In Other Words: Bill Patz
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Some search engine companies are charging to evaluate or place your submission for registration.

Two of the largest players in the Internet search business are trying to change the basic rules by which all have lived and prospered. The egalitarian nature of the net and the way searches worked allowed all, big and small, to present themselves to the world on an equal footing. This is starting to change and not for the better!

Yahoo! created it's "Express Service" which charges $199.00 to get you moved to the front of the line for consideration. Yahoo! maintains that this will not effect your placement, but, consider that this could get those who pay placed weeks or months ahead of the competition.

AltaVista announced that they will be auctioning off the top two positions for competitive search terms. The winners of the bidding will have their companies placed in a special box along above the rest of the search results. In this way they will overshadow those who don't win the highest bids. In this case there is no real end to what the top positions might cost.

US West's Internet Yellow Pages charges not only to list you in their online book but wants $200 a year to provide a simple hyper link to your site. While they are not technically a search engine I mention this because it illustrates the basic problem of potential for marketing costs to spiral out of control.

Why oppose search engine surcharges?

Opposition to these events is not based solely on the Internet ideals of equality and impartiality which will surely be undermined by charging for consideration by search engine companies. This is about the economics of the Internet's continued growth.

Currently anyone who can create a storefront and has the know how to optimize and register their site with the search engines can compete on the Internet. It does not matter if you are large or small, local or not, if you match the search criteria entered you show up. This allows for renewed competition in the market place. It gives David a place next Goliath. It has made e-commerce on the net a run-away-train and we all get to ride.

If this trend of adding charges continues to develop it could price most small players right off the medium. Imagine if in addition to the two to a few thousand dollars it now takes to open a small quality store you had to add in thousands more dollars just to be found on the net. For many this just becomes too expensive. If it continues unchecked getting found on the net could become like advertising on national TV; only for large corporations who ultimately pass the cost on to the end consumers, you and me.

What you can do to help stop it.

First off we need to let these few companies know what we think. Thanks to the Internet this is not too hard a thing to accomplish.

To contact AltaVista simply email: To tell Yahoo! go to their feed back page at:

I plan on working with others in the Internet community to organize a boycott of these companies if they do not change policies soon. Stay tuned to Search Engine Laisha's List to catch the latest news.


Bill Patz is a web designer, programmer, Internet business strategist, and intranet manager. He runs a collective of Internet professionals. Visit his WE Concepts site at


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