Yahoo! Search Algorithm Moves Toward Links & Authority Sites

I do not think the recent Yahoo! Update was as sharp as they may have hoped for. If you have a variety of sites that were marketed using vastly different techniques and know a market or two well it is pretty easy to pick up on some of the patterns.

Caveman, one of my best friends in the biz, is great at picking up the high level changes (and maybe that is why he got the nickname algo guy). He made a couple great posts in a WMW thread about the update

Here he talks about filtering out the most appropriate page

Odd. I see orphaned pages (i.e., abandoned; not doorway pages) - with NO inbound internal or external links any more - ranking on page 1 of numerous SERP's. Don't think I've ever seen that before. ... They seem to be filtering out the best sub page to show for a specific search (e.g., "red widgets") and instead are now showing a page above it or below it or beside it.

When I mentioned Google ranking a home mortgage type page for a consumer loan (a few weeks back in a rant post) that I am now seeing the exact same page rank for the exact same query in Yahoo! (not due to any type of spam, but due to algorithms that are ranking page B for having navigation related to page A on it - see DaveN's post about a recent Google non-relevancy fiasco).

I am seeing some sub pages rank for things you would expect the more authoritative home page to rank for, and in other cases I am seeing the home page rank for rather specific queries where far more relevant sub pages exist.

I am seeing the move toward promoting authoritative domains in Yahoo!'s SERPs in general. Not only is the trend visible as a general rule of thumb, but I also have a crusty old authoritative domain. I extended the domain out from its initial focus into related higher margin fields. I have not built up the authority on those new pages yet, but they ranked well in Google due to crustiness and high authority links to the site in general. They also ranked well in MSN due to on the page optimization. The site was not getting much love in Yahoo! until this algorithm update. The love (and increased earnings) are likely due to Yahoo! placing far more weight on core domain authority and applying that throughout relevancy scoring for all documents on the authoritative site.

Here Caveman talks about Yahoo!'s shift away from a literal MSN type algorithm to attempting to move more towards a more elegant link based Google type algorithm

What if, for example, Y! substantially altered the way that links factor into the algo: Both from a quality and quantity standpoint.

Y's algo used to be much more onpage and kw oriented. Last year that began to change. Links became more a factor.

In this new update, links are again, IMO, playing a significant role: Both the quality and quality of links. Y seems to be exploring ways to push authoritative links more to the fore.

Brilliant stuff Caveman.

As a marketer, I think Yahoo! shifting toward a sitewide authority type algorithm that tries matching natural text is a big deal since it leaves MSN as the last literal type search algorithm. The current Y! algorithm hints that Yahoo! is willing to throw a bit of paid inclusion revenue in the trash can if it leads to more relevant search results. Within a year I wouldn't be surprised if

  • Yahoo! solves their guestbook and blog spam link problems (and some of the other low quality link issues)

  • common forum questions about things like keyword density and the like are replaced by people talking more about spreading out your keywords, writing naturally, and using semantically related phrases
  • many people trade websites instead of just buying / selling / renting individual links
  • about 100,000 free service sites pop up that are nothing more than link schemes (via stuff like add our link to your site with this badge or whatever)

As a bonus, here is an image of the Yahoo! SERPs for SEO. Notice how many of the domains listed have the word authority next to them in my description of why I think they rank.

As far as SEO goes the word authority is generally synonymous with "heavily linked to via natural citations from other powerful sites."

Published: July 17, 2006 by Aaron Wall in yahoo


July 17, 2006 - 4:26pm

Wow, I just checked some rankings for one of my sites in Yahoo and I went from nowhere to #1 on some great terms.

Before, I had been ranking well only in Google, but Yahoo was not showing me love. Now I rank great in both.

July 17, 2006 - 5:28pm

Yea, something that has been interesting to see is that on Google and Yahoo my rankings, (and clients rankings) have been starting to get better while MSN rankings have been going down for words I have held for over a year. In my opinion its much better to get love from the G and Y! but interesting changes going on for sure (when typically MSN has been easier to rank on) that are fun to watch! Any thought on the latest page rank update with the G? It seems to me that post big daddy sites are getting more love then pre ... Am I wrong? Any thoughts would be appreciated. Great post Aaron!

July 17, 2006 - 6:24pm

I was going back and forth with Caveman in the WMW thread, when the update first occured -- some of us were seeing crazy low KW denisty for the top results and others crazy high KW density, so yeah that can be pushed aside. I'm still looking deeper into the geographic location of links, because it might still be an issue.

The root domain authority kills me, because it means we're going to see the likes of newspapers and authority magazines selling out doorway pages again; anyone have the number for Forbes? :)

September 8, 2006 - 3:22pm

It may be true that some authority sites are ranking well, but I am also seeing web sites with very few links or content doing very well (as long as their domain contains some keywords). Now that is certainly a step back . . .

July 17, 2006 - 9:22pm

Don't get too stressed about root domain authority. I have some hyper-focused niche sites that just leaped to the top of the new Yahoo results, cozied up just underneath (and in a couple cases above) the manufacturer. They don't have too much in the way of content or trusted inbound links, but whipped up on the big-box sites with aged domains.

July 18, 2006 - 6:51am

I guess they have overdone the authority thing, judging by your review. Not that those sites (most of them) don't deserve to rank high, though.

P.S. How about a "Save personal information" to ease up posting? Wonder why Kim left this one out ;)

July 18, 2006 - 7:40pm

I think we'll see another update very quickly, which will likely change the results again. This was not a positive move for the relevancy of the Yahoo! search engine IMO. Many sites are ranking that obviously should not be ranking. I think this algorithm change is more flawed than the last, and will be corrected sooner than later.

July 19, 2006 - 5:29am

LOL, when found agency start turning up you'll know they have fully moved to a link based algo ;-P

July 19, 2006 - 8:06pm

I don't know if this was a step in the right direction or not, but I believe the people at Yahoo! who are passionate about search are / will be pleased to be moving away from link farms and career SEO types. Gimmicks only work in the short term.

July 20, 2006 - 3:31pm

Like Robert, my sites used to rank really well on Google, but not as well on Yahoo. No longer! I'm top three for most of my keywords on Yahoo now and thrilled with the update personally. I use only straightforward, white hat efforts when optimizing my site, and it's nice to get rewarded finally.

July 20, 2006 - 6:19pm

BTW - I just posted a note on Y!'s searchblog about your SERP screengrab, Aaron. I thought the Yahoo engineers might find your quality assessment comments useful.

I found the analysis useful as well.

Just as I had blogged about the apparent identification method of authority sites on Google, it appears that Yahoo is beefing up their weighting on authorities as well, though through differing methodology.

July 22, 2006 - 11:46pm

I had a nice boost, so I won't complain. I moved up to #2 (right under the wikipedia page). The most intersting move was that the former #1 site dropped to #32. That hurts!!

See everyone at SES San Jose!!! I will be in your session Aaron.

July 25, 2006 - 9:02pm

Well Yahoo had to move in the foot steps of Google. it was the next logical step, now they are doing just that.

February 21, 2007 - 11:30am

This does articles fails to convince me as there are too many articles contradicting it.

Pages outside the USA like the UK (e.g. BBC) seem to be hit incredibly hard without having to select "pages from the UK".

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