Search Engine Guide: Paid Inclusion Will Grow and Evolve, Not Fade Away

Yahoo contacted many of its certified partners a year ago about the future of its paid inclusion program. With MSN dropping Yahoo’s sponsored results and paid inclusion feed, and Google not offering a paid inclusion program to advertisers, the future of paid inclusion in major search engines looked murky.

Today, paid inclusion remains an important part of the search marketing mix for thousands of companies, particularly for e-commerce companies that have frequent product updates.

Though Google and MSN continue to separate paid search advertising from their natural search results, this does not necessarily enhance the end-user experience.

Based on the stringent editorial guidelines set forth by Yahoo’s paid inclusion program, the search results are easier to read. The results also are just as much, if not more, relevant than results found by a search engine’s crawler.

With paid inclusion, advertisers don’t have to wait for search engines to crawl their Web sites. Instead, product pages on their site or catalog feed automatically into Yahoo’s “natural/organic” search results. Advertisers typically pay on a cost-per-click basis.

Professionally managed paid inclusion programs benefit e-commerce companies in several important ways. They:

· Let advertisers systematically update product pages every 24 hours.

· Guarantee that specific product pages are indexed.

· Display creative content (titles and descriptions) clearly and concisely in search engine results versus relying on spiders, which may display less accurate information.

· Deliver prospective customers to a Web site, often for a lower cost than pay-per-click ad programs where the auction model drives up cost-per-click costs.

Here’s how paid inclusion benefits one specialty online retailer. TruckXpressions uses the Internet to sell truck accessories and parts with a catalog containing 15,000 products. The company uses paid inclusion as part of its search marketing to feed hot new products and best sellers into search engine results.

In the past three months, TruckXpressions has acquired more than 50,000 new customer prospects through the top organic results it attained through paid inclusion. It says it continues to enjoy a high return on advertising spending.

Here are my predictions about how paid inclusion will evolve in the coming year:

· Don’t be surprised to see MSN introduce its own version of a paid inclusion program.

· Both search engines and search marketing agencies will apply new XML feed technology to deliver clear, organized results to other areas in search, like shopping search and news search.

· Many e-commerce customers will add more graphics, audio and video to their product feeds as a way to bring products to life.

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