Yahoo has recently drawn heat over its new Site Match paid inclusion system used to add sites to the new Yahoo Search index. The Yahoo Team recently answered a lot of the questions posed onthe Jim World Search Engine Marketing Forum about Site Match to clear up some of the doubts that may be lingering in the search engine marketing community. Here is the list of Yahoo Site Match questions from search engine marketers, and Yahoo´s responses.
Q. Why should I pay for Site Match if my site is already indexed or may soon be indexed for free?
A. Our primary goal is to discover and include all content on the web through our free web crawling process. Today 99% of the information in the index comes from the free crawl. Site Match, however, provides many benefits to content providers even when their content is already indexed.
Both content providers and search users benefit from greater interaction between sites and the search engine. In fact, for several years a good number of message board posters have been asking for greater clarity from search engines about how to participate and what the “rules” are. The Site Match program addresses this additional need by providing a value-added service that focuses on providing a clearer, more consistent way to interact with Yahoo! Search. Specific components include: the ability to proactively submit content to us, frequent refresh, quality review, detailed reporting, and support when problems arise. The program is cost-effective, easy to manage, and includes the ability to control total cost.
Yahoo! believes that Site Match delivers:
1. Higher quality search results for users, including reducing the amount of search spam (spammers are economically disincented to participate)
2. A clearer, more consistent way to interact with Yahoo! Search for content providers who historically have been subjected to unpredictable changes in the way their content has been discovered and presented by search engines.
Customers in particular who will find Site Match extremely valuable include those with:
– Sites that have harder to find content or with information that can’t currently be crawled by any search engine (e.g. sites with dynamic content, such as extensive product catalogs)
– Sites seeking more control over the content that is discovered
– Sites seeking more control over how the content is presented
– More dynamic sites seeking faster refresh rates
– Sites that are looking for more user data and clearer, more consistent interaction with the search engine
Yahoo! believes these benefits are of value to many businesses, and the considerable demand for the program we’ve seen thus far would seem to support that. However, the program may not be valuable to everyone. We understand this – not everyone wants or needs the value-added service that Site Match offers. That’s OK, because it’s likely that we already have your web pages through our regular crawl, and if we don’t yet, we’re working to get them over time. This is a cornerstone of our mission to provide the highest quality search experience on the internet.
More specifically, you may not find value in the Site Match program if the following is the true:
– Your site is well discovered by the free crawl
– The right content is discovered and you are consistently satisfied with when and how your content is presented
– The information on your site is fairly static and the faster refresh is of less value to you
– You don’t think you need more user data on search performance
If this describes your site, then the free crawl may be adequate for you and you don’t need the added value of the Site Match programs.
Q. Does Site Match require both a per-page, per-year fee and a cost-per-click?
A. Site Match includes a yearly review fee per URL and a cost-per-click fee. Site Match has a much lower up-front cost (less than 1/3) than the 3 programs it replaces: Inktomi Search Submit, AltaVista Express Inclusion, and FAST PartnerSite PFI. One concern with the old programs was that some sites paid upfront and then got relatively few clicks (a common scenario for specialized sites). This resulted in the service working out to be quite expensive on an effective cost-per-click basis. The new cost-per-click pricing is more equitable in that it scales with the value the program provides to each participating site. In addition, we offer a range of budgeting options that allow content providers to cap their spend at whatever levels they are comfortable with. Finally, and most importantly, cost-per-click pricing helps ensure a high quality user experience. Cost-per-click pricing motivates content providers to submit only relevant content (no one wants to pay for an irrelevant click), further improving the quality of the search experience for users. Without CPC pricing, content providers have no incentive to provide high quality content and avoid gaming the system.
Q: What if I can’t afford this program? Will you have a lower priced program in the future?
A: If your primary goal is to get your site indexed and if your web site has not already been crawled by Yahoo! Search, it is possible it will be crawled in the future. As of March 1, 2004, 99% of all content in our index has been discovered via our free crawl, and our primary objective is to discover all content on the internet for free. Furthermore, we now offer a free Add URL service (http://submit.search.yahoo.com). We will continue to evaluate different product mixes and pricing models and will evolve our programs based on market demand.
Q. Will Yahoo! Search results sacrifice quality by favoring sites that pay for the Site Match program?
A. Absolutely not. Since its inception, the Yahoo! Search mission has been to provide the highest quality search experience on the Internet. The motivation behind this is simple: if we do not provide the highest quality search experience we will not be providing users with an incentive to stay and continue to use our product. It is the quality of our results – as defined by their relevance, comprehensiveness, freshness and presentation – that will ultimately lead to our success in search and we will not compromise the quality of these results.
Q. If I participate in Site Match, will my site be “banned” from the search index?
A. No. The Site Match and crawling systems are separate (one doesn’t affect content in the other) and participation in Site Match does not impact the efforts of our crawlers to index all of your content. For instance, if you submit 1 page to Site Match, other pages that may be in the regular index will not be affected.
In addition, content from both systems is reviewed and evaluated against the same criteria to ensure all content meets a consistent, high quality standard. If you joined the Inktomi Search Submit program, for example, you may have been reviewed. If problems were discovered, your site may have been partially or entirely removed from the search index. The same thing happens to sites that have been discovered through the free crawl process. If problems were discovered, your site may have been partially or entirely removed from the search index. Any review-related penalty is solely designed to ensure the best experience for our users, not to encourage ongoing participation in our inclusion programs. Also, removal of URLs from Site Match will in no way impact our crawlers’ efforts to index those URLs.
Q. Will the Inktomi index be merged with the new Yahoo! Search index before Inktomi disappears?
A: Today there is a single, new Yahoo! Search Technology (YST). YST powers Yahoo! Search and in the coming months will also be powering search solutions for all our partners. Yahoo! Slurp, Yahoo!’s new crawler, is already reaching and indexing more of the web than any of our prior technologies.
Q. What happens to my site if I previously participated in a paid inclusion program (e.g. Inktomi Search Submit)?
A: If you previously participated in a subscription-based paid inclusion program from Inktomi, AltaVista or FAST, you have the option of continuing your current subscription in which case the terms of your subscription will not change. This will continue until the end of your subscription. As an added bonus, your participation will also extend to Yahoo! Search results until April 15, 2004. Note that Inktomi Index Connect (feed-based) customers may continue participating in the full network of portals, including Yahoo!
Q. Does Site Match allow URLs to be targeted to specific countries?
A. Yes. Site Match provides a “geotargeting” feature. Through the Overture-branded system, just log in (after subscribing) and go to View/Edit URLs. Click Edit for each URL and you’ll see options to target by region or by country. This is another feature that helps us deliver a higher quality user experience: users don’t see results for businesses that can’t address their needs. By offering geo-targeting we enable content providers to improve both their experience and the experience of the user.