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Yahoo! Dismissed Too Soon
By Andrew Gerhart - September 12, 2001

There have been many discussions, and numerous articles, about the search engine or directory that gives the best referrals. Almost every one of the articles and discussions disparages Yahoo! and instead praises Google or others. Noticing this, I decided to do some research on how effective a good Yahoo! listing really is to a search engine optimization campaign. After looking at some of our sites that receive the most traffic, I noticed that Yahoo is continuously in either first or second place in the referral race.

If you are not familiar with the Yahoo! directory, you can take a look at their description of themselves here http://docs.yahoo.com/info/misc/overview.html. The directory also offers the option of searching a database of websites, which is powered by Google.

Most of the talk I have seen about Yahoo! has been about there recent change in the price of submission from $199 to $299. The recent rise in the submission price has many small business owners and webmasters angered. While the feeling of anger may be warranted, as $299 is a lot of money for submission, it is necessary to take a look at what is being offered.

When you submit a site to the Yahoo! directory, the website is guaranteed to be reviewed by a Yahoo! editor within 7 days. This doesn't mean that they will send their spiders to your website, it means that an actual person will sit down and review your website. Yahoo! does not make any guarantees that it will include your website into their directory after submission, only that it will consider the site. (This means that you must be very careful when preparing for submission, and there are many things to consider. This will be discussed later.) Yahoo! currently holds the #1 spot for the most used portal and directory. A good Yahoo! listing can have many positive effects on your website, the traffic to your website, and your website's listing in other places.

Let's say that you have a #2 listing in the Yahoo! directory for your category, and a #3 ranking in Yahoogle (Yahoo searches powered by Google). Not only does this give your website great exposure within the directory, but will also effect your ranking in Google. Google has been noticed to boost a website's ranking in their search engine results if it has a good listing in Yahoo and ODP.

Another positive affect that Yahoo! can have on your online business is the targeted traffic that your website will receive. If you have ever looked at a traffic log, like Web Trends, you will notice that once in a while someone got to your website from a search that is way off topic. This happens from time to time in within search engines, but is extremely rare within directories. Bottom line: all of the traffic from a Yahoo! listing is targeted.

It's back again…link popularity is a factor to consider when thinking about Yahoo!. While link popularity will not play a factor in your listing, your link popularity may benefit from a good listing in the directory and search results pages. When building link popularity it is best practice to link to, and have links from, sites that are listed high in directories and ranked well within the search engines. With Yahoo! currently being the most used portal on the Internet, there may be a correlation between a good listing and the amount of link requests if the correct methods and options are applied.

All of the things mentioned above are dependent on one thing: your website receiving a good listing in the directory. As the submission fee is non-refundable and the website will be human-reviewed, there are certain things to watch out for when preparing your website.

  • Review the website in all browsers for consistency and functionality
  • Review the website under numerous resolutions for consistency
  • Make sure that the site has NO broken links (Linkbot is a good tool for this)
  • Use original content
    • The site is going to be reviewed by a human, and if they feel that they already have 20 sites that have the same content they will pass by your site
  • Have your entire website completed and no pages "under construction"
  • Perfect the title of your index page
  • Perfect the description that you will submit to Google.
    • Search results are based upon keywords that appear in a website's title and description and the algorithm that Yahoo! uses.

The main idea that you should deduce is to have a fully functional and useful website that Yahoo! will see as a positive addition to their directory.

A good way to ease the pain of paying Yahoo! $299 for submission is to think of the investment in terms of return on investment (ROI). You are going to submit your online business, which sells either a service or a product, for $299. Once you submit the website and it is listed in the directory, it is there for good. The traffic that you receive from Yahoo! may be relatively low, as it is targeted traffic. There is also a chance that you receive huge amounts of traffic from Yahoo! and Yahoogle. In either case, you will see a return on investment at some point, whether it is in 2 months, 6 months, or 2 years.