In this article, I’ll help you decide whether or not you should be focusing on Yahoo, and how to optimize your site so it ranks high in Yahoo’s search results.
While it can’t compete with numbers Google’s commands, Yahoo is still a valuable search engine in its own right.
The Case For Yahoo Search
These days, the term “search engine” has become synonymous with Google. So understandably, that’s where most marketers focus the bulk of their SEO budgets and strategies. But remember: it’s never a good a strategy to put all your eggs in one basket. And just because Google reigns supreme doesn’t mean that other search engines should be ignored. Say you’re sitting pretty on Google’s first page one day. That’s absolutely ideal in terms of SEO – but there’s no guarantee that you’ll be there the next. Google could change its algorithm. They could deliver you a penalty. A competitor could outbid you in an AdWords campaign. These are all realizations that need to be considered when you choose to focus solely on Google. Because if any of the above happens and you don’t have another search engine strategy, you can kiss all your search traffic goodbye. Or, you can devote part of your strategy to Google’s lesser-known counterpart: Yahoo.
Yahoo Search By the Numbers
As of 2017, Google controls an average of 74.54% of global searches.But while it remains the market leader, other search engines like Bing and Yahoo still command between 5%-10% of searches.Beyond that:
From these numbers, we can take away a few things: First, people are still using Yahoo, and 1 billion monthly users isn’t a number to ignore. Second, any optimization for Yahoo (like any other search engines) need an emphasis on mobile.
Is Yahoo Search Right For Your Business?
In most cases, I say yes. As we already covered, most marketers optimize with Google in mind. Which means optimizing for Yahoo will put you ahead of the competition, and give you a very good chance of capitalizing on Yahoo’s search traffic. Not only that, but because fewer people are focused on Yahoo you’ll face less competition in the first place, making it more likely that your site and content will receive a high rank. Of course, how much you invest in Yahoo search will depend largely on your audience, as there are differences in the demographics between people who use Google and those that turn to smaller search engines like Yahoo and Bing. Most noticeably, Bing and Yahoo users tend to come from Great Plains, Rust Belt, and southern states and tend to be more politically conservative than those that opt for Google. But here’s the big one: Yahoo traffic tends to convert better than Google traffic. That alone makes it a valuable tool, and well worth the investment.
Key Ranking Factors for Yahoo Search
The best part about optimizing for Yahoo? Due to a partnership in 2009, Yahoo search is powered by Bing, meaning the same rules apply to both sites. It also means that you’ll be optimizing for two sites, not just one – a win/win. Let’s take a look at the some of the key ranking factors for both Bing and Yahoo search.
As with any search engine, content is king when it comes to optimization. Here’s what Bing has to say about it:“By providing clear, deep, easy to find content on your website, we are more likely to index and show your content in search results…Your content should be easy to navigate, rich and engaging to the visitor, and provide them the information they seek.”Like Google, relevant and quality content is one of your best bets to achieving a higher rank on Yahoo. Here are a few content tips to help you rank as high as possible:
Use relevant keywords to build your content – note that unlike Google, to succeed on Bing and Yahoo you should use exact match keywords
Focus on long-form content; it should be in-depth enough to cover all the reader’s expectations
Content should be unique
Use 301 redirects to pass the value of an old page on to a new one
Produce new content consistently
Links are also an extremely important ranking factor. Internal links will help Yahoo discover new pages on your site, while backlinks signal that outside sources trust your content, and therefore boost its authority in Yahoo’s eyes. Simply put, sites with more (quality) links rank higher. There are few differences in how links are measured in Bing and Yahoo; most noticeably, they seem to factor the number of backlinks pointing to a site more heavily than Google and give more weight to backlinks from domains with .edu and .gov. However, it’s equally important that sites don’t turn to link schemes or buying links in order to build up their link portfolio. Doing so could result in your site being delisted. To make the most of your backlinks, keep the following in mind:
This is one of the biggest differences in the optimization process between Google and Yahoo. While Google maintains that social signals don’t have any direct impact on a site’s rank, Yahoo and Bing make it known that social signals have an impact on how well you rank. It goes like this: the more influential you are on social media, the more your information will be shared, which registers as a positive signal to Yahoo. And the more positive signals you gain, the higher you’ll rank. To ensure your social signals are working in your favor, you should:
Avoid any social media schemes or automatic follower
Don’t follow everyone that follows you; focus only on quality follows
Post high-quality content and links to your social pages
A site’s technical SEO will also have an impact on how well it ranks. Specifically:
Page load time – faster load times produce a more positive user experience
Robots.txt – this is very important, as it tells Yahoo how to interact with your site. As a best practice, Bing webmaster recommends placing the file at the root of your domain and maintain it over time
Sitemap – these should be regularly updated to remove any old URLs
Redirects – generally speaking, 301 redirects should be used unless a move is temporary
Canonical tags – implementing a rel=canonical will help Yahoo determine your original URL in the case of duplicate URLs
Learn more about Bing vs Google.
Additional Tips for Yahoo Search SEO
While the above cover the major area of search optimization for Yahoo, there are a few additional factors ensure you rank as high possible.
First, focus on your tags. Keep your title and meta description tags clear and relevant. Also, remember to use h1 tags to help users and Yahoo understand the purpose of your page, and use only one per page
Always submit an XML sitemap and keep it clean and updated, but enable both HTML and XML
Be cautious with rich media. Though Yahoo and Bing can crawl multimedia sites better than Google, they still stress that you shouldn’t bury content in images and rich media
Keep your URLs clean
Keep your most valuable content close to your homepage
Use the keyword you are targeting a few times throughout the content on a specific page, and include keyword variations as well
Page titles should be roughly 65 words, while page descriptions should be roughly 160 or fewer characters
How to Get Started With Yahoo Search Optimization
To get the ball rolling on Yahoo search, there are a few steps you need to cover. First, you’ll want to claim your business on Yahoo. This is much like its done on Yahoo, and can have a dramatic effect on your local SEO results. You’ll do this on a site called Yext, where you’ll search for your business and update its information. Next, you’ll submit your site to be indexed. Because Yahoo is powered by Bing’s Webmaster Tools, you’ll submit it there (for both sites!). After creating a login, you’ll fill out the necessary forms and verify your ownership. Once submitted and verified, your site will start to be indexed by Bing and Yahoo. From there, it’s a matter of keeping your tags, content, social signals, and other Yahoo search factors as optimized and up-to-date as possible.
Concluding Yahoo Search
It may be no Google, but Yahoo search still has a lot to offer businesses. Because the optimization processes are similar, it’s not much of a stretch for most to make the effort to rank well in Yahoo. And due to the lack of competition, it’s will prove much easier to see the first pages of the Yahoo search results. So what are you waiting for? Get started with Yahoo search today.
About the Author
John Lincoln is CEO of Ignite Visibility, one of the top digital marketing agencies in the nation. Named #1 SEO company in the USA, UK and Canada by Clutch.co and number 1 PPC company by 10BestPPCs, Ignite Visibility has been an Inc. 5,000 company in both 2017 and 2018. Ignite Visibility offers a unique digital marketing program tied directly to ROI with a focus on using SEO, social media, paid media, CRO, email, Amazon and PR to achieve results. Outside of Ignite Visibility, Lincoln is a frequent speaker and author of the book “Digital Influencer,” which was named one of the best new marketing books by Forbes and LinkedIn. Lincoln is consistently named one of the top digital marketing strategiest in the industry and was the recipient of the coveted Search Engine Land “Search Marketer of The Year” award. Lincoln has taught digital marketing and Web Analytics at the University of California San Diego since 2010, has been named as one of San Diego’s most admired CEO’s and a top business leader under 40. His business mission is to help others through digital marketing.