Bill Hartzer

Is Google Quietly Embracing Paid Inclusion?

Let’s think about Google’s current product offerings, what services they are offer us as business owners, online merchants, and website owners. You can submit your website to get crawled, but you can also pay for inclusion. Over the years, Google says that it’s free to get listed. But really, is it? You can get included, but the options are very limited. It seems as though that Google just won’t send you a lot of traffic to your website unless you pay for it. Is Google quietly embracing paid inclusion?

A recent H/N post that hit on the front page linked to this article from 2012. That got me thinking… even though Google says it’s free, do you have to pay? It certainly seems as though that’s the case.

Currently, we can submit our website to Google (which really isn’t necessary) because Google’s crawlers are so good at crawling the web and discovering new domain names, new web pages, and new URLs. And, if you want to pay for traffic to your website, you can certainly pay to get listed (or pay for the traffic) via Google AdWords, Google Shopping, and Google’s display network options (running banner ads, etc.).

— Google used to let ecommerce retailers submit their shopping feed for free traffic. Now merchants have to pay for that same traffic, via Google Shopping.
— Google had a separate blog search for bloggers, Google blog search. It no longer exists. But you can still submit your blog?
— Google used to show more Google Maps listings in the search results. It was called the “7 pack” or sometimes the “11 pack”. Now, we’re down to only 3 local map listings being displayed.

Then there’s this:

A local search, like for “Colleyville fencing” (a city here in Texas) shows the Google AdWords ads, the local map with 3 local results, and then that’s it…. you have to scroll down to actually see the organic “free” search results.

Back in the early 2000s, if you had a large website (over 100,000 pages) it was really a good thing to opt into Paid Inclusion. You could get a lot of your pages included in Yahoo!, for example, which really did work to bring a lot of traffic, and sales, to your ecommerce site.

But we’re at the point now where it really seems as though Google is really quietly embracing paid inclusion, or they have already done that. They “say” it’s free to be included, and I believe it will always be free. However, if you want traffic and paying customers then you have to pay for that.

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