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Network Solutions Launches Inktomi Paid Inclusion

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Network Solutions was Inktomi's first paid inclusion partner, announced way back in the middle of last year. Finally, that partnership has gone live, with Network Solutions now offering guaranteed inclusion in the Inktomi web index through its web site.

Inktomi has two other self-serve paid inclusion partners: US-based Position Technologies, which began offering the service in November, and Europe-based WebGravity, which began its inclusion program in January.

All offer the same basic service: inclusion of submitted URLs into the Inktomi web index within two days and revisiting those URLs on a weekly basis, for up to a year.

At Network Solutions, paid inclusion costs $30 for the first URL, then $15 for each URL after that, with up to 100 URLs allowed per order. The Network Solution program allows the list of URLs to be changed at any time. So, if you decide three months into the program that you want a completely different set of URLs included, you could change these from those you initially submitted without incurring an extra fee. In addition, URLs from more than one domain can be on the same order.

The flexibility that Network Solutions allows is great, but you are paying more to have it. At Position Tech, pricing is $10 for each additional URL, not the $15 that Network Solutions charges. Which offers the best value? It depends on your exact circumstances.

Let's say you have 10 different web sites, and you want the home page from each site listed. With Position Tech, each site will need its own account, which also means you'll have to pay the higher rate of $30 for the first page submitted to each account. Overall, you'll pay $300 to get all the home pages included.

In contrast, Network Solutions allows you to include URLs from different web sites (technically, different domains) in the same account. That means you pay the higher rate of $30 for the first page only once, then $15 for each additional page. Overall, you'll pay $165 to get all your pages listed -- almost half the Position Tech price.

Now let's say you have 50 URLs you want included. You submit them all via Position Tech, paying $30 for the first URL and $10 each for the rest of them, $520 total. To do the same thing at Network Solutions would cost $765, because each extra URL is $15 there. Clearly, Position Tech is the cheaper alternative!

Or is it? Let's assume you monitor your web site logs and discover that of the 50 URLs you submitted, only 10 of them are getting any measurable traffic that can be attributed to Inktomi partners. That means you are paying for 40 URLs but not recovering their cost in traffic. Solution? You'll need to see if you can optimize those URLs and get better results, which will take time.

In contrast, the program at Network Solutions would let you drop those 40 URLs and swap in 40 new ones. It may be that some of these will just naturally rank well, saving you from having to perform optimization work. As a result, the extra money spent at Network Solutions for flexibility might be worth it.

Here's my suggestion, at the moment. If you have many URLs from the same site you absolutely know must be included with Inktomi, then go with Position Tech -- it's cheaper, and you don't need to pay the premium that Network Solutions charges for flexibility. You can also have up to 1,000 URLs in the same account, versus the 100 URL limit per account at Network Solution (note: you can have multiple accounts at Network Solutions, however).

In contrast, go with Network Solutions if you aren't certain which pages might bring you traffic. Also, Network Solutions is certainly the leading choice if you want to include pages from multiple web sites in the same order. Then you'll get a real savings, as described above.

What about Inktomi's other self-serve partner, WebGravity? Everything I've described about Position Tech is applicable to WebGravity with one key exception -- WebGravity has pricing in UK pounds. Check the exchange rates to see if your local currency, pounds, dollars, euros or whatever, works out that it is cheaper to go with WebGravity.

Also keep in mind that you can mix and match accounts. You could have some of your URLs submitted via Position Tech and others submitted via Network Solutions. Ultimately, you get the same basic service regardless. However, do NOT submit the same URL to more than one Inktomi paid inclusion partner. Doing so is simply a waste of money.

Will Position Tech and WebGravity be able to offer flexibility in the future? Probably, but exactly when is not certain. Inktomi says that it wants to see how the experiment with URL swapping works at Network Solutions, then ultimately expects that all self-service paid inclusion resellers will have standard offerings.

Inktomi also has two other paid inclusion partners, MediaDNA and Moreover. Neither offer self-service inclusion. Instead, they provide custom solutions. MediaDNA is especially targeted at those with content locked behind password protected areas, while Moreover works with news content providers. Inktomi makes Moreover's news content available to its portal partners who want it, such as iWon. If you have news-oriented material, an inclusion deal with Moreover may help ensure that this is placed out there.

Got an order of 1,000 pages or more? Then you may want to approach Inktomi itself, as the company also works directly large site owners to work out tailored solutions.

The deal between Inktomi and Network Solutions is also going to expose the paid inclusion system to a larger audience that ever before, because Network Solutions will be offering cobranded programs for portals to use while also letting its 65,000 affiliates receive fees for referrals to the sign-up form at the Network Solutions site itself.

Cobranded programs mean that portals that make use of Inktomi data, such as iWon or MSN Search, might offer paid inclusion into the Inktomi database from Add URL pages within their own sites, maintaining their own branding and sharing revenues with Network Solutions, which will administrate the submissions behind the scenes.

"That's kind of what we were bringing to the table, the ability to distribute this through the portal channels," said Mike Cornell, product manager of value added services and products at Network Solutions.

LookSmart has run similar cobranded programs for its paid submission service with partners such as AltaVista, Excite and MSN Search, which also use some LookSmart information. Since many site owners look to the search engines' own Add URL pages as a first step in getting listed, offering paid inclusion on these pages is a wise distribution strategy.

Network Solution affiliates will also be able to post links to the paid inclusion form at the Network Solutions site and receive 20 percent of any sales. Search engine optimization companies or even anyone considering paid inclusion with Network Solutions will want to take advantage of this opportunity. It means that you can get back 20 percent of any order you place -- even if it is for yourself. Simply sign up for the program, then install the affiliate code on a page within your web site. Next, click through from that page to Network Solutions and place your order. That should then register the sale as one generating an affiliate fee for you.

A few last issues, Inktomi-wise:

Some people noticed that in mid-February, their paid inclusion pages were dropped, then restored to the index but didn't rank as well. Inktomi confirmed that there were some algorithm anomalies during that time that could have caused the ranking drops. Inktomi also said that its scoring system has recently updated, which could help explain any continuing problems. In addition, Inktomi is rolling out new relevancy and crawling improvements over the coming weeks, the company says, so expect some more bumps along the way. I'll report on the new changes in the future, once they have stabilized.

In the FAQ about doorways pages and paid inclusion at Network Solutions, the text says that "Inktomi will allow one doorway per destination." Specifically, this means that you can have one doorway page leading to any one particular content page at your web site.

In other words, you can have more than one doorway page leading to different parts of a web SITE. However, you can not have more than one doorway page leading to any single web PAGE within the site.

Finally, have you been trying to locate whether Inktomi lists any particular URL from your web site? This has always been difficult, because Inktomi has lacked a "url:" style command. However, now there's a solution -- preface the URL with "originurl:" to see if that particular page is listed. For example:

originurl:http://www.greenpeace.org/˜geneng/

brings up that particular page on generic engineering within the Greenpeace site. Note that at HotBot, you'll need to search on this and then maybe click to the second page of results, which are powered by Inktomi, to get the correct response, since the first page may still come from Direct Hit.

Network Solutions: Inktomi Search/Submit
http://www.networksolutions.com/en_US/catalog/searchsubmit/

Information about paid inclusion via Network Solutions can be found here.

Inktomi Search/Submit Partners
http://www.inktomi.com/products/search/submit.html

Links to all of Inktomi's various partners offering self-serve paid inclusion can be found here.

How Inktomi Works
http://searchenginewatch.com/subscribers/inktomi.html

Links to past articles about Inktomi paid inclusion can be found here, including reviews of the MediaDNA and Position Tech service. I'm also working to integrate information from all the past articles into the page itself, and that should hopefully be finished soon.

Network Solutions Affiliate Program
http://www.networksolutions.com/en_US/partners/affiliates/

Sign-up to become an Network Solutions affiliate here.

Moreover Inks Inktomi Deal
Interactive Week, Dec. 11, 2000
http://www.zdnet.com/intweek/stories/news/0,4164,2662997,00.html\

More details on the Moreover-Inktomi partnership and Moreover's new enterprise offerings.


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