Six Myths Of Paid Inclusion

Myths.  We’ve all been taken in by them.  Some have been around forever.  Others start out as rumors, and quickly build up speed to the point where we believe them to be fact, and live our lives around them.  Remember when you were a kid and thought if you swallowed gum it would stay in your stomach for seven years?  I do. 

But kids aren’t the only ones who fall prey to myths. Adults are just as guilty.  Think Twinkies have an infinite shelf life?  Sorry, Charlie.  That’s why we have “Mythbusters”, the show that exposes the facts on such long-held beliefs in our lives.  But unfortunately, myths also exist in the world of search.  Today I’d like to do a little myth-busting of my own, and debunk a handful related to paid inclusion, specifically Yahoo Site Search Submit.

 Myth #1: Paid Inclusion is a waste of money if a site can already be found in the natural search results.



Though all search engines crawl the Web and will--sooner or later--visit and index your site, they often don’t get all of it.  There are countless site design snafus and dynamically generated page characteristics that impede a search engine from properly capturing the full content of a site. 

However, paid inclusion offers exactly that--“inclusion” into the index.  Ever hear of the saying “you’ve got to be in it to win it”?  Well, being in the index is critical.  And getting included in the index is easier through paid inclusion, because the Yahoo crawler evaluates only the pure text of the Web page submitted, and not the often-complicated HTML and code that makes up the page.  Being in a paid inclusion feed ensures that within 48 hours every single submitted URL will be included in the search index.  In search, more indexed content can mean more traffic, which if leveraged effectively can lead to greater ROI. 

 Myth #2:  Yahoo secretly raises the position of sites in the natural search results that participate in Paid Inclusion

We hear about this all the time, but it’s just not true.  Even if you participate in a paid inclusion feed, that feed still needs to meet the requirements of the Yahoo algorithm to attain rankings. So if Yahoo does not secretly move your pages to the top of listings and there is no guarantee of higher results, why do it?

Once you are in the index, then you can worry about how well your pages rank.  Participating in a paid inclusion feed will allow you the ability to manipulate the content of the feed in a much more rapid fashion that will let you see the results of the changes you make much quicker. 

Think about the phone book.  A business can probably get a basic white pages listing for free, but it can't control what it says with any precision.  However, if the same business pays for inclusion, it can control the ad copy, size, and color.  In a similar fashion, having creative control of your organic search listing via paid inclusion allows you to dramatically improve the appeal of the listing.

Myth #3: I already do PPC, so I don’t need Paid Inclusion

One study revealed that users click on the natural search results with as much or greater frequency than they click on the paid ads. 

Paid inclusion feeds can cause more of your site to be presented in the natural results, and if you optimize your feeds really well, you have the chance to gain more total first-page rankings.  As we all know, better rankings usually mean more visitors to your site.

Myth #4: Paid Inclusion cannot be measured like PPC search advertising.

Personally, I believe that this issue is not so much about measurement, but rather “control” and “predictability.” 

In PPC search advertising, you can control, to a greater degree, your position in the search results; the fee you’re willing to pay will raise or lower that position.  The major confusion that exists around paid inclusion is that you have no control over the position of your listing based on the rate you pay.  However, the upside is that you only pay a fixed fee per click, depending on the category.  If you have a Web site with even a nominal ability to convert traffic, in most cases, this is bargain-basement pricing.

Consider this: Would you pay 25 cents per click for a No. 1 position on a competitive keyword in the PPC search ads?  Maybe.  But I am sure your response would depend on what a #2 position costs, or on the volume of clicks at that price.  But what if the paid ads for the top three to five spots were routinely commanding north of $3 per click?  How would you respond? 

Well … what if you could have your listing presented near or at the top of the natural search results where the majority of searchers click?  This is exactly the promise of paid inclusion: a fixed cost-per-click and control over your description in the search results.  The only thing not guaranteed is your position--but that’s what your trusted SEM vendor is there to assist you with.

Myth #5:  Yahoo’s sales team will cause your site to drop out of their search engine and then offer to let you back in if you join their Paid Inclusion program.

Yahoo, like all search engines, has three components to it:  a crawler, an index and an algorithm.  The crawler will visit the pages of your site and follow links.  If the content it finds is of high quality and relevant, it will copy the pages and put them in the index.  If your pages are cleaner and more relevant than all of the other pages in the index, then they will be returned at the top of the search results when a query is performed. Period. 

Like all search engines, at Yahoo there is a separation between ad sales and content.  Just because you will not buy paid listings with Yahoo will not mean that the salesperson can go over to the index team and tell them not to crawl your site, or worse, remove it from the index entirely.  It just does not work that way. Yahoo, like all other search engines, must protect the sanctity of its results in order to provide users with the most-relevant results possible.   

Myth #6: Most conversions come from branded terms that already rank in the top spot in Yahoo, so Paid Inclusion is of little value to them.

First, people click in both the natural and paid search results, so brands need to be found in both places.  In fact, many clients buy their branded terms even when they enjoy the No. 1 ranking, regardless of the search engine. 

Second, if your site enjoys the No. 1 ranking on your brand name in Yahoo, chances are it’s on the site’s home page--you are under no obligation to include that one URL in your paid inclusion campaign.  However, many clients still pay to keep their home page URL in the paid inclusion campaign because of the control they have in the listing description, which improves click-through rates--even on non-branded searches.

Yes folks, myths are everywhere--even in the world of search.  But remember, Paid Inclusion is an effective and cost-efficient offering that, when used appropriately and in conjunction with your other search initiatives, can improve your results.  Bottom Line: Consider the facts, experiment and learn, and find out for yourself.

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