The New Cost of Search Engines

I remember trudging a mile to school through the Minnesota snows, when candy bars were 20 cents, when kids were safe playing kickball in the alley at night, and when listing your business Web site on search engines. . .was free!

Ahh. . .the good ol' days! Unfortunately, things have changed a bit since then. For one thing, today, it will actually cost you money to have your business Web site listed on search engines. This is changing the Internet as we know it and impacting our pocketbooks, as well.

Search engines
A search engine is like a library located on the Web. Just as there are probably many libraries located throughout your city, there are many search engines located on the Web. With libraries, not each one is going to carry the exact same books, or the same number of books.

Likewise, not all search engines are going to have the exact same Web sites listed with them, nor the same number of Web site listings (which means when searching for something, you should use a couple of different search engines to ensure that you find the information you're looking for).

Now, let's say you're a kitchen and bath dealer celebrating the grand reopening of a newly remodeled, 6,000 sq.-ft. showroom with top-of-the-line custom cabinetry. In celebration of your grand reopening, you turn off all the lights and lock the doors. Doesn't make sense, does it? Well, having a Web site created for your business and then not having it listed on search engines is the same thing as locking clients out of your newly remodeled showroom. Unfortunately, Web site listings on search engines one of the few things in life that was still free have changed with the times. To this end, the big names in search engines, such as Yahoo!, Infoseek/ Go.com, and AltaVista/LookSmart, in addition to many others, have recently changed their practices. And the result of all this is that to have a business Web site listed on any one of those search engines, it will now cost you around $200 per search engine. How much is this change going to cost you, total? Well, that's similar to me asking you how much it will cost to remodel my kitchen. It all depends on how many search engines you want to be listed on and their listing fees. I think this is a good time to break the top search engines down individually by cost.

A look at costs

  • Yahoo! cost: $199. No ifs, ands or buts, to be listed on Yahoo!, your business will end up paying $199. This practice began in November, though there is a "grandfather clause," in that, if your site is already listed here, there's no need to pay this fee. The good news is that if Yahoo! approves your site for listing, it will be listed within a week. The bad news is that, if for some crazy reason, your site does not meet Yahoo's criteria (for instance, if it is built incorrectly), you will still be billed the $199.Just a footnote here. . .let's say you're doing a Web site on your family history. That type of Web site can be listed on Yahoo! without the $199 fee. The fee holds only for commercial sites.
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  • Infoseek/Go.com "Optional" cost: $199. If you type in "Infoseek," the search engine is now pointed to Go.com. That means by typing in www.Infoseek.com, you'll end up on the Go.com search engine. This site offer two options, the "Premium Service" and the "Basic Service."
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    They break down like this: Premium Service cost: $199. Paying the $199 ensures that your site, if it meets their approval, will be listed within 48 hours.
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    Basic Service cost: free. You may only attempt this once in their time period, but you may still list your site for free here. Unfortunately, you won't know for sure if your site has been listed for up to 10 weeks!
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  • Lycos cost: free. Yes, at press time, listing your business Web site with Lycos was still free. According to Lycos, you must wait 2-3 weeks before you know if your site has been listed after your submission. How long this will be free though, one must only wonder!
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  • AltaVista/LookSmart "Optional" cost: $199. To be listed on both AltaVista and LookSmart, you must pay the $199. Your site will be listed in "several days." If you don't mind being listed on just AltaVista (and not on LookSmart), then the listing can be free. However, using the free avenue to list your site does not guarantee it will be listed, nor will it include "submission to categories of AltaVista's directory."
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  • GoTo.com cost: varies. This is an interesting search engine. While researching this article, I went there and typed in the word "kitchens." On just the first page returned to me, there were 40 separate listings. Each one of those listings/Web sites pays a different amount for its listing. And it tells you right there how much it costs that Web site each time someone clicks into the Web site. For example, the Web site at the top of the page the number one listing was paying $1.07 every time someone visited its site from that GoTo.com listing. The last listing on the same page was paying only 7 cents every time someone visited from GoTo.com. So, the further away from the top listing one goes, the less the listee pays for that spot.
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  • HotBot.com cost: free Yes, like Lycos, at press time, it is still free to list your Web site on this search engine!

Obviously, there are a lot more search engines out there, some of which offer free listings, others of which now demand a fee in order to list your site. The reason I've chosen the ones above is because they are some of the most commonly used search engines. It would be nice to be able to address them all, but then there wouldn't be room for any of K&BDN's other columnists this month! One word of warning though: Be wary of companies that offer to list your site with "10,000 search engines for the low, low price of $19.95." That may seem like a great deal especially in light of the new charges being imposed on commercial Web sites. But obviously, they aren't listing your site with the top search engines not when they're only charging you $19.95 for "10,000 listings" and Yahoo! is charging you $199 for one listing.

So, my humble advice is to turn on the showroom lights, throw open the doors and welcome all those clients, thanks to the search engine listings you paid for.

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