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Web Promotion Guide - Making Sense of Site MatchTM

In this issue of the Web Promotion Guide I look at the changes taking place at Yahoo, AltaVista, Inktomi and FAST as Overture rolls out the New Site Match program.

CONTENTS

  1. Yahoo Aftershocks
  2. So What is Overture Site Match exactly?
  3. Existing Inktomi, AltaVista & FAST PI customers - What happens to us?
  4. Pricing Structure
  5. The Submission Process
  6. Reporting
  7. The Site Match Distribution Network
  8. Resellers
  9. Where do Site Match results appear?
  10. Optimizing for Site Match
  11. Conclusion


1.0 Yahoo Aftershocks

With Yahoo's purchase of Inktomi and Overture (through which Yahoo also gained control of AltaVista and FAST), everyone was expecting big changes in the search space. Earlier last month Yahoo dropped Google in favor of its own search results and this has paved the way for the recent release of Site MatchTM, Yahoo's own Pay for Inclusion program.

With the release of Site Match, Yahoo has forever changed the paid inclusion landscape and tremors are already being felt throughout the search engine marketing industry. For all intensive purposes, paid inclusion as we know it is no more and we are now at the dawn of a new age. The age of performance based CPC SERP listings.


SEO Terminology

If you are new to SEO/SEM, here is a list of abbreviations that I will help you understand some of the lingo used throughout this article.

CPC - Cost Per Click
PFI - Pay For Inclusion
PI - Paid Inclusion
PPC - Pay Per Click
ROI - Return On Investment
SEO - Search Engine Optimization
SEM - Search Engine Marketing
SERP - Search Engine Result Page


2.0 So what is Overture Site Match exactly

Site Match is not only the new paid inclusion program for Yahoo Search, but it is also a direct replacement for AltaVista, FAST and Inktomi's Search Submit paid inclusion programs. It is administered by Overture. One system to bind them, one system to rule them all. (sorry I could not resist).

What makes this such a major change in the SEM landscape is the pricing structure. A flat per URL review fee combined with CPC (Cost Per Click) pricing model. This is not a new idea, but this has never before been done on such a vast scale. That is what makes it so significant.

As with any change, there are going to be winners and losers. The losers are going to be the small, well optimized sites that have received thousands of clicks for a relatively small annual fee. This has been a sore point with Inktomi for a long time, where many well optimized sites were getting thousands of clicks and a tremendous value for money from their inexpensive Search Submit listings. When you compare this to Inktomi's successful CPC based Index Connect service, a change was just a matter of time. Yahoo it seems has thrown down the challenge and the message is: 'The free lunch is over'.

The winners are going to be specialized low traffic sites, who will pay less to have their sites indexed. (Also good news for Organic SEOers, as they are likely to pick up new business.)


3.0 Existing Inktomi, AltaVista and FAST PI customers - What happens to us?

Existing AltaVista, FAST an Inktomi Search Submit users will not be effected by this change. They will continue to receive distribution as ordered for the full term of their subscription. That is the official position and there is no reason to doubt this. There has been a lot of concern from existing Inktomi users in particular, but if anything, they will be better off. (at least till April the 15th).

As a bonus to existing Inktomi Search Submit customers, they are currently receiving search traffic from Yahoo. This offer ends April 15th. After that time, Inktomi customers will need to subscribe to Site Match should they wish to continue receiving Yahoo traffic. It is basically a teaser designed to win conversions after the cut off date, but a welcome surprise never the less and many webmaster have noticed a sizeable increase in their Inktomi PI traffic levels.

The one unknown at this stage, is how for example, existing FAST & AltaVista PI listings will be blended with Yahoo Search on these portals. The increased number of listings will have to influence existing rankings in some way.. Still, not an issue until Site Match builds up a large enough database of subscriber URls.


4.0 Pricing Structure

The Overture Site Match pricing consists of an annual flat fee, which is the cost of a review, combined with ongoing CPC fees.

The review fee has a 3 tier pricing structure and depends on the number of URLs submitted from each domain. You pay $49 for the first URL (remember this is domain specific), $29 for URLs 2-10 and only $10 per URL if you submit more than 10 URLs from the domain. You also need to keep in mind that the cost of review is annual fee. This is a very good price point considering what you get, but the lower cost of entry is offset by the CPC component.

The CPC rates are currently 15c or 30c per click. The exact rate depends on the content type of each URL.


5.0 The Submission Process

The first stage is to create an account and submit your URLs for review. During this step you also need to select a classification for your site. This determines whether you will be charged 15c or 30c per click. You can do this at Overture directly or though a partner reseller such as PrioritySubmit.com

There you can also find a list of the current categories and their CPC rates.

The review is a quality review, not an editorial review and yes, your submission may get rejected at this point. At this time I don't know now how strict the review process will be, but as with Search Submit in the past, I would not expect most sites to have any problems.

Initially you will be charged the review fee and you can expect to wait a few days for approval. (note: there may be longer review times during the initial teething period). Once your URL is approved, you will need to maintain a positive account balance to cover click fees.


6.0 Reporting

Reporting has traditionally been the strong point of Inktomi's Search Submit program and a great deal of this functionality has found its way into Overture Site Match. Very good click and rank statistics are provided. How these statistics are digested and presented depends to a large degree on your choice of reseller.


7.0 The Site Match Distribution Network

Site Match is currently distributed on the Yahoo Search network (formally also known as Inktomi) and on Yahoo itself. AltaVista and the FAST network sites (including AllTheWeb) are currently not live, but are expect to be shortly.


8.0 Site Match Resellers

There currently appear to be five direct resellers for the new Overture Site Match Service: Ineedhits, MarketLeap, PositionTech, InfoSpider and Trellian's PrioritySubmit.com.

More are expected to come online in the near future as they complete their Site Match integration.

If you would like a first hand look at the new Site Match service, create an account at http://www.prioritysubmit.com and have a look.


9.0 Where do Site Match listings appear?

The Site Match system is very similar to the old Inktomi Search Submit service in that the results are blended in with the regular free crawl results. There is no separate sponsored links section, or Google Style AdWords listings.

It is important to note that Site Match is a means for getting pages into the search engines quickly, and indexed at regular intervals (48 hours) to keep your indexed content up to date. It does not guarantee preferential treatment or position. Your page will still need to be optimized to rank well.


10.0 Optimizing for Site Match

Site Match makes it very easy to ensure that pages are listed on most of the major search engines, but its very nature, presents a unique challenge to Webmasters and SEMs. Many will need to find a fresh approach and look at how to apply some of the more traditional PPC optimization techniques to the content of their pages. Everyone in the SEM industry knows that not every search query has the same conversion ratio.

As an example, consider two search phrases: "Computers" and "Purchasing Computers Online" - If you were selling computers, which users would you want to come to your site if you were paying 30c per click? The answer is obvious, as you know from the query that the second customer is looking to buy a computer. You have no idea what the first user is looking for, only that it i computer related.

With Site Match, search phrases will become a lot more important. You will not only have to look at the phrases that you put in to a page, but the keywords and phrases you take out will be just as important if not more so. After all, you do not want to be paying for search phrases that are not likely to convert.

The best suggestion I can make, is to arm yourself with a good Keyword Analyzer and keep track of your Site Match click reports.


11.0 Conclusion

I do not believe that anyone expects this change to be very popular as anything that upsets the status quo hardly ever is in the SEM industry. The success of Site Match will to a large degree depend on customer acceptance. Many will turn to traditional PPC, others will focus more on Organic listings, but the end of the day, if your competitors discover Site Match, you can not afford to be left behind. The Yahoo Search network is simply too big to be passed over. Hold on to your hats as we're in for a wild and bumpy ride.

Ren Warmuz

Ren Warmuz is a SEO consultant for globalpromote.com
Copyright © 2004 Ren Warmuz & GlobalPromote.com
Permission is granted to reproduce this article if left without modification and in it's entirety.



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