of the many options available to promote a website
on search engines is called "paid inclusion".
Although there are several different kinds of
paid inclusion (including pay-per-click and
"trusted" or "direct" feed
programs) this article deals specifically with
the simplest form, in which an annual fee is
paid for each page included in a search engine
people are unsure how paid URL inclusion works,
and it is an interesting and sometimes controversial
concept. It is perhaps easiest to understand
by recognizing that in most cases there are
two different ways in which search engines that
offer paid URL inclusion can find your pages.
Each search engine purports to be the most comprehensive
source of information, and so each has an automated
program (commonly called a "spider")
that goes out and indexes all the pages that
it can find on the web. This means that your
website will eventually get indexed for free
by each of the major engines that offer paid
inclusion (provided there is one or more outside
links pointing to your site that the spider
can follow). "Eventually", of course,
is the key term.
When a search engine offers paid URL inclusion,
it uses an additional spider that goes out and
indexes only specific pages that have been paid
for. In other words, whereas the "free"
spider would eventually find your site, follow
your links, and index all of your pages, the
"paid" spider will only index the
URL's for which you have plunked down an annual
fee (but it will do so immediately).
As you may suspect, these programs create much
confusion. Since the pages that are paid for
are indistinguishable from regular pages within
search results, the FCC has recently raised
some concerns, although the outcome of their
involvement remains to be seen. In addition,
the fees for paid inclusion are annual.
Even after a company has paid to have some pages
included, logic would dictate that the "organic"
spider would eventually index the pages anyway,
making the renewal fees unnecessary. However,
it has been reported with some paid inclusion
engines that once annual fees are not renewed
pages are removed for a period of time. From
a business perspective, this only makes sense
- engines that offer paid inclusion can't very
well offer an "annual" fee only to
have everyone discover that they only need to
pay it once. From an ethical perspective, however,
it's a questionable practice (and it remains
unproven that this is the policy of any particular
First, and most importantly, paid inclusion
programs give you the opportunity to have your
pages indexed and added to search results very
quickly (usually within a few days). This compares
very favorably with the month or more that it
can take to wait for the "organic"
spider to find your pages on its own (and if
you have no incoming links, the "organic"
spider will never find your pages).
The paid inclusion spider will revisit your
pages frequently (some even daily). This means
that you can make tweaks to your pages designed
to improve your rankings and see the results
in days (rather than months). This type of turnaround
can give you valuable insight into the ranking
algorithm of each individual engine.
The primary disadvantage of paid inclusion is
the cost, although this factor naturally depends
on the means of the company. The following details
the first year fees for a ten-page website on
the most popular paid inclusion programs:
is the total first year fee, although the program
is billed in six month increments
first year fees for ten page site: $1,226
A second disadvantage, perhaps more accurately
described as a limitation, is that Google does
not offer paid inclusion (and maintains that
it never will). Since Google currently provides
the primary results for three of the top four
engines (Google, Yahoo, and AOL), engines that
offer paid inclusion may only
account for a fraction of your overall site
traffic. There is no way to add your pages to
Google's index any faster by paying a fee -
which means that you will be waiting for Google
to index your new (or newly optimized) pages
regardless of which paid inclusion programs
you use. Only after Google lists your pages
will they appear in Yahoo and AOL results.
There are many factors to consider when examining
paid URL inclusion. The following five are some
of the most common:
My Pages Already In The Index?
Just because you can't find your pages when
you enter search terms does not mean that your
pages haven't been indexed. To see if your pages
have been indexed, go to the engine and search
for each of your exact page URLs. If each page
shows up for the URL search but not for a search
of any keyphrases related to the page, paid
inclusion will not help your rankings (your
pages are already in the index and have been
ranked according to their perceived value).
It would be much more beneficial to invest some
time and/or money in optimizing your pages for
better rankings (you can still consider paid
inclusion afterwards if you don't want to wait
for the spider to revisit).
It A Good Investment For Me?
Naturally, budgetary constraints can be a primary
consideration. If you can't afford paid inclusion,
then it obviously isn't an option. However,
simply because you can afford it does not mean
it is a good investment. For example, a business
that sells a very inexpensive product online
that is counting on volumes of traffic may not
see a good return on their investment (again,
3 of the top 4 engines do not offer paid URL
the other hand, if your business has a high
average dollar sale and you put a high value
on each quality lead, you might consider immediate
paid URL inclusion a no-brainer.
My Pages Change Frequently?
If your web pages are subject to daily or weekly
changes in content, paid inclusion may offer
some additional benefits. When your pages are
spidered frequently, all new content is indexed
by the engine soon after it is added to your
pages. This means that your pages will begin
to appear in searches for terms related to the
new content much more quickly.
My Important Pages Dynamically Generated?
Some search engine spiders have a problem finding
and indexing pages that are dynamically generated
(such pages often have a question mark somewhere
in the URL). By paying to include the important
pages of your dynamically generated website,
you can be sure that they are in the engine's
index, even if the "organic" spider
would never find them on its own.
I Need A Guarantee That My Pages Will Remain
In The Index?
Although it happens infrequently, one or more
of your pages found by the "organic"
spider may be inadvertently dropped from an
engine at some point, usually to reappear within
a month or two. This can happen for a variety
of technical reasons. However, using paid URL
inclusion guarantees that each of your pages
will remain in the index for a year (and if
your pages are dropped, the support staff at
the search engine will work to put them back
in as soon as possible).
Paid inclusion can be a valuable tool in the
right set of circumstances. However, many companies
are able to consistently maintain excellent
search engine rankings without paying for a
single URL. Only a careful evaluation of your
business, goals, and website can help you to
determine if it is the right option for your
Buresh is Co-founder and Principal of Medium