In the wake of LookSmart's new pay-for-consideration system, Inktomi has just announced that it will offer a pay for inclusion service later this year. The program will initially launch in conjunction with Network Solutions, but it will likely be expanded to allow Inktomi's search engine partners and perhaps selected submission services to participate, according to Inktomi.
The service will ensure that web site owners can find their home page listed in Inktomi-powered search engines with 48 hours after submitting, and Inktomi will revisit the home page every 48 hours to check for changes. The service will not give the pages any ranking boost.
"This is just about getting into the index. It's still up to the site owners to make sure their content is relevant," said Troy Toman, general manager of Inktomi's search division. "There's no preferential treatment," Toman said.
A free submit option will be retained, but there are no guarantees on how quickly sites will be added or if they will be retained in the index. Inktomi's indexing system may drop pages if they don't appear to be satisfying search queries. The paid option would help webmasters overcome this by keeping their pages listed permanently. It would also offset Inktomi's cost of retaining pages that might seem to have no particular search value.
In particular, Inktomi determines how a page satisfies queries through clickthrough measurements. If your newly submitted pages never get clicked on in response to searches at Inktomi-powered search engines, then the pages may be dropped. iWon is an example of a Inktomi-powered search engine where clickthrough measurements are taken, so searching over there and clicking on your own site may help keep your important pages in.
The main issue here is that any good search engine ought to be listing the home pages of web sites in a timely manner, period. The paid submit system will help site owners know that they can quickly get listed, but searchers might be penalized if Inktomi takes longer to add new sites, in order to boost the value of its paid submit system. Inktomi has not said this would happen.
A more useful system might be one where sites that pay may get spidered to a greater depth. That potentially gives them the opportunity to attract more visitors, because each page is a potential entry point for different topics. This could add value to a paid submit system without penalizing sites that don't pay. Inktomi says that the system could be expanded this way, after it launches.
Overall, it's a difficult balance that has to be struck. There's a real plus to site owners knowing that they'll quickly be added, but a search engine must also be inclusive of all important sites, lest it begin to lack comprehensiveness. However, a paid submit system might reduce the incredibly serious problem of search engine spamming. The free submit systems that most crawler-based search engines operate leave them open to indexing pages with little value and which take away from the good content they'd prefer to add. Some type of paid system might ease the massive pressure on free submit and actually allow non-paying sites better representation. Whether this will happen remains to be seen.
The program is expected to launch in September or October, probably through the Network Solutions site. Pricing has not yet been set, and it's likely the program details could also change from what was announced today.
As noted above, it is likely that the search engines that Inktomi powers, such as MSN Search and iWon, might also offer a paid submit service through their sites. Additionally, submission services are also other potential outlets. I'm planning a review of two likely candidates to appear in the next newsletter, but some basic details about them are below.
Inktomi Paid Submit Announcement
If you have content locked behind password protected areas of your site, this service can actually create pages that search engines can spider and yet which do not give away your content. The company can also spider existing sites and submit them to search engines. The company has also been talking with some search engines about a paid submit option similar to what Inktomi is proposing.
I've written about Position Pro before, but the service has recently added new features to spider dynamic content and create static pages that search engines can spider, as well as having added some meta tag generating tools.
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