February 26th 2004 - Altavista and FAST to follow Inktomi Paid 'Exclusion'

Yahoo are at it again. Only two days after the original discovery of Yahoo’s intentions to exclude Inktomi paid inclusion customers from the Yahoo search results, I awoke to the following email which I received from one of our clients:

“Dear Partner, Official notification to all *****, *****, and ***** that are promoting Priority Submit services.

As of the 1st March 2004 the following programs and services will no longer supported or offered:
- Inktomi Search Submit
- AltaVista Express Submit
- Fast PartnerSite

Please update your websites and any promotional materials to remove these Search Engines services from your offerings before this date. Any reseller orders received on the 1st of March will NOT be able to be processed. Information on the new program, to replace Inktomi, AltaVista and Fast, will be provided on the programs launch and release date.

Thank you and all the best.”

So ... What the hell is going on?! Yahoo have given press releases, appeared in webmaster forums, attended conferences, given speeches and more. We all thought we were clued in on the Yahoo ‘user-friendly’ experience only to find that when the time has come they were planning huge changes behind the false smiles and assurances. The email above has never been released to the general webmaster public by Yahoo and they have not commented on it as yet. Why the secrecy and why the original deception?

I feel this is an overall shift in the position of search engines:

Google has always been brown-nosing the webmaster community. They felt that if they could keep the webmasters interested in their search engine and it’s developments (the Google Dance used to be the high-light of every webmasters month!) then they would have a strong customer base for their future programs such as Adsense and Adwords.
Yahoo on the other hand has never had an interest in the humble webmaster. They do not even consider the regular webmaster to be a viable source of income as they brush them aside to shake hands with bigger fish. The $299 directory inclusion price was something companies just starting up would really have to think long and hard about paying. The majority of larger companies such as ISP’s, credit card firms, Communications giants were all added for free and given the top placement in any given category.
Yahoo wanted to be the ‘Designer Search Portal’, to elevate themselves above Google by filtering their clientele. Who gets the free Cars, Clothes and Jewellery in life? ... Celebrities - those who can already afford them. This of course brings heavy spenders into your client list and makes you out to be the ‘Fashionable Choice’.

The following email came today:

“As of the 1st of March 2004, we will no longer be accepting URLs for inclusion via:

- Inktomi Search Submit
- AltaVista Express Submit
- Fast PartnerSite

Pricing and other details of new and exciting programs to replace the above services will soon be provided. The new products will include all previously supported engines and more.

Please note that we are NOT discontinuing the PrioritySubmit paid inclusion services and we will continue to provide support for the above mentioned engines.”

Is this good news or bad news? Yahoo are keeping suspiciously quiet over what the new product will be although it’s plainly obvious that they have been planning this for some time. The FAST index (shown on Alltheweb.com) has become increasingly stale due to less fresh results and less pages being added to the index. (They stopped competing with Google for ‘largest index of pages’ the second Yahoo took over.) Similarities in functionality between the sites such as the free inclusion section becoming ‘people coded’ all pointed to a merger at some point. So this announcement of a new Paid Inclusion Product casts doubt on the generous crawling of Altavista and FAST to continue and make us part of the Yahoo World.
If the new paid inclusion system is fairly priced for the return on investment (unlike the Yahoo Directory) then this is a wonderful move. If it is something only for the rich and famous among us, then Yahoo better have employed a decent anti-terrorism department as there will be thousands of disgruntled webmasters out for blood.

I still have my faith in Yahoo as a company. They can’t alienate the smaller webmaster as we do serve some use and we create the web for them to exploit. But picture the fact that Yahoo was nearly bankrupt three or four years ago, now they’re earning serious profit, they didn’t turn around by being nice ...

Written in a very bad mood
Michael Beverley
Internet Heaven

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