahead of the game!
About the Author
Marc Goldman, Goldbar Enterprises Discover the exclusive members only website that will easily explode your traffic and increase your sales by thousands of dollars!! (http://www.goldbar.net/yoap/d.cgi?index-27)