Major Yahoo! Ranking Changes

Sep 26th

Yahoo search normally moves rather slowly with small changes, but I just saw some pretty big shifts in Yahoo rankings, including

  • botching part of a sitewide 301 redirect that they had followed for months - now both sites rank, but each ranks well for some portion of the queries
  • a bit more weight on domain names

What are you seeing?

Yahoo! Search Update

Jul 21st
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Yahoo! recently did another search index update with little fanfare. To me it looks like they put more weight on exact match domain names, inbound link anchor text, and domain authority.

Yahoo! Quality Based Pricing

Jun 5th
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Yahoo! announced their Panama API today. They also announced the beginning roll out of their quality based pricing for content websites:

Previously, you were charged the same for traffic from all web sites within our distribution network. Now, with quality-based pricing, you may be charged less for certain clicks than you otherwise would pay, depending on the overall quality of the traffic provided by our distribution partners. As a result, your click charges can decrease.

As Yahoo! cleans up their content network look for many of their partners to switch to Google, which has a deeper ad network and better relevancy algorithm.

Flat Rate Paid Inclusion: Yahoo! Search Submit Basic Returns

Not talked about much, but my partner noticed Yahoo! once again shifted paid inclusion to a yearly flat rate.

While Search Submit Pro allows you to have more control over listings and is sold on a costs a per click basis, their Search Submit Basic allows you to submit URLs for $49 per year per URL.

In the past Search Submit Basic was called Search Submit Express. It charged a flat inclusion price and sold clicks on CPC basis. Here is an Archive.org link to the old program.

If you have launched a new site and are not getting much Yahoo! traffic, submitting a few of your highest value pages is a good call. If you have key deep high value pages that are not staying indexed in Yahoo! this program also makes sense.

Even the Search Engines are Bad at Optimization

Mar 27th

Yahoo! allows paid inclusion members to buy quick links in the search results and indexes sites more fully if they use Yahoo! for their site search. While neither of these may seem like a big deal they both are. Allowing businesses the chance to buy a greater share of the search results or giving them greater indexing priority for them using your search service are both things that would make search purists cringe.

While Google is busy turning the text link into a performance based ad network Yahoo! sells their search credibility and marketshare too cheaply. Buying Del.icio.us and MyBlogLog are not going to make up for the undermining effect on credibility paid inclusion offers.

Yahoo! Search Marketing More Broke Than Ever

Jan 30th

When Yahoo! bought Overture they had the market default position as being THE KEYWORD TOOL. As a company that makes most of its profits from selling keywords, how dumb is is for them to let their keyword research tool die without warning? If they are upgrading their paid search platform, killing the current tools without warning is a dumb first step toward getting marketers to warm up to the exciting new system.

Stop double and triple mailing the direct mail pieces. Do a bit of market analysis on your market position and current resources. Fire the people who keep doing the dumb things. Your easiest points of improvement come from analyzing your market position and leveraging what you already have. When you start again from an established market position is is silly to kill off your old market position, especially if you are already behind.

I need to fix my keyword research tool, since the death of Overture killed my keyword tool. I am thinking about either switching it to being driven from Wordtracker or Keyword Discovery. More on that soon.

Will Yahoo! Shares Bounce Back?

Jul 24th

It seems a large part of the reason that Yahoo!'s stock recently tanked was the market was punishing them for delaying their ad system.

I know factoring clickthrough rates into ad costs will help optimize their revenue stream, but does anyone think the new system will help them catch Google on the monetization front?
I don't. The three main reasons are

  • They are losing marketshare daily. Google has a stronger search technology and search related brand, and the next version of IE is going to integrate search into the browser. Even if MSN loses most of the associated browser distribution deals they will still drive up the traffic acquisition costs for those who win them, and since Yahoo! has a less efficient marketplace than Google they are not going to be able to outbid Google.

  • Google is already busy taxing noise out of their ad network when Yahoo! is just fighting to keep up with pricing, let alone creating easy account management tools.
  • Yahoo! is more cautious with trademark protection in search ads. Since branded terms are some of the highest converting and most valuable terms that choice probably costs them a fat packet of cash.

Yahoo! Search Algorithm Moves Toward Links & Authority Sites

Jul 17th

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."

YPN Regional Ad Targeting is Garbage

May 30th
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How is it possible that when you have a domain name, page titles, internal linkage, external linkage, page content, and search referal strings that all HEAVILY are focused around a specific state or region that Yahoo! shows many regionally targeted ads, but typically none that are relevant for the region your site targets?

Imagine a site that ranked well for everything related to Colorado mortgage but nearly exclusively showed credit card ads or mortgage ads for non-Colorado states. How are people going to click on those ads? How are those leads valuable to businesses?

Pretty bad relevancy there Yahoo!

Using Yahoo! Answers for Niche Discovery

May 18th

Imagine you were going to create a website about Legos. You could ask what is the best Lego set? at Yahoo! Answers to find content and topics to write about. Fast and free.

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