ASK.com’s CEO, Jim Lanzone has criticised Yahoos paid inclusion over at the Stepforth blog. I have to admit, Yahoos paid inclusion program, now known as Search Submit Pro just doesn’t sit right with me either.

Jim describes it as hypocritical to charge for something a search engine should be doing anyway & that it blurs the line for searchers between paid content and true organic results. I would have to agree with him.

What’s Search Submit Pro?

If your not familiar with the new Yahoo Search Submit Pro offering, basically Yahoo offers a way for all your web pages to be indexed and refreshed every 48hrs on a cost per click basis. They offer with that a number of opportunities such as the ability to create unique titles & descriptions for every url, serve a list of keywords that are relevant (you want to rank for..) & options like the ‘quick links’ feature.

So why do I sit uneasy with paid inclusion?

As mentioned by Jim Lanzone & Ross Dunn, it lacks transparency to the searcher. With PPC adverts, users are informed that it is paid content (sure not all realise, but it’s there or all to see) while SSP listings just don’t offer such information. What 99% of users believe are results based on user experience and content, are actually party at least, based on money. There’s just something a little wrong with that for me. Something almost sneaky & underhand.

Next up, just how effective & viable is it to most advertisers?.

If you have a big brand with a search engine friendly site, there will be little need. There is no guarantee on ranking any higher for competitive terms. If your site is SEO friendly, your content will get indexed regulary anyway. If your site is SEO friendly, you will have unique keyword targetted titles & descriptions too. If you don’t have these, then this could be an option for you – Though a little known search engine called Google does not offer the same service and the last time I looked they made up something like 70% of search traffic.

If you are active in SEO activities, are you willing to pay again for any improvements in rank you make seperately away from the program? Let alone having to pay for your own brand traffic if you include your homepage url into the paid inclusion program?.

So what do you think? Is there a place of paid inclusion programs?

TIPHow do you spot a paid inclusion url?

Normal urls will be served from ‘http://uk.wrs.yahoo.com/_ylt=’ and will not have a later redirection.

Paid inclusion urls have a redirect right before the url is served, which looks like;

http://rdre1.yahoo.com/click%3Fu=http%3A//example.com