Buying Your Way to the Top

Can you buy your way to the top of a search engine? Until the year 2000, this was almost inconceivable at any search engine other than GoTo.com. Now, it’s commonplace.

Bear in mind that all search engines have some editorial-style listings that are not bought and sold. Your ad spend will not guarantee a top ranking in these places. However, the space around this editorial copy is considered fair game for ads. Here’s what’s available:

Banner ads. All major search engines carry keyword-linked banner advertising and use either graphical banners or text banners.

Content deals. Many major search engines will promote an advertiser’s content, or their own content, on their search-results page. This is usually done in an area that is separate from the editorial results.

Paid placement. Several major search engines carry paid listings. The exact position of these listings can vary. Sometimes, they appear above editorial links. Other times, they appear at the bottom of editorial content. Sidebar-style listings run alongside a search engine’s editorial area.

Paid inclusion. This is where an advertiser might be more deeply listed than other sites in the editorial results. Unlike paid placement, this doesn’t guarantee a particular position in the main search results. However, unlike paid placement, it does interact directly with the editorial results. Being more deeply listed can increase an advertiser’s chances to appear more in response to a wide range of searches.

Paid submission. This is where a search engine charges to process a request to be included in its listings. Typically, paid submission programs do not guarantee to list a site, only to review and possibly include the site in a faster time frame than is normally done.

The following chart provides a guide to search engines that offer significant ways for advertisers to be present on search-results pages beyond banner advertising and content deals.

Search
Engine
Program Notes
AOL Search Paid Placement “Sponsored Links” section at top of page are paid links from GoTo.
Paid Inclusion May occur in any results from Inktomi (look for Inktomi logo at bottom of page)
AltaVista Paid Placement “Sponsored Links” section at bottom of page are paid links from GoTo.
Paid Inclusion Occurs in “Directories” results, which are powered by LookSmart
Ask Jeeves Paid Placement “I can show you the response to your question on the search engines listed below” results at bottom of page may come from paid placement search engines.
Paid Placement “Visit these sponsors” links appear along right side of page. These are ads sold by Ask Jeeves.
Paid Inclusion May occur in “I have found answers to the following questions” area at top of page
Direct Hit Paid Placement “Partner Search Results” section at top of page are paid links from GoTo.
Paid Placement “Visit our Sponsors” links appear along right side of page. These are ads sold by Ask Jeeves (which owns Direct Hit).
Google Paid Placement “Sponsored Link” ads appear at top of page. These are also called text banners.
Paid Placement “Sponsored Links” appear along right side of page. These are ads sold by Google.
GoTo Paid Placement Any listing with a “Cost to advertiser” note in its description is a paid link.
HotBot Paid Placement “Featured Listings” at top and bottom of page are paid links from GoTo.
Paid Inclusion May occur in any results from Inktomi (look for Inktomi logo to right of page)
Inktomi Paid Inclusion Paid inclusion program allows sites to be crawled more deeply in Inktomi’s listings.
iWon Paid Placement “Partner Search Results” section at right of page are paid links from GoTo.
Paid Inclusion May occur in information provided by either LookSmart or Inktomi. Look for company logos near search results.
LookSmart Paid Submission All commercial sites required to pay to be considered for listing.
Paid Inclusion “Subsite” program allows Web sites to be deeply listed in LookSmart’s listings.
Lycos Paid Placement “Featured Listings” at top and in middle of page are paid links from GoTo.
MSN Search Paid Placement ONLY if you select the “Top 10” results option, paid links appear as per Direct Hit.
Paid Inclusion May occur in “Web Pages” information provided by Inktomi
NBCi Paid Placement “Search Marketplace” listings are paid links from GoTo.
Paid Inclusion May occur in “Additional Sites” results from Inktomi (look for Inktomi logo)
Paid Submission “Promote a Site” provides fast review and possible inclusion in main listings.
Netscape Search Paid Placement “Partner Search Results” are paid links from GoTo.
Yahoo Paid Placement “Sponsored” listings in commercial categories are paid links.
Paid Submission “Business Express” provides fast review and possible inclusion in main listings; mandatory for commercial areas.

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