SEO Optimizing for Yahoo Bing!

Back in the dawn of the Internet, Yahoo! was the most popularsearch engine. Submit url to bing or submit url to Yahoo!
When Google arrived, its indisputably precise searchresults made it the preferred search engine. However, Google is notthe only search engine and it is estimated that about 20-25% orsearches are conducted on Yahoo! Another major player on the marketis MSN, which means that SEO professionals cannot afford to optimizeonly for Google but need to take into account the specifics of theother two engines (Yahoo! and MSN) as well. 

Optimizing for three search engines at the same time is not aneasy task. There were times, when the SEO community was inclined tothink that the algorithm of Yahoo! was on deliberately just theopposite to the Google algorithm because pages that ranked high inGoogle did not do so well in Yahoo! and vice versa. The attempt tooptimize a site to appeal to both search engines usually lead tobeing kicked out of the top of both of them.

Although there is no doubt that the algorithms of the two searchengines are different, since both are constantly changing, none ofthem is made publicly available by its authors and the details abouthow each of the algorithms function are obtained by speculation basedon probe-trial tests for particular keywords, it is not possible tosay for certain what exactly is different. What is more, having inmind the frequency with which algorithms are changed, it is notpossible to react to every slight change, even if algorithms’ detailswere known officially. But knowing some basic differences between thetwo does help to get better ranking. A nice visual representation ofthe differences in positioning between Yahoo! and Google gives theYahoo vs Google tool.

The Yahoo! Algorithm – Differences With Google

Like all search engines, Yahoo! too spiders the pages on the Web,indexes them in its database and later performs various mathematicaloperations to produce the pages with the search results. Yahoo! Slurp(the Yahoo! spiderbot) is the the second most active spider crawleron the Web. Yahoo! Slurp is not different from the other bots and ifyour page misses important elements of the SEO mix that make it notspiderable, then it hardly makes a difference which algorithm will beused because you will never get to a top position. (You may want totry the SearchEngine Spider Simulator and check what of your pages isspiderable).

Yahoo! Slurp might be even more active than Googlebot becauseoccasionally there are more pages in the Yahoo! index than in Google.Another alleged difference between Yahoo! and Google is the sandbox(putting the sites “on hold” for some time till theyappear in search results). Google’s sandbox is deeper, so if you havemade recent changes to your site, you might have to wait a month ortwo (shorter for Yahoo! and longer for Google) till these changes arereflected in the search results.

With new major changes in the Google algorithm under way (theso-called “BigDaddy” Infrastructure expected to be fullylaunched in March-April 2006) it’s hard to tell if the same SEOtactics will be hot on Google in two months’ time. One of thesupposed changes is the decrease in weight of links. If this happens,a major difference between Yahoo! and Google will be eliminatedbecause as of today Google places more importance on factors such asbacklinks, while Yahoo! sticks more to onpage factors, like keyworddensity in the title, the URL, and the headings.

Of all the differences between Yahoo! and Google, the way keywordsin the title and in the URL are treated is the most important. If youhave the keyword in these two places, then you can expect a top 10place in Yahoo!. But beware – a title and an URL cannot beunlimited and technically you can place no more than 3 or 4 keywordsthere. Also, it matters if the keyword in the title and in the URL isin a basic form or if it is a derivative – e.g. when searchingfor “cat”, URLs with “catwalk” will also bedisplayed in Yahoo! but most likely in the second 100 results, whileURLs with “cat” only are quite near to the top.

Since Yahoo! is first a directory for submissions and then asearch engine (with Google it’s just the opposite), a site, which hasthe keyword in the category it is listed under, stands a betterchance to be in the beginning of the search results. With Google thisis not that important. For Yahoo! keywords in filenames also scorewell, while for Google this is not a factor of exceptionalimportance.

But the major difference is keyword density. The higher thedensity, the higher the positioning with Yahoo! But beware –some of the keyword-rich sites on Yahoo! can with no difficulty fallinto the keyword-stuffed category for Google, so if you attempt toscore well on Yahoo! (with keyword density above 7-8%), you risk tobe banned by Google!

Yahoo! WebRank

Following Google’s example, Yahoo! introduced a Web toolbar thatcollects anonymous statistics about which sites users browse, thusway getting an aggregated value (from 0 to 10) of how popular a givensite is. The higher the value, the more popular a site is and themore valuable the backlinks from it are. 

Although WebRank and positioning in the search results are notdirectly correlated, there is a dependency between them – siteswith high WebRank tend to position higher than comparable sites withlower WebRank and the WebRanks of the top 20-30 results for a givenkeyword are most often above 5.00 on average. 

The practical value of WebRank as a measure of success is oftendiscussed in SEO communities and the general opinion is that this isnot the most relevant metrics. However, one of the benefits ofWebRank is that it alerts Yahoo! Slurp that a new page has appeared,thus inviting it to spider it, if it is not already in the Yahoo!Search index.

When Yahoo! toolbar was launched in 2004, ithad an icon that showed the WebRank of the page that is currentlyopen in the browser. Later this feature has been removed but stillthere are tools on the Web that allow to check the WebRank of aparticular page.

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