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.

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