In explaining website marketing and advertising, we often refer to the search engine results page as being like a split-screen television. The natural , organic results appear in the left/center of the page, and the ad results (called “Sponsored Links” in Google AdWords) display on top center and down the right side column. While both results are triggered simultaneously by the same search, the mechanisms behind the two types of results have many differences.

For years there has been a third option – other than search engine ads and SEO – that was unique to Yahoo. Recently, Yahoo made an announcement that marks the end to this obscure, but long standing exception to the two better known categories. This category has gone by several names over the years, but the most common is Paid Inclusion. More recent names include Search Submit Basic and Search Submit Pro. Basically, this program is (soon to be “was”) a hybrid of PPC and SEO. Traffic from this program was paid for incrementally, like pay-per-click ads. However the cost per click is a flat rate, not a bid system, and the results are mixed in with the natural results in the center of the page.

For more info on this topic, below are links to some related blogs, one on Search Engine Land plus a thorough one from on the history of Paid Inclusion.

Looking toward the future, we will take this opportunity to encourage readers to always work from a plan and require clarity from their providers of search marketing and advertising, whether they are internal or external. To us, clarity includes a strategic web marketing plan that will meet client goals and addresses these general elements:

  • What tasks or tactics need to be done and why
  • The benefits or returns to be expected from those tasks
  • The correct sequence, proportions, and time line in which the tasks should be done
  • Who will deliver the tasks, and what are their credentials
  • The portion of the overall marketing/advertising budget to be allocated for the chosen tactics
  • How the results will be measured
  • Who is responsible for coordinating the overall project of web marketing

Much too often, we see companies attempt to use one tactic, such as SEO or pay-per-click advertising, as a one-time , isolated event. In search marketing, taking “seat of the pants” action without planning can miss many of the basic guidelines above. For these reasons, we encourage viewing of web marketing and advertising as a process with interrelated parts. The components of that plan can (and in fact, usually are) delivered from more than one source, including those inside and outside your company.

Please share your thoughts and experiences.