Two weeks after dropping Google in favor of its own search technology, Yahoo announced today that they will allow advertisers to pay to have their web pages crawled for inclusion in its search index.

Yahoo said (insists) this approach, known as paid inclusion, will improve search results and increase the number of sites in their index. As with any paid inclusion program, payment has no effect on where a web site ranks.

Details:

“Site Match subscribers who submit less than 1,000 URLs pay an annual review fee, which breaks down as follows:
First URL: $49
URLs 2-10: $29 each
URLs 11-999: $10 each

Subscribers then pay a fixed cost-per-click for each customer lead that clicks on their listing. For most content categories, the cost-per-click is $0.15, while select categories are priced at $0.30 per click.

For businesses that submit 1,000 URLs or more, Overture offers the Site Match Xchange? program at no annual fee and a fixed cost-per-click, depending on content category.”

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This decision by Yahoo is sure to come under fire. Many industry experts have long argued that paid inclusion systems compromise the integrity of search results.

Google was quick to throw punches:

“We always separate search results and advertising and always clearly and honestly label the ads as ads, unlike some of the competition,” says Jonathan Rosenberg, vice president of Google products. “You can’t buy your way up the Google search index.”

Ouch! Anyway… I think paid inclusion can have big rewards for savvy advertisers but Yahoo may have gone too far. An inclusion fee may have been welcomed but the pay-per-click fees seem out of reach for most small businesses.