is trying to second-guess what's going on at
Yahoo!. Some experts are saying webmasters will
stop paying $299 yearly for the Yahoo! Business
Express listing because they've seen their
rankings tank since Yahoo! started serving
Google crawler-based results. Others say it's
more important than ever to pay for the Yahoo!
listing in order to boost link popularity, an
important algorithm ranking factor.
Changed at Yahoo!?
Yahoo! used to rank sites based on it's
human-powered directory database with an
algorithm of its own, but filled in with Google
crawler-based results when it lacked data on
search terms in its own database. This meant
that a Yahoo! listing with excellent title and
description produced high rankings on Yahoo!.
With the recent change, Yahoo! is now using
Google crawler-based results (and algorithm) in
its default Web results, substituting Yahoo!
directory listings wherever possible. But
basically what you get is Google results. Thus,
Yahoo! rankings can change substantially for
better or for worse.
Yahoo still displays its directory
listings, but users must click on a Web Site
Directory link (below the fold) to see these
results, and most people don't do this because
it's easier to use the default search box. So
not many users are going to see your Yahoo! Web
Site Directory listing.
When these changes were first announced, some
webmasters and SEO experts questioned the value
of a Yahoo! listing at $299 per year. But
knowing that a good portion of its revenues come
from the Business Express listings, would Yahoo!
jeopardize this source of income? Not likely.
First of all, Yahoo! left open the
possibility of pulling results from other
databases such as Inktomi. Then, it knows that
link popularity is heavily weighted in many
crawler algorithms besides Google, making the
Yahoo! listing advantageous to boost chances of
a top-ten listing in Google and other
crawler-powered databases like AltaVista, AOL,
Fast, Lycos, HotBot, MSN, Teoma, etc.
Opinion of Industry Experts
Danny Sullivan, Internet consultant,
author, and renown search engine expert,
concluded that the Yahoo! listing is as
important as ever.
"The value of Business Express is no longer
essential for just small business, but for big
business it still remains a no-brainer
Sullivan. "Because Yahoo! is
making use of spider-based listings more than
they ever did in the past, it is more valuable
than ever to optimize your pages. These changes
make it more important that companies consider
their search engine strategy."
Because of the Yahoo! changes, iProspect CEO Fredrick
Marckini believes "This changes
everything: web site design and Yahoo!'s
business express program are now the two most
important factors in determining web site
ranking and visibility."
believes Yahoo's changes represent an
"industry mega-trend." "Namely,
search databases have now effectively replaced
human-edited directories as the perceived most
successful search mechanism, as all major search
properties are now leading with search databases
and subordinating their human-edited directory
matches to them," said Marckini.
These experts make two clear points: That Yahoo!
is essential because it enhances link
popularity, and also that Web page design, and
thus search engine optimization, has become even
more important as the major portals move toward
spider/crawler-driven listings over human-edited
On the Other Hand
I've seen a few experts question the
value of the Yahoo! listing. For instance,
software engineer Tom McCracken stated on Sitepoint,
"This means that a listing in Yahoo!s
directory will not help your search ranking.
Thus there is only one minor advantage to a
Yahoo listing, which is that some people do
still search for sites using the Yahoo!
directory listing (though these users are few
and far between)."
Another interesting position is that of Sumantra
Roy, in answer to a user question:
"Does it still make sense to pay Yahoo! the
$299 it requires for getting listed?"
Sumantra's answer: If Yahoo! is forced to
modify its search results again and start giving
some sort of preference to web sites listed in
its directory. At that point of time, it may
again make sense to pay the $299 to get listed.
These views could be short-sighted time
will tell. However, I still believe a Yahoo!
listing is essential for commercial sites. It
will do a lot more than provide visibility in
Yahoo!'s directory listings. I agree with
Sullivan and Marckini that it's more important
than ever to focus on professional search engine
optimization techniques to achieve high rankings
in crawler databases.
Value of SEO Over PPC
This statement from Marckini is telling:
Pay-for-placement engines can only get you so
far, and the costs are prohibitively expensive
with keyword bids up to as much as $5 or $10 per
click, some even $50 per click. Monthly keyword
budgets in some vertical niches are running
upwards of $50,000 to $75,000 per
month-advertising dollars that would not have to
be spent if the marketers focused on making
their Web sites search engine friendly."
Search Engine Marketing
It's amazing how many people at the
highest levels of management simply do not
understand search engine marketing. The single
most important issues to consider in 2003: Can
the major spider engines see your website? Does
your navigation allow the engine to crawl your
website thoroughly? Can the engine read your
content? Is your content attractive to the
engine and your visitors? Do you have killer
title and description tags optimized for
keywords? Do you have quality sites linking to
You must ensure a quality Google listing. In a
conversation with Google software engineer Matt
Cutts, he reiterated that one step toward high
Google rankings is to list in directories first,
DMOZ (Open Directory Project) is
particularly desirable because it's used by many
smaller directories, creating more links.
Unfortunately, it can be difficult to get listed
if there is no category editor or if an editor
is prejudicial. (You can appeal through a
"feedback" link that goes to DMOZ
Site architecture, page design, and
optimization of relevant content with strategic
keywords in text, headers and tags is of utmost
importance, as is a strategic linking strategy.
Also be aware that Google seems to be
excluding some cross-linked pages for PageRank
ratings. Its spiders now cross check link text
with the linked site, excluding links with text
that doesn't appear within the linked site. This
may be the solution to "Google
bombing," whereby linkers capriciously
manipulate the PageRank of the linked site.
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