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'Paid inclusion' excluded

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Yahoo! has finally put an end to the old-school "paid inclusion" programs that blurred the lines between its search engine and its search advertising.

During the company's quarterly earnings call this afternoon, Yahoo! CFO Tim Morse confirmed that at the end of the year, the company will destroy its Search Submit program, under which marketing types pay to submit urls for inclusion in Yahoo!'s search rankings rather than waiting around for them to be picked up by unbiased crawlers.

"We think this is a change to help us improve the overall health of our marketplace on an ongoing basis, so it helps us to do it," Morse said.

Morse declined to say exactly how much revenue the company would lose in cutting the program. "We're not going to breakout the sales or profitability from our various smaller programs here," he said. But judging from other comments, it seems the program was pulling in noticeable amount of money.

With Search Submit Basic, users can submit a url for a flat fee of $49 per year (with a limit of five urls per domain). And with Search Submit Pro, larger businesses can submit urls in bunches and pay for them on a cost-per-click basis. Pro users are required to spend at least $5000 a month for at least 1000 urls.

Yahoo!'s decision to kill the program may be linked to its pending search deal with Microsoft. With Microsoft slated to take over Yahoo!'s underlying search engine technology, Yahoo! will no longer have the power to offer paid inclusion. During today's conference call, Morse said that Yahoo! still expects the Microsoft deal to close early next year. ®

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