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After much testing of paid inclusion the company found that it can negatively sway search results—producing more commercial and irrelevant lists of Web sites, Lanzone said. Ultimately, that hampers the search experience, he said.
Ahhh... I am crossing my fingers extra-hard hoping that YahoOverture's sitematch program goes the way of the dodo too... although it doesn't seem that the sites submitted to sitematch will have the same effect that Ask Jeeves' paid inclusion had on its index, atleast thats the way the Site Match webpage [content.overture.com] reads:
Participation in the program does not guarantee rank in search results; rank is determined by assessing site quality and relevance to search terms.
Either way-- IMO paid inclusion is always bad, and this is just one more step in the right direction.
By the way, Ask Jeeves did not totally get rid of their paid inclusion program.. they've actually revamped it to be more like the "Site Match" program:
To be clear, Lanzone said that the company will still allow site operators to pay to submit their sites to its index, but that that payment would not guarantee inclusion in the database.(/edit)
I think this is a fantastic re-iteration that the PFI approach is not workable. Eventually, I'm sure Yahoo will move this direction as well, and their announcement regarding free inclusion and crawling the invisible web seems to be an indication that they might 'get it' afterall.
My guess is that most search engines will move to the model Googles espouses. Free crawl + relevance = traffic.
It may take some time, but little by little, common sense and good business practices do win out. Unfortunately, it often takes longer than it should.
It's good to see all the lively dialogue around the subject of paid inclusion. While we will be phasing out the Index Express feed program, we remain committed to the Site Submit product, which properly aligns the interests of users and site owners. Looking forward, we're actively working on new and innovative ways to put dynamic and deep-web content in front of users. As always, it boils down to relevance. Stay tuned…
My recommendation: crawl the web more often and more agressively and update your index accordingly. Then the webmasters that hang out here or lurk around will do some serious word-of-mouth advertising for Jeeves.
The search engines that focus on a complete free crawl of the internet along with a consistent push towards relevance, are the search engines that will win in the long run.
Only if they are able to monetize their product in some other way.
Otherwise they'll fail. You can't run a quality search engine for free.