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Lots of wonderful discussion on all this...
> Are you seriously suggesting that, contrary to the experiences of the members here, Ink are not "boosting" sites that are part of the "pay to play" deal?
Inktomi has said in the past that newly added pages may be given a relevancy bump -- it's a system they refer as "trailing." The idea is they'll float the new pages a bit higher, and if they detect clickthroughs on these pages, then they seem to satisfy queries and will be retained in the index. If not, they would be dropped.
This system is frustrating, because it's one reason why you've seen your pages get dropped after three or four weeks. Paid inclusion will stop that, and it sounds like you might also get the relevancy bump that any newly added page (free or not) would get. But in a few weeks, if your pages aren't satisfying queries, then they might drop. I'll be curious to see if people find this exact experience.
I'm also seeing conflicting comments on this. Some people see it happening -- some don't. There's enough of a mix that I don't think we can absolutely say it is a truism universally, but we shall see.
> As for what Greg was saying re: free Add URL getting a rank decrease, Greg, can you clarify more exactly what was said. This is absolutely a huge concern and completely against what Inktomi should be doing. It would then mean that anyone could go and submit a competitor's site to decrease their rankings. Inktomi has never said this to me, and I will indeed follow up with them to get a public statement on it (feel free to email me privately with the person's name, if you like).
I would suggest that Inktomi certainly might be monitoring Add URL more closely for certain IPs or certain frequency of submission -- but even these things raise concerns.
> What will happen to the small or home based entrepreneur who doesn't have the capital to play? How will searchers find their services and wares?
Some of them actually will get found more easily. Really -- pay per click for unique, targeted terms can be very cost effective and inexpensive, plus much easier to understand than, "Gee, you're on a free web site, your site is built in graphics and frames, you have no meta tags, and by the way, someone got 1 million pages listed with that search engine recently, so you'd never get found anyway."
There's absolutely a concern that small entrepreneurs face new challenges. It is fair to say the days of paying absolutely nothing to have a business online are gone. But, you really should have had your own domain name and web site -- that was a basic cost for even the smallest business to consider. Now, you should also expect to pony up $400 to get your site registered with Yahoo and LookSmart quickly. But if that's all you do, you still have an excellent chance of getting some decent traffic for your unique terms.
What you won't do is pay that little and find yourself the new challenge to Amazon in the book market -- yet neither would a shoestring budget person expect to do the same in the offline world.
> It is time we start telling site owners the truth about search engines: their days as a legitimate method of site promotion for small sites are numbered. It is time to begin looking at every alternative to search engines available.
I actually think they are still very important, and there are still plenty of ways to get traffic from them, especially in that we are continuing to move to a model with directory information is presented first -- in directories, you have a more level playing field, because people can't keep going back and optimizing pages.
But you are absolutely right, Brett, at least in the sense that everyone should look at alternatives. I've always tried to tell people that search engines are only one part of the internet publicity equation. If they are all you depend on, then you have all your eggs in the metaphorical basket.
> Danny, maybe you should rename your web site payperclickwatch.com
Would you believe it's registered :) But there's nothing there. I'll certainly keep writing about the programs at the majors, and there are plenty of little ones that keep cropping up. I think the problem is figuring out which ones are worth your time. This site does a good job of trying to guide you to them:
"Under the agreement, GoTo will provide AltaVista's search service users with GoTo Premium Listings on select search results pages of AltaVista beginning in November. GoTo Premium Listings is GoTo's keyword search service for portals and includes the top Pay-For-Performance search results submitted by GoTo's growing base of approximately 32,000 advertisers."
Now I've got an article up with a few more details and will add more as I get a proper interview later today. But heads up, five links and live TODAY, I'm told.