Add A “!” To Your Search Engine Optimization

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Google’s influence on the web is so powerful that we tend to forget that there is another search engine. The forefather of modern search, Yahoo! still serves around 20% of all internet search queries. This pales in comparison to Google’s close to 70% majority but is spread over a different demographic making it an intriguing prospect for certain types of web properties.

The Yahoo! homepage is laden with information, offering up news, entertainment and weather alongside its search facility. This makes it a particular favorite of female web users and some parts of the business community. As Yahoo! Panama advertisers will know, Yahoo also boasts strong conversions (often superior to Google), indicating its traffic is cash rich and prepared to buy online.

Optimizing your site for Yahoo! calls for a back to basics school of thought with many of its current requirements built around common search principles and out of favor Google yardsticks.

Meta Data: It’s commonly known that Google web bots do not heed meta data, preferring instead to focus on the meat and bones of the page they’re looking at. Meta data is open to keyword stuffing and over enthusiastic use of key phrases which perhaps accounts for Google’s decision to wipe it from its SEO checklist a while back. Yahoo! however are sticking with meta data as part of their thought process so it’s back to Meta Data 101 for those of us keen to see our Yahoo! rankings gather pace.

Yahoo! will consider good meta titles, keywords and description tags to be ones that most accurately convey the contents of the page. The title should be as succinct as possible, with no more than 5-10 words. Of this word limit, it’s essential that keywords are included. Similar rules apply for the meta keyword portion of the HTML coding. The same less is more rule applies but, when compiling meta keyword descriptions for Yahoo, the keywords of most relevance and importance should be weighted as close to the start of the tag as possible. As with keyword stuffing content, over use of keywords will be judged harshly so avoid the temptation to add too many geographical, misspells and singular/plural versions of your primary phrases.

Page Structure:
Yahoo! again follows closely in Google’s footsteps but placing a greater emphasis on the basics of page structure optimization will be a bigger boost to your Yahoo! efforts that it would be on Google. Don’t be surprised to see correct use of H1 and H2 tags, Alt tags and internal links acting as search position fuel. While these small changes are somewhat of an accessibility issue and therefore play a small role in upward mobility on Google, they are much more powerful ranking tools for the marketer aiming for better Yahoo! positions.

If you’ve recently had your website professionally designed, you’d expect that most of these page structure elements are already being actioned. Don’t be surprised to find that they’re not. Google wields such power that many modern sites are built with just the one search engine in mind so some simple tweaking achieved through basic HTML knowledge can make all the difference. Sites lacking ALT tags and correct H1 and H2 titles are quickly and easily remedied. Look out for keywords in both instances, using the primary keyword in the H1 tag to increase the visibility of the phrase and useful, accurate descriptions in the Alt tags.

External Links: Link building is the bread and butter of most optimization campaigns but, due to the sheer amount of competition on Google, the focus is often on quantity and not quality. This is a big mistake if you’re optimizing a site for Yahoo! inclusion. While there’s a huge divide in opinion as to how relevant the results that Google returns are, the search engine does site relevance as a core component of its ranking considerations. The same is true and then some of Yahoo! To make sure your links are really helping your bid to move further up the Yahoo! ladder they must be as closely related to your web site’s subject matter as possible. That means seeking out sites for link backs that talk about products and services like your own, that use similar keywords, include similar meta details and use your keywords in the anchor text.

About the Author

Rebecca is the managing director of search engine optimization agency Dakota Digital a full-service agency offering SEO, online PR, web copywriting, media relationship management, and social media strategy. Rebecca works directly with each client to increase online visibility, brand profile, and search engine rankings. She has headed a number of international campaigns for large brands.

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7 Comments

  1. This is a great article, and a perfect time to define the great qualities and ranking factors of Yahoo! A question I get asked constantly in the early stages of the SEO process is "Why am I starting to rank in Yahoo, but invisible in Google?" My answer revolves around optimization techniques and search engine algorithms. Those of us that follow a more traditional school of thought are more likely to begin optimizing pages based on the original principles of SEO. This includes using well formed META tags, as well as H1 and Alt tags. As you point out, many SEO's are quick to omit some Google-blind HTML elements. However by starting with the basics, sites pick up speed quickly in these secondary search engines. Some feel it's a waste of time, and others think it gives competitors insight into their strategies. While this may be true, deploying this Google-only technique will almost always limit your chances in the other search engines. Strive to build a solid foundation that maximizes your exposure, regardless of possibly giving competitor's keyword insight - which most tools will provide anyway. As with all marketing channels, it's important to diversify. By optimizing your site to be friendly in all search engines, you're increasing your market saturation and traffic driving footprint. Google's not going away anytime soon, but show me one site that can't use more qualified visitors. Ryan D Adami Search Engine Marketing Specialist Follow me on twitter

  2. Link building is the bread and butter of most optimization campaigns but, due to the sheer amount of competition on Google, the focus is often on quantity and not quality. This is a big mistake if you’re optimizing a site for Yahoo! inclusion.

  3. Great article! Optimizing a site to attract search engines really demands hard work and of course effective SEO technique. The question now is, what is the best technique to instantly magnetize search engines and bring your site on top! With the myriad of SEO tactics out there, sometimes I'm wondering if there is a surefire way to quickly gain online presence. Though the tips here are viable, still I am thinking of methods that will give me the results I need. Thanks for this post!

  4. The article is very good but one correlation you could make to open some stubborn minds is that Yahoo, MSN and Ask are similar to the long tailed searches. You don't start optimizing a page for a 5 word phrase (in some cases you might--unlikely though) but if you optimize it correctly for a 3 word phrase the 5 word phrase will find you as well. I believe a truly refined optimization process will allow each search engine to understand "hey this content is important" despite the different methods of ranking. As an SEO guy myself I do what I can to bring as much quality traffic to my clients websites no matter what search engine they come from. If your going to convert I do not care that you came from MSN/Live, Ask, Yahoo!, Google therefore if your not finding solutions to convert well on all search engines I think something is missing.

  5. Can you sharing to get external link tips? thanks..

  6. Good reminder that Yahoo is important too!