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RealTime IT News

Looksmart to Charge for Selective Directory Listing

[Sydney, AUSTRALIA] Looksmart Australia, the local version of international directory service Looksmart, will begin charging users to gain special benefits from its service, as part of a new phase in the company's business strategy.

Looksmart will offer two new services to sites that apply to be included in its selective database of URLs. Express Submit, which will be targeted at small to medium businesses, will charge companies a fee to expedite a review on their site in the directory.

A subsite listings will be targeted at larger businesses, and provide direct links to specific departments of a larger site to allow consumers to link directly to this subsite, rather than drill through the business' main page until they find what they are after.

While the service aims to speed the inclusion of sites on the directory, new Looksmart Australia chief executive officer Jason Kellerman said the fee would not be a guarantee that a company's site would be placed at a certain rank in a list of search results, or that the site would be listed at all. He did say though that the fee should allow sites to jump ahead in the search queue.

The company has not yet confirmed how much it will charge for these directory services. In the United States, businesses pay US $199 (AUS $345) for the Express Submit service, which returns a review on an accepted site within 48 hours.

Looksmart's Australian directory is compiled by a team of around 30 local editors, who review and select sites to be included. So far, it has more than 80,000 URLs, and around 80 per cent of the sites that apply for inclusion make the grade.

Kellerman said that this strategy, which will begin with Express Submit in around two to three months, is not determined to completely commercialize Looksmart's directory. "No more than 15 percent of the directory will be paid," he said.

Up until this time, Looksmart has largely drawn its revenue from advertising yield and licensing fees to provide its directory search service to partners.

To complement its paid search service model, Looksmart will continue to push these relationships, and increase the number of these from its current 45 local partners. Kellerman said that the company will particularly focus on drawing partners in the corporate and government markets.