Yahoo Paid Inclusion is Dead

Yahoo Paid Inclusion is Dead

Yahoo! Paid Inclusion was born March 2004 in the Silicon Valley region of California and goes to the digital marketing ether on Dec. 31, 2009.

YPI as it was sometimes referred to by search engine marketers spent the past five years helping small, medium-sized and large businesses around the world. Although its life was cut short, it was an exceptional young marketer.

Yahoo! Paid Inclusion offered businesses many services other search engines — such as industry leader Google — could not do, including index really complicated and dynamic URLS (e.g., multiple query strings, session IDs) without implementing complex rewriting techniques.

While it is true that the search engines now as young adults are in a better position to index such content via the advent of XML SiteMaps (e.g., web, news, video) and webmaster tools, it took them years to get there and they still don’t work nearly as effectively as Yahoo! Paid Inclusion.

During its prime Yahoo! Paid Inclusion offered two distinct programs for businesses: Search Submit Express and Search Submit Pro.

Designed especially for small business, Search Submit Express was ideal if needed to ensure that a few URLs be included in a search engine index. Although the program specifics changed over time and often by reseller, Yahoo! offered the program for a $49 annual fee for the first URL, $29 for URLs 2-10 and typically $10 for URLs beyond that amount.

Once the site was listed the marketer would pay as little as $0.15 per click. Every two to three days Yahoo! would refresh the URLS to keep the listings up to date, which frankly was awesome for frequently changing content.

Typically the entire process from submission to inclusion took seven business days, but often faster. Imagine getting 5-10 of your site’s key landing pages guaranteed indexing within seven days — very powerful — and only having to pay just $0.15 per click.

In addition to being guaranteed in the index, Search Submit Express offered reporting. Search engine marketers received up-to-date information on clicks, rankings and keywords. Sophisticated marketers would then evaluate the information and re-optimize the pages for improved rankings, week after week.

Yahoo! Paid Inclusion also offered handy trending charts so search engine marketers could track campaign performance over time. Although the reporting was typically 2-3 days behind the event, this type of reporting was not available from Google or MSN.

Of the two programs, Search Submit Pro — also referred to as Yahoo SSP or simply SSP — was my personal favorite. This program did not have an annual fee but assessed the per-click fee from a rate card.

My experience with SSP found the per click fees often were 30%-75% lower than the prevailing market per click fee in a pay per click advertising campaign, especially in the professional services categories like financial or legal services.

In addition, SSP allowed a marketer to submit its entire website, not just a limited number of URLs. The site was submitted as a series of Yahoo! proprietary XML feeds starting with the Home Page referred to as the Top Level Page (TLP). Subsequent feeds of Category Level Pages (CLP) and Product Level Page (PLP) would be created and optimized accordingly.

Savvy search engine marketers learned that SSP provided the ability to write custom titles and descriptions that displayed on Yahoo’s search results pages. These titles and descriptions could be changed as frequently as you wanted and could be tested to maximize click thru rate, especially via site links.

SSP provided even sexier reporting than Search Submit Express, including showing clicks by geographic region and demographic information about the clicks. This enabled marketers to further refine its messages for target audiences.

On its site Yahoo! used to advertise that SSP was only available to large marketers with budgets of $5,000 a month or sites submitting 1,000 pages or more. This held true if the marketer worked directly with Yahoo!, but wasn’t the case if a marketer tapped the network of SSP resellers.

As a SSP reseller, WebMetro was required to have a technology platform to create the proprietary XML feeds for clients. In addition to the platform, Yahoo! required SSP resellers to become certified on the program including its feed rules regarding character limits, use of words like “free” in titles and a host of other important quality guidelines.

I loved Yahoo! SSP and will miss it dearly. In particular I will miss employing strategic optimization techniques to target tail terms.

For example, I would troll the keyword data from analytics programs such as Google Analytics or Omniture as well as the keyword portfolios from pay-per-click advertising campaigns to identify new (top of the sales funnel) and converting keywords (bottom of the sales funnel).

I would then take these keywords and add them to the body section of my TLP, CLP and PLP feeds. This technique would allow me target such keywords for new sales opportunities to increase the return on investment from the Yahoo SSP campaign.

Yahoo! Paid Inclusion is survived by Yahoo co-founders and Chief Yahoo!s Jerry Yang and David Filo, along with thousands of wonderful Yahoo! employees. Yahoo! Paid Inclusion is preceded in death by earlier inclusion programs from Inktomi, AltaVisa, Looksmart, Ask/Teoma and FAST.

Memorial services will be held by various internet marketers on Dec. 31, 2009. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to Microsoft adCenter, which will inherit all the broken paid inclusion dreams of search engine marketers past.

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