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Yahoo.com Search Results and Search Engine Relationships
By Andrew Gerhart - March 20, 2002

In a previous article we discussed MSN results and relationships with other search engines and directories. We will turn our focus this week to another one of the Internet giants in terms of traffic and referrals, as Yahoo is one of the top 3 sources of Internet traffic. In this article we will breakdown and explain Yahoo!'s results and results pages, as well as how to rank well in Yahoo and how much it will cost. We will also explore Yahoo's relationship with Google and how it affects the Yahoo results.

Yahoo!'s search results are broken into 6 sections: Summary, Categories, Web Sites, Web Pages, News, and Research Documents.

When a search is performed, the 6 search sections that were listed above will appear in the top right hand corner. The first section "Summary" will appear first, and will display a number of results. The first results displayed in this section will be results from Yahoo!'s own listing. An example of this could be a link to Yahoo! Auctions or Classifieds. The next results that are displayed are 3 Yahoo! directory category matches for the search term. These directory category listings are not links to the web sites within the category, but links to the actual category that matched the search term. Below these directory listings are Yahoo!'s "sponsor matches". Looking for a translation? Yahoo!'s Sponsor matches are Overture.com results, which Yahoo! displays in 3's at the top of the results, and another 3 at the bottom. After the Overture listings that are displayed are Yahoo! directory results. These are web sites that are pulled from matching directory categories.

When the "categories" section is displayed the results page will look slightly different. First you will see results from Yahoo!'s own listings (see above for an example). The next results displayed are the complete list of directory categories that Yahoo! matched with your search term.

The "Web Sites" section will appear almost identical to the first section that was shown, "Summary". The only difference between the two results pages is the categories listings are not shown on the "Web Sites" section.

The next section of results is "Web Pages", which is almost identical in appearance to the "Web Sites" section. The difference, which is rather significant, between the two is that Google powers the "Web Pages" section. If one was to look at the URL of the page in the browser window, they would see google.yahoo.com/bin/query?p=whateveryoursearchmaybe.

The last sections are "News" and "Research Documents". The results listed in the news section are all pulled from internal news at Yahoo!. The "Research Documents" results are from Northern Light, and are mostly documents that must be bought or subscribed to for a fee.

Now that we know whose listings appear in which areas on the Yahoo! results pages, we will now discuss ranking well in Yahoo!, and how much it will cost you.

Unfortunately, the majority of Yahoo listings are all either paid placements, or listings as a result of a paid submission. Yahoo! takes up prime real estate on the search results pages with their own listings, which leaves only room for the "Sponsor Matches" (Overture listings), the directory listings, and the results from Google. To have your listing appear in the "Sponsor Matches" above the results from the directory or Google results, you will need to place a high enough bid at Overture to get your site in the top 3.

One thing that is essential to drawing a substantial amount of traffic from Yahoo is a good directory listing. Yahoo! has just recently changed their submission fee from a one-time submission fee of $299 to an annual fee of $299. A Yahoo! directory listing is well worth the money, and submitters will almost always see a return on investment, as I have discussed in past Yahoo articles. Yahoo! will review your web site for inclusion in the directory within 7 days, but they reserve the right to deny the site inclusion into the directory, and they will not refund your money! This is why it is very important to either hire someone to take care of this for you, or make sure the site is perfect before submitting. A good directory listing will refer a very significant amount of traffic, and will list your site in a number of search results pages within Yahoo!.

Another feature that Yahoo! offers is the "Sponsored Listings" within most directory categories. The price for a sponsored listing varies, with an average price of $100 a month. The sponsored listings appear at the top of the page, above the web site listings within each respective directory category. If there are too many sponsored listings for the category, Yahoo will rotate the sponsored listings that appear to the visitor.

Having good ranking in Google for your target keywords is also important to ranking in Yahoo!. As we mentioned above, Google's search results are used for the "Web Pages" section. There are also direct correlations between a web page's PageRank in Google and it's rank in Yahoo!. It has been researched that having a good PageRank in Google will positively affect your ranking in Google, and respectively a low PageRank will negatively affect the ranking. More importantly, it has been noticed that if a site is hit with a penalty in Google, resulting in either the sites PageRank being taken away, the site being removed from the database, or ranking being lowered, this will have a large negative impact on the Yahoo! ranking.

Do Yahoo and Google have the same rankings? Although they are similar, the search engine and directory do not use the same algorithm. The criteria, or factors, for ranking web sites is similar, not identical, but the weight placed on these factors are different for Google and Yahoo.

Yahoo! should be on every web master, marketer, and search engine optimizer's target list. Many people have become irritated with Yahoo in the past months, as they have raised their fees and begun to use Overture paid listings. Although these complaints are valid, the fact remains that the Yahoo! directory has branding that makes the name and directory known to all, and the traffic that flows from it matched by few on the Internet.

The next installments of this article will deal with AOL, Google, AllTheWeb, AltaVista, AskJeeves, and Netsape.