While you may have heard of a controversial new program called Site Match, which is being run by the Yahoo/Overture team, what you probably don't know is what this program is really all about. Site Match is a program created to get your site into the Yahoo database (formerly the Inktomi database) and it can be expensive. It is based on a yearly fee and an additional cost for every click you get from a Yahoo based search engine.
Demystifying the mysterious Site Match
Let me back up a bit and give you some history. On a hot July day in 2003, the directory giant Yahoo bought the colossus Pay Per Click (PPC) database Overture (previously known as Goto). Today, Yahoo has decided to monetize by offering us such programs as Site Match.
What Site Match is not
- Site Match has nothing to do with the $299 fee you pay to get into Yahoo's directory
- Site Match will not get you better rankings in Yahoo (or in Overture)
- Site Match does not get you into Overture's auction-style PPC database
What Site Match is
Site Match ensures that your site is listed in Yahoo's search database (not their directory), and that it is refreshed every 48 hours. If you are not listed in Yahoo's search database you can do one of two things:
1. Wait until Yahoo's spider picks you up
2. Pay Site Match to list you right away.
Unless your site is brand-spanking new, you are likely to already be listed in Yahoo's search database. Yahoo's spider (Slurp) does an extensive job of picking up web sites to add to the database. To verify that you are indeed listed, you can type your domain into the Yahoo search box and see if your site comes up (type "yourdomain.com" without the quotes). If a result comes up, then you are in the database.
How much does Site Match cost?
Site Match costs $49 per year to sign up and $0.15 to $0.30 per click afterwards. If you are listed in Yahoo's database, you get the exact same service for free (except that your site is refreshed every month instead of every 48 hours). What are the advantages of being refreshed? What does refreshed mean? It essentially entails that Slurp comes to visit your site and updates it to the Yahoo database every two days.
My Site Match test
I decided to test out a site to see if there are any benefits to using Site Match. I submitted www.PrintPot.com to the program on April 23rd. This site was created in early April, so it just got into the database a week before. The rankings before and after Site Match are as follows:
(Before Site Match)
Ranking April 23rd
(After Site Match)
Ranking May 3rd
epson inkjet refill kits
epson ink refill kits
epson refill kits
compatible epson ink cartridges
epson chip resetter
A ranking of "none" means that it did not turn up in the listings. As you can see, since we signed up for Site Match, our ranking dropped dramatically. Yahoo only shows the top 500-700 listings, and The Print Pot (which sells Epson inkjet refill kits) is not found at all.
This was my experience with Site Match, but it was only one experience. I doubt that I will be using Site Match again, nor would I recommend it to my clients. However, with only one test, it would be a mistake to conclude that the majority of sites will drop in listings after signing up for Site Match. What is troubling is how Site Match affected all the keywords that Print Pot was struggling to improve.
What happened? Was there a penalty? The site has no reason to be penalized as it followed all the content guidelines listed by Yahoo/Overture at http://www.content.overture.com/d/USm/ays/sm_gl.jhtml. These guidelines were pointed out by the support staff from PositionTech, a reseller of Site Match. So why did it drop? I suspect that Yahoo is still ironing out the bugs from its Site Match program. The other possibility is that Yahoo changed its algorithm, and the new one does not rank www.PrintPot.com highly. I have sent a letter to Yahoo and expect an answer in the near future. I will inform you of their response in the next www.RedCarpetWeb.com newsletter.
Should you pay for Site Match?
The answer is wonderfully complicated.
Option 1) If you are already in the database: The answer is a big fat NO WAY. The only exception would be if you change your site more often than once a week. Even then, Yahoo would only update the description, title, and ranking of your site on the search engine results pages. The link would still go to the new updated site even if you don't pay, and even if it is not freshly spidered.
Option 2) If you are not in the database because your site is new: It would normally take 2-5 weeks to be included in Yahoo’s database for free. If you are in a hurry, then sign up to Site Match. You should show up within 48 hours, and you will be paying $0.15 to $0.30 per hit.
Option 3) If you are not in the database but your site has been online for over 2 months: Something is wrong with your site. Either your robots tag is wrong, or you have zero links in to your site, or you have a penalty of some kind. In order to resolve your situation, it is imperative that you need to hire a search engine optimizing specialist to inspect your site.
Unless you are running a site that gets updated on a near daily basis (such as a news site or a web log), my advice is not to sign up for Site Match. You would be throwing your money at Yahoo, and in return you would be getting a service you probably don't really need. If you are not listed in their database, there is probably a reason for it, and that same reason would probably keep you out of the database even if you signed up to Site Match.
Shawn Campbell is an enthusiastic player in the ecommerce marketplace, and co-founded Red Carpet Web Promotion, Inc. (http://www.redcarpetweb.com/). He has been researching and developing marketing strategies to achieve more prominent listings in search engine results since 1998. Shawn is one of the earliest pioneers in the search engine optimization field.