Explaining the Recent Yahoo/Google Changes


31/10/2002

These are great questions as they discuss two very important issues that are happening in the SEO world right now: Yahoo’s recent switch to “all Google, all the time” and Google’s recent “algorithm change.”

In case you haven’t noticed, a few weeks ago Yahoo stopped showing their own directory results when a search is made. They’re now showing results that come straight from Google’s database, and they are ranked (for the most part) according to Google’s ranking algorithm. The major difference between the Yahoo results and Google’s own results is that if a site is listed in the Yahoo directory, the Yahoo title and description will show up instead of the information in your page’s title tag. The directory-listed pages are also designated by a little red arrow.

There are many implications to these changes — all for the better, in my opinion. Yahoo is now a worthwhile search site once again. Before the change, their results were so spam-filled that they were essentially useless. Unprofessional SEOs had taken all the top spots for their clients’ sites by creating fake keyword rich company names, and purchasing domain names to match. Now this trick is worthless. (Yay!)

As to Yahoo’s reasoning behind this change, all I can guess is that they were tired of losing visitors to Google. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em! Perhaps they decided that $299 per listing didn’t amount to much for them if they couldn’t sell people on their other services while they were there. Maybe they needed a good reason for people to come to them and stay with them. Google has proven that having relevant search results can make you queen of the prom. Perhaps Yahoo hopes to be king?

So the big question remains — should you pay $299 a year for a Yahoo directory listing now? I certainly see no benefit in doing so. In fact, I would even say that you might be better off *without* a directory listing. Some people say that it’s worth having Yahoo’s nice short title and description showing up in the results for your site. But to me, that’s a bad thing! Why would I want Yahoo’s yucky title and description when I can have any title and description I want, simply by putting them on my page? Okay, so that’s not totally true since I can’t actually choose a description with Google, because they use “snippets.” However, I like snippets, because they show that the site is highly relevant to the search query by highlighting the keywords. Yahoo’s title has to be the company name. For most unknown companies, this is not a benefit to their listing.

It’s true that there’s still the “link popularity” benefit that a Yahoo listing supposedly gives you. But is it worth $299 a year for that? Plus, aren’t we supposed to refrain from getting listings for the sole purpose of boosting link popularity (or Google PageRank)? Besides, there are plenty of other directories that will list you for free. Try GoGuides, JoeAnt and Gimpsy for starters. (There’s always DMOZ, but as most of us know, getting listed there these days is like pulling teeth!)

Of course, these changes also mean that a good Google listing is even *more* important than ever. (Bet you didn’t think that could ever happen!) Along with the Google search engine itself (which is gaining in popularity by leaps and bounds), Google also powers AOL, Netscape, IWon, and now Yahoo. That’s a huge reach. Should you be scared of this? I’m certainly not. Although I do wish that other search engines would somehow miraculously become popular because it would make things a lot more fun, I don’t see it happening in the immediate future. All this means is that doing SEO in a professional manner is more important than ever.

It’s very simple to get high rankings in Google, although it is nothing that can be done overnight. You’ve heard me say it a million times. Create a great, content-filled site which naturally uses your keyword phrases, and optimize the HTML code accordingly. This will not only get you high rankings in Google (and its partners), but in every spidering search engine out there! (segue)

By Jill Whalen

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