How to optimize your webpage for Yahoo
Yahoo is the second biggest search engine after Google. However SEO experts and webmasters tend to ignore it. My interest was only piqued when I discovered that whenever I had a surge of traffic from Yahoo, the number of ad clicks I got increased. This might be because Yahoo attracts a different demographic from Google and their audience is less hostile to advertising.
I decided to see what I could do to increase my traffic from Yahoo, but there isn't much information online on how to do this - much of the information was written a good five years ago, back in the day when SEO guys still thought it was worth considering Yahoo. However, since then, the SEO community switched to focusing on Google only, and information on Yahoo's search engine has dried up. Yet Yahoo has updated and tweaked it's algorithm several times in the last five years.
The information on this page is based on my own research and on trial and error experiments I have been making.
Update: Yahoo now displays Bing's search results, so please see the following page on how to rank in Bing.
What sort of person uses Yahoo?
According to Quantcast's demographics summary for Yahoo, Yahoo's search engine atrracts a lot of young adults, with a high number of graduates and post-graduates, but they are not very affluent, possibly because they are at the start of their careers. Yahoo also attracts a higher number of Asian visitors than other search engines (they are the number one search engine in Japan).
Quantcast's lifestyle profile of Yahoo users shows a big interest in job search, career resources, music, fashion and cosmetics, shopping and cars.
It's well worth using Quantcast to compare and contrast the Google and Yahoo audiences (Google's is more affluent and is tech obsessed and interested in politics).
SEO techniques to optimise your website for Yahoo
1. On page optimization
On page optimization is very important for Yahoo, (far more than backlinks). In particular, Yahoo is very keen on titles and headers. Therefore make your titles long (up to ten words if you can manage it) and try to include several search phrases in the title. Use the words "How to" or "What to do". Think of what a user will type into the engine. If your title is long enough, every single combination of the words you have used will be given weight by Yahoo in it's search results. Do the same thing for headers. Yahoo also picks up keywords that have been picked out in bold lettering.
Yahoo also looks at the meta summary, whereas Google ignores it. When creating a hubpage, click the tab labeled "summary" and make sure you complete it ensuring that all the keywords you are targetting are in your summary.
The same thing applies to meta tags. Yahoo loves them, Google ignores them.
2. Keyword density.
Yahoo's search engine is language based - they will recognise synonyms and will serve them up to the searcher. For example if your webpage uses the term "Do it Yourself" and the user types "DIY" into the search engine, Yahoo will serve up your page. Google won't unless you have the word "DIY" in an anchored backlink.
Yahoo will also tolerate a higher keyword density than Google (never go higher than 2% for Google). The way to make this work for both search engines is to use synonyms in your text. Say your text uses the phrases "he married her" and "he wed her". Google will consider the words "married" and "wed" to be two separate words used once each. Yahoo will consider them to be synonyms and interchangable, and you will get a double weight for each.
Yahoo's search engine is also more sensitive to "stemming". This is the use of a different form of a word eg plurals, or verb changes such as "have" and "had". Therefore the more natural language you write, the better Yahoo likes it as they will pick up all the variants without you having to make your text unreadable by keyword stuffing.
To check the keyword density of your text, use this free keyword density checker.
Some studies have shown that Yahoo likes long pages (a study showed that the pages on Yahoo's first results page had 28% more content than the content on Google's first sERPS page for the same search term). Therefore try to aim for 1500 words when writing for Yahoo.
Internal backlinks work really well for Yahoo. I managed to get a blog post ranking very high on Yahoo by simply putting a link to it into the sidebar of my blog. Thereafter everytime a new blog post was published, that page got a new backlink, and it appeared on Yahoo, despite no external links to that post. If you have a blog, do put links in the sidebar for your best blogposts. Put links to related blog posts at the bottom of your posts (if you use Wordpress, there is a plug-in for this, if you use Blogger, you will have to do this manually). As time goes on and you publish more blog posts, it will push these pages higher on Yahoo.
While anchored backlinks are very important for Google, they are less important in Yahoo. Yahoo simply wants you to have links, anchored or not. They also seem to reward the sheer quantity of backlinks. They do check however whether the link is do-follow or no-follow, and ignore no-follow links. They also pay attention to the quality of the site providing the backlinks.
5. Keyword in the URL
This didn't used to be very important for Yahoo, but some evidence has emerged that the 2009 Yahoo update placed more emphasis on keywords in the URL.
Yahoo monitors clickthroughs. If your site is listed on their search results page, but no one has clicked it, they conclude it's not what the user wanted, and will drop you. Therefore make sure your meta summary is a good one so that the user browsing the search results says "aha, that's what I'm looking for" and clicks.
7. Finally there is some evidence that older pages rank better on Yahoo (I had two pages on my blog on a similar topic - the older page ranks higher in Yahoo, despite the newer page having longer better content and more backlinks).