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Monday, March 24, 2008

$299 Yahoo Directory Paid Link Worth Every Penny

I originally wrote the article below in August of 2005, note the copyright date at the bottom. But I was nudged to republish it after seeing a Sphinn post discussing the value of a Yahoo text link.

My three-year-old, but still true article follows:

Last week a client called me excitedly exclaiming that their Google PageRank had jumped a notch and their targeted keyword term now ranked #23 (up from #45) for their competitive search phrase. I asked the client if he'd been notified by Yahoo that his site was now included in the index after we had submitted it three weeks ago. "Yes," he said, "but why are you changing the subject?"

"I'm not changing the subject. Inclusion in Yahoo Directory is the most likely reason for the jump in both your search position and your PageRank. Remember when you doubted the value of inclusion in the Yahoo Directory and I pushed for submission anyway? Now you know why I insisted."

That seemingly expensive Yahoo Directory listing has one little known benefit to your website. It is the most important and valuable text link you could ever purchase. That one link from one source will do your ranking more good than any other single link (except possibly the Open Directory).

Many webmasters look at potential traffic referred from the Yahoo Directory as the determining factor for submissions, when that is not the best reason for inclusion - It's the link value that matters above all else in this case.

I've had several SEO clients see a leap in ranking for targeted search terms a week or so after that Yahoo Directory link goes live for them. Many clients have argued with me about the value of that Yahoo Directory text link. But at $299, the yearly fee is cheaper than many of those commercial text link ads sites and does far more for your ranking in search engines OTHER than Yahoo.

Why? It's purely the value of that link. Search engines know that only sites of a certain quality level will submit and get accepted into Yahoo Directory. They know that serious businesses will pay that yearly fee, while marginal or hobby sites will not pay that $299 every year. Surely there is some level of value assigned in search algorithms to inclusion in the Yahoo Directory.

It's a little known technique for gains in ranking which is based purely on empirical observation over time. But the result of inclusion in the Yahoo Directory is the same for every client, every time - their PageRank ratchets up and targeted search terms suddenly take a big jump just a week or two after inclusion. The same is true of inclusion in the free Open Directory Project at .

I've seen client sites jump from positions on page three at MSN search to top 5 positions on page one of the MSN SERP's following inclusion in the Yahoo Directory. Now we are submitting this same client to the Open Directory for the 5th time in as many months hoping for elusive editors to add the site, leading to another jump in search position and PageRank if and when they get around to adding the site to the DMOZ database.

You do know that Google uses that Open Directory listing in their own directory, don't you? It's worth submitting and resubmitting until they finally include your site. It really is worth the trouble to keep trying, no matter how long they ignore your submissions.

One caveat always applies to Directory submissions! They must be done with great care applied to keyword phrases used in the site description. That single line of text you submit in the "Site Description" text box on the submission page will strongly affect your keyword phrase ranking in OTHER search engines for a very long time.

Take care in crafting a keyword rich and effective description for your site. I always request that clients either have me submit for them or use text I've written for them in that description. If you do it badly, it will be re-written by an editor who cares more for categorization than keyword rankings. Be Careful!

Before you run off begging for reciprocal links from slick webmasters or purchasing text links of dubious value from text link outfits, submit to Yahoo Directory and pay the $299 (or $24.92 monthly) for the most undervalued text link available. Then swallow your pride and re-submit to the Open Directory until they finally include your site.

Rock your rank with dynamite text links! Yahoo Directory and the Open Directory Project.

Copyright © August 23, 2005

Mike Banks Valentine blogs on SEO at:

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Sunday, April 15, 2007

Linking Strategies + Link Baiting - SES NY Day Four

If you click the link under the headline of this post, you'll land on Day 3 of Search Engine Strategies December 6, 2006 held in Chicago. That day included both sessions "Linking Strategies" and "Link Baiting and Viral Marketing Success", just as this current conference in April in New York. Both sessions are marked "Advanced" and suggest that you don't attend if you didn't attend the "Basic Linking" session earlier in the week. Nah. Only rank beginners not likely to attend a high end SES New York conference should need the prior session.

If linking is important to search engine ranking (and of course it is), I would expect SES New York to update and improve on those two linking programs, maybe add a new speaker or two for April 12, 2007. In fact it went backward, with Todd Friesen included on the panel in Chicago last year and dropped off the schedule for 2007, while Eric Ward was included both years and could not attend this year - he was replaced by Jim Boykin - who showed a very old powerpoint from a hosting conference he spoke at in 2005 - Ooops!

Both the Linking Strategies session and the Linkbait sessions played to a full house in August of 2006 in San Jose and again in Chicago and again in New York. Seems the line-up doesn't change, (and when it does, the presentations are old news) so the assumption is that linking doesn't change. Here's the Linking Strategies lineup from New York:

  • Justilien Gaspard, Internet Marketing Consultant, Justilien Internet Marketing Solutions
  • Jim Boykin, CEO, We Build Pages Internet Marketing
  • Greg Boser, President, WebGuerrilla LLC
And here's the Linkbait lineup:
  • Chris Boggs, Search Strategist, Avenue A | Razorfish
  • Rand Fishkin, CEO,
  • Jennifer Laycock, Editor-in-Chief, Search Engine Guide
  • Cameron Olthuis, Partner, Advantage Consulting Services
Shall we expect the same panel in August in San Jose? To be fair to SES and the speakers here, the show guide does show the sessions as "Four Star Rated!" Which means that they have occurred before and that they are wildly popular among those attendees who rank them.

NEW beside a session means exactly what it says, and I wish I had resisted the urge to attend the reheated Linking Strategies and Linkbait sessions in favor of the NEW "Content is King" session early morning and skipping the stale Linkbait (nothing "NEW" available in organic SEO tracks at that time). I think I see why Matt Cutts decided to cut out this time and stay home for a visit with the in-laws.

I'd also like to propose that the reheated sessions from last year be marked with a separate "NEW Material" classification - or maybe "NEW - Material - since - August - last - year - if - you -attended - that - show" designation. Well, I'm sure the shows are sprinkled about the country so that locals can attend, but I traveled for a total of 11 hours by plane to attend (and return home) and I wanted to get more out of this. Yes, I know, it's my fault!

So where are we on the state of linking in 2007? Is there anything new to consider, anything else we should know about? Yes. The most recent development is the soaring popularity of Widget Bait this year. This item was discussed by Cameron Olthius in the Linkbait session briefly when he pointed out thatMyBlogLog was acquired by Yahoo for $10 Million after their widget drove the growth of the company.

As an illustration of how the viral marketing industry circles in on itself, the top ranking results in Google for "MyBlogLog Acquired $10 Million" are Digg and Mashable as I do my background research here.

So here's an idea - Build a great new widget and do fantastically successful viral marketing on blogs or other social spaces, you'll get so many links, you'll gain national media attention, then get purchased by a big company. What? It could happen! Note to self - go to sessions marked "NEW" at next SES.

Mike Valentine is an SEO Specialist offering occassional commentary on Search Engine Developments through his Reality SEO Blog and developed WebSite101 Small Business Ecommerce Tutorial in 1999 to help educate the little guy to the intricacies of online business.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Internal Linking Strategy: SEO Self Reflection

SEO articles abound on social media linking strategies. SEO blog posts are legion on the topic of link and widget bait. SEO forums buzz endlessly about reciprocal versus one-way linking. There is no doubt that all of those various types of external, inbound links matter. But how often do we discuss internal linking strategies?

I had a long conversation with an apprentice level SEO this week. When she was questioned about her grasp of internal linking strategy, she gave that interesting "Did-I-hear-you-correctly?" type of puzzled stare that says very plainly "Are you pulling my leg, or was that a serious comment?"

This made me reflect on the less strenuously debated SEO strategies that are crucial to ranking well for specific keyword phrases. Since internal linking is so important to SEO, but rarely discussed, I often wonder how many SEO's truly comprehend the importance of internal interlinking of pages and how critical outbound links are to ranking well in the search engines.

Let's try to remedy that and raise the level of internal linking strategy discussions to at least a whisper, because the level of discussion on the topic now is barely audible.

I'm going to step out on a limb here and suggest that internal linking matters more than reciprocal links, possibly more than social media links such as Digg and links matter and maybe even as much as (javascript and flash) widget links and in some cases, more than (wimpy) link bait (as practiced by most) matters.

How sites link to their own content internally tells the search engines more about what matters most on a site than almost any other cue (save title tags). I'm going to step further out on that limb and attempt to rank the importance of various internal links to SEO. So here's the top 6 list:

  1. Navigation TEXT Links

    No image links, No Javascript Links, NO Image Map Links - Only keyword focused embedded text links to menu items. Use CSS, Use graphic Background images and text links using keywords. It's not that hard to do.

  2. Breadcrumb Links (category - subcategory)

    This type of link can vary by type of site. Ecommerce sites would use one type of structure, while informational sites would use a different hierarchy. These high level link structures define what you think is important and point visitors (and search engine robots) to an overall structure. Your opinion of what matters to your site informs the search engines. If your site is loosely organized by randomly linking internally, you may be randomly ranked.

  3. Subject & Topic Group Links (related pages)

    This is where many lose focus and fail to map internal structure for either search engines or visitors. Newspapers and large informational sites that rank very well will always use "Related Stories" pages. There are at least a couple of good reasons for this. The first is usability and the second is topical relevance of the page.

    Many sites lose focus and use "Most Popular" links to pages unrelated to those they are on. This dilutes the relevance and topicality of the page by looking at the site as do tag clouds on broad ranging topical sites with many areas of interest.

  4. Single Item Focus Page Links

    This link probably ranks in imporance at the top of the list here, but without those elements above them, single item links lack structure that search engines crave and don't help as much as they do when that larger structure supports them.

    So now is when I point to the site we all love to hate, WikiPedia. I'll argue that this single factor, added to the supporting heirarchical structure of WikiPedia is what makes it rank so extremely well for nearly every topic you can think of.

    WikiPedia links internally to every page, every time a word or phrase with it's own page is mentioned. Every page, every time, site-wide. If any topic has a page, anywhere on WikiPedia, it links from ANY use of that word or phrase back to that page ABOUT that word or phrase. This is the magic bullet, but is only important within the overall structure.

  5. Sitemap Links

    OK, this is the internal link we all agree on and rarely question. It's accepted and necessary, again, from both a usability standpoint and relevance. The site index list of links to every page (or to subindexes of pages). Since nobody questions that sitemaps matter, I'll stop there.

  6. Outbound Links

    Now comes the controversy, the raised blood pressure, the nofollow tags and the standard "company policy" against outbound links. This is where I simply have to point at blogs. Search engines like them in many cases because they reference external sources, they quote multiple viewpoints and link out to them. In some cases bloggers are paid to link out to external sources.

    I'll baldly state my opinion here and leave it to your own experience and "company policy" to decide your own outbound linking strategy. Outbound links increase relevance of the pages they are on when they link to supporting information externally. I'll put it differently for those with the puzzled look on their faces. Outbound links increase your search engine ranking.

So now I'll hope that at least my fellow SEO's will begin discussing this, offer case studies, offer anecdotal evidence, point to random examples, try to prove me wrong - but let's TALK about internal linking and raise it's importance. Talk enough that apprentice level SEO's know that it matters how we link internally and how we link OUT. Do a little SEO self-reflection and reassess your internal linking strategy.
Mike Valentine is an SEO Specialist offering occassional commentary on Search Engine Developments through his Reality SEO Blog and developed WebSite101 Small Business Ecommerce Tutorial in 1999 to help educate the little guy to the intricacies of online business.

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