The 2001 Search Engine Awards, Part 2: Paid-Placement and Paid-Inclusion Winners

Last week, I explained why Google swept the awards for best overall search engine. This week, I’ll look at the paid-placement and paid-inclusion winners.

Best Paid-Placement Service

This category recognizes the best paid program providing guaranteed placement in search engine results.

Winner: Overture (GoTo)

Overture (formerly GoTo) was a favorite, gaining 45 percent of 210 valid votes. We agree that the service deserves to win. This is because Overture has made it easy to get a top listing on practically every major globally oriented search engine. It’s not perfect. For example, there were complaints in 2001 over a new minimum bid requirement. Despite this, Overture still remains an outstanding service for those with a budget. Here’s a sampling of comments about the service received as part of the voting:

  • “[The best], even if the $0.05 minimum sucks.”

  • “Excellent customer service.”

  • “Though difficult to manage, Overture is the best at sending traffic through a guaranteed position.”

  • “I have tried three other paid-placement services. Overture gets my vote as best for bringing in traffic, the best for ease of use, and the best overall.”

  • “No contest! Not thrilled with their recent overhauls — much less customer friendly and they appear to be trying to take over the Web — but, they produce results.”

  • “It’s the best; I don’t like it, though!”

  • “In general, I find the top three listings too expensive for my blood — generally bring a too-low a conversion rate to justify the expenditure. However, any position in the top 20 brings decent traffic.”

  • “It has the best search partners. Get in the top three and you go everywhere.”

  • “The king of them all for cost-effective marketing. Still Espotting in Europe, though!”

Honorable Mentions: Google and Espotting.com

Yes, Google does have paid listings, through its self-serve “AdWords” program and through “Premium Sponsorships” text banners. Unlike some of Overture’s partners, Google makes it extremely clear when something is paid for on its results page. Google came in second, behind Overture, with 21 percent of the votes received. We felt it deserved an honorable mention for the popularity of its program and the commitment in delineating paid and unpaid content.

Espotting is a U.K.-based paid listings provider that has built an impressive distribution base within the U.K., France, and Germany. The company has additional European expansion plans. Espotting pulled 10 percent of the votes. We felt it deserved recognition for making paid placement easier in Europe.

Best Paid-Inclusion Service

This category recognizes the best paid program providing inclusion in a search engine’s listings. Unlike paid placement, inclusion typically does not guarantee placement. Nevertheless, it can be a valuable way for site owners to increase the representation of their sites in listings and gain traffic.

Winner: Inktomi

In this category, we went with our readers. Inktomi was clearly ahead of the competition in the voting, gaining 42 percent of 184 valid votes cast. The program provides wide distribution across a variety of Inktomi’s partner sites. Here are some comments received about the program from those who voted for it:

  • “[They] do what they promise.”

  • “Best of a bad bunch.”

  • “Effective and realistic price.”

  • “It only takes two days to refresh, and the submission process is very easy. Too bad they doubled their rates.”

  • “Hands down the best of the bunch. I’ve got subscriptions for all my sites, and they have more than paid off!”

  • “It’s more like best of the worst.”

  • “Periodic refreshes and good placement.”

  • “I LOVE INKTOMI. Thank goodness they have a paid-inclusion service. [T]he turnaround time is fantastic, and the “in the index” guarantee saves me hours of checking. My clients all got immediate results from using this program. All the other engines should be imitating Inktomi instead of trying to surpass it. You can’t beat perfection.”

  • “The Inktomi Paid Inclusion Service is the best around. It sends by far more traffic than all of its competitors and made it easy to incorporate our catalog into the engine.”

Other Notable Results

FAST (AllTheWeb) was second in the voting with 21 percent, then AltaVista with 20 percent. AltaVista deserves a special note because its program, for an extra fee, allows for “Listing Enhancements” to be made to a paid-inclusion link. This is a nice feature and is more creative than just charging for inclusion. It would be interesting to see if these could be offered unbundled from inclusion. After AltaVista came LookSmart, with 17 percent of the votes.

Google got a write-in. Google doesn’t offer a paid-inclusion program and considers them to be unfair to site owners and bad for searchers. That’s why Google got a vote, as explained by the comment with it: “The only good paid-inclusion service is not to have one. Why institutionalize corruption?” Another person expressed similar views when leaving a comment but not selecting a program: “There is no such thing as a good paid-inclusion service. They all suck.”

Next week, we’ll look at Best Design, Most Webmaster Friendly, and the Hall Of Fame inductees.

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