Any website optimizer who has been in the game for a while knows that in order to keep up with changes in search marketing you’ve got to examine Google under a microscope, memorize the gospel according to Matt Cutts, and stay up to date with all the cool new Google tools. That’s just what a good search engine optimizer has to do. Although Google is the most prolific search engine on the web, responsible for 55% of all searches, there’s another player in the game that I feel doesn’t get it’s fair share of love from the SEO community.
Enter Yahoo – The Scottie Pippen of search engines. Yahoo is responsible from somewhere between 20% – 25% of web searches depending on who is holding the stat book, and despite the fact that it doesn’t have as dominant of a market share as Google, owning 1 out of every 5 online searches is a helluva lotta searches.
That being said, today I will give Yahoo its long overdue respect by sharing some tips and idiosyncrasies for working with Yahoo:
1. Yahoo still uses Meta keyword tags.
There was a time (circa 1999) when all a webmaster had to do was throw a bunch of keywords with high search volumes in to the Meta keyword tag and the search engines would eat it up. No more. Top tier search engines hate the tag, including Google, but not Yahoo. According to this article by Danny Sullivan, Yahoo still eats up terms in the Meta keyword tag and uses it in a search query service process called “recall” to some extent.
2. Yahoo does not display the cache date for pages in its index.
You’ll never know by looking at Yahoo’s cache when Slurp!, Yahoo’s search engine bot, last visited your site. Why Yahoo doesn’t display a cache date for the sites it crawls baffles me. Perhaps, Slurp! is a bit more lethargic than Googlebot, and Yahoo wants to keep a tight lid on the limitations of it’s web crawler technology. And this is a great reason, in my opinion, not to display cache dates. It reminds me of something MSN should have done when it announced last year that it can now execute keyword stemming functions in order to determine search results. My reaction to this MSN news: Are you kidding, me? MSN, you mean you weren’t doing this before?
Eventually Yahoo’s cache get’s dumped into the WayBack Machine where it get’s stored for posterity. Here,
in the WayBack Machine, suddenly the original Yahoo cache date is rediscovered.
3. The “noydir” Meta tag tells Yahoo not to form your search listing using the Yahoo directory.
Yahoo may assemble the search engine listing description for pages on your website using a couple of different sources, including the Yahoo Directory. And who wants their search result descriptions coming from an offsite location? The solution: use the “noydir” Meta tag:
<meta name=”robots” content=”noydir” />
This tag instructs the search engine not to look at the Yahoo Directory when forming search engine listing descriptions. The only catch is that this Meta tag must be applied to each page on your website.
4. Yahoo gives webmasters a better idea of the number of inbound links to a website.
a link:www.websitename.com query conducted on both Yahoo and Google will return dramatically different results. Each of the two search engines has different criteria for evaluating the righteousness of an inbound link to a website. In short, Google will count only what it has determine to be “highly qualified” backlinks to a domain. On the other hand, Yahoo appears to return all inbound links to a website, regardless of apparent legitimacy. Use this disparity of reported links to your advantage. Treat the number of Yahoo links as a best guesstimate for the actual number of inbound links to your site and the Google number to determine the links in your arsenal with the most SEO power.
5. Yahoo doesn’t care about PageRank. It has its own way of measuring page popularity called WebRank.
According to Wikipedia, PageRank is Google’s link analysis algorithm that assigns a numerical weighting to each element of a hyperlinked set of documents. PageRank or PR is a Google proprietary algorithm. But many folks mistakenly believe, that PageRank is some sort of official web standard that measures the link popularity of a page. It may indeed be considered an informal, de facto web standard because of it’s widespread usage (and ironically it’s misusage), but PageRank doesn’t mean anything to Yahoo.
Yahoo has knocked off Google’s innovations yet again to create WebRank. WebRank is so overlooked that its Wikipedia article looks like this. In fact, I seriously doubt that Yahoo WebRank is still included in the latest releases of Yahoo Toolbar, although I could be wrong. At any rate, the lesson is that Yahoo’s ranking of page popularity isn’t related to PageRank at all- Yahoo has it’s own methods of weighing the importance of a webpage to the Internet.
6. Like Google, Yahoo maintains a blog aimed at webmasters.
Yahoo shoots some search engine optimization advice to webmasters too on the Yahoo Search Blog. It isn’t as well known (or as well loved) as the Google Webmaster Central Blog, but I would strongly recommend sucking down the RSS feed for the site “to keep abreast with the second best in the search engine contest”.