AltaVista Sales Pitch Suggested Paid Inclusion Boost's Andrew Goodman recently got an email from AltaVista about becoming a reseller for the company's paid inclusion programs. He was amazed to get a pitch that paid inclusion listings would guarantee a ranking in the top three pages at AltaVista, which goes completely against AltaVista's public claims that paid inclusion does not impact rankings.

So what's the story -- does paid inclusion really boost pages, as many suspect? It's all a misunderstanding, says AltaVista.

"Inclusion participants' sites may be spidered more frequently in order to ensure that they are included in the global index, but this does not ensure higher placements. Any claims to the contrary are erroneous. AltaVista regrets any miscommunications made about its policies, and is taking action to ensure that no such future claims are made on the company's behalf," said AltaVista spokesperson Joanne Sperans Hartzell.

Adding further, Hartzell said:

"The person who contacted Andrew was new to selling this service and apparently misunderstood the weighting process used to rank data sources where there are no links from other sites, one of the factors in our relevancy algorithm."

That seems to suggest that in cases where a search only finds matches where pages have no links pointing at them, then paid inclusion content might indeed get a boost. I'll follow up more with AltaVista on this, to clarify one way or another. But when could such a thing happen? A search for very specific product might bring up pages with no links pointing at them. For those feeding product databases in via paid inclusion, such a boost could help ensure they'd get traffic.

Hurry into AltaVista's Discount Warehouse Blowout Clearance Event!, Sept. 27, 2002

AltaVista Submission Options

More about AltaVista's paid inclusion programs are provided here, by the company.

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Danny Sullivan was the founder and editor of Search Engine Watch from June 1997 until November 2006.

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