ZEN-SEM

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Are Yahoo's top rankings being hijacked?

I was gauging the effect of the Yahoo! update on some sites I have a special interest in. I saw some very interesting shifts where these sites were now ranking #1 over state government agencies that police this industry and .edu sites.

What makes this even more interesting is that the #1 spots that the sites are occupying appear normal with the right title tag, copy snippet and green URL. However, once you click the Yahoo! SERP link you're taken to Business.com and then forwarded to the actual site with a bizcom tracking code.

Of interesting note is that the owner of these sites advertises through Business.com listings and through their PPC program. So it may be possible he is paying for all of these clicks. They did tell me that Business.com traffic was up significantly.

I've provided some information below on what's happening:

Case 1
A Yahoo! search for [texas real estate license]:


Click to Enlarge


The #1 natural spot embedded link is:

The embedded link is:


Clicking on the #1 natural spot listed as "www.texasrealestatelicenseonline.com" takes you through several 302 redirects one of which redirects to Business.com.

See the whole request process with headers here.
As a comparison here is the #2 spot headers here.

You eventually wind up at:

http://www.texasrealestatelicenseonline.com/?trackcode=bizcom


Case 2
A Yahoo! search for [illinois real estate license]:


Click to Enlarge


The #1 natural spot embedded link is:



Clicking on the #1 natural spot listed as "www.illinoisrealestatelicenseonline.com" takes you through several 302 redirects one of which redirects to Business.com.

See the whole request process with headers here.
As a comparison here is the #3 spot headers here.

You eventually wind up at:

http://www.illinoisrealestatelicenseonline.com/?trackcode=bizcom


Case 3

A Yahoo! search for [property management and construction software]:


Click to Enlarge


The #2 natural spot embedded link is:



Clicking on the #2 natural spot listed as "www.spectraesolutions.com" takes you through several 302 redirects one of which redirects to Business.com.

See the whole request process with headers here.
As a comparison here is the #1 spot headers here.

You eventually wind up at:

http://www.spectraesolutions.com/?trackcode=bizcom

7 Comments:

  • what you are missing is the Yahoo! Paid Inclusion part of the equation and the Yahoo! ranking criteria. The websites that are first are organically in tune with how Yahoo! ranks sites in your examples. 2 factors are Yahoo! Directory and Paid inclusion. Yahoo! isn't giving them 1st place placement their ranking criteria is.

    see http://search.yahoo.com/search?p=health+foods&fr=FP-tab-web-t&toggle=1&cop=&ei=UTF-8

    note #4 of out of 60 MILLION, which would be #2 with the exception of Manual Yahoo includes.

    While Yahoo's paid inclusion does allow you to guarantee that you do show up in organic results it does not guarantee position within those results.

    By Blogger paisley, at 11:18 AM  

  • Paisley, your correct in that Yahoo paid inclusion shouldnt have a bearing on rankings. Thats what Tim from Yahoo has always said from them begining of Site Match.

    What Ive seen happen with these sites, which I am very familiar with, before the update:

    1) The sites ranked at best 9th or lower for the keywords Im analysing with. Now they are #1 and ranking over .gov and .edu sites.

    2) The links didnt point to Business.com but rather went straight to the actual sites. Now all of their original listings are gone and are replaced with Business.com rankings.

    As Danny Sullivan pointed out at the SEW forums "paid inclusion URLs are given a quality score checkoff, and that can help with rankings. All the more reason why people may want to do paid inclusion at Yahoo -- or all the more reason Yahoo might want to elminated that, because of the trust issues involved. "

    By Blogger Jeff Martin, at 12:54 PM  

  • We have had problems with this in the past and had to contact Business.com to turn off the paid inclusion portion of their PPC program. Eventually our regular site listings started showing up higher and their listings disappeared. We started saving money pretty quickly.

    By Blogger PostMaster, at 5:00 PM  

  • From the offices of Business.com...

    This thread is an important one, and we’d like to address it for all those interested.

    It’s no surprise that the industry leaders on this site are aware of paid inclusion as a practice that has been long established in the paid search category. We understand the philosophical discussion around paid inclusion as a practice, and we continue to follow the cases on both sides of the debate as our industry continues to develop and mature.

    The bulk of the leads Business.com generates for its advertisers come from Business.com itself. According to Nielsen Net Ratings, Business.com had 3.1 million unique visitors in the month of August – more than Yahoo! Small Business, AOL Small Business, Fortune.com, and The WSJ.com.

    Like Overture and Google, Business.com also distributes its directory and paid search listings to leading business-to-business related partners such as BusinessWeek.com, Forbes.com, Internet.com, CNET, and Inktomi among others (a more comprehensive list of partners can be found at http://www.business.com/info/partners.asp). This large reach is what makes the Business.com Network the leading entity in Nielsen Net Ratings’ Business & Finance category.

    Our advertising clients use us to efficiently and effectively reach the business internet. Inktomi is a distribution partner of ours, and it is through this relationship that some of our clients’ listings appear as paid inclusion results on Yahoo!.

    If a client prefers to manage paid inclusion initiatives on their own, we of course remove their listings from our Inktomi distribution.

    We hope this sheds light on the issues being discussed as they relate to Business.com.

    Lane Soelberg
    VP of Marketing & Communications
    Business.com

    By Anonymous Lane Soelberg, at 6:06 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger Bel-Esprint, at 4:30 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger Bel-Esprint, at 4:33 PM  

  • We recently had a yahoo ambassador certified partner call us and offer to place us within the top organic search results for a certain amount of money.

    Wow this is a new low amongst giant search engines.

    By Blogger LHMSE, at 2:10 PM  

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